It’s Canada Day, our national Day of Celebration here in the Great White North! Join us as we enjoy the bonus day of our first official summer long weekend and gather ’round the grill to share some tasty treats with family and friends. You might even learn a thing or two along the way!
One of my most cherished childhood memories of summer is Canada Day at the cottage, with all of my aunts and uncles and cousins from Dad’s side of the family gathered down by the riverside for our traditional barbecue supper. The menu was always the same: Hamburgers and Hot Dogs which you could dress with any of a vast array of toppings including my aunts’ and Grandma’s home made Chili Sauce, Sweet Cucumber Relish and Mustard Pickles. And you could have your Burger any way you liked it – as long as you liked it well done.
It was one day of the year when the kids were allowed unlimited Soft Drinks, and the Beer flowed freely since nobody had to worry about driving home right after the feast.
Yes, the food was simple, cooked on an old metal refrigerator shelf grating over an open fire pit burning hardwood we gathered from the surrounding forrest. But it was special, because the whole family was there for one rare, glorious weekend a year to enjoy it together.
Make the most of your own national day feast
If, like me, you’re now among the senior members of your clan, and the younger generation has taken over responsibility for preparing the extended family holiday feasts, you might prefer to celebrate with a small, select of group of family and friends. I’ve compiled some easy, tasty suggestionss to make the most of the occasion.
First, I like to serve Sangria along with the traditional Beer and Dry White Wine. Yes, you can get many brands of pre-mixed Sangria, now, since the style became uber-popular a few years back. But I prefer to make my own. Real, freshly cut fresh Fruit and the ability to create a blend that exactly suits my own tastes and expectations makes Sangria special for me.
Make the Beer (a mandatory beverage on any Hot Canadian summer day) your favourite craft brew. But nothing too far out there, like Apricot Lager, or too heavy, like anything darker than a Pilsner.
Make your own Burger Patties. It’s a little more effort but they can me mixed up in a few minutes earlier in the day or the day before and held tightly covered in the fridge until it’s time to put them on the grill. Be sure to observe all the usual cautions when handling Ground Meats, not the least of which is to make sure your Burgers are properly cooked – to an internal temperature of at least 160 F.
Get some special Dogs and Buns. Everybody loves Bratwurst or Polish Sausage on a nice, oversized, pillow-soft Bun. There’s no shortage of different Sausage styles and flavours out there these days, and every supermarket carries a nice selection of complementary Rolls.
Aside from the usual Yellow Mustard, Ketchup and Relish, offer your guests some upgrade toppings on the condiment table, like Dijon Mustard, real Cheddar and Havarti Cheese slices, Romaine or Boston Lettuce (rather than just plain old Iceberg), and any home made Pickles you have access to. I always have my own Recycled Pickle Juice Sweet Peppers and Jalapeños on hand, as well, in the company of traditional Tomato and Onion Slices, and maybe even pre-cooked Bacon Strips, if you want.
For dessert, bring out a high-quality Vanilla Bean Ice Cream and a tray full of traditional toppings. I always offer Chocolate Sauce, Caramel Sauce and Strawberry Jam, along with fresh Blueberries, Sliced Strawberries and Chocolate Cookie Crumbles.
By the time you’re finished eating, it will be getting a bit nippy and the Sun will have started setting, so have lots of hot Coffee and Tea on hand, and liqueur shots on hand for those who like their celebratory hot beverages spiked.
Who says you can’t make some new National Feast Day memories of your own?
~ Maggie J.