Independence Day

It’s a little late to give you recipes for a July 4th picnic, but they are truly good at any time you want to have a get-together at your home or in the park!
Independence Day, as July 4th is more commonly known, is probably the most important holiday in the United States, other than Christmas and Thanksgiving. It commemorates the adoption by the Continental Congress of the Declaration of Independence, which announced the breaking of ties between the American colonies and England. It is typically an American holiday, but it is also recognized in several other countries. It is almost the only national holiday other than Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day that is celebrated on the day on which it falls, rather than on a weekend nearest to it.
On July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress, meeting in Philadelphia in the Pennsylvania State House (now Independence Hall), approved the Declaration of Independence. Its purpose was to set forth the principles upon which the Congress had acted two days earlier, when it voted in favor of Richard Henry Lee’s motion to declare the freedom and independence of the 13 American Colonies from England.
Although Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Roger Sherman and Robert B. Livingston comprised the committee charged with drafting the Declaration, the task fell to Jefferson, regarded as the strongest and most eloquent writer. The document is mainly his work with a few minor exceptions.
Thomas Jefferson wrote the first draft of the Declaration of Independence in two and one half weeks. The Declaration begins with one of the most famous sentences in the entire world.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
The original signers of the Declaration of Independence held various occupations. Twenty-four were lawyers, fourteen were farmers, nine were merchants, four were physicians, one was a gospel minister and last but not least, one was a manufacturer, (of what I do not know). John Hancock, who was the president of the Second Continental Congress, signed his name the biggest and boldest of all the signers. In fact, the term “John Hancock” has become synonymous with “signature”. Have you ever heard the term, “Just put your John Hancock, right on this line”? It is a very old term, and isn’t used as much as it was in earlier times, but that is where it originated.
The assembled Continental Congress deleted a few passages of the draft and amended others, but rejected only two sections: 1) a derogatory reference to the English people; and 2) a passionate denunciation of the slave trade. The latter section was left out, as Jefferson reported, to accede to the wishes of South Carolina and Georgia, who wanted to continue the importation of slaves. The rest of the draft was accepted and 56 members of Congress began their formal signing of the document on August 2, 1776.
Wherever you celebrate this holiday, keep as cool as possible, drink plenty of liquids (other than alcoholic), to replace body fluids lost through perspiration, and take care not to get overheated. Do not forget to protect yourself with sunscreen. A bad sunburn is one of the most miserable and uncomfortable things there is. The best cure, of course is prevention, but if you do happen to get sunburned, milk of magnesia, kept in the fridge and gently patted on, is a great antidote. Also, cooled, brewed tea patted on, or even just cloths repeatedly wrung out in cold water will help ease the burning. Vinegar is also supposed to work, but I have never tried it so can’t say for sure if it works or not. There are many excellent commercial products on the market, but these are all old timers, that work, if you don’ have access to a commercial product.
Yes, I know, I have repeated the following many times, but it still holds true.
If you are planning on a picnic or a family get-together, don’t forget to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Use a separate ice chest for cold drinks so that other foods you are trying to keep cold don’t get too warm. Do not leave any food off ice for a period longer than two hours. In fact if you have a large, flat container you can fill with ice, this will allow you to keep salads and such out for a longer period of time. The disposable aluminum pans work really well for this as you can get such a variety of sizes.
An ice chest will also work to keep foods warm. Place a large container of hot water in the chest to warm it up and then remove the water, place a layer of towels or newspapers on the bottom and place your casseroles or whatever into the chest. This keeps them warm for quite a while.
The following burger recipe was always a favorite in my family. We didn’t always use the cheese sauce, preferring to just top the patty with a slice of cheese, or even better, use these patties and make the burgers into avocado, bacon, cheeseburgers, by topping the patties with the cheese, sliced avocados and crisply fried bacon slices! It is truly delicious any way you put it together.
Mountain Man Burgers
2 to 3 pounds ground beef (venison will work well for this, or a mixture of beef and venison) (also, don’t know why ground turkey would not work, if you care to try it)
½ cup oatmeal (either quick cooking or regular,)
¼ cup catsup
¼ cup milk
2 tablespoons prepared mustard
2 eggs
½ teaspoon salt
8 (6) large slices onion
½ cup pickle relish
Cheese sauce (recipe below)
8 regular or 6 “Texas sized” hamburger rolls
Thoroughly combine meat, oatmeal, catsup, milk, mustard, eggs and seasonings. Shape into 8 (or if using large buns, 6) patties. Cook on one side on the grill, turn over, top with onion slices and pickle relish, and cook until done. Serve with cheese sauce spooned on top.
Easy 1-2-3 Cheese Sauce
½ cup salad dressing
2 tablespoons prepared mustard
2/3 cup Cheese-Whiz
Mix all ingredients together. Place meat patty on bottom ½ of hamburger bun, top with sauce; serve with lettuce and tomatoes if desired.
Here’s a favorite picnic food that has been around for many years and almost everyone loves them.
Deviled Eggs
8 to 12 eggs
2 to 3 tablespoons very finely chopped celery*
2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish*
2 teaspoons prepared mustard
Mayonnaise to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
Place eggs in saucepan, cover with water and bring to a boil, lower heat and cook for 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat, drain, shake around in pan to crack the eggs and cover with cold water. Allow to stand for a few minutes. Drain eggs, remove peelings and cut in half lengthwise placing yolks in a bowl. Thoroughly mash the egg yolks, add the celery and pickle relish and mix together. Add the mustard and enough mayonnaise to hold mixture together, add salt and pepper as desired and mix well. Place by spoonfuls into the egg halves. *This can be made without using the celery and pickles. Lots of people prefer theirs plain; this just gives the eggs a little crunch!
Earthquake Cake (aka-German Chocolate Up-side Down Cake)
(Read all instructions before beginning).
1 box German Chocolate cake mix, (along with ingredients to make according to directions)
1 cup coconut
1 cup chopped pecans
4 cups powdered sugar
1 block cream cheese (8-oz)
1 stick butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
*Lightly grease the bottom only of a 9×13 baking pan. Sprinkle pecans and coconut over pan. Mix German chocolate cake according to package directions and pour over coconut and pecans. With mixer, mix together powdered sugar, cream cheese and butter and vanilla. Drop by small spoonfuls over cake mix. Bake at 350ºF for 40 minutes. *I would cut a piece of parchment or waxed paper to the size of the bottom of the pan, grease the pan lightly and then grease the parchment or waxed paper. This way, you can be sure it won’t stick to the pan.