Jul 1, 2008

Patriotic Parties

by Natalie Mitts

 It's that time of year again with summer barbecues galore. Whether it's the Fourth of July or a random Tuesday in August, a patriotic theme is always in style.

Use bandanas as napkins, placemats, tablecloths, table runners or aprons (check out our version under Kitchen Crafts). Use bright red and blue bandanas to carry out the theme.

For a great table decoration, fill a jar with water. In a small bowl, mix a few drops (no more than four) of food coloring with a tablespoon of vegetable oil. Mix until the food coloring is separated into tiny dots. The two are insoluble and will not blend together. Then add the mixture to the jar of water. Watch as the colors swirl around to combine with water. This looks the best in the first few minutes, so be sure to time it for when guests arrive.

Use clear glasses of varying size as centerpieces by filling them with colored sand. Layer red, white and blue sand to create stripes of vibrant color.

For daytime parties, make a star template and trace it onto colored cardboard. Cut out the stars and hang on the walls or dangle over a patio on a string. For nighttime events, buy glow-in-the-dark stars to tack to the underside of a canopy.

Grill up some of Chef John's Stuffed Burgers, featured as the July Recipe of the Month. Toast the buns on the grill and add tomatoes. Serve chips, fruit salad and raw veggies on the side.
Store bottled drinks in a vintage metal bucket layered with ice and salt. Impress your guests with Chef John's recipe for Watermelon Agua Fresca.

Watermelon Agua Fresca
1 Serving
1 cup watermelon, diced, peeled, seeded and cut into chunks
1 cup cold water
1/2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 teaspoon honey, more or less to taste
1/2 orange, squeezed
Lime wedge and mint leaves for garnish
In a blender, combine watermelon and water and blend until smooth. Pour through a strainer into an ice-filled glass. You should end up with about 1 cup of liquid. Stir in lime juice, orange juice and honey. Garnish with lime and mint and serve. Use other fresh fruits for unique flavors.

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