Memorial Day is a federal holiday created to remember those who died while serving our country. The holiday originated after the American Civil War to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers. It was estimated that 620,000 soldiers from both sides died in the war.
On May 5, 1868, three years after the war, Major Gen. John A. Logan, head of the Grand Army of the Republic, established Decoration Day. It was the time of year for Americans to decorate the soldiers’ graves. Waterloo, New York, was the first city to observe Decoration Day.
By 1967, Decoration Day was officially named Memorial Day. Today, the holiday commemorates all of those who served in the American military who sacrificed their lives for our country. Four years later, it was declared a federal holiday and the date moved to the last Monday in May.
Moina Michael is credited with the idea to wear red poppies on Memorial Day in honor of those who died. In 1915, she was the first to wear one, and she also sold poppies to raise money for charities serving soldiers in need.
In 1922, the VFW began to sell poppies and expanded the program to selling artificial poppies made by disabled veterans. Wearing of red poppies is a tradition which originated from John McCrae’s poem “In Flanders Field.”
On Dec. 28, 2000, President Bill Clinton signed the National Moment of Remembrance resolution, which asks that at 3 p.m. local time, all Americans “voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to ‘Taps’ to honor and remember the sacrifice of American soldiers.”
On Memorial Day, many people participate in or watch an annual parade. In addition, flags are flown at half-mast until noon, then to full mast until sunset. It’s also the day that many visit the graves of soldiers and decorate them with flags and flowers.
Memorial Day also is considered to be the unofficial start of the summer season. Family gatherings featuring barbequed or grilled meats and vegetables are a traditional part of the celebration.
My two recipes are sure to please carnivores and vegetarians alike! Texas Jalapeno Pepper Drumsticks and Grilled Balsamic Mushrooms With Pearl Onions will make your Memorial Day gathering a memorable one.
TEXAS JALAPENO PEPPER DRUMSTICKS
1 jar (10-ounces) red jalapeno pepper jelly
1/4 cup lime juice
2 tablespoons poultry seasoning
12 chicken drumsticks (about 3 pounds)
1/2 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 (12 ounce) can sliced jalapeno peppers, optional
1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, stir together the jelly, lime juice and 1 tablespoon of the poultry seasoning until melted. Set aside 1/2 cup of the sauce for serving.
2. Sprinkle chicken on all sides with remaining poultry seasoning, paprika, salt and pepper. On a greased grill rack, grill chicken, covered, over medium heat 15-20 minutes or until a thermometer reads 170 F to 175 F, turning occasionally and basting with remaining jelly mixture during the last 5 minutes of cooking.
3. Serve the drumsticks with the reserved jelly mixture and sliced jalapeno peppers, if desired. Serves 4.
GRILLED MUSHROOMS AND ONIONS
16 fresh pearl onions
20 medium fresh mushrooms
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup butter, cubed
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Minced fresh parsley, optional
1. In a small saucepan, bring 6 cups water to a boil. Add pearl onions and boil for 30 seconds. Drain the onions and drop them into a bowl of ice water. Cut off the root end, then pinch the onion, and the skins will slip off.
2. Using four metal or wooden skewers soaked for at least 30 minutes, alternately thread mushrooms and onions, skewering mushrooms horizontally through cap.
3. In a microwave-safe bowl, combine vinegar, butter, garlic, salt and peppers. Microwave, covered, on high for 30-45 seconds or until butter is melted. Whisk to combine.
4. Reserve half of the vinegar mixture for serving. Brush kabobs with remaining vinegar mixture.
5. Grill kabobs, covered, over medium heat, or broil 4 inches from the heat 10-12 minutes or until vegetables are tender, turning occasionally and basting frequently with vinegar mixture. Sprinkle with parsley and serve with reserved vinegar mixture. Serves 4.