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Memorial Day Cookout



by John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

Thank you to all the men and women who gave their lives while serving in the military.


Memorial Day is next Monday! My family and I are having a cookout at home while enjoying our day off. In today's post, I'm sharing a menu that's perfect for memorial day. The beauty of this meal is how little hands-on cook time is needed. You can make the pie and mango salsa the day before, and can marinate the shrimp for up to two days before grilling. Prep and chop all your veggies the morning of your cookout (or even the night before). This way you can spend all day with your family and not be stuck in the kitchen. When you're ready to eat, all you'll have left to do is make the mojitos, grill the shrimp, and sauté the corn.

For a summery cocktail, make a pitcher of watermelon mojitos. Puree watermelon and add rum, simple syrup, and mint. When I last made mojitos I tried a new recipe, and in truth, they were not my favorite. I don't know if I got a bad watermelon or what, but these mojitos tasted only of sweetened rum. I'm going to try this recipe again with a better watermelon, strain some of the mint out, and add club soda.

I previously shared my guacamole recipe HERE. This is the perfect starter for a cookout. Everyone can snack on guac and drink mojitos while you grill the shrimp.

For the shrimp, marinate them in a mustard vinaigrette with fresh basil, garlic, and lemon. The recipe calls for diced onion, but I left them out (my dad doesn't like onions). Marinate the shrimp at least a day ahead, so all you need do before dinner is throw them on the grill. Serve with Ina's excellent mango salsa. Sauté onions and ginger on the stovetop, then add mango, orange juice, brown sugar, jalapeno, and mint. It's absolutely delicious on the shrimp, and I think it would be great on fish and chicken too.

Corn is a staple for cookouts, but if you want to serve something a little more special than corn on the cob, I would highly recommend Ina's confetti corn. This recipe only takes a few minutes to prepare. You sauté orange bell pepper in olive oil, then add corn and butter and cook until the corn loses its starchiness. To further elevate this dish, add in some chopped basil. My family loved this dish and I will definitely be making it again.

For dessert, make a patriotic blackberry pie. I've mentioned this before, but I hate making pie crusts. I don't know what it is, but I would rather do anything else than spend time par baking a pie crust. I alone probably keep frozen pie crust companies in business. Southern Living shared a picture of a blackberry pie with pie crust stars on top. It was adorable, and I wanted to try it myself. I ended up making pie crust for the stars, while still using a frozen crust for the base. I made a half recipe of pie dough and cut out stars, then baked them at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Once the pie is baked, top it with the cooled stars. Store the pie at room temperature overnight, until ready to serve. Serve with vanilla ice cream for the perfect start of summer dessert.


Get the Look:

I wanted to pay homage to the red, white, and blue American flag without being over the top. I set the table on our screened porch with a neutral table runner, woven chargers, and white dishes. To spice up our everyday setup, I used some blue and white linen napkins from Williams-Sonoma, and some mason jars filled with bunches of sunflowers, which I got from Trader Joe's.


Thanks for reading!

- Sam


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