When the sun’s blazing and the kids are out of school, everyone’s just looking for an excuse to fire up the grill—and I can’t think of a better one than a Fourth of July cookout. Independence Day has always been one of my favorite holidays. It doesn’t require a lot of fuss—no gift giving or intricate, 4-course meals—it’s just a bunch of friends and families gathering for a festive cookout to celebrate the freedoms we’re privileged to have and the service men and women who protect us each and every day.
When I was coming up, we’d spend every Fourth of July at Aunt Peggy and Uncle George’s house because they lived next to ground zero for the annual fireworks show. During the day we’d stuff ourselves with corn on the cob, hamburgers and berry pie and then we’d spread out a blanket, lie on our backs and stare up at the sky, waiting for the fireworks. I just loved watching them rocket into the air and explode, showering the sky with color.
Years later, Bobby came along and informed me—in not so much words as screams—that he did not like fireworks. In fact, he was petrified of them. He’d run into the house and hide underneath Aunt Peggy’s bed, screaming bloody murder. I think back now of the torture I put that child through and I feel so bad for the poor thing, but I guess I didn’t do any lasting harm—Bobby likes fireworks now.
Once we moved to Savannah we started hosting parties here on the Wilmington River. They’re never complicated affairs; they’re low-key summer cookouts that everyone enjoys. All you really need is to throw some red, white and blue together and you’ve got yourself the fixin’s for a party. Anything after that is gravy, and the more attention to fun little details, the better. I put out red and blue striped paper drinking straws, using some of ‘em for the lemonade and the rest for refreshing star-shaped watermelon pops. And everyone enjoys desserts that showcase the fruits of the season—and the party’s color palette—like blueberry and strawberry pies and a divine berry crumble. After dinner, everyone can cool off with some red, white and blue frozen rocket pops in anticipation of the first firework to launch.
These days we pass the time until dusk by heading out on our boat. Sometimes we’ll take it downtown to River Street and watch the fireworks show from there, but more often we just get in our little fishing boat and cruise down to the Savannah Yacht Club. There the water is just full of boats, and you get to see everybody you know.
Even though we’re on the water, it’s a party scene not much different than the one I enjoyed when I was younger, honoring the most important day in American history the same way we always have: laughing, lounging and looking up to the sky.
3/4 cup halved, hulled strawberries
1 tablespoon superfine sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt (not reduced-fat or fat-free)
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons lemon juice
3/4 cup blueberries
1 – 2 tablespoons superfine sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
To make the strawberry layer, combine the strawberries and sugar in a medium bowl. Let stand, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is syrupy and completely dissolved, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a food processor with the lemon juice and pulse until smooth. Evenly divide the mixture into six (3-ounce) ice pop molds; freeze until almost firm, about 40 minutes.
To make the yogurt layer, whisk together the yogurt, honey, and lemon juice in a small bowl. Remove the molds from the freezer and evenly top with the yogurt mixture, filling each 1/3 of the way. Freeze until almost firm, about 30 minutes.
To make the blueberry layer, combine the blueberries and sugar in a medium bowl. Let stand, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is syrupy and completely dissolved, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a food processor with the lemon juice and pulse until smooth. Remove the molds from the freezer. If using ice pop sticks, insert them through the yogurt layer. Top evenly with the with the blueberry mixture, leaving 1/4-inch of free space at the top. If using mold covers, top the yogurt evenly with the blueberry mixture, top with the mold covers, and freeze until frozen, about 6 hours or overnight.
To serve, dip the bottom of each mold in hot water to loosen, about 10 seconds. Remove pops from the molds. Serve at once.
Prep Time: 15 minutes + chilling time