Julia Reed curates the most festive Fourth of July weekend—with recipes!

Pictured above, top row, from left:


Two weeks ago, I had a great time in Birmingham at my friend Iris Thorpe’s fab shop, where a few signed copies of “But Mama Always Put Vodka in Her Sangria” are still available. I signed books and Iris made crabmeat bruschetta from a recipe in “But Mama,” along with pitchers of sangria (of course!) and an excellent cocktail called a St. Cloud. I’ll be serving sangria over the Fourth, I’m sure, but also an equally festive pitcher of Pimm’s Cups made with homemade fizzy lemonade. That recipe’s in the book too, but I’ll share a patriotic variation of it here (with red and blue berries):

Pimm’s Cup

Yield: 4 to 6 drinks

8 ounces Pimm’s No. 1 Cup

4 ounces lemon juice

2 ½ ounces simple syrup

1 cucumber sliced

1 orange sliced

½ cup raspberries

6 mint sprigs

¼ cup blueberries or purple grapes

2 cups club soda

Add all ingredients to a carafe or pitcher with some ice and stir well.


I love this hand-painted Fat Fish pasta plate from Beipiatti. It will be perfect for the angel hair with crabmeat I plan to make this weekend. Just cook up a pot of angel hair or linguine and toss with the aforementioned crabmeat bruschetta topping (essentially lump crab, lemon juice, olive oil, and chopped jalapeno) from my book—elegant, easy, and delicious!


The Pink Himalayan Salt from St. Helena Olive Oil is only one of their terrific products I plan to use this weekend. Grill a whole fish, filet it, drizzle with St. Helena’s Rosemary Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and sprinkle with the pink salt. Beautiful!


I cannot say enough good things about this blue swirl enamel Mixing Bowl Set from Golden Rabbit. I’ll be serving the Warm Field Pea and Shrimp Salad from “But Mama” in the largest one this weekend. It will look great on the table, and the plastic top makes saving leftovers a snap. I also love the Lasagna Pan in the same pattern—I may double or triple my book’s “Best Blackberry Cobbler” and serve that as well. Substitute half the berries in the recipe below with raspberries and blueberries in honor of the Fourth!


The Best Blackberry Cobbler

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

4½ cups blackberries

1/3  cup sugar

1 tablespoon flour


For the biscuit topping:

1½ cups flour

3/8 tsp salt

1½ tablespoons sugar

2¼ teaspoon baking powder

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

¾ cup whipping cream

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Toss berries with the sugar and flour and set aside. (If the berries are especially juicy, add another half tablespoon of flour.)

Mix the dry ingredients for the biscuit dough. (If you use salted butter, add only a pinch of salt.) Cut in the butter with two forks or a pastry blender until it looks like coarse cornmeal. (You may also use a food processor.) Add the cream and mix lightly until the mixture is just moistened.

Put the berries in a 1½ quart gratin or baking dish. Make patties of the dough about 2½ inches in diameter and ½ inch thick. Arrange them over the top of the berries. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until the topping is brown and the berry juices bubble around it.


This gorgeous—and generous (3.5 feet by 6.5 feet)—wrap from A. Barclay is elegant, lightweight, and versatile. Wear it as a wrap at the beach, and again in the evening as a shawl. And don’t forget to show off its great graphic horse head design!


The Tropez Tote from Morton + Hudson is my absolute favorite new thing. So chic in crisp canvas with sharp details and cowhide leather trim, it has all the right stuff to make it indispensible: slip pockets, magnetic closure, shoulder straps, zippered change purse, even gunmetal feet to keep the bottom clean. I’m buying red for summer and cognac for fall.


This Confetti Glass Pitcher from Corzine & Co. is perfect for iced tea, lemonade—and festive Fourth cocktails, of course! Mix up a batch of sangria or Southsides from my book, or the Pimm’s Cups (recipe above), and serve in Corzine’s matching highball glasses. Cheers!


Blackberry Farm’s Tiny Tomatoes were preserved at the height of ripeness with a touch of white wine, white balsamic vinegar, fennel seed, sea salt, and black pepper. Serve them as a condiment with grilled fish, toss with pasta for an easy dinner, or pair them with mozzarella to create a yummy topping for bruschetta. When added to a fresh tomato salad or salsa, they lend lovely layers of flavor. You cannot buy too many jars!

About Julia Reed

Julia Reed is a columnist at Garden & Gun magazine and a contributing editor at Elle Décor. She also contributes to The Wall Street Journal, Architectural Digest, and The New York Times, and makes frequent appearances on MSNBC. She is the author of five books, including But Mama Always Put Vodka in the Sangria, Adventures in Eating, Drinking and Making Merry and One Man’s Folly, The Exceptional Houses of Furlow Gatewood.

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