Last Minute Planning; Menu for the Fourth of July

As the 4th is rapidly approaching, I have absolutely no motivation to plan for our traditional outdoor dinner. After a busy month of travel and such, I feel that summer has already zapped my party planning “mojo.” Prepared or not, we are still going to celebrate this Independence Day as every year.

We start with the local fireman’s pancake breakfast, followed by the parade in the Montecito Upper Village (which, btw, is the cutest darn parade in the world). A little beach and/or pool time is a relaxing midday treat, and then an easy family style meal outside on the patio with our nearest and dearest. Easy, right? Not so much. That makes for a colossal list of fun to maneuver and manage in a single day, regardless of the number of people you are hosting, and — the big clincher —  two little ones “helping.”

Honestly, I feel like right now I should change my web site name to “the disorganized entertainer” — pulling off last minute events, one at a time! It all seems slightly overwhelming, but not an impossible task to manage in tribute to Lady Liberty. With a little effort today and tomorrow, a well-stocked pantry, an abundance of party wine, and a flourishing garden, I know I can pull it together. Here’s to a great celebration of a holiday that allows us the freedom and independence to eat, drink and garden!

Menu — this menu is both kid friendly and easy to prepare. It covers all the basics and then friends can add to it, if they volunteer to bring something. The key to my success is to stick with my menu (no freelancing!) and to get all my shopping done today. Ready, set, go…


Grilled Party Wings (a staple appetizer around here … and an easy way to get some protein in the kids)

Chips, salsa and guacamole

“Ribs by Robles” (Rub – Friday / Braise – Saturday / Grill – Sunday. Mr. Robles is actually letting me help him prepare them this year; I feel so honored.)

Old Fashioned Potato Salad, with fresh tarragon and homemade mayo

Watermelon two ways (Small melons are better. Of course, this is coming from a flat chested Newport Beach girl, bet you didn’t think we existed!)

  • Big wedges for the kids
  • In a mock Greek salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, feta and basil

Corn on the cob (White is preferred, shucked on Sunday by the kids … keeps ’em busy)

Italian Cheesecake, with blueberries and berry glaze (see photo)

Sundae Bar — it is Sunday, after all.   Homemade buttermilk ice cream, fudge and raspberry sauce (Fudge I made a week ago, raspberry and ice cream will be made on Saturday)


Muddled Peach Cocktail with mint and agave nectar (My new peach trees are producing an abundance of delicious fruit.)

W2 x 2 (wine: red & white, and water: sparkling & flat)


Every year a mix of dahlias gets plopped into vases on the table, straight from the garden. Cloth flag napkins and white dishes are ready, so with the flowers the table is pretty much done. Shhh, I think my neighbor’s dark blue agapanthus might end up on the table too. Don’t they look just like fireworks on a stem? A bright mix of blue and white! Perfect.

Now that you’ve helped me get my list together, I am off to the market. Enjoy your weekend of celebrating!