Our non-traditional 4th of July traditon
Aug. 18, 2013 11:34 am
Updated: Aug. 21, 2013 4:27 am
Every year for the last 4 years we have been celebrating our 4th of July in August sometime. Whenever we can schedule it to
fit everyone's schedule. That's the date. This tradition came about because Adam, who dates my daughter Alexis, runs a fireworks stand with his brother and sister. Each year they set aside a bunch of fireworks and light them off, previewing them for
the next season. They don't have to do a fireworks stand as they all have very decent jobs, but this is something their parents set up for them years ago to pay for their college, and it has. I think they plan on using it for their own kids colleges.
Usually we do this at the lake. Adam lights them off at the end of the dock and explode them over the water.
Simply beautiful. This year was a little different as Adam's Mom is fighting a courageous battle with cancer and we thought the short drive to our house would be easier for her.
Friday morning, I put together the salads, beans and got my turkey brining. The turkey brine I used is my Universal
Brining Formula. When I brine turkeys, I use a turkey oven bag to hold the turkey and the brine. I suppose you could use a garbage bag, but I know the turkey bags are food safe. Believe it or not, these bags hold a 15 or 20 pound bird
and two gallons of brine just fine. I then put the bag in a cooler and fill the cooler with water and ice.
With this solution, the turkey will brine for at least 4 hours, but as many as 8 hours. Other brines require different times.
The longer it brines, the juicier the bird will be, but you don't want to go too long or they can get a little salty tasting.
While I had this brining, I started on my salads and beans. After all, everyone knows that salads and beans are always better the
next day, so on Saturday, they should be fantastic. I had already hard boiled my eggs for my Mom's
famous potato salad. I've tried some very high rated potato salads from allrecipes.com and I always get the same response,
"It's not as good as your Mom's". I give up. From now on, it's only that recipe.
Then I started on a fantastic
angel hair pasta salad that we first had at our daughters' graduation. It is our most requested salad and we make
it frequently. When home for the weekend, my girls will actually make a batch to bring back to college with them.
Then on to the beans. This is super easy because other than cooking the bacon and onions, it's mostly opening cans. I customized
bean baked bean recipe from allrecipes.com. I cut back on the vinegar and added Jim Beam bourbon. I absolutely love
Jim Beam in any barbecue-type sauces and it works great in these beans.
In the afternoon, I removed my turkey from the brine and rinsed it under cold water. Then I put it in the fridge on a wire rack
over a tray to catch the juice. This step is essential if you want a crispy skin. I like to let it sit in the fridge like this for 24 hours, but 12 hours is absolutely the minimum. All the hard work is done. Saturday will be a snap.
Saturday is supposed to be into the 90s and humid as well as very windy, so we decide to set up in my garage. I cranked the air
conditioning on in the house and have fans blowing into the garage to keep it cool. I borrowed some tables from the museum next door and we are ready.
All we need now is meat and guests. I am using Alton
Brown's roast turkey technique. Basically, this calls for high heat for 30 minutes, and then adding a tinfoil cover
to the breast for the rest of the cooking time. It was so danged windy that I couldn't get a picture of the turkey on the grill with the tinfoil, but here is what it looks like:
You actually pre-form this before you put the turkey on, so when you need it, you won't be burning your hands trying to get it to
fit. To the grill! 500 degrees for 30 minutes and this is what it looks like after that:
Wing tips a little charred, but I can live with that. This is my first attempt doing a turkey on the grill so nothing will surprise
me. At this point, I put on the tinfoil armor and insert my thermometer into the breast, and reduce the heat to 325. The trick at this point is to not peek. Never. Not until it's done. The thermometer will tell me when it's done. I'm shooting for
161 degrees. I also put my ham on at this time.
161 I'm done! Wow. This is going to be gooooooood!
After some rest time and a little electric knife action, we can start the meal!
That lovely lady at the end of the table is my bride. She would kill me if she knew that her picture was here. She's finishing
the final details. We served about 15 and one of our guests brought a fantastic fruit pizza for dessert. I must get that recipe! Now I must admit, that I didn't get a picture of the dessert, or anything from this point on. Once the guests started
arriving, I got too busy visiting. After supper, while we were waiting for the evening to get dark enough, we moved outside and had a few beers. Some of us went on a walking tour of the museum
The evening progressed really nice and several more people joined us for the fireworks. The wind never did go down, so we ended
up back in my garage with the door open while Adam set up a few hundred feet down the driveway. Both my dog Jake and Adam's dog Arthur are skittish with fireworks. Jake is pretty used to it because I shoot around him quite a bit, but Arthur, who is a very
big pup, is not. About halfway through the show, Arthur got loose and ran off. I thought he was gone for good. We formed a search party and went looking for him. I brought Jake with me as he and Arthur are great buddies. Arthur was hiding a block
away and wouldn't come out to anyone calling his name, but as soon as he saw Jake, he came out. He was actually hiding under the caboose at the museum. At this point, Alexis took Arthur to the basement and sat with him the rest of the show. It was
a LOT of fun and really good company. I wish we could do this every weekend.
Here is a final picture for you. This is Jake on the left. He's about 8 and half border collie and half yellow lab and very
much a country dog. Arthur on the right is 8 months and is black lab, golden retriever and pit bull. A really nice pup that listens well for his age.