As a flag waver and Sousa march fan who loved the fourth-grade teacher who made my son memorize The Gettysburg Address (thank you, Mrs. Kaloupek!) it's no wonder that I am into corny food (I once made a birthday cake to look like a telephone, with black licorice for the cord).
The Gettysburg Address
I am especially into corny patriotic food. Remember Cher in Mermaids as a mom who only served finger food because dinner was too much of a commitment?
Cher in "Mermaids"
I loved that food, little bits of this and that with fancy fringed toothpicks in it. For the 4th, though, I like to make red, white and blue English trifle. (The irony of making an English dessert on a holiday celebrating American independence from the Brits heightens the pleasure.) It's easy and oh-so-pretty. Any glass bowl will do, but to truly show it off, you want a trifle bowl, which you can get at one of the much-maligned marts (K or Wal) for around ten bucks. (In my family we have a traveling trifle bowl. It would be simpler and cheap if everybody had one, but not as jolly.)
What you need is:
one angel food or pound cake
one package of custard (make it with 2 percent or whole milk, not watery blue skim, ugh) blueberries
raspberries or strawberries
raspberry, strawberry or blueberry pie filling (one can)
a small carton of whipping cream, a dash of vanilla and a spoonful of sugar (or Cool Whip if you are feeling slatternly)
sherry and slivered almonds if you have them on hand
cute little flags from the dimestore if you can take the ridicule
Before you assemble the trifle, tear up the cake and sprinkle it with sherry. Make the custard and let it cool. Whip the cream to soft peaks, (adding a little sugar and vanilla just as it's starting to peak.) Mix the fruit with the pie filling, saving some for garnish.
Now start layering cake, custard, fruit mixed into pie filling, and whipped cream. End with whipped cream. Garnish with slivered almonds if you are feeling fancy, and carmelize the almonds in a little sugar first if you are feeling ultra-fancy, but let them cool first or they will melt the cream. Then garnish with fruit and flags. Praise the Lord and pass the trifle.