Home, Toe-Broken, 4th-of-July-ified and Finally, FINALLY Reunited with Peanut Butter

After 15 agonizing hours of trying not to fall asleep in the Philadelphia airport, I boarded my two flights for home and arrived in Bozeman at about midnight on the 30th, which pushed the grand total into an excruciating 72 hours of transit time. My dear friend Bennett came to pick me up at the airport, and drove me up to my parents’ house at the foot of the Rockies!

…Where I promptly broke my toe within an hour of arriving at the house.

A Kate-eye view of my buddy-taped toe. It's too ashamed about how fat and purple it is to stand for a photo any other way.

And how, pray tell, did I break my toe within an hour of arriving at the house? Climbing a tree to save a sickly kitten? Roundhouse-kicking a charging Grizzly in the face? Not exactly. I was brushing my teeth and stubbed it on my luggage. Yes, that’s right–the two 45-pound bags I had just spent the last three days lugging halfway across the world. I suppose it was their last revenge!

Well, as much as it was a pain to be so delayed in getting home, I’m thankful I got home in time for the 4th. The 4th of July has never been one of my favorite holidays, but this year was so different. Having just returned after ten months, this year’s 4th of July grew in depth and meaning from being all about America to simply being all about home.

My parents (including my Dad the Grill Master!) and Abbie enjoying some time on the deck while the food was cooking.

Our dear, sweet twelve year-old golden retriever, Abbie.

And what a home it is! All around our wooden house at the foot of the Bridgers, a range of the Rockies, my mother has created the most lovely garden. It’s been an ongoing project ever since we moved here from Washington, D.C. about 17 years ago. My mom is constantly designing new features and improvements, and she can always be found outside on any sunny weekend day in the spring and summer, happily engaged in garden upkeep.

The front of our house! Oh, how I missed this place.

My backyard! Yup. I missed those mountains too.

A columbine flower in my mom's garden. Columbines are among my very favorite flowers, along with daffodils and poppies.

Some of the flowers in mom's garden are really coming into their prime right now!

These pink flowers (can you tell who is NOT the gardener in the family? I once killed a cactus!) seem to attract butterflies.

The famous water feature, legendary in Peterson lore as the very pond into which a mamma bear lumbered and plopped down in the middle of the night one summer.

Being away from the familiar so long is such a great lesson in perspective. The Montana sky has never seemed bigger, the mountains more spectacular, nor our lovely home more comfortable and beautiful.

And having not been in the kitchen for six months? I was in heaven! Until now, I haven’t been able to add many recipes on this blog, as I simply haven’t been able to cook–in my dorm room in Greece, I had only a water heater and a fridge. Now that I am back home, one of the biggest changes to Wrap Me in Phyllo Dough will be a growing focus on food and cooking!

So, what was on the menu this 4th of July?

My mom, my friends Bennett and Nicole, and my Dad, all ready to eat!

BBQ babyback ribs, cornbread, arugula, watermelon and feta salad, and no-bake peanut butter tart.

…Otherwise known as an entire evening of American-style win.

Links to each recipe are above, though we did make a few changes. For the ribs, we used Greg‘s dry rub exactly (which was dynamite!), but in the face of a few key missing ingredients we substituted a mop sauce made primarily of orange juice, lemon juice, shallots, and A1 steak sauce. We then based our barbeque sauce on this recipe, but cut back the amount of catsup and added both molasses and hoisin. The combination of the dry rub, the mop sauce and the barbeque sauce was perfect–it had just enough kick, just enough sweetness, and loads of flavor!

Grinding up the spices for the dry rub. Nothing like freshly grated nutmeg to really kick up the flavor!

Our three racks of babyback ribs, all dry-rubbed by yours truly!

Ribs smoking away on the grill! We applied mop sauce every half hour.

Bam! And there was still a full rack unsliced inside.

The cornbread recipe ended up being modified slightly too, as I’m not a big fan of jalapenos and we forgot to buy green onions. We simply omitted those two ingredients, and instead added two more spoonfuls of salsa. We used a mango salsa, and it was perfect with the sweetness of the honey! The extra salsa created unbelievably rich and moist cornbread.

Another huge hit was the arugula, watermelon and feta salad! We followed the recipe exactly and unanimously delighted in the result–a thoroughly refreshing, healthy salad with a perfect balance of flavors. I also loved the chance to use a Greek ingredient!

Plate number one, with Blue Moon's Summer Honey Wheat to wash it down!

Step one: Hold up ribs. Step two: Lower face. Step three: NOM.

For dessert… it had to be peanut butter. After ten months of scant access to this Kate-diet staple, I’m working it into every darn meal! Peanut butter and chocolate is one of my favorite flavor combinations. But for this dessert, as I’ve been so deprived of PB itself, I decided to skip the chocolate and live the peanut butter dream for dessert this 4th of July!

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?

This no-bake peanut butter tart was perfect for a hot summer day. It’s rich and satisfying, and you don’t even have to turn on the oven.

The texture of the filling was impossibly fluffy and light! ...The texture, mind you. The tart as a whole was, shall we say, slightly less than light! 🙂

I followed the recipe exactly, except, of course, to add just a bit more peanut butter than what was called for (a given for me when making peanut butter desserts!). After a perfect dinner, folks, I finally got to have my peanut-buttergasm. And it was everything I thought it would be.

All in all, this 4th of July was a fantastic way to celebrate being home! As much as it broke my heart to leave Greece, I am slowly being reminded of everything I love about my home in the Western part of the United States. I love Greek Kate, and am rediscovering American Kate little by little. I can’t wait to fuse them together and see what happens next!

Στην υγειά σας,

Kate

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About wrap me in phyllo dough

travel addict. greece-obsessed. grad student. bottomless pit.
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4 Responses to Home, Toe-Broken, 4th-of-July-ified and Finally, FINALLY Reunited with Peanut Butter

  1. Wow, your Montana home is just beautiful. I’m so glad you got home for the fourth. I’m also glad you didn’t break your toe kicking the grill. I was worried I was partly to blame. I love the changes you made to the cornbread and BBQ is all about using what you have on hand. Great meal and I’m looking forward to your future food posts!

    • Haha, no, I can’t imagine kicking the grill after it gave us such marvelous food! Thanks so much for the awesome recipes. They really helped to give my first major holiday at home some delicious American flair!

  2. Sugarenia says:

    The pictures of your home are breathtaking – such a change from the greek scenery! Your mom did a great, great job.
    Also, hello, amazing food.

    Hope your toe heals fast, girl, you’ve got some serious cooking to do for this blog! 😀

    • Thank you! I will pass your compliments along to the master gardener. I am just the humble appreciator, bringer-of-water and provider of occasional comic relief.

      And yep, it will be great to catch up on all the food I haven’t been able to cook over the past ten months! My friend Carrie sent me an awesome, real-deal Greek cookbook, and I can’t wait to test out some recipes. Every year for Father’s Day, I make my Dad a three-course meal of his choice, and this year he requested Greek. Since I just got home, we’re going to have our Father’s Day Feast some time in July instead. So, look forward to a full account of the 3-course Greek meal I’ll be making soon!

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