Monday, July 13, 2009

on family, and the fourth

Some people worry about getting their in-laws together. I did when Dan and I started dating. Even though our parents live in the same city, I thought that they couldn't be any more different. What would we all talk about? His parents go to Paris on vacation, mine go to the mountains in Colorado. My parents like banana bread for breakfast, his parents like lox on bagels. My dad is in construction, his dad is in the magazine business. Some of us drink, others do not. What if everyone just hated each other? The anticipation made me a little crazy. So much so that I didn't allow them to get together and actually meet each other until we got engaged.

Luckily, my worrying was pointless and the great lox vs. banana bread argument never happened. Getting along wasn't an issue for our parents and they even hang out without us. They have several key things in common: similar political views, a strong bond with their only children, and a love of dogs. (Pets are the best icebreaker. Especially ones this cute.)

They also like to barbecue, which makes for easy get-togethers when we visit. We've started a tradition of going to Dan's parents' house for the Fourth of July, because they live walking distance from the city's big fireworks display. While it's still light out, we fire up the grill and eat snacks around the pool until the mosquitoes make us crazy. This year, there was shrimp cocktail on ice and some charred onion dip that I made. Creamy, with bits of caramelized onion running through, it was like a grown-up version of the soup mix dip I grew up eating.

Thoroughly bug-bitten and sweaty, we went into the house to soak up the air conditioning and eat a big meal. Judy, my mother-in-law, grilled tiny lamb chops. We sat around the beautifully set table and gnawed on the dainty bones, discussing Sarah Palin and Michael Jackson, the big bombshells of the weekend. Baking is Judy's strong suit (although she can grill a mean lamb chop) so there is always, always dessert at these get-togethers. We devoured her coffee ice cream tart drizzled with chocolate and a few juicy grilled peaches, made by Dan.


After dinner, we walked to watch the fireworks over the nearby Intracoastal Waterway. Dan and his mom sat on the sea wall, and Dan's dad chatted with my parents and me. The breeze picked up, and it almost felt pleasant, a rare thing in July in South Florida. As the explosions started, we oohed and ahhed, picking out our favorite ones. I leaned on my dad's shoulder, feeling content. It was silly to worry so much in the beginning--people always come together over the simplest things: a cool breeze, some grilled meat, ice cream, and fireworks in the sky.

Fourth of July '09
Shrimp cocktail
Charred onion dip
Grilled lamb chops
Greek salad
Roasted potatoes
Coffee ice cream tart
Grilled peaches with ice cream

Charred onion dip
I found this recipe, adapted from Frank Stitt’s Bottega Favorita, via the fantastic Lottie & Doof. I upped the mustard and Worcestershire sauce for extra oomph, but taste as you go and adjust the ingredients to your own preference.
(Makes about 3 cups)

2 cups sour cream
1 Tbsp. Mascarpone (I used room temperature cream cheese)
2 tsp. whole-grain mustard
6 dashes Tabasco sauce
2 Tbsp. thinly sliced chives (or green onions)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
Two 1/2-inch-thick slices charred red onion, finely chopped (I used one medium-sized onion cut into three slices; you could use two onions for a chunkier dip.)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine sour cream, Mascarpone, mustard, Tabasco, chives, lemon juice, and Worcestershire in a medium bowl. Fold in chopped onions, taste the mixture and season with salt, pepper and additional Tabasco if needed.

7 comments:

Laura [What I Like] said...

Oooh...I could go for some of that onion dip right about now!

Anonymous said...

The dip was so much better than
anything store bought. The pretty photos of the table and food
show how Judy goes the extra mile
for us, and it's always great to be there.

musingegret said...

Missed your posts but so happy y'all had a good vacation. Thank you for sharing so unselfishly.

Daniel said...

Charred onion dip, grilled lambchops, grilled peaches...Don't be alarmed...no Yorkies were harmed for this July 4th production.

(Although, Yorkshire terriers are obviously British in origin, and July 4th is the day we celebrate throwing off the shackles of our British overlords. Buster, you got off easy this time!)

Lisa said...

Laura: Thanks! Try it--it's a great recipe.

Anony: Yes, she does do a great job, doesn't she?

Musingegret: Thank you for reading--you made my day (love your name, btw)

Daniel: Who could hurt little Buster? Yorkies don't have much meat on them anyway.

Colin P. Delaney said...

The charred onion dip looks amazing. I have to make that.

judy said...

Thanks for the compliments. It was fun having you all.

Daniel, your sibling rivalry is showing. Buster was born in the USA. Where were you born Mr. Patriot? You can't even be president.

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