Celebrating Independence Day

This enormous flag was flying over the Ventnor boardwalk. Can't you just hear it snapping in the breeze?

Last week I celebrated independence by skipping town.  All by my lonesome.  (Except that I wasn’t the least bit lonesome!)  Coming home for Independence Day Weekend, I had to decide what we were going to do about celebrating the Fourth.

Once upon a time, before Thanksgiving took over as the big to-do at our house, we spent a few years hosting Fourth of July parties.  The kids would go down to the stream, build dams, try to catch crayfish.  Up at the house Uncle Jeff might instigate a water balloon battle, if he wasn’t too busy trying to take incriminating photos of people.  Badminton or volleyball nets would be set up and people would sometimes even play.  After a day of burgers and dogs, watermelon and salads, the kids would run around with sparklers (aka pointy rods of red-hot metal).  And then everyone would roll home with injuries usually no more serious than bug bites.

This year, I merely had to ponder whether my immediate “peeps” were coming over or not.  Once my “peeps” grew up, broadened their horizons with their own transportation, and had access to rooftops overlooking the Inner Harbor, sparklers in the backyard became a little ho-hum.  Ah, but enter the next generation!

Harper practicing for the Fourth

Friday, John and I went up to Shrewsbury with grandson Harper and spent more money on explosive stuff than I ever have before.  (Ok, it didn’t take much, given that my usual expenditure was a few boxes of sparklers at High’s.)  Then we came home and texted people: “We have fireworks.  Are you coming over Monday?”  I guess that means we really want them to come, since I  bought the incentive before offering the invitation.

So there we were on Friday with poppers and sparklers and a whole assortment of other cool things.  While Shelley was off at work, John, Harper and I had a little preliminary test run.   We ate dinner by a bonfire and waited until the lightning bugs were twinkling in the yard.  My trusty little Casio camera has a fireworks setting.  Combine that with a five-year old who can’t stand still and voilà!  Sparkler Art!

With the entertainment ready, the next item is food.  Burgers and corn on the cob are a must.  And homemade pickles for the pregnant one.  And a rhubarb-apple crisp because I’m in a rhubarb mood and it tastes so good with Prigel’s vanilla ice cream!

Rhubarb Crisp

I found this recipe by DianaRattray on About.com.  I  added an apple to sweeten up the rhubarb a bit.  I like this recipe because pouring the thickened sugar, cornstarch, vanilla, and water over the raw fruit keeps the fruit from getting mushy.  And I like a crispy crisp!

1 cup brown sugar
1 cup  flour
3/4 cup oats
1/2 cup melted butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon
4 cups diced rhubarb                                                                                                                   1 diced apple
1 cup  sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla


In mixing bowl, combine brown sugar, flour,
oats, butter and cinnamon; mix together until crumbly. Press half of the brown
sugar and oats mixture into a buttered 8-inch square baking dish. Top with the rhubarb.

In a saucepan combine the granulated sugar, cornstarch,
and the 1 cup of water and vanilla. Cook together until clear, then pour over

Top rhubarb with remaining crumb mixture and bake at 350° for 45 to 55 minutes.

Serve with vanilla ice cream!

Happy Fourth of July!