Food Friday: Memorial Day Cookouts

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How will you be spending your Memorial Day weekend? Will you be marching in a parade? Or will you be surreptitiously trying to toss some Redcoats off the Sultana and into the Chester River? Will you be observing a more solemn occasion and take some flowers to decorate a family grave? Or will you be stuck in traffic attempting to flee the metropolis to get to a warm sandy beach, with ice cream stands and happy families frolicking in the water? There are so many possibilities for this upcoming weekend, especially now that you are allowed to wear white again.

I love ritual celebrations. I love small town parades. Once, back in our misspent youth, Mr. Friday and his chums had a martini stand at the annual Rowayton (Connecticut) Memorial Day Parade. (Another year they distributed Bloody Marys. They were quite the popular young gentlemen.) And back in those days, when one could still drink with impunity before noon, we sat in lawn chairs with martinis in hand, and cheered as the Scouts, the school marching bands, the firefighters, some antique cars, town officials and proud veterans paraded past us. And then we went to a Memorial Day cookout in a park, under the trees, on the river. It was a warm and sunny day, as most happy hazy memories tend to be remembered.

There are many ways to have a Memorial Day cookout. You can go fancy, or you can take the easy route. Guess which I suggest? There is no need to get fancy: apple pie, hot dogs and hamburgers are swell ceremonial American foods and are great for any Memorial Day picnic. I usually whip up a batch of potato salad, but a bag of Utz sour cream and onion potato chips is never out of place! Is it too hot to bake a pie? Just bring out some Bergers. You will be a hero. Or slice open a frosty cold and refreshing watermelon. Put beers and glass bottles of Coke in a bucket of ice, but don’t forget the cheap white wine. I would not suggest martinis at this advanced age, though…

One must be mindful of our visiting foodies. One pescatarian would prefer cool and delicate seasonal fruits, vegetables, and sticks and twigs, please. No meat. No chicken. Alas, we have outgrown skillful watermelon seed spitting, but this is a sophisticated alternative: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/10/magazine/watermelon-burgers-with-cheese.html?_r=0

Bon Appétit fruit salad: http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/fruit-salad-fennel-watercress-smoked-salt

You want to simplify in the summer, here are some more handy dandy ideas from The New York Times cooking whizzes. If you are going to be cooking on your summer vacation you really need to reduce and minimize your time in the kitchen. There are waves to catch, birds to watch, hikes to undertake, vistas to appreciate, and a glider in a corner of the cool, dark, screened-in porch with a good book are all calling out to you! Get out and enjoy yourself. Vacation cooking: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/10/dining/a-minimalist-approach-to-cooking-on-vacation.html?_r=0

Next weekend we will still face the bourgeois dining dilemma – what to have for dinner, again? Let’s find some more delicious hamburgers to cook. Hamburgers never grow old. Cook Out Season from Bon Appétit: http://www.bonappetit.com/test-kitchen/cooking-tips/article/grilling-best-burgers

When it gets too buggy outside Sunday night, wander into the house and turn on the TV. There is nothing like a concert performed with pomp and circumstance and aplomb to make you feel proud. http://www.pbs.org/national-memorial-day-concert/home/

“I’m still passionately interested in what my fellow humans are up to. For me, a day spent monitoring the passing parade is a day well-spent.”
– Garry Trudeau

About Jean Sanders

Letters to Editor

  1. On Memorial Day 30 years ago, our niece and her family visited us for the weekend at our Vermont orchard and farms. As we prepared to cook a picnic feast of hamburgers, baked beans and salads, one of my daughters discovered that we did not have any hamburger buns. At first we were not concerned, however, it became apparent that eating burgers without buns was close to a tragedy and our special celebration was turning into sad event. While rummaging through the pantry, I found a dozen hot dog buns and suddenly realized that salvation was at hand. We quickly set up a large table with quarter pound mounds of hamburger meat , herbs, spices, onions, cheese, along with rows of condiments and the hot dog buns. We then announced that everyone was to make their own “burger-dog” using the ingredients on the table and to pay special attention to the shape being exactly like a hot dog. Well…you never saw such excitement… Yes, the picnic became a major success as each person prepared their B-dog filled with everything but the kitchen sink.
    Life is Good,
    BobHallsr

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