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  • Kara Kimbrough

Stay cool on Fourth of July with low and slow-baked dishes

By Kara Kimbrough

As we approach the Fourth of July holiday, here’s a word of caution: stock up now on your favorite prepared mustard, especially if hot dogs or burgers are on the menu. According to reports, mustard seeds are in short supply, a situation that’s certain to raise prices. The all-American spicy yellow condiment may even go MIA on store shelves. Now for the good news: Fourth of July 2022 will be a hot one BUT there are ways to stay cool and enjoy a delicious Independence Day feast.

My #1 stay cook no-bake tip is one I recently mentioned– use your slow cooker to prepare as much of the food as possible. Second, delegate the grilling to someone who doesn’t mind roasting (and I’m not referring to meat) outside over a hot grill. Also, prepare as many cold salads and desserts as possible to reduce the amount of oven time. Nothing heats up an already-steamy kitchen more than an oven, at least in my opinion.

And last, if burgers are on the menu (and why shouldn’t they be if someone else is grilling them?) jump on the charcuterie board craze and prepare a Fourth of July burger board similar to the one I created.

Here are several recipes to make to ensure your Independence Day spread is easy to prepare, cool to eat and courtesy of the burger board, Pinterest and Instagram-worth.

Happy Fourth of July!

Tangy Mississippi Iced Tea 1-6-ounce can frozen lemonade, thawed 5 cups water 1 teaspoon each vanilla and almond extract (reduce amounts if you desire) 1 tablespoon instant tea mix Combine all ingredients in slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 2 hours or until hot. Chill and serve over ice. (can be served hot straight from the slow cooker if you want a hot drink).

Slow Cooker Short Ribs ½ cup all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon each salt and ground black pepper (can use Mrs. Dash) 4-5 pounds boneless beef short ribs or 6-7 pounds bone-in beef short ribs Sauce: 1 large onion, chopped 2 cups beef broth ¼ cup apple cider vinegar ½ cup brown sugar (more to taste) ½ cup each chili sauce and ketchup 1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce 2 tablespoons minced garlic 1 teaspoon chili powder Combine flour, salt and pepper in a Ziploc bag, add short ribs a few at time and shake to coat each one. Brown ribs, in batches, in a hot skillet coated with vegetable oil or butter. Transfer to slow cooker. Reserve skillet drippings. Combine sauce ingredients in skillet, scraping in drippings, until mixture comes to a boil. Pour over ribs, cover and cook on low for 9-10 hours. Memphis-Style Cole Slaw (This mayo-free slaw is perfect for dining outdoors) Grate and mix together: 1 head cabbage Carrots and onion (quantity depends on your taste; I usually use ½ of an onion and 2-3 carrots) Dressing: 1 cup apple cider vinegar 1 cup canola oil (or light oil of your choice) 1 cup sugar 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper Salt & pepper Tabasco sauce (to your taste) Mix dressing and pour over cabbage mixture. Cover and refrigerate overnight if possible or at least several hours. Drain liquid in a colander and serve.

Best Burger Sauce 1/2 cup mayonnaise ¾ tablespoons ketchup or chili sauce (whatever you have; chili sauce makes a tangier sauce) 2 tablespoons dill pickle or sweet relish 1 teaspoon each apple cider vinegar and sugar 1/8 teaspoon salt Add mayonnaise, ketchup or chili sauce, relish, vinegar. sugar, and salt in a small bowl and mix to combine. Use a food processor if you prefer a smoother version. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour. Keeps (covered) up to a week. Recipe doubles and triples easily. Sweet Baby Ray’s Slow-Cooked Beans For a Crowd 3 28-ounce cans baked beans, drained 1 pound of fried ground round, drained 1 cup Sweet Baby Ray’s Barbecue Sauce 1 cup light brown sugar 1 tablespoon each Worcestershire sauce and prepared yellow mustard Pour ingredients in a slow cooker, cover and cook on low for 5 hours or on high for 3-1/2 hours. (Reduce ingredients in half for a smaller batch)

Stay cool on Fourth of July with low and slow-baked dishes

Patriotic Mixed Berry Cobbler Batter: 1 cup all-purpose flour ¾ cup sugar 1 teaspoon baking powder ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon Pinch of salt 2 large eggs 2 tablespoons butter, melted 1 tablespoon vegetable oil Berries: 16 ounces frozen raspberries (I use strawberries, but only in combination with a firmer berry) 16 ounces frozen blueberries ¾ cup sugar 1 tablespoon cornstarch, whisked into ¾ cup water Create the batter by combining flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a mixing bowl. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, butter, milk and oil. Fold the liquid mixture into dry ingredients until combined. Spray the crock of a slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray and then pour batter into the bottom. Place all berries in a saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Pour berry mixture over the batter in slow cooker. Set the cooker to high, cover and cook for 2 hours. Remove cover and let cool in cooker at least 15 minutes, to thicken before serving.

(Great served topped with -or over- vanilla ice cream!)

Cobbler recipe from Favorite Slow Cooker Recipes by Quail Ridge Press. Kara Kimbrough is a food and travel writer from Mississippi. Email her at



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