For the Fourth of July, we didn’t do anything special. There was some sort of musical event downtown starting at dusk, capped off with fireworks at about 10pm. But the kid’s bedtime is at 8:00, so it was unclear whether he’d be able to stay up that late without getting crabby. As it turned out, he spent his naptime complaining and throwing everything out of his crib instead of sleeping, which meant that he was already getting weird from tiredness by the time we finished dinner. A trip out was definitely not in the cards for him. Which is fine; he’s only two, and there’s always next year. The wife and I went out on our apartment’s balcony and managed to see some flickering in the sky, but most of the fireworks were blocked from view by other apartment buildings and trees.
But even without music or ceremony or fireworks, we could still have a special meal!
First, I cooked up some sweet corn on the cob. This was simply a matter of boiling some water, putting the corn in, letting the water come to a boil again, and then turning off the heat. After ten to fifteen minutes I took the corn out of the water to drain, and we ate it on the cob with bread-and-butter and salt-and-pepper for flavor.
Second, coleslaw. I chopped up a head of cabbage into thin strips, tossed it with some salt, and grated a few carrots into it. This got mixed up with ground black pepper, dill weed, a splash each of rice and balsamic vinegar, and a couple big spoonfuls of mayonnaise.
The main course was hamburgers!* We had saved a couple pounds of frozen kosher beef patties. I thawed these and chopped them up before mixing the ground meat with a whole sweet onion, finely diced, about a half-cup of matzoh meal, and three eggs as a binding agent, along with a sprinkling of garlic salt. Then I made new patties and fried them in sesame oil. We ended up getting four meals’ worth of hamburgers out of it.
Of course, an all-American meal wouldn’t be complete without some overseas additions. So we accompanied the food with Jamaican ginger ale. (We gave the kid a shot glass’ worth, but he didn’t like it. Too sharp in flavor, probably.) Because we were out of both ketchup and barbecue sauce, we tried topping the burgers with yuzu (a kind of citrus) dressing. (It worked pretty well!) And dessert was matcha-flavored chocolate from a local Asian market.
The burgers and coleslaw are gone by now. The corn was enough of a hit, and cheap enough, that I’ve cooked a new batch. And our next major food project is corned beef. (I guess this is the Summer of Beef, or something?) I mixed up some broth with pickling spice and lots of kosher salt and some sugar, and even now a big chunk of brisket is soaking in our fridge. The color has changed from red to a sort of ashy brown. When the corned beef is done, I plan to cook it like my dad did, with potatoes and red cabbage and maybe some other veggies. Irish style, I guess?
In short, home cooking is great! And living in a country where many cultures mingle freely, including but not limited to food cultures, is the best part about being an American. (Don’t let any bigot-courting demagogues tell you different.)
* (Yes, the same meal contains meat and dairy – but since one isn’t cooked in the other, I consider this not to be trayf, no matter what protective fences some people may choose to build around the Law.)