I love celebrating the Fourth of July! Our celebration traditions have changed now that my daughter does most of the cooking, and my son-in-law does the grilling for our family gatherings at their home. These days, all I typically have to do is bring something to add to the meal, enjoy the day with the people I love the most, eat and return home to a clean kitchen! Hooray!
The history of our country’s July Fourth celebration is fascinating! “No taxation without representation!” That was the battle cry of the 13 colonies in America that were forced to pay taxes to England’s King George III with no representation in Parliament. As dissatisfaction grew, British troops were sent in to quell any signs of rebellion, and repeated attempts by the colonists to resolve the crisis without war proved fruitless.
On June 11, 1776, the colonies’ Second Continental Congress, meeting in Philadelphia, formed a committee to draft a document that would formally sever ties with Great Britain. The committee included Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Roger Sherman and Robert R. Livingston. Jefferson, who was considered the strongest and most eloquent writer, crafted the document. (Nevertheless, a total of 86 changes were made to his draft.) The Continental Congress officially adopted the final version on July 4.
Copies of the Declaration of Independence were distributed the next day, and on July 6, The Pennsylvania Evening Post became the first newspaper to print the extraordinary document. The Declaration of Independence has since become our nation’s most cherished symbol of liberty. On July 8, 1776, the first public readings of the Declaration were held in Philadelphia’s Independence Square to the ringing of bells and band music. One year later, on July 4, 1777, Philadelphia marked Independence Day by adjourning Congress and celebrating with bonfires, bells and fireworks.
The custom eventually spread to other towns, both large and small, where the day was marked with processions, oratory, picnics, contests, games, military displays and fireworks. Observations throughout the nation became even more common at the end of the War of 1812 with Great Britain.
Congress established Independence Day as a holiday in 1870, and in 1938 Congress reaffirmed it as a holiday, but with full pay for federal employees. Today, communities across the nation mark this major summer holiday with parades, firework displays, picnics and the playing of the “The Star-Spangled Banner” and marches by John Philip Sousa. The most important part of this classic celebration is recognizing the blessing of being an American!
Cool off your hot Independence Day celebration with tall glasses of this deliciously patriotic Red, White, Blue and Lemonade, Too! recipe. Happy Fourth of July!
RED, WHITE, BLUE AND LEMONADE, TOO!
I love fresh lemonade, but I hate squeezing out the juice! Using the method in this recipe to process the lemons saves time and energy.
3 cups sugar
3 cups water
15 lemons, plus 3 lemons for slicing into rings for decoration
12 strawberries, hulled and sliced into quarters
1/2 cup blueberries, washed
12 fresh mint sprigs, optional
1. In a medium saucepan, combine sugar and water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the sugar dissolves, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely.
2. Cut off both ends of each lemon, and discard. Cut each lemon into four to five thick slices. Put about 2 cups of the sliced lemons at a time, along with 1/2 cup of cold water into the food processor or blender and turn it on high for 2-3 minutes.
3. Pour the ground lemons into a mesh strainer placed over a large bowl. Remove any large pieces of the lemon rind and discard. Press out the juice with the back of a large spoon. Repeat this process until all of the lemons have been ground up and the juice pressed out to make about 3 cups of lemon juice.
4. In a large pitcher, combine the lemon juice, 3 cups of the cooled sugar syrup and 6 cups cold water. Stir well to combine. Taste the mixture and add more cold water or more of the remaining sugar syrup to adjust sweetness to taste. Refrigerate until chilled.
5. Add equal amounts of the strawberries and blueberries to each glass. Add ice and fill each glass with the lemonade. Place a slice of lemon on the rim of the glass and top with a sprig of mint, if desired. Makes 10-12 (8-ounce) glasses.
Angela Shelf Medearis is an award-winning children’s author, culinary historian and the author of seven cookbooks. Her new cookbook is “The Kitchen Diva’s Diabetic Cookbook.” Her website is www.divapro.com. To see how-to videos, recipes and much, much more, Like Angela Shelf Medearis, The Kitchen Diva! on Facebook. Recipes may not be reprinted without permission from Angela Shelf Medearis.