Happy Birthday, America!!

” America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand.” – Harry S. Truman

In honor of our nation’s 240th birthday, I wanted to dedicate this blog to some of the traditions and virtues from the past and present, all of have which helped to mold America and make her great…a melting pot of cultures, traditions and perseverance. Don’t ever forget the reason for this weekend’s celebrations. It is not just another excuse for a holiday weekend or another reason to have a cookout. We celebrate July 4th each year in honor of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. This document ensures that we and our future generations continue to enjoy equality, freedom and opportunity.

The Stars and Stripes of the American flag (red, white and blue) are well-known and represent the sacrifices of our country’s citizens. Why not include a patriotic theme in your holiday weekend festivities? Use this as an opportunity to share the history of America and the virtues that have made her strong? To get you started, I am including a recipe for Red, White and Blue Shortcakes. This delectable dessert is created with blueberries, raspberries and lemon zest. To increase the flavor and symbolism, I have made an addition to the recipe of several herbs. The symbolic use of these herbs adds to the patriotic message.

Red, White and Blue Shortcakes courtesy of Woman’s World Magazine.

*1 orange              * 1 3/4 c. flour             * 1/3 c. brown sugar                                                         *1 1/2 tsp. baking powder                        *1/4 tsp. salt                   *1/2 tsp. grated lemon zest
*1/2 c. cold butter, cut into 1″ pieces 1/2 c+1 Tbl. buttermilk        *2 tsp. vanilla
*1/4 tsp. dried Thyme (for courage)                      *3 Tbl. white decorating (or raw) sugar
*Few Peppermint sprigs, chopped and few whole (for warmth)
*2 pkgs. (6 oz each) blueberries & raspberries        *1/3 c. ginger ale
*2 Tbl. granulated sugar                          *2 c. whipped topping

Make shortcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F). Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Grate 1 tsp. orange zest and squeeze 2 Tbl. juice from orange; reserve separately. Combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, Thyme, lemon and orange zests. Using pastry blender or two knives, cut butter into flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in 1/2 c. buttermilk and vanilla until dough forms. Drop by rounded 1/4 cupfuls, 2″ apart onto baking sheet. Brush with remaining 1 Tbl. buttermilk; sprinkle with decorating sugar and bake 15 minutes until lightly browned. Cool.

Prepare filling: Mix berries, ginger ale, granulated sugar, chopped Peppermint and reserved orange juice; chill 30 minutes. Split shortcakes. Serve filled with berry mixture and whipped topping. Garnish with remaining Peppermint sprigs. Makes 8 servings.

To continue with the patriotic theme, why not serve Patriot’s Punch to your guests? This delightful lemonade is created with lemons and herbs. In the Language of Herbs and Flowers, Mint symbolizes joy and clear thinking, Rosemary symbolizes remembrance and Sage long life, good health and respect. All qualities and virtues that are worthy of including in your celebrations.

Patriot’s Punch by Bertha Reppert, founder of The Rosemary House

Boil a quart of fresh water and pour over 5 tsp. whole Mint leaves (any variety), 3 tsp. whole Rosemary and 2 tsp. whole Sage (cut amounts in half if using dried herbs). Steep 10 minutes; strain and add a small can of frozen lemonade, 4 tsp. instant sweetened tea and 2 gallons of cold water. Add sliced lemons with whole cloves in the centers, and garnish with a partially-sliced strawberry and blue Borage flower (for courage). Can easily be ‘spiked’ with the addition of alcohol, if desired. Serve over ice. Sit back and enjoy!

To round out your holiday menu and keep with the patriotic color scheme, why not include a food that no citizen of rural America would do without during the summer months? Fresh, sun-ripened, tomatoes. Even though most Americans consider this fruit (or is it a vegetable?) a necessary part of their diet, it hasn’t always been so. Although some areas of the country did embrace this imported food prior to the Civil War, many areas believed it was tough and deadly to consume. (Tomatoes do belong to the deadly Nightshade family, a poison that has been exploited in the movies. Current research shows that unripened (green) tomatoes, stems and leaves of the plant do contain the alkaloid tomatine, which can be deadly to small animals and even to humans if consumed in large quantities. The ripened fruit does not contain tomatine, however, and thus is safe to consume). This juicy fruit is tasty fresh from the vine. Add a little olive oil, several fresh Basil leaves (for good wishes), a dash of Parmesan or mozzarella cheese, top it with freshly ground pepper and salt and you have a dish fit for a Patriot! A dish made even tastier if you grow the tomato yourself 🙂

We hope you enjoy our patriotic ideas. Post a message below and let us know how you celebrate America’s special birthday. We would love to hear from you. Include a symbolic herb or two in your own recipes. The additional flavor might just surprise you!

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