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Eating Healthy On Independence Day

In the United States, July 4th represents the founding of our nation and the holiday Americans recognize as their Independence Day. This remarkable event first took hold on July 2, 1776 when the Second Continental Congress voted to approve a resolution of independence first proposed by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia. 

 

After voting for independence, Congress turned its attention to the Declaration of Independence, explaining its decision which finally was approved on July 4th. Historians argue over whether it was

actually signed then or a month later. But in either case, the American experience continues to symbolize freedom in the 21st Century as most eloquently proposed by Thomas Jefferson and the framers of the Constitution. And what a remarkable event it was for Americans and others who value freedom and independence throughout the world. 

 

Here in the United States there are millions of new citizens and others who wish to become so who view the American experience as no less special for themselves or their place of origin. Virtually all of us came from somewhere else that defines who we are and how we got here. Most of us define ourselves by both our country of origin and by our newly adopted homeland.

 

I promise this won’t be your run of the mill enchilada or quesadilla at your favorite cafe. Nor will it do justice to all of the cultures and celebrations that other Americans value. But it begins to reflect the range of people who call themselves Americans and who value the constitutional freedoms that July 4th represents.

 

Picnic Menu

1. Mexican corn on the cob 

 

2. Homemade tomato salsa and chips 

 

3.  Poblanos stuffed with shredded chicken 

 

4. Grilled bluefish and halibut on skewers 

 

5. Frozen fruit pops

 

Mexican Corn On The Cob

 

Serves 12-24 

Cut or break 12 ears in half. Pull the stalk off the cob and roast the ears of corn on a very hot grill about 1 1/2 minutes per side until somewhat blackened — turn 3 times. Remove from the grill and brush a light covering of Hellman’s Mayonnaise on each ear. Coat with shredded Parmesan cheese on all sides. Lightly season each ear with chili powder and smoked paprika. Finish by squeezing juice of 1⁄4 lime per ear. Insert a wooden stick in each end or eat by holding corn with aluminum foil. Very tasty, so you may want to prepare more. And by the way, sodium is not required.

 

Homemade Tomato Salsa & Chips

 

Serves 12-18 people

Blend two 15-ounce cans of plum tomatoes — pulse 2-3 times leaving somewhat chunky. Add 1/2 cup diced Vidalia onion with one diced jalapeño, removing seeds and pith first.

 

Add juice of 1 lime and 2 tablespoons traditional rice wine vinegar. Briefly pulse the blender one more time. Add sea salt and fresh black pepper to taste and 1/2 teaspoon cayenne to taste. Have plenty of taco chips on hand. Homemade salsa is hard to resist. 

 

Either use fresh corn tortillas sliced into eighths or 3-4 large bags of chips.

 

Poblanos Stuffed With Shredded Chicken (also called Chiles En Nogada) 

 

Serves 12 stuffed whole chiles or 24 stuffed chile halves

 

Roast 12 poblano chiles at 425F for 20 minutes; turn once and roast an additional 25 minutes. Remove and steam by placing a towel over chiles. Cut a thin slice in each chile from stem to end to enable stuffing.

 

Peel and remove the seeds under warm water. Roasting and peeling enhances the flavor dramatically. It’s okay if some parts are blackened more than others. When finished, place each whole chile in a large casserole dish ready to be stuffed.

 

Next roast 5 large chicken breasts at 350F. Lightly season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Insert 1/2 tablespoon of butter under the skin of each breast. Roast for 45-60 minutes and remove from oven. Chicken is done at 165 F or when chicken is white, not pink, but still juicy. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Cut the breasts off their bones and shred or pull apart by using two forks — not unlike “pulled pork.”

 

Place all shredded chicken with skin removed into a large bowl. Add a picadillo mixture consisting of 1/4 cup currents or chopped raisins, 1/4 cup toasted and chopped walnuts, 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro. Mix all together. Carefully fill roasted poblanos with the picadillo mixture. If chiles are torn, merely borrow a piece from one of the others and place on top of the torn chile.

 

Lastly, pour one 8-ounce can of evaporated milk and 1 tablespoon of sugar into a small saucepan. Heat until sugar dissolves. When ready to serve, reheat chiles for 10 minutes at 400F; remove and pour evaporated milk over chiles. Place a small handful of red pomegranate seeds without the pith over all chiles, which now have the colors of the Mexican flag — red, white and green. Very festive, no?

 

To serve smaller portions of Chiles en Nogada, cut the chiles in half with an 8-inch wide piece of aluminum foil underneath. Fill each half with the chicken picadillo. Pour the evaporated milk over the top with a small handful of pomegranate seeds. Wrap the stuffed chile and stuffing with the foil, reheat and serve.

 

Bluefish And Halibut Seafood Skewers

Marinate a couple of pounds of skinless bluefish and halibut chunks — cut each into 2-inch chunks in size. Soak your skewers in water for 10 minutes so they don’t catch fire. Marinate with 1/4 cup each of light soy, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, juice and zest of 1 whole lime; and 2 tablespoons canola oil. Mix and pour over fish and vegetables for 15 - 20 minutes in a large bowl. Finally, skewer with alternating pieces of Vidalia onion, green peppers, and 2-inch square chunks of bluefish and halibut. 

 

Grill the skewers for 1 minute on each of two sides. Remove and stuff hot dog buns with the mixture or place skewer on side of cooked yellow rice seasoned with turmeric, and thin slices of 4 garlic cloves. Top with 1-inch square fresh pineapple chunks.

 

Frozen Fruit Pops 
Mango Pops: 

2 cups frozen mango slices, thawed 

1/4 cup apple juice 

1/2 cup lemon juice

1 pinch salt

 

Blueberry Pops:

2 cups frozen blueberries, thawed

1/4 cup apple juice

1/2 lemon, juiced

1 pinch salt

 

Directions

Combine mango pop ingredients in a blender until smooth. Pour into 3-ounce plastic cups. Repeat process with blueberry pop ingredients. Cover all cups with foil and insert pop sticks through the center of the foil into the cups. Place all cups in freezer for at least 5 hours or overnight. To remove each pop from the cup submerge the bottom 2/3 of the cup in hot water for about five seconds, holding the cup with one hand pull the stick slowly to easily remove the cup for a quenching, healthy delight. 

 

Please send comments, questions or observations of interest to Chef Alan at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it For details about past columns, catering or Chef Zox’s blog, please visit www.zoxkitchen.com And be sure to enjoy July 4th and the several dishes we bring you.


News

If you missed the 6th annual champagne party at Coe Hall in Planting Fields, put it on your calendar for next year, because this is the party of the summer. A total of 175 guests attended, and many of them were in costume, a new addition to the popular champagne party. The always ebullient Henry Joyce, executive director of Planting Fields Foundation, greeted his guests with his date Daphne, a 3-month-old long haired Dachshund, who is a companion for his Great Dane, Lucy.

“This is a splendid event to celebrate Coe Hall and Planting Fields; everything looks so wonderful in the summer,” said Joyce. “The gardens are glorious and we have a new exhibition to celebrate and it’s just so lovely to be out here in these gardens.”

An expert’s tips on bringing the

best of your garden into your home

Right now, Oyster Bay is in bloom. From the well-tended gardens of Planting Fields to unmowed patches near the Shu Swamp preserve, flowers are not just beautify our community, they also are calling out to us to bring them inside our homes to add color and fragrance. You don’t hear them? Trust me, the flowers in your garden are even calling you by name.

But don’t just stuff a bouquet in a vase. Make them look as good and last as long as possible. To find out how to do that, as well as how to improve your backyard flora, I asked Scott Lucas, the greenhouse supervisor of Old Westbury Gardens for some advice. He invited to join him in his cutting garden.


Sports

Kevin Mercier, 39, of Oyster Bay, led a large contingent of local runners in the Lynne, Gartner, Dunne & Covello Sands Point Sprint 5 Kilometer Run, held on the grounds of Nassau County’s Sands Point Preserve on Saturday morning, Aug. 9. Mercier was the 18th finisher overall and third in the 35-39 age group with a time of  21 minutes, 7 seconds.

Other local runners winning awards at the Sands Point Preserve were Nicholas Cuddy of Oyster Bay, who earned first place honors in the Clydesdale Weight Division with a time of 25:53, Joanne Gallo of Oyster Bay, who  took home the first place award in the women’s 65-69 age group with a time of 28:11, and Anja Hermann of Oyster Bay, third place woman in the 20-24 age group, who finished in 28:47.

Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park in Oyster Bay will once again be the site of the Long Island’s premiere multisport event – the 27th annual Runner’s Edge - Town of Oyster Bay Triathlon on Saturday, Aug. 23, and the Runner’s Edge – Town of Oyster Bay Junior Triathlon for youngsters ages 8-13 on Sunday, Aug. 24.

The Saturday main event is a “sprint” triathlon, which consists of a half-mile swim in Oyster Bay harbor, a one loop 15 kilometer bike ride over hill and dale through beautiful Oyster Bay, Oyster Bay Cove and Laurel Hollow, and a 5 kilometer run through Mill Neck and Brookville, “up” to Planting Fields Arboretum and “down”to the finish at back at  Roosevelt  Park.


Calendar

Bayville Car Show

Friday, Aug. 22

Junior Triathlon

Sunday, Aug. 24

Historic Church Service And Tour

Sunday, Aug. 24



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com