If I had to describe my most American quality, I’d probably say it’s my optimism. Sure, I have a sour attitude and a can’t-do attitude about most things, but when it comes to my own abilities in the kitchen, I overestimate them to the point of laughability all the time. If you looked in my refrigerator on any given day, you might think, “only an optimist would buy that much food and think that she could prepare it all for her family this week. How many people live here?” It’s not exactly a fantastic trait. It gets even better when we invite people over, and I overcommit us for a day’s worth of activities. I tend to do this for Independence Day, maybe because we don’t have a lot of church and work obligations this time of year, and maybe because summer entertaining just feels easier. My Ina obsession started with her flag cake, before I even knew Neil. There’s something to be said for independence from the usual holiday legalism and expectations.
Today, we leisurely futzed around the house, and I made Ina’s fruit salad with limoncello (from Back to Basics) for breakfast. Delicious. (I don’t know what took me so long to make this, but it was really easy, and really very good. Maybe more dessert-worthy than breakfast, but it’s a holiday!) We went to some friends’ house for a fun patriotic lunch, and then we went to the pool for a few hours. We got home about an hour and a half before we were expecting some dinner guests, and so clearly I thought we had enough time to: change out of our swimsuits, clean up the yard after a few weeks of neglect, tidy up the house, thaw some meat for burgers, clean out the ice maker, go to the grocery store to get more ice after cleaning out the ice maker and pick up some burgers because that thawing thing didn’t work out, fire up the grill, make dinner for eight, and bake peach cobbler for dessert. Spoiler alert: I was wrong. I did something similar last year, when I baked a patriotic pie and invited the same people over for dinner, and so at least they know how I roll. This year, their daughter is toilet training, and that particular brand of misery does love company, and so I don’t think they minded the haphazard dinner. I’ve learned that if you make deviled eggs, people don’t really mind waiting for dinner. I made hard boiled eggs in the pressure cooker, and mixed them up with mayo, dijon mustard, and pickle relish. They disappeared faster than the scientists in the executive branch, so they must have been good. We grilled burgers and hot dogs, I made potato salad in the pressure cooker and baked beans in the crock pot, and mixed up some salad and some fruit. The peach cobbler (from Cooking for Jeffrey) was a mess because I forgot the cornstarch, and then forgot sugar in the dough, so I ended up sprinkling it on top. It was more like peach soup, but at least it wasn’t laced with listeria. And warm peachy glop with really good vanilla ice cream isn’t going to make anyone cry.