I had been considering having friends over for the 4th seeing as how you should never let a major holiday like that go by uncelebrated. And how would I have the big cookout spread without folks to bring pot luck.
But when you invite people to your house who have never been to your house, you are a bit obligated to present it at it's best. This means getting out the vacuum and the dust rag and steam cleaning the kitchen floor and putting away all the clutter, even if that means stashing some of it in the dryer! I think if I never had company I would never have a clean house.
And it was worth it. All totaled there were seven of us, but there was enough food for twice that many. Here's the menu: homemade guacamole, Rotel dip and chips, hot dogs with newly made zucchini relish and all the fixins', ribs, fresh fruit, two kinds of potato salad, oriental slaw, yummy baked beans (with bacon, no less), the best homemade lemonade ever, and mint tea.
It turned out to be such a lovely evening. I pulled out all the red, white, and/or blue table linens I could find and dressed the deck furniture. Three fans kept us cool and bug-free. The neighbors even entertained with a few fireworks.
To cap off the enormous meal Gwen made homemade vanilla ice cream with, not one, but two tablespoons of Mexican vanilla. She couldn't dip it out fast enough for us.
And I made my favorite dessert from my days at camp. I had baked it earlier in the day and the smell immediately took me back 30 years. Just as I had remembered. I could only hope it tasted the same.
At camp this dish was not normally served with embellishments, but because it was the 4th, I had to go with the color theme and dropped a dollop of Cool Whip and some blueberries on top for a red, white, and blue plate. I also tossed on a few toasted pecans.
There are lots of variations on this recipe, one in most every church cookbook, but this is the version we used at Brookhaven Retreat in Hawkins, Texas.
2 cans cherry pie filling
1 yellow cake mix
1 stick butter or oleo, melted
Preheat oven to 400F. Spray 9 x 13 inch pan with regular non-stick cooking spray. Pour out both cans of pie filling and spread on bottom of pan. Sprinkle cake mix all over the top completely covering the cherries. Drizzle melted butter on top. Bake until top is lightly browned and firm or about 25-30 minutes.
And, yes, it tasted exactly as I remembered. It's just as good cold as it is warm.