Food Column: Memorial Day is more than just about what is on the grill
Editors note: Mary Ann is on vacation this week enjoying the warmer weather. She will return next week to writing this column.
After the long, cold winter, the unofficial start to summer has finally arrived. This Memorial Day is the earliest possible and thank goodness it is after what we just went through during the last eight months (yes we had snowfall in eight straight months).
But enough of that talk, Memorial Day is here and with it the beginning of the summer season and more importantly the beginning of grilling out season.
There is nothing better than pulling up to a gathering of family and friends and catching the smell of brats, hamburgers, hot dogs, Polish sausage, pork chops, you name it sizzling on the grill. Seeing that column of smoke rising from the back yard is a tempting beacon to everyone ready to enjoy the outdoors.
While I enjoy a good brat or hamburger just as much as any other Wisconsinite, summer picnics are much more than just meat. I love all the extras that come with summer meals on the back deck or in someone’s cleared out garage.
I have been blessed in my life to be surrounded by great cooks. My grandmother was a great cook, my mother is a great cook, my mother-in-law is great cook, my wife and now my daughters are great cooks. And it is not just the ladies. My dad makes some mean bread eggs, and my father-in-law can whip up a chili like you have never had before.
Needless to say, when there is a family get together, there is plenty of goodies to eat along with the grilled meat that gets so much attention.
Two of my favorites are my mom’s potato salad and her homemade baked beans. She makes the baked beans with hamburger meat and bacon. The potato salad is regular American potato salad but somehow tastes different than others I have had. Moms have a way of doing that-making ordinary food taste extraordinary.
I am a food mixer. I like to take the food on my plate and put it all together before I eat it and the combination of the potato salad, baked beans and a brat on a bun smothered in ketchup is summer heaven. Getting hungry just thinking about it.
While all those delicious parts play a major role in summer picnics, there is one course that cannot be missed during a summer time get together. And that is, of course, dessert.
There are so many options with summer time deserts. Ice creams, ice cream cake, brownies, cookies, cheese cake (I personally like blueberry or turtle) and the list can go on and one. Dirt cake is another that comes to mind and really plays in to my food mixing tendencies.
Another dessert that I love and first had at my brother-in-laws college graduation part is Red, White and Blueberry Trifle Cake. This “cake” has it all from pudding to cake pieces to fruit. All mixed up in a delicious treat. It is also light tasting and airy which is perfect for a summer get together in the heat. It also is appealing with its red white and blue colors which go well with the American themes summer parties often have.
Red, White and Blueberry Trifle Cake
1 angel food cake, cut into cubes
1 (3.4-ounce) box instant vanilla pudding mix
2 cups cold milk
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
8 ounces Cool Whip
2 pints blueberries, rinsed
2 pints strawberries, rinsed, hulled and sliced
1. In a small bowl, combine the vanilla pudding mix with the milk and whisk for two minutes; set aside.
2. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until smooth and creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the powdered sugar. Once all of the sugar is incorporated, increase the speed to medium and beat for 1 minute, or until thoroughly combined and smooth.
3. Add the prepared pudding to the cream cheese mixture and gently fold and stir with a rubber spatula until completely combined. Add the Cool Whip to the bowl and fold it into the mixture until no white streaks remain.
4. To assemble the trifle, alternate layers of angel food cake, blueberries, the pudding mixture, strawberries and so on, until you get the top. Add a final layer of the pudding mixture, then arrange the remaining strawberries and blueberries in a decorative pattern. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. This is best served within 24 hours of making it, but leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.