Now it’s July.  Half of 2020 is history; it was definitely historic!  Things that seemed so routine when we entered this year are no longer the same.  Every trip to the store reminds me that things have changed.  It may be in the availability (or lack thereof) of certain items.  It could be sticker shock from escalating prices.  I do know that I miss seeing smiling faces that are unhidden by masks. 

One thing I am extremely grateful for is the return to an “in-person” church service on Sunday mornings. While I appreciated the availability of online church (which is still an option), it has been wonderful to meet with fellow-believers as we join together in a time of praise and worship, masked though we may be.  Some aspects may have changed, but the God we serve has not.

Our nation observes its 244th birthday on Saturday, July 4th.  Many of the usual types of celebrations have been either canceled or postponed.  So often lately, the focus of the news has been on everything that is wrong in our country.  I, for one, think it is time to change the spin on things.  We have become so negative that no matter what is said, someone somewhere is offended.  Words are not taken at face value anymore but searched for an unintended hidden meaning.  My prayer for this land of ours is that truth will outshine lies and deception.

Fourth of July festivities may be different this year; however, we still have the freedom our forefathers fought so hard to obtain.  There is still a reason to celebrate.  Here are some recipe ideas to help out with any gathering you may be anticipating:

All-American Burgers

1-1/2 pounds lean ground chuck 

1 cup shredded medium or sharp cheddar cheese

8 strips cooked bacon , chopped fine 

4 teaspoons yellow mustard

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon table salt   

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Break beef into small pieces in medium bowl. Add cheese, bacon, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper. Mix thoroughly but gently.  Divide mixture into 6 equal portions and lightly pack into 3/4-inch-thick patties.

When grill is ready and grate is hot, dip wad of paper towels in vegetable oil and use tongs to rub oil over grate. Grill burgers over very hot fire, without pressing down on them, until well seared on both sides and cooked through, about 4 minutes per side.  (Due to the additions to the meat, these burgers are best cooked to well done.)  Transfer to plate, tent with foil, and let rest 5 minutes. Serve.

Beef Burgers with Dill Pickle Remoulade

1 pound lean ground beef

1/2 pound whole hog sausage

1/3 cup grated carrot

1-1/2 teaspoons onion powder

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

2 tablespoons dill pickle relish

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

No-stick cooking spray

Dill Pickle Remoulade (recipe follows)

6 hamburger buns, split (toasted, if desired )

6 Swiss cheese slices (may use American Swiss slices)

Toppings: green leaf lettuce, sliced ripe tomatoes, thin sweet onion slices, cooked bacon slices

Combine first 9 ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.  Shape into 6 patties.

Cook patties over medium heat in a large skillet or on a griddle coated with cooking spray; 5 to 7 minutes per side. (I cooked my burgers on a gas grill over medium-heat for about 8 minutes per side.) 

Spread Dill Pickle Remoulade on cut sides of each bun half; layer bottoms with hamburgers, cheese slices, and desired toppings.  Top with top halves of buns.  Makes 6 servings.

Dill Pickle Remoulade:

1/2 cup light mayonnaise

1/4 cup dill pickle relish, drained

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/4 teaspoon paprika

Stir together all ingredients until blended; cover and chill until ready to serve.  Makes 3/4 cup.

Light Potato Salad

2 to 2-1/2 pounds unpeeled red potatoes, cooked and cubed (5 cups)

1/2 cup chopped celery

1/4 cup chopped dill pickle

2 tablespoons chopped onion

2 tablespoons snipped fresh parsley

1-1/2 teaspoons snipped fresh mint

4 tablespoons plain light yogurt

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon honey

1 teaspoon prepared mustard

1/4 teaspoon dry mustard

3/4 teaspoon snipped fresh basil OR 1/4 teaspoon dried basil

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon celery salt

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

In bowl, combine potatoes, celery, pickle, onion, parsley, and mint.  Combine all remaining ingredients; pour over salad and mix gently.  Cover and chill for several hours.  Makes 10 servings.

Sara’s A-to-Z Salad

2 medium-sized avocados (prepared as instructed below)

2 medium zucchini (8 inches), cubed

6-8 sprigs fresh cilantro, minced

1 small sweet onion, chopped

2 Roma tomatoes, diced


Reserved avocado half

Juice of 1 lime

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons light olive oil

Halve avocadoes and remove peel and seeds.  Save half of an avocado for the dressing; cube the rest and place in a large bowl.  Add zucchini, cilantro, onion, and tomatoes.

For the dressing, mash avocado half; blend in remaining ingredients until thoroughly combined.  (I used my immersion blender.)  May add more salt/pepper if desired.

Pour dressing over avocado-zucchini mixture and toss gently until all ingredients are coated.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours to allow flavors to blend.