I have been crazy about my Aunt Joanne’s fried chicken ever since I was a little kid. She knew how much I loved it and made up a big batch whenever our family came to visit.

Now I make that chicken for my birthday that comes so near to the 4th of July that we turn it into one big combined celebration. Indulging in fried chicken, potato salad, strawberry pie, and birthday cake makes this one of my very favorite days of the year!

The whole family joins me here at the cove for an al fresco feast. Grandma’s oak table and many chairs are set up on the lawn and the grandkids get out the soccer ball, badminton set and the sprinkler. We swim; spray each other with the hose; and end the day with sparklers, a sing-along around the fire pit, and s’mores.
I ask you, what could be better?

I’ll admit this oven-fried chicken is a bit messy to make, but so worth it. Aunt Joanne used to lament about her oven getting splattered, but I just don’t care. Ovens are made to be used, don’t you think?

I also have to admit I don’t really measure the ingredients, but the egg and oil mixture should be the consistency of thick cake batter. If you don’t want your hands getting all gooey, wear some disposable gloves. I just keep the roll of paper towels close by.

With the chicken, Aunt Joanne sometimes served potato salad which I wasn’t crazy about. Then I grew up and had children of my own. Luckily, they grew up to be marvelous cooks.

My daughter, Katie makes an elegant potato salad that’s downright luscious. The tender potatoes are enhanced with just the right amount of crunchy celery, red onion, and fresh dill then enrobed in sour cream and mayonnaise. That’s it. No eggs, no mustard, no pickles.

I like to put this salad together a day in advance then adjust the seasonings by sometimes adding a couple pinches of dried dill and perhaps stirring in a bit more mayo and sour cream before serving, if needed.

Now truly, this strawberry pie is one of the most divine things you will eat all summer. If I find out you plopped a blob of Cool Whip on it or used whipped cream from a can, I will hunt you down and chastise you thoroughly. DON’T DO IT!

Instead, buy the cream, get out the electric mixer, and have at it. Those beautiful fresh strawberries that you (hopefully) picked yourself deserve a generous dollop of fresh whipped cream!

Happy Independence Day to one and all! Enjoy yourselves!

Aunt Joanne’s Oven-Fried Chicken
12 chicken pieces
2 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
Bread crumbs

Beat together eggs and oil. (You may need more than 1 batch of this mixture.) Coat each chicken piece in flour seasoned with salt and pepper then dip chicken in the egg mixture. Finally, roll in bread crumbs.

Place coated chicken on foil-lined, rimmed baking pans. Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour then turn and bake until chicken is tender and browned. If the chicken starts to get too brown before it’s done, tent with foil. Place on paper-towel lined platter to cool. Yield: 4-6 servings

Katie’s Potato Salad
5 lbs. red-skinned potatoes, unpeeled and chopped into 1-2 inch cubes
1 cup red onion, diced
1 cup celery, diced
2 cups cucumber, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
1/8-1/4 cup fresh dill, minced
1 tsp. celery seed
3/4 cup mayo
3/4 cup sour cream
Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

Cook potatoes in a large saucepan of salted water until tender. Allow to cool.

Meanwhile, combine vegetables and herbs in a large bowl. Mix sour cream and mayonnaise together in a separate small bowl.

When cooled, add potatoes to vegetable mixture. Stir in sour cream/mayonnaise and season with salt and pepper. Yield: 10-12 servings

Fresh Strawberry Pie
1 1/2 quarts strawberries, divided (see below)
1/2 cup water
1 cup sugar
3 tbsp. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. butter
1 baked and cooled 9-inch pie shell
1 pint whipping cream
1-2 tbsp. sugar, optional

Wash, hull and pat strawberries dry with paper towels. Arrange whole berries with their bottoms up in a pie shell.

Depending on how large your pie pan is, you may not use them all. Reserve 1 1/2 cups berries for glaze.

For the glaze, place reserved berries in a medium saucepan with water, sugar, salt, and cornstarch. Cook over medium heat, stirring until thickened. Add butter. Cool slightly and pour over berries in pie shell. Chill for at least 3 hours in the refrigerator.

Whip cream and sweeten with sugar, if desired. Top each slice with whipped cream when ready to serve. Yield: 6 servings

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