A California-Meets-Midwest 4th of July Menu (Ultimate Recipe Swap)

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites. We participate in other affiliate programs as well. For more details, please see our disclosure policy.

Ultimate Recipe Swap

When I think about the fourth of July, I think of childhood vacations in Minnesota and South Dakota. My parents were both born and raised in Minnesota and migrated west in the Great California Teacher Shortage of 1967. They’ve been Californians ever since, but both are threatening to move back to the Land of 10,000 Lakes in their old age — at the time when most of their peers fly south for the winter. I don’t pretend to get it.

So, I grew up as a California girl of Midwestern parentage. I knew what lefse was, but ate Mexican food like nobody’s business. I had a suntan all year round, but used words like pop which confused my friends who usually said coke. And I had a dad who grew 20 rows of sweet corn in the backyard right next to the swimming pool.

Yes, yes, he did.

I would say that we had the best of both worlds, in a sense. Beautiful weather, the beach, and great Mexican food. And the Midwest values of hard work, family, and a love of agriculture.

‘Cuz a love of agriculture translates into a love of food. And I’m all over that.

Every summer we would journey — six, then seven of us in a VW bus — to the land of our fathers. And Gramma John or Aunt Peg or Aunt Sandy would cook us feasts, particularly on the Fourth of July.

My favorite meal? Brats, Corn on the Cob, Cheesy Potatoes, and Chips and Dip. Gramma John was the queen of baking, so there were always several pies and cookies to indulge in. We’d gorge ourselves on good food and then go battle the mosquitoes at the Fireworks Show.

The food was wonderful, hearty and filling, a nod to my German ancestry and making the most of the bounty of the surrounding fields. I haven’t been to Minnesota in over five years. And Gramma John passed away ten years ago, so it wouldn’t be the same, anyway. But I love those delicious memories.

Today, I propose a little mix of cultures.

Midwest, meet California with this 4th of July Menu:

Chips and Dip: Homemade Salsa

Brats with Sauteed Peppers and Homemade Buns

Corn Salad

Cheesy Potatoes

and for dessert?

Slab Apple Pie, of course!

I can’t wait for the Fourth!

What will YOU be having?

Link up a recipe that is appropriate for the 4th of July. For our international friends, this typically would be a potluck or cook-out food; feel free to link up something of that nature.

Next week on URS: Any recipe

Read Newer Post
Read Older Post


  1. I am going to be making some great chicken and steak shish-kabobs for the 4rth. I love grilling out and fireworks!

  2. I love old pictures like that. And I love yummy pictures like that!

  3. BBQ for us! We are on the central coast of CA, so its all about tri-tip on the grill!

    but- the following week, we will take a week and visit my family in MN 😉

    • Jessica Fisher says:

      @Megan, our plans changed since I wrote this. We’re going to the Central Coast, too. 🙂 But, I’m thinking of taking the brats and cheesy potatoes with me. 😉

  4. Loved your post! I’m a midwestern girl living in the south. I bring lefse to International Day at school because nobody knows what that is! 🙂

  5. I linked to my Fish Cakes recipe! Yummy any time of the year! Can’t wait to see what everyone else posts.

  6. I’m planning on bringing this pasta salad that I just linked up to a BBQ this weekend! Thanks for all the great ideas!

  7. Those brats look delicious. I love the spicy ones. yum

  8. What a great story. Thank you for sharing and hosting, your food looks great!

  9. Sharing our easy recipe for homemade lemonade. Enjoy the 4th!

  10. I am from Buffalo where it rains hot sauce and blue cheese 😉 So I submitted my Skinny Buffalo Chicken Wrap to the linky because that is one of the dishes we will having here.

    Oh and BTW we say pop here too…so I understand 🙂

  11. That salsa looks tasty! We might have to try making it this fall!

  12. Funny to see some talk about lefsa… (my mom is from ND, with scandinavian background) I grew up eating the stuff. yum…
    You couldn’t go to my grandmothers with out hitting the cabinet, for at least a dozen kinds of cookies!

  13. Ah yes, the Minnesota values of hard work, family and agriculture. It is a great place to live but I often dream of warm weather and a longer growing season throughout the year.

    My Dad’s side of the family annually congregates at ‘the cabin’ on the Fourth of July for BBQ, potluck, swimming and family. It wouldn’t feel like the Fourth of July if we weren’t there. Did I mention it’s potluck?! Talk about your pick for food. (Since it’s all family, I feel ‘safe’ to eat it – ha!) The dish we all love to load up on are Diane’s baked beans. They aren’t your out-0f-the-can beans – they’ve been doctored up to perfection. No hamburger or lima beans included. Never a disappointment.

    It’s time to bring your kids back to your state of heritage to see the Headwaters of the Mighty Mississippi and where Grandama and Grandpa’s legends were made!

    • Jessica Fisher says:

      @Sarah G, ha! We’ve taken the kids a couple times…. before the girls were born. I’m allergic to mosquitos, funny enough. So, I don’t think anymore summertime trips will be happening, but I’ve always wanted to go in the Fall. And I’ve never been to the headwaters.

  14. Now I know why this Iowa girl loves your blog so much. I grew up so close to the border that I feel like I can claim MN and SD. 🙂

  15. Love the old photo. The apple pie looks delicious. Have a great July 4th!

  16. Hello from Minnesota!! I wish for the fresh fruit and veggies and beautiful weather year round that you in Cali have. But we have a great place here as well. We will enjoy a great feast with all of afore mentioned foods and too much for everyone. We are looking forward to 90 degree weather and sunshine for the weekend! Happy 4th!

  17. Those cheesy potatoes are calling my name!

  18. Yum! I’m really wanting that apple pie! I linked my post today that’s all about foods for the 4th!

  19. As a native Minnesotan, I am so proud to see the corn next to the swimming pool 🙂 Love it.

    I knew that you lived in CA, but just by reading your blog I could tell you had midwestern roots. Just lovely.

    Thanks for sharing your menu. I must try your slab apple pie this fall.

  20. I find this interesting because I am a Midwesterner, Minnesota at that, and we eat more than the “traditional” foods that people seem to think of and always have, including plenty of Laotian, Hmong and Thai dishes. Where I do see the stereotypical foods coming in is in my husband’s family from the southern portion of the state. I suppose that’s like most areas, though, where the closer you get to major metropolitan areas, the more diversity you’ll find.

    • Jessica Fisher says:

      @Shaina, I was thinking of you when I wrote this post! I knew that your table totally contradicted my Minnesota experience. But, yes, my family is all from southeastern MN, from Albert Lea to Winona, and mostly smaller towns.

      We rarely spent any time in the Cities — and so it wasn’t until I was an adult that I learned how diverse some parts of MN really were.

  21. I love your story–and the corn by the swimming pool! I have to agree–a love of agricutlure certainly does translate into a love of food. I love your blog and I am not a mom–but I know that moms always cook the best food 🙂 I am going to have to try those cheesy potatoes, they look delicious.

  22. Boy, all those foods look good! My husband’s family is German, and German dishes like sausage stuffing show up at holidays.

    I shared a simple side dish that is easy to make and uses what’s in season. It can be eaten hot or cold.

  23. I will be taking my grilled corn salad. But I am pretty sure I should just crash your party instead. I could bring that if you like. 🙂

  24. Hi Jessica! Thanks for hosting – again!! 🙂
    I can’t wait for the 4th either!! It’s one of my favorite holidays!!
    Your recipes look great. I have never heard of slab apple pie, but I’m thinking I just may be able to whip one of those up this weekend 😉

    I shared my Easy Everyday Hummus Dip – I hope everyone likes it as much as we do! 🙂
    See you next week!!!

  25. Your 4th of July menu looks amazing! I love the variety of food. YUMMY.

  26. Cheesy Potatoes are one of my absolute favorite dishes! Not the healthiest, I suppose, but absolutely one of the tastiest!

  27. My dad still drives a VW bus. It’s a 1965 Splitie!

  28. Had to chime in to say “Hello” from Minnesota! I too am jealous of your year-long growing season. I will trade you that for our freezing winters and mosquitoes 😉 I love living in Minnesota, but I could do without the extreme cold and extreme heat and humidity. You should come back and visit other parts of the state. Duluth is beautiful in the fall, as is Stillwater. We like to go up north to Lutsen/Grand Marais area and sometimes up to Itasca. Give it a whirl! Minnesota has such varying landscapes! By the way – I think we are all allergic to mosquitoes! 🙂

  29. What a beautiful 4th of July feast. Funny that your dad planted the corn right next to the pool, nothing like utilizing space for growing our own produce.

  30. I loved this post so very much. I was born and raised in MN and am raising my kids in Santa Barbara. They, however, are fascinated with all things midwest. I can resonate everything you wrote!

  31. I migrated the opposite direction from CA to the Midwest…I love having real seasons. What a fabulous collection of foods!

  32. Amanda S. says:

    I love this, since I was born and raised in CA and recently moved to WI and will be spending my first 4th of July here!

Thanks so much for participating in this conversation about "a mom's life."

This is a place where moms can be themselves. Remember that each mother's path looks a little different. Please keep your comments respectful and kind. Reasonable minds will disagree in a nice way.

So let's talk about it, using "our big girl words."

Share Your Thoughts