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Donna Fletcher Crow

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Donna Fletcher Crow (US) is the author of forty-some books, mostly novels dealing with the history of British Christianity. She is the author of The Monastery Murders series; The Lord Danvers Victorian True-Crime series; The Elizabeth & Richard literary mysteries, GLASTONBURY,A Novel of the Holy Grail and more. www.donnafletchercrow.com

Fay Sampson

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Fay Sampson (UK) is a writer of adult and children's fiction and non-fiction, including A MALIGNANT HOUSE, #2 in the Susie Fewings series, a British Crime Club Pick. http://www.faysampson.co.uk

Fourth of July Family Feasting Then and Now

By Donna Fletcher Crow ~ July 2, 2011

 

I have put forth a lot of effort this Fourth of July weekend encouraging readers looking for an Independence Day themed book to take a look at my STEPHANIE, Days of Turmoil and Victory, the third in my Daughters of Courage Series. The story is one of political intrigue and turmoil in Idaho in the 70’s, including a Fourth of July rock festival at Farragut State Park in northern Idaho billed as the Universal Life Church Picnic. Organizers knew they would have trouble getting a rock and drugs fest approved by the powers that be, but who could oppose a church picnic on the Fourth of July?

It was actually, though, an earlier July Fourth picnic referred to in the book that got me to thinking about the traditional foods that always surround such events. The line in the novel is: "a family Fourth of July picnic overrun with young cousins setting off firecrackers and dancing with sparklers that spit black ash into the potato salad." And since this family saga series is based on my family history I knew exactly what the ingredients were in that potato salad Stephanie was offering to David Fraser, the charming Scotsman who is experiencing his first American Independence Day.

My mother's potato salad was always one of my favorites. It still is, and I will be making it for our backyard barbecue on Monday. The trick is the first step where you marinate the potatoes in vinegar and sugar:

Place 3 cups diced cooked potatoes in a bowl. Toss with 1 teaspoon sugar and 1 tablespoon vinegar. let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes. Fold in gently 1/4 cup finely diced onion, 1 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 1/2 tablespoon celery seed, 3/4 cup mayonnaise and 3 hard-boiled eggs, diced. Chill and enjoy. (Best served without the ash from the sparklers, but the other key ingredient that makes this a standout is the celery seed.)

Another family favorite of my growing up years which would have been on Stephanie's picnic table even if it isn't mentioned in the novel, is my mother's baked beans. Yes, I'll certainly be making them this year as well:

Fry 3 slices of bacon until crisp. Remove bacon and brown 1 small diced onion in the drippings. Add onions and crumbled bacon to a large can of pork and beans and stir in 2 tablespoons catsup, 1/4 cup brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard. Bake uncovered, 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

If it isn't too heretical to mess with Grandma Reta's recipe, I also recommend adding 1 teaspoon ground ginger.

Since both of these recipes are so quick and easy you'll still have plenty of time left to read Stephanie's story: http://ning.it/jDvWsS

 

 

 

 

Donna Fletcher Crow (US) is the author of forty-some books, mostly novels dealing with the history of British Christianity. She is the author of The Monastery Murders series; The Lord Danvers Victorian True-Crime series; The Elizabeth & Richard literary mysteries, GLASTONBURY,A Novel of the Holy Grail and more. www.donnafletchercrow.com

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Reader Comments:

Ooh, both of those sound wonderful, Donna! And the book sounds like a great read--especially for students of--can we call it--history??
-jennymilch, July 2, 2011

Hi Donna!
Happy 4th of July weekend. Thanks for sharing your favorite dishes. I made a big batch of potato salad today, too.

I used to love writing my name in the air with sparklers. Maybe I should get some!
Hugs and happy reading,
Nancy
-Nancy Naigle, July 2, 2011

Jenny and Nancy, what fun to hear from you both! yes, Jenny, that's a bit of a question, isn't it? When does something start being "history?" If it's 50 years as I've heard, STEPHANIE is just nostalgia for another 10 years, then history. But events it deals with--like the Vietnam war are in the history books.
Yes, Nancy, writing my name and dancing with sparklers! What could more capture the joy and freedom of childhood?
Have a wonderful weekend, my dear friends.
-Donna, July 2, 2011

How fun, Donna! Thank you for the recipes. Although no one is celebrating July 4th in Budapest today, I think your recipes may make our dinner tonight a lot more festive!! Thank you for sharing these...my favorites!!

Happy 4th!!
Rich and Betty
-Betty Crow, July 4, 2011

Betty, fantastic to hear from your--undoubtedly my first comment from Budapest! Love to Rich, too! Stan says Hi to both of you, too. We'll think of you when we eat potato salad tonight.
-Donna, July 4, 2011

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