Celebrate the Fourth of July

Where will you celebrate the Fourth of July? Park? Beach? The lake? Wherever it is, there will be something for you in this selection.

 

There is no doubt celebrating the Fourth of July is great fun and a great spectacle. One of my favorite spots is Brooklyn Heights, in New York, where one can see the whole New Jersey coast lit up in fireworks before enjoying the city's own firework display. Of course, one needs to go early to grab a good spot. In fact, one will have to wait many hours. Take something you can use as a seat and snacks.

Party in the park on the Fourth of July

In any small town, the Fourth of July is a huge, all day party in the park, starting with a parade in the morning and ending with the fireworks after dusk. When my children were small, we would go to the park early and make our "base camp" for the day. When you live in a small town, as children get older, they can then go around with their friends to the various activities and check in periodically back at the base camp.

You need to pack enough food to last the whole day including snacks and beverages. Plan to eat one meal "out" because, well, it's fun and a nice treat. Buy other special treats and beverages throughout the day, which lessens the weight of the cooler.

The best way to pack for a day long park party is to make it light and easily accessible. The way to accomplish this is by planning ahead. Take lots of finger food that is nutritious, yummy and doesn't require refrigeration. Try to tote only one cooler to the park and this is usually easily done since we do get some drinks and other goodies in the park.

First, put what beverages you do plan on taking -like bottled water- in the bottom. Cover them with ice. Then put all your snacks and other food items that need to be kept cold on the top of the ice. Be sure to seal them all in zippered baggies to seal out moisture.

Some great snack ideas that are healthy and easy to pack for a long day in the park are:

  • Chopped, raw veggies
  • Nuts
  • Dry cereal
  • Cheese slices or cubes
  • Beef Jerky
  • Peanut butter and crackers
  • Goldfish
  • Pickles
  • Firecracker Pretzel rods

You will also want to have baby or hand wipes on hand for spills, stickiness and other such uses. You never know how accessible clear running water will be, or if the restroom will be clean. I know our public restroom at our park gets quite nasty. We try to use one of the nearby restaurants when we get food. Obviously, you have to do what works in your park or town.

As always, use caution when lighting your own firecrackers and sparklers. Please don't leave lighters or other matches lying around for small fingers to get a hold of and be sure you only use legal firecrackers. They are illegal for a reason!

Fourth of July - beach style

The beach is a great place to spend the Fourth of July but it's not always easy to come up with ideas for food to take to the beach. The food has to keep in hot weather, be easy to transport and be easy to prepare at the beach. In addition, it's not always easy to make the Fourth of July stand out from any other day at the beach, so I here's a few ideas that will help you make your Fourth of July sparkle.

Beachy food tips and ideas

First of all, you want to make sure you have plenty of ice and a good cooler. You don't want your food to spoil or your beverages to get warm. Yuk! The best way to pack a cooler is to put your beverages in first, then cover with ice.

Then put all of your food products in zippered baggies to keep them from getting wet and place them on top of the ice. If you have two coolers, use one for beverages only and the other for food. In the one for food, use freezer packs to keep the food cold or put all of the ice in freezer baggies. This will keep your food from getting soggy while keeping it cold.

Also, try to limit the number of times the cooler gets opened. Every time it gets opened, it lets the cold air out. And be extra careful if you are transporting meat or mayonnaise. Keep it as cold as possible at all times.

If you head to the beach early in the day and stay through dinner, try to use your meat for lunch. Say if you're grilling burgers, do that for lunch, then make peanut butter sandwiches for dinner. It will ensure that your meat doesn't spoil.

Here are some foods we've taken (successfully) to the beach and how we did it. From meat to good veggies to serve with your beach steak such as potato pockets.

Grilled burgers

I make the patties at home first then place a piece of wax paper between each and store in a zippered freezer baggie.
I tote the buns in a cloth grocery bag (LOVE those) along with other things like chips and other snacks.
I usually have a "beach" set of mayo, mustard and ketchup, so our home stuff doesn't get ruined or sandy. I have a set of squeeze bottles for ease at the beach and to save on clean up.
I take veggies like lettuce leaves, sliced tomatoes, onion slices and pickles in a zippered baggies. You can do the same with sliced cheese, even though it's pre-wrapped.

Steak, ribs or other such meat

We love to make steak on the grill and at the beach it can be tricky, especially to eat.

Pre-season each steak at home and store in a zippered baggie. You can even add your marinade to your steak while it's in the baggie!

The key to successful steak eating at the beach is to use a plastic plate as opposed to a paper plate or a Styrofoam plate. Be sure to tote some steak knives too! We usually forget the steak knives, but eating with your hands is allowed at the beach!

Potato Pockets

Chop peeled potatoes into bit size pieces and place on a rectangular piece of aluminum foil coated with olive oil. Add chopped onion and garlic powder and make a pocket with the foil, folding in the corners and sealing tightly. Place in a freezer baggie for toting in the cooler. About 15 minutes before grilling the steak, remove the pocket from the baggie and place on the grill. Turn occasionally for even cooking.

Healthy snacks:

Instead of the usual potato chips try these yummy snack ideas.

  • Slice some apples and sprinkle with lemon juice to keep them from turning brown.
  • Cut up carrots or baby carrots, cucumber slices, broccoli, cauliflower and olives are easy to store in zippered baggies in the cooler.
  • Cheese cubes
  • Pickles, removed from the jar and put in a, you guessed it, zippered baggie.
  • Ants on a Log, aka celery stalks with cream cheese and raisins. Pre-make at home, wrap each one in aluminum foil and tote in a ZB. Some folks prefer peanut butter rather than cream cheese, whatever works!
  • Fruits like oranges, peaches and plums are perfect for the beach. You can eat them without worrying about dripping on your clothes or floor! And any peels or seeds can be tossed right on the beach! I would throw them out of the way, like in the grass though, so others don't walk on them.
  • Beef jerky is a great beach snack. Make up individual baggies for each person.
  • Peanuts and other nuts are also healthy and good beach snacks that you can divide into individual baggies as well.

Celebrating the Fourth of July on the water

There is no better place to be than on a boat during the Fourth of July! Pack food, supplies and other necessities and spend late morning to late night on the boat on the water. We have enjoyed some boating days around the large lakes in new Hampshire, when you boat, stop and swim, boat some more, swim, beach it sometimes and then watch the fireworks from the boat as they shoot them right over the lake!

Spending the entire day on the lake takes some preparation, especially if you want to make it festive for a Holiday like the Fourth of July. If you have a smaller sort of boat that doesn't have a lot of storage space or a galley, so we have to use coolers and totes or bags.

  • You can purchase red, white and blue paper products for meal time to make it more festive.
  • The key to keeping food cold in coolers on long boating days is using lots of ice and be prepared to purchase more ice if necessary. If you have two coolers, use one for beverages and the other for food. Put all of your food items in zippered freezer baggies to seal out moisture. Put the beverages on the bottom of the cooler first then add ice on top. In the food cooler, put the ice first then the food on top.
  • Prepare as much food at home as possible. Here are some ideas, tips and suggestions:
  • Chopped vegetables, divided into separate baggies
  • Cheese cubes
  • Sandwiches, prepared, wrapped in aluminum foil and placed in individual freezer baggies
  • If you are planning to grill hamburgers on the beach or at a park, make your burger patties at home. Place a piece of wax paper between each pattie and store in a large freezer bag.
  • Purchase separate squeeze condiment bottles that you use specifically for the boat.
  • Remove pickles with a small amount of juice from the jar and place in freezer bags. This is safer and will lighten the load.
  • Individually wrapped, sliced cheese needs to be placed in a freezer bag as well to prevent moisture from seeping in.
  • Tote bread, chips and other dry goods in cloth grocery bags.
  • Remember, drinking and driving don't mix, even in a boat! If you are going to serve alcoholic beverages, make certain you have a designated driver for the boat!

Have a safe and happy 4th of July!