Patriotic Pancakes and Stars-and-Stripes Sangria

I LOVE the Fourth of July.  I suppose everybody does, but still.  It’s the best!  Let me make my case: 1) no matter what your politics may be, it’s a great day to remember and be grateful that the US of A has an awful lot going for it; 2) ALL of the picnics and cookouts; and 3) last but not least, FIREWORKS!!! For being pretty teeny my hometown has always done a nice job with its fireworks show, and I got a little homesick since this year was my very first away from home for the 4th.  But if I had to be somewhere that wasn’t home, DC is a pretty darn good replacement!  BF and I headed down to the Jefferson Memorial (it’s less crowded than the Mall with equal if not better views, shh!) and hung out on the steps until the big moment came.  I still can’t believe I got to be in our nation’s capitol for this!  It was great, and I can’t wait to do it all again!  (But really, if somebody wants to arrange an out-of-the-blue fireworks show in the DC area just because, I’ll be there in a heartbeat)!

SO beautiful-- worth the wait, the heat, and the crowds!

SO beautiful– worth the wait, the heat, and the crowds!

Since we don’t have a grill (wah!), BF and I decided (okay, just I decided) that the best thing to do was to make EVERYTHING we ate on the 4th red, white, and blue.  We wound up packing sandwiches to munch on at Jefferson, so that didn’t work out completely.  BUT I am proud to say that everything we ate within the confines of our apartment fell well within my self-imposed rules.  And, as a bonus, both were big hits despite being first-time recipes, yay!

For brunch we had pancakes with a cherry-blueberry-raspberry compote.  Confession time: I use Bisquick.  I know, I know, it’s super easy to make your own.  And normally that kind of thing is right up my alley.  But in this case it’s not.  So there!  I do add a vanilla to the pancake recipe on the back of the box, though.  Vanilla makes everything better, I swear.  Just dump it in til you feel good about it.  And then add a little extra, because the worst thing you can do is make it even MORE delicious.  I have never once regretted adding vanilla to a recipe with abandon!

Now for the fruit compote.  Bring 1/4 c. sugar and 1/2 c. water to a boil (plus another unmeasured dose of vanilla) and add in about 3 c. of fruit.

Bubbly goodness that smells SO good while it's cooking!

Bubbly goodness that smells SO good while it’s cooking!

Bring it to a boil again, then reduce and cook it for at least 20 minutes, or longer if you want it thicker (which you probably will).  Let it cool a little and voila!

The only photo that was taken before all the pancakes disappeared!

The only photo that was taken before all the pancakes disappeared!

The berry compote and pancakes taste awesome just the two of ’em, but if you’re unwilling to relinquish maple syrup with your pancakes, go for it– it works beautifully with the berries!

Getting the best of both worlds with berries AND syrup!

Getting the best of both worlds with berries AND syrup!

However.  If you are consuming syrup, it BETTER be real.  None of this “golden syrup” business where the first ingredient is corn syrup.  NUH-UH.  Real maple syrup or bust!  Once you convert, I promise you’ll be so glad you did!  BF made the mistake of bringing his “golden syrup” with him when we moved.  I very kindly let him keep it, but after I made him try the real stuff he never ate it again, and I finally threw it out a few months ago.  If I can win him over, I can win anybody over!

The good stuff!

The best of the best!

After some adventuring around DC, we returned home to relax a little before going to the fireworks. And by “relax” I mean “drink some very large glasses of sangria.”  The night before, I mixed blueberries, raspberries, 5 T. simple syrup (recipe below), the juice of 1/2 a lemon, a few lemon slices, 3 shots of Triple Sec, and a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc– in that order!– in a pitcher and covered it.

Berries and lemons patiently awaiting the good stuff.

Berries and lemons patiently awaiting the good stuff.

By the next afternoon the sangria was a lovely shade of pink and the flavors had all mixed really well.  There’s nothing like a recipe that mostly just requires sitting in the fridge!  And the fruit at the bottom was just the right amount of boozy.  You can let the sangria sit for just a few hours before drinking it, but I wanted to let the flavors really meld together, so I let it sit overnight.

Simple Syrup– All you have to do is mix sugar and water in a 1:1 ratio and heat it on the stove.  Bring it to a boil and simmer for a few minutes, and then let it cool completely.  That’s it!  SO easy.  And it’s in just about every cocktail ever, so it’s a handy recipe to commit to memory.

The sangria sent us off to the fireworks with a good buzz that probably helped ease waiting in the heat a LOT.  All in all it was a pretty spectacular 4th of July.  Hope yours was too!