It Is Independence Day

Independence – Are we Losing It?

Listening to the news as of late, it seems the world is burning…how do we stay emotionally calm, physically healthy and able to engage in “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” promised to all Americans under so much chaos and confusion? I can’t find the answer … so I began to look to the past.

While pondering all of this, I compiled what I’ve learned and decided to walk off my usual beaten path and share a bit about the history of this special day.

Most of you, I’m sure, know that the 4th of July is a national holiday in the U.S., marking the acceptance of the Declaration of Independence. It was first celebrated on July 8, 1776. The Declaration of Independence was not finished until August of that year, however, July 4th became the accepted Independence Day in the U.S.

Independence Day Declaration of Independence written in 1776

Did you know…

The 4th, formally known as Independence Day, was not made a legal holiday until 1941!

Did you also know that two of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence died on July 4th? U.S. Presidents John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died 50 years after the signing, to the day. President James Monroe also died on the 4th, but in 1831. On July 4, 1872, President Calvin Coolidge was born.

The Thirteen Colonies

On July 4, 1776, the thirteen colonies claimed their independence from England, an event which eventually led to the formation of the United States. Each year on July 4th, also known as Independence Day, Americans celebrate this historic event.

Richard Henry Lee
Richard Henry Lee

Conflict between the colonies and England was already a year old when the colonies convened a Continental Congress in Philadelphia in the summer of 1776. In a June 7 session in the Pennsylvania State House (later Independence Hall), Richard Henry Lee of Virginia presented a resolution with the famous words: “Resolved: That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.

Lee’s words were the impetus for the drafting of a formal Declaration of Independence, although the resolution was not followed up on immediately. On June 11, consideration of the resolution was postponed by a vote of seven colonies to five, with New York abstaining. However, a Committee of Five was appointed to draft a statement presenting to the world the colonies’ case for independence. Members of the Committee included John Adams of Massachusetts, Roger Sherman of Connecticut, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, Robert R. Livingston of New York and Thomas Jefferson of Virginia. The task of drafting the actual document fell on Jefferson.

On July 1, 1776, the Continental Congress reconvened, and on the following day, the Lee Resolution for independence was adopted by 12 of the 13 colonies, New York not voting. Discussions of Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence resulted in some minor changes, but the spirit of the document was unchanged.

The process of revision continued through all of July 3 and into the late afternoon of July 4, when the Declaration was officially adopted. Of the 13 colonies, nine voted in favor of the Declaration, two — Pennsylvania and South Carolina — voted No, Delaware was undecided and New York abstained. John Hancock, President of the Continental Congress, signed the Declaration of Independence. It is said that John Hancock’s signed his name “with a great flourish” so England’s “King George can read that without spectacles!”

Today, the original copy of the Declaration is housed in the National Archives in Washington, D.C. July 4 has been designated a national holiday to commemorate the day the United States laid down its claim to be a free and independent nation.

USA Flag
USA Flag

May we heal our nation and once again be the free and independent nation we were built to be.

Happy Independence Day to all!

Independence Day Fireworks
Fireworks

On a lighter note, check out our Independence Day Recipes!

The Christian Trinity and the Humble Pretzel

The Christian Trinity and the Humble Pretzel

With the Lenten season upon us, many of us find ourselves reflecting on many things. While doing this myself meandering through the grocery store yesterday, I saw the munchies aisle – and the pretzels. This reminded me of a tidbit of food history about those simple little snacks.

But first, a quick reminder of just what the Christian Trinity represents.

From Religion Facts:

In Christianity, the word “trinity” describes the belief in Christian theology that the one God of the universe is comprised of three persons: the God the Father, the Son, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. It has been the conviction of Christians throughout the centuries that this is what the Bible teaches. The word “trinity” comes from the Latin word trinitas, meaning “three.”

The word “trinity” doesn’t appear in the Bible; rather, it is a theological label meant to summarize the passages of the Bible, which teach that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are each fully God. This labeling is similar to other doctrines such as “communion,” “incarnation,” “free will,” “rapture,” and “advent” – where the word doesn’t appear in the Bible.

The doctrine of the trinity distinguishes Christianity from other religions including, Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Unitarian Universalism. These groups reject the doctrine, in part, because the word trinity isn’t used in the Bible, it doesn’t make philosophical sense to them, and they don’t believe that it’s compatible with monotheism.

Back to our Humble Pretzel

The three holes in those popular yet humble, low fat pretzels represent the Christian Trinity.

 

The Christian Trinity Represented by the Pretzel

You may also like:  Lent: A History of Fasting and Feasting

A Lenten Blessing

Have a Lenten that is blessed with the forgiving hands of the Lord.
Cleanse your mind, heart and actions and be the person that will honor Him more.

-Unknown

The History of Chocolate

The History of Chocolate

The history of chocolate brings us back to the term cocoa.

The term ‘cocoa’ is actually a corruption of the word ‘cacao’ that is taken directly from Mayan and Aztec languages. Chocolate is derived from cocoa beans, central to the fruit of cocoa tree, Theobroma cacao, indigenous to South America, is believed to have originated from the Amazon and Orinoco valleys.

The History of Chocolate Begins with the Cacao Tree

Cocoa beans play big role in history of chocolate

The history of chocolate involves the cocoa beans. Use of cocoa beans dates back at least 1400 years (Rossner, 1997). Aztecs and Incas used the beans as currency for trading or to produce the so-called chocolatl. Chocolatl was a drink made by roasting and grinding cocoa nibs, mashing with water, often adding other ingredients such as vanilla, spices or honey.

In the 1520s, the drink was introduced into Spain.  Coe and Coe (1996) emphasized that the European arrivals in the new world, including Christopher Columbus and Herman Cortes, were unimpressed with the Mayan beverage. They proceeded to sweeten it with honey.

Nevertheless, the conquistadors familiarized the chocolate beverage throughout Europe. It was expensive, so it was initially reserved for consumption by the highest social classes. As we move forward in the history of chocolate, we see in the 17th century the consumption of chocolate spread through Europe.

The consumption of chocolate became more widespread during the 18th century. The Spanish monopoly on the production of cocoa soon became untenable. Plantations were soon established by the Italians, Dutch and Portuguese.

At this point in  the history of chocolate, chocolate was still consumed in liquid form. It was mainly sold as pressed blocks of a grainy mass. These blocks had to be dissolved in water or milk to form a foamy chocolate drink.  Mass production of chocolate blocks began in the 18th century when the British Fry family founded the first chocolate factory in 1728. They used hydraulic equipment to grind the cocoa beans. In 1847, the Fry’s chocolate factory, located in Bristol, England, molded the first ever chocolate bar suitable for widespread consumption. Learn more about the Fry Family on Digplanet.

The first US factory was built by Dr James Baker outside Boston a few decades later.  In 1778 the Frenchman Doret built the first automated machine for grinding cocoa beans. This history of chocolate is making serious progress!

The production of cocoa and chocolate was truly revolutionized by Coenraad Van Houten in 1828 by the invention of a cocoa press.  This press succeeded in separating cocoa solids from cocoa butter. The resulting de-fatted cocoa powder was much easier to dissolve in water and other liquids and paved the way.  In 1848, the invention of the first real eating chocolate was produced from the addition of cocoa butter and sugar to cocoa liquor.

Cocoa Powder

In 1847, in the UK, Joseph Fry was the first to produce a plain eating chocolate bar. This was made possible by introduction of cocoa butter as an ingredient. Demand for cocoa then sharply increased. Chocolate processing became mechanized with development of cocoa presses for production of cocoa butter and cocoa powder by Van Houten in 1828.  Milk chocolate arrived in 1876 by Daniel Peters, who had the idea of adding milk powder, The milk powder was an invention of Henri Nestle a decade earlier.

This was followed by the invention of the conching machine in 1880 by Rudolphe Lindt.  Chocolate came to take on the fine taste and creamy texture we now associate with good-quality chocolate. It was still very much an exclusive product, however. It was not until 1900 when the price of chocolate’s two main ingredients, cocoa and sugar, dropped considerably that chocolate became accessible to the middle class.

By the 1930s and 1940s, new and cheaper supplies of raw materials and more efficient production processes had emerged at the cutting-edge of innovation with fast-manufacturing technologies and new marketing techniques through research and development by many companies in Europe and the United States, making chocolate affordable for the wider populace.

Chocolate Squares

Best of all, we now know that chocolate is healthy! See: The Nutrients in Chocolate. We also know it can reduced stress: The Ease of Chocolate. And yet another bonus from chocolate: Chocolate-Flavored Cereal Lowers Cholesterol.

Resource: Science of Chocolate

A Chip of Nacho History

A Chip of Nacho History

Rumors vary as to exactly who invented nachos. But, nacho history buffs agree that nachos were born in one of the Rio Grande border towns during World War II. In 1966, the Texas State Fair began dishing them up to its thousands of visitors. Families came from farms, towns and cities all across the Lone Star State. The Texas Rangers ballpark then concocted a replica of sorts – an orange glob-like version – and started passing them off as nachos.

Original nachos from nacho history
An old picture of original nachos

The delicious hand-crafted snack was never the same.

The Original Nacho

Nacho history tells us that nachos have changed through the years.

First, soft corn tortillas were quartered, deep-fried in sizzling oil until crispy, and drained (but not salted). Then the assembly would begin. Every chip was spread by hand with a spoonful of re-fried beans. Next, they were draped with a layer of cheese (Cheddar or Monterrey Jack). Finally, the nachos were topped with a juicy round of sliced jalapeno.

The chips were individually arranged in a single layer on a baking sheet (not dumped into a cardboard container). Chips did not overlap. They were baked for five minutes or so, just until the cheese bubbled. Each one was perfect, like a fancy canape or mini-pizza.

These traditional style nachos were served at parties of Texas billionaires as well as rodeos. And they were irresistibly satisfying. A part of nachos history never to be forgotten in Texas!

Nacho Nutrition

Nachos do contain vitamins! They provide you with some vitamin A, calcium, protein, iron and a little vitamin C. For calorie, carbohydrate, fat, etc. counts,  find the information on the label of the product you are using.

Shortcut Tip:

If you’re not into quartering and frying the tortillas fresh, use bagged tortilla chips. Or, buy freshly cooked tortilla chips from a local Latin market or restaurant. Fresh flavors are well worth the minor expense.

Nacho Recipes: Vegetable Nachos, Cheesy Nachos, Super Nachos

Civil War Recipes

Civil War Recipes

The following Civil War recipes are reminiscent of the Civil War era. All of the recipes are from cookbooks that date back 140 years to the days of the Civil War. You will often see “to taste” for an ingredient because they did not write down specific measurements in those days. Most women did cook “to taste” so it is impossible to guess at a measurement. What you can do is experiment a bit until you find an amount you enjoy.

US Cavalry Civil War Recipes
Above image © theswedish

Five Civil War Recipes

Quail with Force meat Stuffing

Force meat is a type of seasoned, chopped or blended meat that is used as an ingredient for stuffing, appetizers, and main dishes. This was very popular among Civil war recipes.

Ingredients:

1 ounce of hamSlices of ham thumbnail
1 ounce of lean bacon
Finely grated lemon peel
1 teaspoon finely minced parsley
1 teaspoon finely minced sweet herbs (mint, thyme and a little savory)
1/4 pound bacon fat or butter
Salt to taste
Cayenne to taste
6 ounces of fresh bread crumbs (1-1/2-cup)
2 eggs
Chicken stock, if necessary
Vegetable or olive oil
Four quail (available frozen at specialty stores and some supermarkets)
3 teaspoons chopped shallots
2 teaspoons butter
1/4 cup white wine stock
1 cup chicken stock
One jar of (16 ounces) black currant preserves
1/2 cup fresh currants
Pepper to taste
Dried thyme to taste

Directions

Finely mince ham and bacon and mix with lemon peel and minced herbs. Add bacon fat or butter, salt and cayenne. Blend ingredients thoroughly together with the bread crumbs. Beat eggs and work them into other ingredients. Form force meat into balls large marble-size, adding chicken stock if necessary so balls hold together.

Heat a small amount of oil to cover bottom of skillet and fry balls until brown; or, place balls in pie pan or shallow baking pan and bake ½-hour in preheated 350-degree oven.

Stuff quail with force meat. Brush with a little oil and butter.

Preheat oven to 350-degrees.

Prepare currant sauce. Saute shallots in the 2-teaspoons butter, add white wine, the 1-cup chicken stock, black currant preserves and fresh currants. Cook until thick. Add salt, pepper and thyme to taste.

Place stuffed quail in baking dish. Bake uncovered in preheated oven about one hour or until meat thermometer registers 175-degrees. Serve with currant sauce. Recipe makes four servings.


Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup

Ingredients

Bowl of rice1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup diced carrots
1/2 cup leeks
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup sherry
2 cups chopped assorted mushrooms
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
2 teaspoons flour
6 cups of chicken stock
3/4 cup whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon white pepper, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
A couple pinches of ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon sweet and tangy mustard
1 cup cooked wild rice

Directions

Saute onion, celery, carrots and leeks in butter until onion is translucent. Add sherry and mushrooms. Add chopped garlic and flour to coat. Add chicken stock and whipping cream. Bring to simmer. Add thyme, white pepper, salt, nutmeg and mustard. Add cooked rice. Continue simmering until heated through. Recipe makes eight servings.


General Jackson’s Trifle

*This trifle, from “The White House Cookbook: Cooking, Toilet and Household Recipes, Menus, Dinner-Giving, Table Etiquette, Care of the Sick, Health Suggestions, Facts,” by Hugo Ziemann, F.L. Gillette, (out of print) was truly General Jackson’s favorite. Another highly popular recipe from collections of Civil War recipes.

Ingredients

2 cups milkSweet orange
1/3 cup sugar
Dash of salt
1-1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 pound ladyfingers
1/2 cup plus 1-teaspoon sherry (divided)
1 cup sweet orange marmalade
1/2 pint whipping cream
2 teaspoons sugar

Directions

Heat milk until a film shines on top. Mix sugar, salt, cornstarch and eggs together in bowl until smooth. Add hot milk, dribbled a little at a time, stirring mixture vigorously as you pour. Transfer to top of double boiler and cook over hot water until thick as mayonnaise, stirring constantly, about ten minutes. Remove from heat; flavor with almond extract and cool.

Lay ladyfingers on bottom of glass serving bowl and pour in 1/2 cup of sherry. Let wine soak into ladyfingers. Spoon cool custard on top and cover with marmalade. Beat whipping cream, sugar and remaining teaspoon sherry together until mixture holds a shape. Pile on top of marmalade and chill. Serve very cold. Recipe makes eight to ten servings.


Carrot Cake

Ingredients

2 cups flourBunch of fresh carrots
2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup corn oil
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-1/3 cup pureed cooked carrots
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup shredded coconut
3/4 cup canned crushed pineapple, drained
Cream cheese frosting (recipe follows)
Powdered sugar for dusting

Directions

Preheat oven to 350-degrees.

Line 9-by-13-inch cake pan with wax paper and grease paper.

Sift flour, sugar, baking soda and cinnamon together in a large bowl. Add oil, eggs and vanilla and beat well. Fold in carrots, walnuts, coconut and pineapple. Pour batter into prepared pan. Place on middle rack of oven and bake until edges have pulled away from sides of pan and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 50 minutes.
Cool the cake in pan ten minutes. Then invert It over cake rack and remove from the mold, remove waxed paper and continue to cool for one hour.

Prepare frosting. Frost top and sides of cooled cake with cream cheese frosting, then dust top with powdered sugar. Recipe makes 12 servings.

Cream Cheese Frosting

4 ounces cream cheese
3 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1-1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Juice of 1/4 lemon

Cream the cream cheese and butter together in mixing bowl. Slowly sift in powdered sugar and continue beating until fully incorporated. You should have no lumps. Stir in vanilla and lemon juice.

Free Download of the Recipes in PDF:

Download PDF
Free Civil War Recipes

Anyone remember K-Rations?

In 1942, Wrigly Co. packed the rations for our troops overseas. The rations contained:

  1. Compressed graham biscuits
  2. Canned meat
  3. Cigarettes
  4. Sugar
  5. Wrigly Chewing Gum

You may also like to view our World War II Cake recipes.

A Brief History of Weight Lifting

Man lifting a stone in the history of weight lifting
History of Weight Lifting: Man lifting a stone.

A Brief History of Weight Lifting

The history of weight lifting dates back to the ancient period of prehistoric tribes, when the testing of manhood was done by weight lifting. They lifted heavy stones to show their power. Back then, it was a matter of prestige to ancient tribal kingdoms; however, it is not possible to find the exact date of the first weight lifting championship.

The documented history of weight lifting first began in Europe in the late 1880s with the first champion crowned in 1891. There were no other sub divisions so the crown went to the man able to lift the maximum weight. Weight lifting competition was clubbed as a part of athletics in 1896; however, weight lifting was excluded in the 1900 games. Again, the art of weight lifting was noticed in 1904, but the game was not included in Olympics. In 1920, weight lifting was again accepted as a game.

During those periods, the Olympics introduced weight lifting programs such as one and two handed lifts with no weight division. The rules  changed in 1932 and five sub divisions were established and formed three discipline for the competition viz. snatch, press and clean and jerk.

In the snatch, the weight lifter lifts the weight above the head in one fast, uninterrupted movement. In the second movement the weight is brought to the shoulders and after that weight is jerked above the head. In 1972, the press division was abolished and only the snatch and clean jerk where accepted as sports in the Olympics. In 2000, women were included in this powerful event in Sydney.

Weight lifting is a sport in which participants attempt to lift heavy weights on steel barbells. The execution is a combination of flexibility, power, concentration, will power, skills, discipline, athleticism, fitness, technique, physical and mental strength. As per the history of weight lifting, weight lifting is informally called  weight training – weight lifting trains the athlete for functional strength, utilizing the body’s major muscle groups.

Technique is the most important facet in lifting weights – without utilizing the proper method, weight lifters can hurt themselves before they receive the benefits. Therefore, it’s important to always keep focus on proper form when lifting weights – be it a stone or a steel barbell.

Weight lifting body builders
Weight lifting body builders

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