iStock_000020403894_Small.fireworks GGB

Fourth of July makes me think of family. Picnics. Badminton. Cold fried chicken and potato salad. First watermelon of the summer. Fading heat of the day as darkness falls and the sparklers come out.

It’s just not the same in San Francisco. Where it’s NEVER anywhere near HOT on Independence Day. Where fireworks over the Golden Gate Bridge bloom like multicolored bruises under a skin of fog. Where one chicken breast and a lump of potato salad fancied up with caviar will cost you $16.95.

Makes me want to get in the kitchen and start cooking. That’s something my partner and I do a lot, even without this recommendation by (see #8). Yes, it’s economical, yet there’s something supremely satisfying about perusing my ratty collection of recipes and choosing a dish of edible nostalgia for the holiday.

Like one of my Grandmother Barker’s dessert recipes. Written on index cards in her careful hand:

barker recipes

Or my Grandmother Cummins’ cornbread recipe or my father’s Flannel Cakes recipe. I wrote these down hastily, figuring I’d type up a more complete version later. Now it’s 25 years later…


Or this annotated Sloppy Joe recipe, torn – along with a dozen others – from my disintegrated copy of The Silver Palate before I chucked it into the recycling:

sloppy joe

Now, which one shall I try this weekend? Red Velvet Cake sounds yummy, and you know it’ll be better than any “retro all-American store-bought” version. Although, come to think of it, Susiecakes does bake some kickass Red Velvet…

I lead writing workshops in the Bay Area, and spend much of my so-called free time writing. To support my avocation (and my family) I sell residential real estate in San Francisco; for more about that visit or