7 July 4th Traditions from Around the Nation

This weekend, people across the United States will be celebrating the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence with fireworks displays, picnics, and parades.  Some communities celebrate in other ways that you may not be familiar with.

Murrells Inlet, South Carolina: Parade of Boats

Many communities have a Fourth of July parade. Murrells Inlet has one as well, but it is held in the local creek as boats line up to be decorated, spectated, and appreciated. This year's annual boat parade will begin at 5PM, which is high tide. The annual event has been held since 1984. In recent years there have been as many as 125 registered parade entries, with more boats joining in at the last minute.

Mescalero, New Mexico: Puberty Rites

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At the Mescalero Apache reservation in New Mexico, Independence Day celebrations include a coming-of-age ceremony for teenage girls.

On the first and the last days of the public portion of the ceremony, each girl runs four times around a basket filled with sacred items of the creation, symbolizing the four stages of life set by the White Painted Woman. Each night, the girls, godmothers and singers enter the Holy Lodge, or Ceremonial Teepee, where the girls dance and singers beat the rhythm with deer-hoof rattles.

The ceremonies are open to the public. The reservation also hosts an annual rodeo on July fourth. See a video of the ceremony.

New England: Salmon

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The tradition of eating salmon on the Fourth of July goes back to the beginnings of the holiday in New England. The date coincides with salmon running thick in the rivers during midsummer in Maine and other New England states. In recent years, Atlantic salmon are declining, but New Englanders stay with the traditional meal; they just tend to eat Alaskan or Pacific salmon these days. What started as the tradition of "eating locally" is now just "tradition". If you'd like to try a little bit of New England in your holiday, here's a recipe.

San Francisco: The Mimes Return

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Every year, the San Francisco Mime Troupe opens their performing season on July 4th with a free show. This year's production is called "The Wall." The experimental theater group was founded in 1959, and has performed in San Francisco city parks since winning an obscenity case in 1963. The San Francisco Mime Troupe does not perform silently or paint their faces white, but their productions are movement-based. See a a sample of their work in this video from their 2008 production "Red State".

Coney Island: Hot Dogs

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It can be said that hot dogs are a traditional food across the nation on the Fourth of July, but in Coney Island, the Fourth of July means Nathan's Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest. It's probably the best-known of all competitive eating challenges, and draws world-class eaters.

New Orleans: Essence Music Festival

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More than a quarter-million people attended the annual Essence Music Festival in New Orleans last year. The event has been held annually since 1995, sponsored by Essence magazine. The music lineup for this year includes Beyonce, Lionel Richie, Al Green, Salt N Pepa, Anita Baker, Solange, En Vogue, and quite a few other stars scheduled for this weekend.

South Central Kentucky: Computer Trap Shoot

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For about a decade now, a group of friends in south central Kentucky have used the Fourth of July as an occasion to have some fun with electronic equipment that is obsolete or beyond repair. They gather these items all year long, then take them deep into the wilderness of central Kentucky each Independence Day. The components are launched into the air and used for target practice, which is both a sporting event and a way to vent frustration over hi-tech workplace annoyances. See another video here.

How does your community celebrate the Fourth of July?

10 Creative Ways to Prepare a Turkey

A spatchcocked turkey on a grill.
A spatchcocked turkey on a grill.
iStock.com/pr2is

The typical method for preparing a turkey is to put the bird in a hot oven and wait until it's done—perfectly acceptable, if a little basic. Have a more adventurous Thanksgiving this year by trying one of these out-of-the-box recipes.

1. MOLE-ROASTED TURKEY

To create this delicious bird, Epicurious recommends marinating the turkey in mole overnight; at minimum, you'll need to coat the inside and the outside of the turkey with the sauce and let it sit in the fridge for an hour before cooking. The chocolate sauce makes for one moist turkey; serve with Masa stuffing and spicy chili gravy on the side.

2. BEER CAN TURKEY

Beer can turkey is a variation on beer can chicken, in which a chicken is propped up over an open can of beer that bastes the bird from the inside. For a turkey, you'll need to find two 24-ounce cans of beer—one for the interior basting, and one for the dripping pan and for basting the outside of the bird—and spices to season. Cooking can be done either in an oven or on the grill; either way, consider purchasing a special rack to help keep the bird upright while it's roasting. Step-by-step instructions can be found at The Chew.

3. SPATCHCOCKED TURKEY

J. Kenji Lopez-Alt at Serious Eats calls spatchcocking "a method for lazy folks with great taste," but it's also a great technique if you're short on time. The method—which allows a turkey to cook faster and more evenly—requires removing the bird's spine, turning it over, and pressing hard to splay it out flat before popping it in the oven. You can find step-by-step instructions here.

4. 100-PROOF TURKEY

If you're serious about adding alcohol to your turkey, you can emulate New York tavern PD O’Hurley’s by injecting your turkey with vodka. The recipe calls for the turkey to be marinated overnight in four flavors of vodka, and a vodka injection is done after cooking to retain the alcohol content.

5. BACON-WRAPPED TURKEY

There's an easy way to make every food better: Add bacon. A turkey is no exception; when placed on top of a turkey, the bacon grease melts and flavors the bird's skin. This recipe combines the flavors of bacon and maple syrup to create one delicious dish. To take the turkey to the next level, check out this recipe, which requires weaving a bacon jacket for your bird.

6. BRAISED TURKEY

To braise a turkey, you first cook it in the oven, let it rest, then slice it and remove the legs and wings, and cook the meat in broth. It won't look like a traditional Thanksgiving turkey for the presentation, but it will taste delicious. Bobby Flay has a recipe for herb-roasted and braised turkey.

7. SOUS-VIDE TURKEY

Sous-vide is a method for cooking meat that involves encasing meat in a plastic bag and placing it in hot water to cook over a long period of time. Serious Eats has step-by-step instructions for making sous-vide turkey (with crispy skin cooked separately). Before getting down to sous-videing, you'll need to remove the wings and legs from the bird, then cut the breast meat from the bone; next, place one half of the breast meat cut side up, and place the other half on top of it, cut side down, and tie into a cylinder, which is what you'll place into a plastic bag and immerse in a hot water bath for cooking.

8. PUMPKIN SPICE TURKEY

Pumpkin spice is the ultimate fall flavor—and by following this recipe, you can even have a pumpkin spice-flavored bird. Create one-quarter of a cup of rub with cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg, then add brown sugar, salt, and pepper. Coat the thawed bird with canola oil, then rub in the spice; allow it to sit in the fridge overnight, then cook as usual.

9. TURDUNKIN'

Sure, you could make a Turducken—a turkey stuffed with a duck that is stuffed with a chicken—but it's a complicated dish, since all the birds have to be deboned ahead of time. Those who love both Thanksgiving and Dunkin' Donuts should try the Turdunkin', which is "a turkey brined in Dunkin' Donuts coolattas, stuffed with munchkins and served with coffee gravy and mashed hash browns." Yes, it definitely sounds disgusting, but according to one of its creators, "The turDunkin’ was largely delicious" if "a bit too salty ... The coolatta only penetrated the outer reaches of the white meat, but it was delicious and subtle in those places. ... I was very happy with the turkey, the glaze and sprinkles, and the stuffing." You can find step-by-step instructions at Unwholesome Foods.

10. WHITE CASTLE-STUFFED TURKEY

Cook the turkey as you normally would, but replace the stuffing with White Castle sliders (sans pickles). You can find the recipe on White Castle's website, which notes that chefs should "allow 1 Slider for each pound of turkey, which will be equal to 3/4 cup of stuffing per pound."

This piece originally ran in 2016.

8 Surprising Uses for Peeps

iStock
iStock

You can eat marshmallow Peeps, and you can put them in someone's Easter basket. But that's just the beginning of what you can do with those small blobs of sugary goodness. Branch out and use your Peeps in new ways this year.

1. S'MORES

Peeps are marshmallows, and can be toasted over a campfire just like their plain, non-sugar-coated brothers—which means you can make classic S'mores out of them. Best of all: You don't even need a campfire to do it. Serious Eats has a recipe for them that they call S'meeps, which only requires that you pop them in the oven for a short time. If you're a Peeps purist, forget the graham crackers and chocolate and enjoy the unique taste of campfire-toasted Peeps all by themselves.

2. WREATHS

Vanessa Brady at Tried & True has made several Peeps wreaths that are sure to inspire you to do the same. (She even has a tutorial to get you started.)

3. PEEPS-KABOBS

If you want to trick a kid into eating a fruit salad, just serve it up on a stick—with a marshmallow Peep in the middle. Blogger Melodramatic Mom made these for an irresistible after-school snack for her kids.

4. ART SUPPLIES

With their consistent shape and size, and variety of bright colors, Peeps can be used as pixels for larger artworks. Ang Taylor made this Mario jumping a Piranha Plant out of marshmallow chicks and bunnies. To be honest, there are many ways Peeps can be used as an art medium, as we've seen many times before (like in this collection of Peeps dioramas).

5. CAKE TOPPERS

Peeps chicks and bunnies are ready-made decorations that will easily stick to cake frosting and make for desserts that are both seasonal and colorful. If you need a recipe, check out this one for a Marbled Cake with Peeps and M&Ms. See some more cake decorating tips here.

6. PEEPS POPS

There's no danger of misshapen cake pops or drippy lollipops when you start with a Peep on a stick. Michelle from Sugar Swings made these candy pops out of marshmallow Peeps, and using Peeps left her plenty of time to decorate them as Star Wars characters. Michelle has plenty of other Peeps pops ideas you can try out, too.

7. PEEPS KRISPIES TREATS

We've seen that Peeps can be substituted for marshmallows in recipes, but remember that Peeps come in a variety of colors and can be bought in small batches. That makes them really useful for coloring separate portions of your Rice Krispies treat recipe. Kristen at Yellowblissroad has a recipe for Layered Peeps Crispy Treats, and a video of the process at Facebook.

8. DIORAMAS

Using Peeps as characters in a diorama, where you can let your imagination run wild, has become somewhat of an Easter tradition. Kate Ramsayer, Helen Fields, and Joanna Church put their heads together to recreate the Broadway musical Hamilton in marshmallow with a diorama that featured the lyrics to the show's opening number.

While The Washington Post has suspended its annual Peeps Diorama Contest after 10 years, other newspapers—including the Twin Cities Pioneer Press and the Washington City Paper—plus local libraries across the country are carrying on the tradition and holding Peeps diorama contests. But you don't have to enter a contest to have fun making a scene with your family.

This piece originally ran in 2017.

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