My God! How little do my countrymen know what precious blessings they are in possession of, and which no other people on earth enjoy! ~Thomas Jefferson
While I'm guessing that Jefferson wasn't specifically referring to Americans being blessed with easy access to mild fireworks, endless parades of kids on decorated bikes and piles and piles of processed food, with 200+ years of hindsight, it's not so hard to see how those things grew out of the real "precious blessings."
Although, I would imagine that TJ, fabulously-educated scholar and epicurean that he was, wouldn't have been all that thrilled about the level of preservatives and multi-syllabic chemicals injected in most standard 4th of July foods.
Anyway. All of this is a roundabout introduction to my own fourth of July, which consisted of all the usual fare, minus the mild fireworks. In the morning, Cooper and I took Dixon to the Towson parade, where we met Jen and Bill (with Maddy and Will) for a couple of hours of trying to keep the kids in one place. The grand marshall of the parade was none other than local Food Network star Duff Goldman, so we were excited to see him. But there was no cake, which was less exciting. His float was a little barren. I realize that transportation of a huge cake along a parade route would be a huge pain but...couldn't there have been something? Anything?
Other than that, the parade was fun, though we were also disappointed in the complete lack of step shows. Two years ago, there were at least seven different step teams represented. This year, we didn't see a single one (we did leave after 2 hours, though, and who knows how much longer the parade would last). Bring back the steppers!
Post-parade, we headed back to our house, where we were joined by a bunch of other friends for a cookout. And not just any cookout - we had steakburgers.
After reading about how much we enjoyed the hanger steak at Woodberry Kitchen, the people at Roseda Beef got in touch with me to see if I'd be interested in taste-testing some of their dry-aged steakburgers. I got the email while we were at the beach and, as everybody who was there knows, I was really excited. Besides the whole local farms angle (Roseda is in Monkton)...that hanger steak was amazing.
So we were all excited to try the burgers. We rounded out the meat portion of the meal with a handful of Omaha Steaks burgers, some barbecued chicken, and a couple of sausages.
My original plan was to taste-test both types of burgers, so I'd have a point of comparison. Unfortunately, things didn't work out that way, but even just from a visual standpoint, the Roseda burgers easily beat the Omaha Steaks version. The Roseda burgers were bigger, plumper and generally prettier. Cooper did taste both and he confirmed that the differences didn't end with how they looked.
I'm sure the Omaha Steaks burgers were good, but the Roseda burgers had a really great, round beef flavor that's unusual in a burger. These aren't burgers who's flavor you want to mask with a bunch of condiments. They really are more like steak - the flavor is rich and layered, but also fairly pure. They taste like meat. (Unfortunately, they were a little overcooked...Cooper was cooking a lot of stuff at once. But the flavor still came through, which means they'd be fantastic medium rare.)
Also, the burgers came with a lot of literature, which was really helpful. Because he's a guy and he's the griller in our house, Cooper read everything cover to cover. We both like the lit.
In addition to the piles of charred meat and a gross amount of chips, salsa, cheese and hummus, we had a spinach, strawberry and goat cheese salad with honey-roasted pecans, a warm potato salad dressed with chives and a dijon vinaigrette, and a huge mass of Stouffer's mac and cheese (ostensibly for the kids, but as somebody said during the day, one of the best things about having kids is the excuse to eat lots of not-homemade macaroni and cheese). For dessert, Karen C. made chocolate chip cookies that lasted about 3 minutes and I made a straight-out-of-the-box-plus-some-fruit flag cake (that I just remembered I took a picture of...I'll post it later).
It threatened to rain on and off and the air was humid and sticky, but that didn't stop anyone from eating way too much, or stop the kids from running in circles around the backyard for 4 straight hours. Dixon has so many scabs and scrapes, I'm not sure how he can function (seriously - he's a mess but doesn't seem to mind).
It took a few days to recover, but I can safely say that I'm ready for some burgers again. Bring them on!