Okay, so maybe the Schoolhouse Rock reference is a little obscure, but I figured that it was appropriate, given the occasion. Today I had a little get-together for the 4th of July. Except that, in Chicago, we have our annual fireworks display over the lake on the day before, so I decided to throw a 3rd of July party instead. The plan was to have a few friends over for dinner, and then we would stroll over to the baseball diamonds in Grant Park for a choice view of the fireworks. Aside from a few no-shows on the guest list, everything went according to plan.
For hors d'oeuvres I honored Lisa's request and made the Crescent Roll pigs in blankets for which I've honed my skills over many Wyatt family Christmases. The main course consisted of muffuletta sandwiches for the pork eaters, chicken salad sandwiches for the kosher guests, a corn and black bean salad, and since it wouldn't be summer without food on a stick, Caprese salad skewers. To further the theme, I made popsicles for dessert - both peaches and cream and pineapple coconut. I even went the Sandra Lee route, and offered up a signature cocktail -- a delightful strawberry peach sangria.
Although I had some apprehensions about serving a menu in which I had only made two items before (the pigs in blankets and the Caprese salad), the food was largely a success. The only dark spots were the corn and black bean salad, made from a labor-intensive Martha Stewart recipe that yielded a strangely bland and gummy final result, and the pineapple coconut popsicles, which weren't terrible, but weren't as intensely flavored as their peach counterparts. Look for some of the more successful recipes during the following week.
After eating, we headed over to Grant Park for the fireworks. Here is Lisa and Alex...
...and Lauren and Clarence.
I led everyone over to the park with picnic blankets in tow, around 8:30, as I was under the belief that the fireworks started at 9:30. I thought we'd have plenty of time to get a good spot and enjoy the lovely lemon cookies that Lauren had baked for the occasion, but we were totally taken by surprise when the sky lit up slightly before 9:00. It turned out to be of little importance, and everyone was impressed by my knowledge of such a good location for fireworks viewing. The baseball diamonds are a perfect spot, because they aren't nearly as crowded as the lakefront or the promontory in front of the museum campus, but you still get an unobstructed view over the treetops. The fireworks were great, as always, although I think there were fewer than there have been in more economically abundant times.
Fireworks go BOOM!
After the display, we booked it back to the condo in advance of the hordes, and had a few more beverages while everyone waited for the traffic to die down. All in all, I thought it was a successful party, and I was glad I could show my friends a bit of hospitality. I love being a hostess, and it always warms the cockles of my heart to have the opportunity!