The 4th of July means many different things to different people—summer vacation, a trip with the family, reunions, baseball games, cookouts, time off, fireworks. But one thing you can pretty much count on is regardless of how people choose to celebrate, it will usually involve food. But whatever you do, keep it safe! The Great American Hot Dog and Hamburger are probably two of America’s recognized foods around the world, and like America herself, the variations are endless! In the column today are several things for you to think about as you plan some of your get togethers and celebrations. If you own an ice cream freezer this would be a great time to dig it out and revive a good old almost forgotten tradition. There is a good, but simple, recipe today to help inspire you. The Texas Caviar recipe and the Cornbread Casserole today are variations on old favorites so check them out for sure.

Pay particular attention to the Sweet Potato Cobbler! Annie McCoy, who now lives in Georgia, wrote me about this delicious dessert one of her new friends and neighbor shared with her. Since I like all things “sweet potato” I was very curious about the recipe. When Mary Lou Morris passed on the recipe I knew I could not wait to share it!

Regardless of how you will observe the America’s birthday this year, take a minute to say a prayer for Her. She needs it now for sure.

Stay safe, and let me hear from you soon!

Sweet Potato Cobbler From Mary Lou Morris

Annie’s Note: Talked with my friend and got the “recipe” for sweet potato cobbler... she is 80 and cooks from memory rather than recipe! Here is the recipe as she shared it with me. She said she just adds cinnamon etc. to suit her taste. It’s very good.

Peel and slice sweet potato and cut into small chunks...boil in water with a little cinnamon added, until it begins softening but not completely cooked. Drain and add butter and cinnamon and whatever you like to enhance taste of potatoes/ Taste it and adjust the flavor an sweetness to your taste and pour into baking dish. Make crust of one cup sugar, one cup flour and one cup milk and pour over potatoes and bake until golden brown.

Texas Caviar

Richard’s Note: This one is different from others I have had. For one thing it uses hominy instead of niblet corn!

2 (14 oz.) cans black eyed peas, drained

1 (15 oz.) can white hominy, drained

2 medium tomatoes, chopped

4 green onions, chopped

1 med. Green pepper chopped (or use 1/3 of each of the three—red, yellow, green

1 jalapeño pepper chopped

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

1 (8 oz.) bottle Italian dressing

Combine all and mix well. Pour dressing over and marinate at least two hours in the fridge. Drain. Serve with tortilla chips.

Picnic Corn Dish

3 cans whole kernel niblet corn, drained

1 red onion, finely chopped

1 bell pepper, finely chopped

2 cups grated cheddar cheese

1/2 to 1 cup mayonnaise

Salt to taste

Combine all ingredients and chill.

Poogan’s Porch Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce

Richard’s Note: Poogan’s Porch is a well known eatery in Charleston, S.C.

Note: A simple vanilla sauce would taste great on this bread pudding, and a simple sauce is simply melted vanilla ice cream!

1/2 loaf day-old bread, in chunks

1/2 cup raisins

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. nutmeg

1 stick butter melted

3/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

2 cups milk

Place bread, raisins, cinnamon, nutmeg and butter in a baking d8ish and mix together. In a small bowl, beat sugar and eggs until well combined. Heat the milk, but do not boil. Add egg mixture to hot milk, mixing well. Add bread mixture and stir. Pour all into a greased casserole dish. Place the dish in a large roasting pan. Fill the roasting pan with water half-way up the dish, taking care not to get any water in the casserole. Bake at 350 for one hour.

Bourbon Sauce

2 sticks butter

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 egg

2 Tbs. bourbon

Melt butter in medium saucepan. Add sugar and cook, stirring constantly until glossy. Remove from heat. Whip in the egg with a whisk. Add the bourbon and stir until well blended. Pour about one-fourth cup of the sauce over each serving of the bread pudding. Serves four.

Poppy Seed Cake

Vegetable oil spay for misting the pan

Flour for dusting the pan

1 (18.25 oz.) pkg. plain white cake mix

1 (3.4 oz.) pkg. vanilla instant pudding mix

1/3 cup poppy seeds

1 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup dry sherry

4 large eggs

1 tsp. grated lemon zest

Place rack in center of oven and preheat to 350º. Lightly mist a 10-inch tube pan with vegetable oil spray, then dust with flour. Set the pan aside. Place all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Blend with electric mixer on low for one minute. Stop and scrape down sides of bowl. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat two minutes more, scraping the sides down again if needed. Batter should look well combined and thickened and the poppy seeds should be well distributed. Pour batter into prepared pan, smoothing it out with the rubber spatula. Place pan in oven. Bake cake until is golden brown and spring back when lightly pressed with your finger and sides are pulling away from pan, about 45 to 50 minutes. Remove pan from oven and place it on wire rack to cool for 20 minutes. Run a long, sharp knife around the edge of the cake and invert it onto a rack, then invert it onto another rack so that the cake is right side up. Allow the cake to cool completely, 30 minutes or more.

Cornbread Casserole

1 (8 oz.) pkg. cornbread stuffing mix

2 cups frozen mixed vegetables, slightly thawed

1 & 1/2 cups cooked ham, cubed

3 eggs, lightly beaten

2 cups of milk

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. of black pepper

1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese

In a microwavable 8x12 baking dish mix together the stuffing, vegetables and ham. In a bowl mix together the eggs; milk, salt, and pepper pour this over the cornbread mixture and cover with plastic wrap. Put in the refrigerator and leave for at least five hours or overnight. Next day, remove the plastic wrap and cover with waxed paper and microwave for six minutes rotate one-fourth turn. Continue microwaving for another seven to nine minutes or until a knife inserted in middle comes out clean. Sprinkle with the cheese. Serves four.

Carolina Country Slaw

1 large cabbage, shredded

1 bell pepper, diced

1 onion, diced

Mix the pepper and onion together. Layer the cabbage and pepper and onion mix in a large mixing bowl. Pour one and one-half cups sugar over this. Mix the following ingredients together and bring to a boil:

1 cup of vinegar

3/4 cup of oil

1 tsp. of salt

1 tsp. of celery seed

2 tsp. of mustard

1 Tbs. & 1 tsp. of sugar

Pour this over the cabbage, pepper, and onion and do not stir. Cover tightly and refrigerate for four hours. Tastes better if refrigerated overnight. Serves eight.

Southern Lemon Cake

Makes 1 (10-inch) tube cake

2 Tbs. very soft butter or margarine

1/4 cup fine dry bread crumbs

3 & 3/4 cups sifted cake flour

2 & 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1/2 lb. & 4 Tbs. butter or margarine, softened

2 & 1/2 cups sugar

5 eggs, at room temperature

3 Tbs. grated lemon peel

1 & 1/4 cup milk, at room temperature

2/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup lemon juice

Spread the two tablespoons soft butter evenly in a 10-inch tube pan and dust with bread crumbs. (This forms a lovely crust when the cake is baked). Sift flour, baking powder and salt together. Beat remaining butter, two and one-half cups sugar, eggs and lemon peel at high speed for three minutes. Stir in by hand flour mixture alternately with milk, beating after each addition until batter is smooth. Spoon carefully into prepared pan, smooth the top, and bake at 325° for one and three-fourth hours or until top springs back when lightly pressed with fingertips. Loosen cake at tube edge; turn out onto wire rack. To glaze, combine the two-third cup sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan. Heat slowly, stirring constantly, just until the sugar is dissolved. Brush some of the glaze onto the sides of the hot cake, then drizzle the remaining glaze evenly over the top. Cool. Freezes well.

Sweet Tea Time Danish

An old-fashioned picnic favorite!

1 refrigerated pie crust, softened

3/4 cup chopped pecans

1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar

3 Tbs. butter

Water

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/4 tsp. vanilla

3 tsp. milk

3 Tbs. chopped pecans

This delicious and very easy Danish is perfect for any tea time celebration. Heat oven to 375°. Unwrap refrigerated crust and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Press out fold lines. Mix together pecans, brown sugar, and butter. Sprinkle over one-half of pie crust to within three-fourth inch of edge. Brush edge with water; fold other half of pie crust over filling. Press edges with fork to seal and prick top with fork. Bake 17 to 22 minutes or until golden brown. Cool five minutes. For glaze, mix powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk; blend and then drizzle over Danish. Sprinkle with more pecans. Cool 30 minutes. Makes eight servings.

Mixed Vegetable Casserole From Martha Newell

One large bag frozen mixed vegetables (carrots, corn, green beans, peas). Bring one cup of salted water to a boil, add vegetables Once water begins to boil again cover and cook about 10 minutes on low. Drain and cool.

Mix one cup of each of the following:

Mayonnaise

Chopped celery

Chopped onion

Sharp cheddar cheese

Place the vegetables in a buttered casserole dish. Cover with the cheese mixture. Melt one stick of butter in a sauce pan, stir one stack of crushed Ritz crackers into the butter. Spread over top of above. Bake for 40 minutes at 350°.

Thomas Jefferson’s Macaroni and Cheese

Note: Jefferson is credited with introducing macaroni to the United States. He brought a macaroni machine home from France where he served as Ambassador after the Revolution. He then designed a perfected machine at Montecello. Caroline Kennedy, daughter of JFK had a pony named Macaroni. Macaroni received thousands of letters a year from children all across America!

2 cups elbow macaroni

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 & 1/2 cups milk

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

2 cups shredded cheese

3 slices bread

You will need:

Measuring cups and spoons

Saucepan

2-quart casserole, greased

Cook pasta for about five minutes, then drain. In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Blend in flour, salt, and pepper. Add milk gradually while stirring. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, until sauce thickens. Remove from heat. Stir in one and three-fourth cups shredded cheese until melted. Add macaroni. Pour macaroni mixture into 2-quart greased casserole dish. Crumble bread slices on top of macaroni. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup shredded cheese on top. Bake uncovered in 375° oven for 25 to 30 minutes until it’s brown and bubbly!

Sauerkraut Salad

Richard’s Note: I love this with grilled brats of smoked sausages!

1/4 cup vinegar

1/4 cup salad oil

1 cup sugar

1 to 2 lb. bag of sauerkraut

1 cup celery, chopped

1/2 cup onion, diced

1/2 cup green pepper, diced

1 small jar pimentos, diced

(Okay, if you are thinking this sounds far fetched, don’t! This is a wonderful use of sauerkraut and even those who are not lovers of sauerkraut enjoy this delicious side dish. I often make it for church dinners and it is always totally consumed. The combination of colors and the kiss of sweetness make it irresistible!

Drain the sauerkraut. In a saucepan over low heat, slowly cook the vinegar, oil and sugar, stirring often. In a large bowl, mix it and all the other ingredients together. Refrigerate and serve chilled.

Mrs. Buehler’s Delta Slaw

Greenville, Mississippi

Richard’s Note: You NEED to try this on a burger! I go a little lighter on the vinegar simply because I don’t like so much of a bite. Taste it as you go and control the taste to suit you. Mrs. Buehler restaurant was known for her “slaw burgers.”

1 cup mayonnaise

1 egg, beaten

1/4 cup mustard

1/2 cup sugar

3/4 cup vinegar

1 head cabbage, shredded or chopped and salted and peppered to taste

Put mayonnaise in a skillet on low heat. Add egg and stir till little bubbles form. Add mustard, sugar and vinegar, stirring well. Add cabbage, mixing well. Better served the next day.

Steak Marinade

1 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup soy sauce

1/3 cup red wine vinegar

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

3 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce

1 Tbs. freshly ground black pepper

2 Tbs. Dijon-style prepared mustard

1 onion, sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

Lila F. Morgan’s Ice Cream

Makes four quarts.

2 cans Eagle Brand

2 half-pints whipping cream

2 half-pints water (or use half and half instead of water)

2 Tbs. vanilla

Add milk to fill 4 qt. freezer bag 2/3 full.

Lila adds a little lemon extract or lemon juice, not enough to taste, but

to enhance the flavor.

Sausage Rice Casserole

Note: Rice was first introduced into this country by way of South Carolina!

1 (6 oz.) box Uncle Ben’s long-grain and wild rice

1 lb. ground sausage

2 small onions, chopped

1 (4 oz.) can mushroom pieces

1 (10 & 3/4 oz.) can condensed cream of mushroom soup

1/2 stick butter

Preheat oven to 350°. Cook rice according to directions on box. In a heavy skillet over medium heat, cook sausage until thoroughly done, about four to five minutes. Drain. Combine all ingredients except butter and pour into casserole dish. Dot top with butter. Bake until bubbly. About 25 minutes.

Benne Pecan Chicken

Simple but fancy enough for any dinner party with a southern flair!

1 stick butter

1 cup buttermilk

1 egg slightly beaten

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup ground pecans

1 Tbs. salt

1 Tbs. paprika

1/8 tsp. pepper

1/4 cup sesame (benne) seeds

2 (2 & 1/2 lb.) chickens, cut into quarters and pieces

1/4 cup pecan halves

Preheat oven to 350°. Melt butter in a 10x15 baking pan. In a shallow dish combine buttermilk and egg. In another dish combine flour, pecans, salt, paprika, pepper and sesame seeds. Dip chicken in buttermilk, then in flour. Place skin side down in melted butter. Torn to coat and leave skin side up. Sprinkle with pecan halves. Bake for one and one fourth hours.

Peaches + Cream Cheese + Cake Mix

1 pkg. dry cake mix, white, yellow or French vanilla

1/3 cup butter, room temperature

2 large eggs, divided

1 (29 oz.) can light peach slices, drained

8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature

1/3 cup sugar

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 9x13 pan with nonstick cooking spray. In a large bowl combine cake mix, butter and one egg; mix with fork just until crumbly. Set aside one and one-half crumbs for topping. Press the remaining crumbs on bottom of prepared pan; Bake 10 minutes. Cut peach slices into one inch pieces; Spoon onto partially-baked crust. In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar, one egg and vanilla extract; beat with mixer until creamy. Spread over top of peaches. Sprinkle with reserved crumbs; Bake 30 minutes. Chill at least 30 minutes before serving. Serves 12. Store leftovers in refrigerator.