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The 4th of July has always been a favorite. How could it not be?

Falling in the beginning of the best month of the year, it gives the whole entire country a reason to kick off festivities in grand style.

Heck, we even sang "America the Beautiful" at Mass on Sunday. How can the week be anything but glorious after that?

So the 4th is Saturday, and many folks have the luxury of a three-day weekend. And unlike Memorial Day, when we beg others to take a moment to remember what we are commemorating, the 4th is just all big fun.

The bigger, the better.

So make a plan, make a list, make a menu.

Invite the family and the friends and the neighbors. Remember Big Sal's first rule of entertaining -- have something to sit on for every human. It doesn't have to be real furniture. It can be a crate, a stool, a box. Just have somewhere for people to park with a glass and a plate.

And a back yard full of collapsible nylon chairs or those metal folding chairs you've been hoping to replace is better than no chairs. Eating standing up takes the fun out of a party.

Find a place where it's legal to shoot fireworks, and then buy some. Commercial vendors have a site outside Laramie appropriated for that reason. Closer to home, the Glenrock Fire Department supervises families shooting fireworks at the city-owned rodeo arena south of town.

It's all old-fashioned Americana, with high school groups working the concessions and receiving the profits. I've seen fireworks over the river in Detroit, I've seen them on the Esplanade in Boston, and at the private lake in Wisconsin where Peggy Jane the Mom lives. But seeing little kids and their dads making memories on a dusty, buggy patch of ground is priceless.

Light the grill, light the sky.

Our big festivus is actually next week, when family will visit for the first time in a very long time. But that doesn't mean there won't be food this weekend as well. Because, as you know, there's always food when Big Sal and the friend are around.

This is a great recipe because a) it tastes fabulous; b) you do the whole thing the night before; and c) it makes a ton. The three requirements of a happy cook all in one.

So here's to the 4th. Let freedom ring. If you don't have a flag, buy one. if you do have one, fly it proudly. Even that cheesy plastic bunting can find a place of honor this week.

After all, 239 years certainly merits a celebration.


Spectacular Overnight Slaw

  • 1 medium head cabbage (2-1/2 pounds), shredded
  • 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped green pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped sweet red pepper
  • 1/2 cup sliced stuffed olives
  • 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon each salt, celery seed and mustard seed

In a 4-quart bowl, combine the cabbage, onion, peppers and olives.

In a saucepan, combine remaining ingredients; bring to a boil. Cook and stir for 1 minute. Pour over vegetables and stir gently. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Mix well before serving. Yield: 12 to 16 servings.

(Recipe courtesy of "Prize Winning Recipes")

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