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Fourth of July foods as explosively good as any fireworks display

Grown-Up Dirt Cake, pictured here, is found on page 119 in the latest Southern cookbook from Georgia lifestyle expert James T. Farmer III.
Grown-Up Dirt Cake, pictured here, is found on page 119 in the latest Southern cookbook from Georgia lifestyle expert James T. Farmer III.
Courtesy of Gibbs-Smith Publishers and James T. Farmer, Emmily Followill and Maggie Yelton.

You don't have to worry about creating a list of great Fourth of July events to attend in Atlanta in 2014, because Access Atlanta made the list for you on June 25, outlining fairs, festivals, performing arts, music and visual arts you can attend. But when it comes to food, it isn't a list you are looking for. You need the latest Southern cookbook by the Georgia lifestyle expert James T. Farmer III.

Don't settle for the typical Fourth of July fare you have always eaten on Independence Day. Spice up your menu with recipes for "Dinner on the Grounds" by James T. Farmer III.
Courtesy of Gibbs-Smith Publishers and James T. Farmer III, Emily Followill and Maggie Yelton.

James' Dinner on the Grounds: Southern Suppers and Soirees has got you covered for your Independence Day picnics or dining on the dock after a July 4 swim. The offerings detailed in glorious photos between the pages of this visual feast include the typical Southern fare, such as fried chicken, potato salad and the ants on a log dessert (Granny Smith apples smeared with nutella and peanuts, or stalks of celery adorned with peanut butter and raisins). Another version has Farmer smearing celery stalks with cream cheese, and you can add some chopped up green olives with that.

But there is also his Uncle Jerry's world famous baked beans, Mema's macaroni and cheese, pressed picnic sandwiches, country sausage dogs (no Oscar Meyer or Ball Park wieners in this book's recipes), as well as grown up dirt cake (which does contain Kahlua as an ingredient, ya'll).

More eclectic menu options abound from oven-poached salmon to cornmeal crusted okra with zesty sour cream, so just about any taste can be satisfied from one of the recipes in this book, including a sweet tooth.

So take in the Pied Piper Parade and Fireworks display in Decatur on July 4, or any other Fourth of July events around the state, but be sure to take your James Farmer picnic with you when you go, so you can be sure to have your Southern supper at the Independence Day soiree, where ever that turns out to be in your neck of the woods.