Last year I was truly touched by the Fourth of July fireworks display. Literally. Bits of burning plastic and cardboard shrapnel rained down on my mosquito repellant-covered arms and fine black powder floated into my eyes.
In Montana, massive fireworks are completely legal and accessible to the average citizen. My husband, who is, of course, above average, procured a Montana wholesale fireworks dealer license. He brought home a package containing a full arsenal of the biggest shells available. You can imagine the kind. It’s the package of fireworks the size of a five-year-old, but twice as wide. It’s the one that makes guys involuntarily gather ’round in a driveway, admire, and reverently utter, “Whoa.”
The fireworks display that this massive package produced (plus one more 500 gram maximum-legal-load for good measure) was equivalent to the fireworks display shown in St. Charles each year. So right there, in our friends’ yard in little old Broadview, Montana, we had a professional quality display. Well, professional, except for the part where we sat in the driveway, and they lit off the massive explosions directly over us from the side yard.
My husband, Jarred, was the ring leader of pyrotechnics and bordering on euphoria at the end of the night. With a trigger-ignited MAPP gas torch in his hand, happy as a little boy with a firecracker, he lined up and fired off explosives in rapid succession in the all-too-near side yard of our friends’ house. Welding and its sparks are just in a day’s work for my husband, so sparks and ashes flying all around him on the 4th felt both festive and rather ordinary.
As for me, I can’t say I enjoyed fireworks last year. Somehow, it just isn’t as fun when you fear for the safety of yourself and your children. When I see movies at the theater, I hate being in the front row. It’s just too close. Multiply that feeling by 100 when the closeness is explosive devices mass-produced in China.
The phrase “so close you can touch it” should never apply to pyrotechnics.
About 20 little kids scurried around during the party, and a long line of them gathered in little camping chairs to watch the fireworks. By the end of the night, tired of sparks flying their way, the kids began taking cover with a baby blanket every time a shell was fired off.
The next day, my friend threw the baby blanket away because it had too many burn holes in it.
Yes, last year, everyone had plenty of hands-on learning with fireworks. The “rockets red glare” and “bombs bursting in air” that night felt a lot like a war time lesson in “duck and cover.” The “oohs” and “ahs” usually came from “Oooh! Watch out!” and “Ah! One landed on me.”
I’m excited, though, to see fireworks this year. I’m even more excited to not feel them landing on me.
This year, we will head to St. Charles for fireworks and take our place on the best spot in the grass, the very same spot that’s been a tradition in my family for some 50 years now. If I told you the exact spot, then you’d all want to sit there. And you just can’t. It’s ours.
While it may look like open grass, free for public use, I assure you that 200 square feet is permanently reserved. The city of St. Charles may beg to differ, but I don’t care. Land of the free, except for that spot of grass.
I do love America, land of the free, home of the brave. I also love pie. In honor of America’s birthday, then, I now present to you my very favorite pie. If it wasn’t for the guilt and shame involved, I could easily consume an entire pie by myself. That is why this recipe makes two: one for you, one for your family.
This delicious recipe came from my mom, something she cut out of a newspaper, probably this very one, years ago. The whipped cream and blueberries, however, are my very own Independence Day touch.
May I substitute Cool Whip, you ask? Ick, and NO. June is Dairy Month. Support our Minnesotan dairy farmers and eat that delicious product that came from cows. And please do not EVER call that abomination in the blue tub “whipped cream.” That stuff is not cream, it’s corn syrup and oil, folks.
Anyway… If making whipped cream sounds terrifying, you can use Redi Whip, which is real cream in a can. If you completely run out of time to make this pie, just squirt Redi Whip directly into your guests’ mouths. Delicious and fun.
So, for some fabulously festive fourth fare, make this here strawberry pie. Your tummy and your friends will thank you.
4th of July Strawberry Pie
Red, white, blue, and delicious!
1 ½ lbs. fresh strawberries
2 c. flour
¾ c. butter
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 ½ c. sugar
1 ½ c. water
3 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 pkg. (3 oz. size) strawberry Jello
3 Tbsp. butter
1 tsp. vanilla
red food coloring (optional)
1. Wash and slice strawberries, set aside.
2. Prepare crust: Cut together flour, ¾ c. butter, 2 T. sugar, and salt. Press into two pie pans or one 9 x 13 cake pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 min. Let cool.
3. Prepare glaze: In saucepan, mix 1 ½ c. sugar, water, and cornstarch. Simmer until thick and clear, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and add jello, butter, and vanilla. Add food coloring as desired. Stir until glaze is well mixed and cooler.
4. Assemble pie: Divide strawberries into cooled pie crusts, arranging as desired. Pour glaze over berries. Refrigerate until cool. Works well as a make-ahead dessert.
5. Just before serving, top with a very large dollop of whipped cream and a generous handful of blueberries. (If you need help with making whipped cream, Google it or call your mother.)
Now, eat some pie, watch some fireworks, and let freedom ring! Happy Independence Day!
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