4th of July is here. That means summer is in full swing and the temperature outside has finally caught up to the date on the calendar. What patriotic fun is on your list to celebrate Independence Day? Are you planning on hosting a backyard BBQ? Will you be gathering a group to watch local fireworks decorate the night sky? Or are you keeping it low-key with some sparklers?

When I think of the 4th of July, I’m reminded of so many great summer memories, like parties in the backyard with the neighbors, eating slices of cold, juicy watermelon and grilled hot dogs drenched in ketchup. I’m reminded of proudly flying the American flag on the front porch, dressing in something red, white and blue and listening to patriotic music. I’m reminded of the sting of summer on my skin, the warmth in the air even when the sun goes down and the way the sky lights up during a fireworks display.

No matter how you plan to celebrate this holiday, there are certain foods (we think) that should be on the shopping list for the 4th. Hamburgers, hot dogs, fresh, seasonal fruit – like cherries, peaches, and watermelon – are all ideal. It’s also fun to have a festive cake to commemorate the day. We really like the idea of a flag cake.

  • Heat oven to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick pan). Make and bake cake mix as directed on box for 13×9-inch pan. Cool 10 minutes. Run a knife around sides of pan to loosen cake; remove from pan to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 1 hour.
  • Place cake on the tray. Frost top and sides of the cake with frosting.
  • For flag design, arrange blueberries on the upper left corner of frosted cake to create stars; arrange strawberries in rows over the frosted cake to create stripes. Serve immediately. Store covered in refrigerator.

We hope you and yours have a Happy 4th!