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.
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.
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.
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?
…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!
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!
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!
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.
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!
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