Caswell Beach, 2011

Caswell Beach, 2011

I know I haven’t finished recapping my week-long trip to Israel. And I know you are waiting with bated breath for Day 5 and the all-encompassing finale. (Well, I know my mother is.)

But I have to interrupt my previously scheduled posting. Just to share with you how insane my husband, and possibly the rest of my family, is.

Every year, for the past five years, we’ve packed up a rented minivan and driven to the beach in North Carolina to spend the Fourth of July week. Me, my husband and our blended brood of three. My brother, his wife and their three kids. And my mom and my stepfather. So 12 of us.

In the house a few down from us will be our cousins. Their numbers will probably average around ten.

And they’re awesome.

Many summers ago, when my brother and I were growing up, my Fayetteville grandparents would rent a cottage at Myrtle Beach. We’d spend at least a week there. Driving up from South Florida.

The days would take on a rhythm. Wake up and have breakfast. Walk down the long wooden path to the beach. Swim, body surf and play in the sand. Then we’d go in for lunch. Have some down time. And do it all over again in the afternoon.

And history has repeated itself. My grandparents have passed away. My mom and Poppi are the new grandparents. And we’re the parents. And our kids follow the rhythm of the beach.

Now, you might think, since most of my immediate family just spent a week together in Israel, that we might take the year off. I mean, I love my brother. A lot. And my family but….

But that decision would have been met with a riot. From the kids. All of them love the beach week so much. And each other. I think we’ve done a pretty good job supplying our children with the means to forge strong lifelong bonds with their cousins.

I am a little bummed that I don’t get much credit for what I think is the most important part of the week. The food. I should be the hero of the house. Because when I re-married almost six years ago, I brought to the family not just a wonderful man. I brought to the family a wonderful man who can cook.

He’s already planned out most of the week’s dinners. Shopped at Restaurant Depot, his favorite food store. Gone to our little local bodega to buy a certain kind of dried peppers. That you most definitely could not find where we’re going. A few trips to Costco. One or two to Publix. The liquor store. And I think he’s done. (No, he’s never done.)

Tomorrow, we’re picking up the minivan. (Our car is too small to drive for 11 hours with three teens. They can’t be able to touch each other.) I’ve been asked by my husband to make sure that the kids and I don’t pack too many clothes. Because we need more room for the food. And all the other kitchen stuff. Because God forbid, we don’t bring our Sodastream machine. And a few stainless steel bowls.

Here’s our work-in-progress dinner menu for the week:

Saturday night: Kobe beef hamburgers, kosher hot dogs, Roasted “Uta” potatoes with rosemary and garlic and a green salad. (First night there. Taking it easy.)

Sunday night: St. Louis style ribs with chef’s special recipe dry rub, chicken under a brick with avocados and chili, charred corn with basil and tomato salad, and cole slaw with apple and yogurt dressing. (The last three recipes are from the July 2012 Bon Appetit.)

Monday night: The cousins are coming over for dinner and for our annual “No Talent Show.” (My son and I burped the alphabet together one year. We almost won.) Hubby’s doing a reprise of our last dinner party. Tacos Galore. The most amazing Toasted Guajillo Chile Salsa and Homemade Fresh Chorizo, and so much more. (Pickled onion yumminess.) Check the whole menu out here.

Tuesday night: Panko fried local fish (probably grouper) and homemade chicken fingers, served with a hoisin mayonnaise and a Sriracha ketchup, Polish pasta salad with olives and onions, and quinoa tabbouleh.

Wednesday night: We are the lucky guests of our cousins who know how to rock a Fourth of July celebration. Last year, they served up a giant shrimp boil. Their multiple desserts send the kids, and my sister-in-law, over the edge. Always homemade and always amazing.

Thursday night: My brother is cooking this night. Though he may not know it yet. (Hi Brudder.) Last year, he pulled chicken lettuce wraps out of the air. They were great and have become a staple in my house.

Friday night: Whatever is left in the fridge.

I’ve also been informed that we will be driving up with patriotic vodka, some single malt scotch, garbage bags, 100 plates, 100 plastic cups, 400 bendy straws, a gallon of olive oil, enough spices for an army and, of course, this 2.5 pound bag of Panko bread crumbs.

svedka panko

Did we forget anything?