By Cathy Best
Flags, John Philip Sousa, fireworks, barbeques, picnics and hand-shaking politicians are all the makings for an Independence Day celebration. Whether it’s a community event, lakeside gathering or entertaining family in the backyard, July 4th reminds me of what it means to live in this country and in this community. It’s one of my favorite holidays and not just because we make homemade ice cream. The city, and surrounding communities, pulls out all the stops to insure we enjoy our freedom. This is how we do it.
Main Street is lined with waving flags. Homes, businesses, and government buildings proudly fly Old Glory, so nicknamed by “early 19th-century sea captain William Driver.” The stars and stripes celebrate our freedom and honor those who fight to make freedom possible for all of us. It’s best to fly a flag that is brightly colored and in good condition. Check it for fading and wear issues before running it up the flagpole. To dispose of a worn flag you’ll find a receptacle at the fire station in downtown Madison sponsored by the American Legion. The Legion regularly picks up the flags and properly disposes of them.
Athens Classic City Band entertains the picnic crowd on the Cultural Center lawn with scores by John Philip Sousa beginning at 7 p.m. July 3. In the event of rain the band plays on in The Hall on Foster Street. The Center is set to host Shelby McLeod singing the National Anthem as well as special guest Uncle Sam. Following the Center’s evening festivities the city sponsored firework display begins at Heritage Park between 9-9:30 p.m.
On July 4th take the family out to Riden’s pecan grove in downtown Bostwick, between 11 a.m. – 2 p.m., for pork barbecue. Spend the evening at Fire Station Park in Buckhead dining on chicken barbecue and watching fireworks. Both Bostwick and Buckhead are fund-raising events and both offer take-out.
If you plan to stay out at the lake or fire up the grill at home here’s a quick, make-ahead, dessert that can be assembled at the last minute. This is a modified Better Homes and Gardens recipe.
Red, White and Blueberry Shortcake
Oven temperature 450 degrees
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup finely ground pecans
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup butter
1 beaten egg
2/3 cup milk
1 tablespoon orange zest
3 cups sliced fresh strawberries or whole raspberries
3 cups fresh blueberries
1/8 cup sugar or to taste
1 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
In a medium mixing bowl stir together flour, ground pecans, ¼ cup sugar and baking powder. Cut in butter until mixture resembles course meal. In a mixing bowl combine egg, milk, and 2 teaspoons orange zest. Add to dry ingredients. Stir until moistened. Drop the dough into 8 or 10 mounds on ungreased baking sheet; flatten each mound to 1/4 inch thick. Bake at 450 degrees for 7-8 minutes or until golden. Transfer to wire rack and cool. Store in airtight container until ready to assemble.
In a bowl stir together sliced strawberries, 1/8 cup sugar, and remaining orange zest; allow to sit for at least 20 minutes or refrigerate until ready to assemble. In medium, chilled, mixing bowl combine whipping cream, 2 tablespoons sugar, and vanilla. Beat with chilled beaters on medium speed until soft peaks form.
Cut shortcakes in half horizontally with a serrated knife. Lift top off, spoon a generous amount of strawberries and blueberries on bottom half and top with whipped cream. Replace the shortcake top and top with more strawberries, blueberries and cream. Garnish with a few strawberries and blueberries.