I’m lucky to have warm memories of Fourth of July holidays from my childhood. I was born and raised in Boston, so the significance of the holiday as a historic day was drummed in from the start. Add to that an extended family who loved to get together for barbecues and you’ve got the makings of wonderful memories.
The thing is… we only served Italian foods for the meal. Barbecued meats in Italian wine marinades with Italian spices, Italian potato or pasta salads with olive oil dressings — no mayonnaise! — that could stand being out in the sun all afternoon, crusty Italian breads layered with grilled vegetables or preserved fig spreads. Then, Uncle Historian would recount the numerous Italians who were instrumental to the founding of America: “Why even the name ‘America’ is derived from the explorer Amerigo Vespucci…”
Years later, now that the voices of those family barbecue organizers are just memories, I still make those marinades and salads and taste my past. But now I also add a very American quickbread recipe from The WCRB Horn of Plenty Cookbook, Vol. 1, which I edited back in 1990. It was a fundraiser we undertook to help out Project Bread, the Boston-based non-profit, non-denominational agency devoted to feeding the hungry.
We asked for recipes from our listeners and got them by the crateful. This recipe from listener Lindy Roethlisberger of Needham, MA contains red, white and blue fruits and was titled “Yankee Doodle Bread.” Sometimes it’s already out and ready for my guests as they arrive and sometimes it makes it to the dessert table — but I can assure you there are never any leftovers. Thanks, Lindy!
1/4 cup butter at room temperature
1 1/4 cups white sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1 cup ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1/3 cup fresh (or frozen, thawed) cranberries, chopped
1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a loaf pan and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar; add the eggs, vanilla, and sour cream, and blend to form a smooth batter. In a separate bowl, sift flour again with baking soda, baking powder and salt. Gently fold flour mixture into the batter, alternating with the fruits. Add walnuts last. Pour into the loaf pan and bake 40-50 minutes (oven times vary, so bake until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean). Serve with butter, preserves, or cream cheese. And be sure to bring a slice over to the 99.5 All Classical broadcast booth at the Esplanade and say hello!
Serve with butter, preserves or cream cheese. And be sure to bring a slice over to the 99.5 All Classical broadcast booth at the Esplanade and say “hello!” We will be broadcasting the Boston Pops live beginning at 6 pm."