Happy 4th of July (a.k.a. the Goletians’ Favorite Holiday)

Early one 4th of July morning, circa 1997ish, a group of long time friends all from Goleta, California met at Goleta Beach to celebrate this great holiday.  They met by the volleyball courts and the Beachside restaurant with Paul’s camping stove, burrito makings, volleyballs, and a lot of beer.  The morning would begin at around 8:00 and the evening would end about 12 hours later, spending the entire day celebrating at the beach.

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Slowly girlfriends and wives entered the picture, the cooking equipment upgraded, a few decorations and a canopy sprinkled into the mix, but the tradition never died.  All the girls laugh affectionately as we each describe how excited our husbands get about this holiday.  Forget Christmas, the 4th of July is here!

All of the boys stand eagerly at the door holding as much beach equipment as they can possibly fit into their arms, having packed everything else in the cars hours earlier.  They call out excitedly, “Come on!  Everyone’s already there!” or “Oh man, we’re late!” because the hand on the clock has now struck 9:30.  Quite frankly, it’s the cutest thing in the world and a tradition that I have now come to love.

The reason for this story is the recipes I’m about to share.  For the last four years Paul has let me pick what I want to make, with the exception of his mom’s famous teriyaki sauce.  His bar-b-que skewers have become a mainstay at the beach, and they quickly get devoured each year.  Nana Darga has given me permission to share, and so I will (it’s delicious!).

This year, G5 (the wives married to five of the Goleta guys) decided to combine our powers of good and organized fun morning refreshments.  So out came the mimosas, cheese and heirloom tomatoes with crackers, and banana bread (requested by my dear friend, Andrea).  We dined well even before the BBQ was fired up, enjoying the beach and avoiding getting hit by a rogue volleyball.

I hope you all enjoyed this special holiday as much as we did!

Creamy Banana Bread (care of allrecipes.com)

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(Note:  I used more banana than called for ~ four bananas in all.  Also, although the stripe in the bread is pretty, I expected a lot more cinnamon/sugar flavor.  It really didn’t add much to the bread, but the overall flavor of the bread was good.)

INGREDIENTS:  1/2 cup margarine (softened), 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
(softened), 1 1/4 cups white sugar, 2 eggs, 1 cup mashed bananas, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 3/4 cup chopped pecans, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

DIRECTIONS:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two 8×4-inch loaf pans.  Cream the margarine and cream cheese together. Gradually add the white sugar, and continue beating until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the mashed bananas and vanilla. Add flour, baking powder, and baking soda; mix until batter is just moist.  In a small bowl, mix together chopped pecans, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, and cinnamon.  Divide half the batter between the two prepared loaf pans. Sprinkle pecan mixture over the batter in the pans, and top with remaining batter.  Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted in the center of each loaf comes out clean, about 45 minutes.

Nana’s Teriyaki Sauce (care of Karen Darga)

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(Note:  I multiplied this by 6 so that we’d have enough.  I also use way more ginger and garlic ~ you can never have enough of both in this recipe.)

INGREDIENTS:  1/2 cup soy sauce, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup water, 1 piece of fresh ginger root, 1 clove garlic

DIRECTIONS:  Combine liquids with sugar.  Mince ginger and garlic and add to the liquids.  Stir well so that the sugar will dissolve.  Pour over flank steak and chicken, and ideally let sit over night.

Heirloom Tomatoes with Triple Cream Cheese

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INGREDIENTS:  heirloom tomatoes, olive oil, salt, pepper, basil (optional), triple cream cheese (set out an hour before serving), yummy crackers

DIRECTIONS:  Slice tomatoes thinly.  Layer across a plate and sprinkle with olive oil, salt, and pepper and basil (again, optional).  Set cheese in corner of plate and arrange crackers near by.

Fresh Corn Salad (care of Ina Garten)

INGREDIENTS:  5 ears of fresh corn (shucked), 1/2 cup small-diced red onion (about 1 small onion), 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon, freshly ground black pepper, 1/2 cup chiffonade fresh basil leaves

DIRECTIONS:  In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the corn for 3 minutes until the starchiness is just gone.  Drain and immerse it in ice water to stop the cooking and to set the color.  When the corn is cool, cut the kernels off the cob, cutting close to the cob.  Toss the kernels in a large bowl with the red onions, vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Just before serving, toss in the fresh basil.  Taste for seasonings and serve cold or at room temperature.

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