July 4th Foods!

By Kelsey Johnson

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Fireworks! Parades! Carnivals! July 4th is synonymous with celebration, as John Adams wrote to his wife back in 1776:

“The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forevermore.”

While a telling description of the holiday that was to come, this founding father was slightly off on more than just the date. He also left one vital omission…

The Fourth of July is all about the food.

When it comes to food-centered holidays, the Fourth has to be in the running for first. Sure there’s Thanksgiving, but the summer season allows for so much freshness and versatility, especially when it comes to local ingredients. Plus you get to eat outside! So how could we resist a chance to share some of our member’s favorite summer recipes that utilize the freshest ingredients available? Well, we couldn’t. La Quercia and The Cheese Shop of Des Moines kicked off the celebration last Sunday with their Ham Independence Week, and now it’s your turn to carry the momentum forward and show off the best local foods Iowa has to offer.

Before we dive into the meal itself, prepare some Garlic Scape Dip, Kale Chips, or Sugar Snap Peas to munch on while you cook, and if you feel like sharing we suggest you prepare some for your guests as well. For starters, Wheatsfield Cooperative’s Collard Greens and Black Eyed Peas salad can be tweaked to suit your specific taste, and is a light, nutritious way to start your summer feast. Or if that doesn’t strike you, pick up your favorite greens in the peak of their season at your nearest farmer’s market and mix up a simple Maytag Blue Cheese Dressing.

Now it wouldn’t really be a real July Fourth fest if we didn’t have you light up the grill, and we can’t think of better way to grill than with a little Mo’rub. We like when things are simple, so wrap your favorite veggies — we recommend catching the last of the asparagus as Westrum Produce reports they’ll be out after this week — in foil, add olive oil and Mo’rub, and let the flavor seep in. You can use this versatile little seasoning for almost anything, so check out these other ideas for great, spicy sides to add to the table.

While your neighbors may be content with throwing frozen brats and burgers on the grill, we think the BFBL community is more creative than that, which is why we recommend Grilled Lamb Brochetts with Spicy Basil-Cilantro Marinade as presented by Dalla Terra Ranch. It may sound complicated, but all it takes is some mixing and a little preparation. Make sure to marinate the meat overnight for the best results.

As that neighbor of yours sips on Budweiser while flipping burgers, we have a Grape Escape Mojito recipe we guarantee is more refreshing. Though if you want to stick with the frothy tradition, Peace Tree Brewery Co. is located in Iowa–the heart of America.  Don’t let the red, white, and blue cans fool you, Budweiser, with its German name and Belgium ownership isn’t the most patriotic choice. What would Thomas Jefferson say!  “To truly celebrate independence, open your favorite bottle of beer from Peace Tree Brewing Co…”  Or we can at least assume he’d say something like that if he were still around.

Last but not least, after filling up on quality, Iowa foods, a simple summertime dessert is in order. Seeing strawberries are refreshing, delicious, and at the end of their season, we recommend Allspice Balsamic Strawberry Pops. Westrum produce will for sure have them at the market, and they can be picked up anytime at Gateway Market. Add a handful of Howell’s Pumpkin Patch red raspberries. To give the dish a patriotic kick, gather up some wild mulberries, they are abundant with this year’s weather, and top your dish of red and blue berries with some Picket Fence Creamery Whipping cream and you have the perfect end to an all-Iowa July Fourth celebration! Happy eating!