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Independence Day in the US is all about BBQs and fireworks. I guess it is a fitting way to celebrate a birthday. I mean, we all usually celebrate our personal birthdays with great food,cake and fanfare .
I think next year, on my birthday, I should ask for the fireworks, too. ;)

But really there is no better way to celebrate a holiday or event than with delicious food. We all know that well. This weekend we were celebrating with my family. My mom and my aunt and uncle came up to Saint Augustine to celebrate the birth of the USA in the oldest town in the USA. We spent Friday afternoon sightseeing and so I decided on a simple menu, that I could do ahead of time, so that I could not only enjoy my guests, but so that we could have a delicious, but quick meal in between all of the festivities.

You know what they say though about the best intentions…

Menu:

Pork Kebabs with my special Middle Eastern inspired meat rub with cippolini, orange bell pepper and cherry tomatoes with Tzatziki

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Since I don’t have a grill, and can’t grill where I live (2nd story condo in a downtown area) I did my kebabs under the broiler!

Tangy Potato Salad: loosely based on Nana’s Potato Salad but with lots of sweet Hungarian paprika and some cider vinegar thrown in

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Green Beans Vinaigrette: Just green beans tossed with garlic, cilantro, sherry vinegar and extra virgin olive oil
(sorry no pics)

To Drink? White Sangria with strawberries and stone fruit (bottle of Riesling, bottle of bubbly and chopped fruits)

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For Dessert? Cardamom and Pistachio Brownies from Mallika’s blog with homemade Pomegranate Sorbet (recipe to follow)

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So I gave myself Thursday afternoon and evening to boil the potatoes and blanch the green beans, prep the meat with the rub, make the tzatziki, the brownies and the sorbet. No big, do it all the time. I prepped the veggies and the meat in no time, with no difficulty. Then I made the brownies. It was a bit of a challenge because I have never made brownies from scratch (oh the horrors!) before (we are not big brownie people, so that is why), plus the recipe I was following on Mallika’s blog were in metric. So I sat down to quickly do the calculations and it just wasn’t making sense – so honestly I scrapped the directions and just winged it. They turned out a little on the cake-y side, as opposed to squidgy, but we actually prefer them this way, so they were fine.

Then it was time for the sorbet, my pièce de résistance. So I made the simple syrup in this tiny saucepan I have with a broken handle (meaning all that was there was the screw and a little piece of the handle). After it was all set, I went to pour it in a small pyrex bowl, to cool. But as I was pouring, the handle finally broke all the way off, and as this happened the pot fell onto the pyrex bowl, knocking it to the floor, shattering the bowl and spraying my freshly cleaned kitchen and newly bought kitchen carpet with super sticky gooey simple syrup. The first thing that came to my mind after, “thank goodness I miraculously avoided being burned” was: “oh crap, Roberto is going to kill me!” (he has been trying to get me to throw this pan away for ages), followed by “Damn it! I am out of sugarrrrrrrrrrrr!” also dammit, my pyrex bowl is broken and dammit I no longer have a small saucepan. Followed by “I can’t believe I have to go back to the store!”

From there it was just a downward spiral. My kitchen was covered in gooey glass, and I needed to go get more sugar. So I zipped out to the store, while Roberto kindly volunteered to do cleanup duty (thank the Universe for good and helpful husbands!).
As I was driving to the store, the light for gas came on, so I had to stop and pay a gazillion dollars for a tank of gas. Then when I finally got the the store, I stepped out of the car and dropped my cell phone onto the pavement, which then promptly fell apart. I had had it, and expletives were flying from my mouth when I look up and see a mother with her little daughter walking towards me. As I mouthed “so sorry” to her, I picked up my cell phone pieces, put it back together and braced myself for the insanity that is the day before a holiday shopping frenzy at the grocery! Luckily I made it out alive and without any problems, and back home with no other detours. I managed to finish making the sorbet before completely crashing. We ate some leftovers, drank a mojito to dull the pain and torture of earlier events, and watched a few episodes of Buffy, The Vampire Slayer on DVD. Normalcy returned and all ended well.

The next day our guests arrived and we all enjoyed a nice and relaxing weekend. I hope you all in the US enjoyed your long weekend too!

Pomegranate Sorbet:

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INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 cup pure cane sugar
1 1/3 cups water
2 cups pure unadulterated pomegranate juice
1/2 cup vanilla infused vodka
1/3 cup pomegranate seeds (optional for crunch)

METHOD:

Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Turn off heat and stir until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and cool completely.

Combine pomegranate juice, vodka and sugar syrup. Pour into ice cream maker and follow manufacturer’s directions. Before putting into the freezer, fold in the pomegranate seeds.