Fourth o' July is coming up quick and it is a great time to celebrate not only the birth of our nation and our freedom, but friends and family as well – that's what all that pursuit of happiness is all about. Now the liberty bell is broke and cities take a dim view of discharging the blunderbuss in the backyard, so celebrating is going to have to be confined to a nice cookout and perhaps taking in the professionally designed fireworks display after dark.
Down Memory Lane
There are many fine memories of Fourth's past, having a cookout at an Aunt's house then venturing down to Grant Park to listen to the band and watch the fireworks after. Warm still Wisconsin nights lit by spinning spiraling flashes of fire and the silence broken f bombs bursting in air. There were also parades – a big thing in days of yore. Lots of fun was had watching bands and old soldiers marching by, waving a small flag, and eating ice cream out of a cardboard cup with a small wooden spoon. Probably kind of hokey these days, but back then it was just right as well as a fitting way to spend a day respecting our nation and those who worked to conceive it and defend it.
The cookouts generally consisted of dad using too much lighter fluid precipitating an awesome fire ball off the grill, the smell of starter fluid and roasting brats (bratwurst to the heathen) permeating the air, and the admonition to stay out of the water for an hour after eating to prevent cramps and subsequent drowning. Grilling just seems such an American way of cooking it is fitting to fire up ol' smokey for the Fourth and toss on whatever suits the mood. Dogs are classic, brats even better, burgers kind of cliche, but for the love of God don't use any of that plastic American “cheese” on them. Whatever the flesh d'jour keep an eye on the grill, because no one likes a char dog or holocaust burger. Keep a pan full of beer, (preferably locally crafted) on the grill and after the meat gets a nice golden brown, drop it in the pan of beer to simmer to completion. This will add flavor, keep from bursting into flames, and ensure any porky bits are cooked through. Remember to keep the kid's Frisbee game well away from the grill and a cover will go a long way to keeping Rover from sampling the fare.
If sampling some of the fine locally crafted brews please enjoy them and not figure on getting in the car later. The city police, DPS, and MCSO make no secret of the fact the are out to nab any alcohol fueled drivers and rightly so. Even after warning folks on TV they still catch bunches who don't get the message – don't become one of their statistics. Remember to grill (and drink) responsibly!