As we all ready our patios and porches for the Fourth, firing up the grill and mixing up margaritas, mojitos,  or perhaps even my no-fail sangria, here's a country barbecue I hosted at the house, hoping to inspire your own creativity this summer.     


For the table, I wanted it to feel like a classic country barbecue with a
cool, vintage vibe. The tablecloth I made from inexpensive fabric and Stitch Witchery from Jo-ann's,
topped with a mix of repurposed servingware and linens, collected over
years. The oval plates are ironstone platters, perfect for holding
multiple sides, while the yellow gingham napkins are dishtowels from
the 40s, never before used. I found them at the Rose Bowl in March,
after a spin through the market with readers, California-style. The
glasses for water are simple cut crystal while for wine, pressed glass
with a railroad etch. Finally, for the flatware, it's my grandmother
Dottie's red Bakelite set with an Art Deco handle I love.


For the buffet, I used an old farm table, salvaged from the street, while the red gingham tablecloth I found shopping the Goodwill in Milwaukee after a lake front walk in June. It was used and loved when I found it, yellowing in spots, but nothing a bit of Lestoil and lemon couldn't clean. The shasta daisies grow wild in the fields around our house and for the vessel, it's an antique ironstone pudding mold with a wide opening, perfect for a spray of white on the table. This was a menu of simple recipes, some my own, others passed down through the family: boursin-stuffed burgers, good organic hot dogs, sliced barbecue chicken breast, Dottie's macaroni salad and my mother Margie's creamy, comforting potato salad. Finally, for the condiments, skip the bottles and opt for something pretty. I used a few of my creamware bowls with silverplate spreaders from the flea market. Good presentation, I find, is all in the details.


Finally, for dessert, an American classic with a twist: individual pound cakes made in a muffin pan. To the batter, I added both lemon rind and lemon thyme—it grows wild in the stone wall behind our house—then topped each cake with a simple confectioners sugar glaze. The result was a savory-sweet, lemony-delicious dessert and the perfect finish to a summer barbecue in the country.


All this talk of food is making me hungry! What are you serving for the Fourth?