It’s upon us again.
For myself, over the years even when I was a kid, the 4th was one of those rare occasions when Dad actually bar-b-qued the burgers and dogs. Ahhh, I can smell the lighter fluid now. I can see the flames breach the confines of the high backed charcoal grill.
Lesson #1: Too much lighter fluid, bad.
The folk’s good friends would come over with their brood, and we’d tear ass around the yard, taking our turn at the old fashioned ice cream freezer, each doing twenty revolutions of the crank.
Burned burgers, and charred dogs, potato salad, very very soft ice cream, folks smelled like Coors Banquet beer as back in the sixties, one could only purchase that stuff in Colorado, Oklahoma, and a select few other states.
Lesson #2: bar-b-que sauce on raw burgers is a recipe for 1/8 inch thick charring on both sides of burgers.
At day’s end after it got dark, we were all treated to the street where some of the neighbors may or may not be shooting fireworks.
Lesson #3: there is always a neighborhood asshole that calls the cops. We had two.
Over the years, everything changes and my expectations of the 4th does as well. I know for a fact that when I lived in town, that I was going to have to deal with folks up and down the street shooting off fireworks. I didn’t like it, but there was nothing I could do, and I did not want to be the asshole to call the cops. There are plenty of assholes out there for that.
I have a box of fireworks that my brother left with me a few years ago. My boys and I went through it and burned all the smoke grenades, and silent stuff. Not much left now except for some bottle rockets (large and small), few packs of firecrackers, and other noise related stuff. I would pay anyone’s asking price for a box of M60s.
Up until recently, I always ran the bbq pit on the 4th. As the kids grew up and went away, my wife and I found less and less reason to bbq for just the two of us, unless it was a steak that we split between us.
I did have a tradition that I still keep, and that is making queso dip. It just wasn’t an official ‘holiday’ without it. I used to actually fry homemade tortilla chips too. Man, pulling freshly fried chips, sprinkled with salt and paprika, dipping them into fresh queso was very addicting. I would frequently make pico de gallo at the same time. It just don’t get no better.
A bowl of melted queso, then a couple of large spoonfuls of pico in the same bowl, would cause me to retire to a quiet area, with a bag of On The Border Chips, where no one will bother me whilst I bask in flavorville. I make it clear that if anyone attempts to join me, they will likely draw back a stump.
The pico de gallo takes a lot of planning and diligence; planning for the ingredients, and diligence for standing at your cutting board chopping the onion, tomato, serrano peppers, cilantro. Be careful with the serrano peppers. You will get the residual capsaicin on your fingers, and it does not go away. If you forget and go off and take a leak or rub your eye, you’re gonna burn, believe me I know what I’m talking about.
This year, looks like I’ll be spending the 4th alone, as my wife (at this time) is not scheduled to return from her bout with cataract surgeries, and r/a doctor visit until the weekend after.
I find myself very tempted to buy an official meat smoker; the kind with the woodbox off to the side. One of the local stores has them on sale for $200. I know it’s not the heavy duty one made from oil field drill collar pipe, but I was thinking it might work fine for an occasional brisket. Who doesn’t like a brisket that’s been sitting in a smoker for 14 hours?
I am pondering also to mix together a pound of ground buffalo, with a pound of ground beef, and grill some buffalo burgers on the Weber.
I am looking into buying some wings to maybe also bbq some hot wings. They keep a long time even after they’re cooked.
I already have two packages of chicken breasts (one boneless, one bone in) soaking in Italian dressing and lemon pepper. These are both in the deep freeze, ready to go at a moment’s notice.
Dogs and brats are also lurking in the deep freeze.
The Hillshire Farm sausages freeze well, and heat up fast for snacks as well, while the good stuff is cooking.
Something I tried not long ago, as I was too askeert in the past for fear of the burn…something the locals call jalapeño poppers.
You take whole, fresh jalapeños, cut off the stem, half it, and scrape out all the seeds and capsaicin, until only green is left. Then fill the halves with cream cheese, wrap it back together with a slice of thick sliced bacon and a toothpick. Put it on a hot grill, and cook until the bacon is done. Wash it down with a cold beer…good stuff that won’t burn you a second time…know what I mean?
Have a happy and safe 4th, whatever you eat, wherever you go.