Tags Posts tagged with "July 4"

July 4

By Heidi Sutton

July 4th celebrations are much anticipated each year. Whether they include an intimate barbecue with a close-knit group of friends or a massive block party with everyone from the neighborhood, there’s a strong chance that food will be part of the party.

As various menu items will hit the grill, hosts and hostesses may wonder which desserts to serve to make their events complete. While there is seemingly nothing more American than apple pie, cookies also can be sweet ways to help wrap up the festivities. 

Sugar cookies are a universal favorite, and in this recipe for “Fourth of July Cookie Cups” they’re shaped into cups filled with a buttercream frosting. Enjoy this star-spangled showcase, courtesy of “Live Well, Bake Cookies” (Rock Point) by Danielle Rye.

Fourth of July Cookie Cups

YIELD: Makes 24 cookie cups

INGREDIENTS:

Nonstick cooking spray, for greasing pan

11⁄2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1⁄2 teaspoon baking powder

1⁄4 teaspoon salt

1⁄2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

3⁄4 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Red, white and blue sprinkles, for topping

   Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

1⁄2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

11⁄2 cups powdered sugar

1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream or milk

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS: 

To make the cookie cups: preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray a 24-count mini muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large mixing bowl using a handheld mixer, beat the butter and granulated sugar together for 1 to 2 minutes, or until well combined.

Mix in the egg and vanilla extract until fully combined, making sure to stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Mix in the dry ingredients until just combined. Evenly distribute the cookie dough among all 24 cups in the mini muffin pan, a little more than 1 tablespoon of cookie dough per cup. Press each ball of cookie dough into the cups and smooth it out.

Bake for 11 to 13 minutes, or until the edges of the cookie cups are lightly browned and the tops are set. Remove from the oven, and make an indentation in each cookie using the back of a measuring spoon. Allow to cool in the muffin pan, then carefully remove from the pan and set aside.

To make the vanilla buttercream frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large mixing bowl using a handheld mixer, beat the butter for 1 to 2 minutes until smooth. Add the powdered sugar, 1⁄2 cup at a time, mixing in each addition until well combined. Add the heavy whipping cream and vanilla extract, and continue mixing until fully combined, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Pipe the frosting into the cooled cookie cups and top with the sprinkles.

Store the cookie cups in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

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Servicemen and women salute the American Flag in Northport on Memorial Day. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

Do you ever stop and think what the Fourth of July is really all about?

While we were enjoying our BBQs, lounging at the beach, sipping on a drink or lighting fireworks this Independence Day, we realized the meaning of this holiday, like many others, can be forgotten when we’re busy trying to have a good time.

Our nation’s founders fought for our freedom.

Following the American Revolution, the 13 American colonies regarded themselves as a new nation, and with that, came a string of unalienable rights that we now mark with patriotic displays on July 4, to symbolize our pride and celebration of this freedom.

Reflecting on what it means, and why we’re honored to live in this country, several things came to mind.

Freedom of speech is something that Americans can take for granted. The ability to express opinions, either as an individual or as part of the media, is essential to the backbone of our country.

Two in our editorial department have backgrounds that extend beyond our borders.

One, a first-generation American, was raised with a particular appreciation for the freedoms we enjoy. Both her parents emigrated from Eastern Europe as children in the 1920s and were raised in New York. They faced challenges including learning a new language and adapting to American ways, but in America there was no tsar, conscripting male heads of households or, in retrospect, no dictator on the rise who would eventually annihilate most of the Jews left behind in Eastern Europe. The American Dream became a reality for her parents.

Another editorial staffer’s father moved to this country from Colombia when he was in his 20s. Hearing about his background, she loves that he was able to prosper in this country — not just survive — but pursue his dream job of teaching and find a career where he is still excited to go to work and see his students 30 years later. As the daughter of an immigrant, she’s proud to be a part of the country that welcomed her dad and let him follow his dream.

While we look back on what we were founded on, and why this country is unique in the freedoms it gives us, we can also look ahead, to what we want it to be. We can be thankful for what we have, and for what America stands for, but also strive to continue to make this country an even better place than it was when we became a new nation on Independence Day.

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After every July Fourth we hear about the sickening tally of those injured or maimed by illegal firecrackers and explosives that were fired off in the name of fun. We routinely say, “How idiotic. Why don’t they just leave the fireworks to the professionals and go watch the show someplace?” There are always places to see the artful displays, hear the raucous explosions and cheer together the red, white and blue. If all else fails, there is the television or the computer screen. Do we have to injure ourselves to fully honor the actions of the colonists almost two-and-one-half centuries ago?

This subject is of more than casual interest to my family. When my dad was growing up on an upstate New York farm, one of nine children, a neighbor brought the family some explosive caps with which to properly celebrate Independence Day. The children gathered around a large boulder and cheered with each explosion, as my father’s favorite brother smashed the caps in turn with a rock he held in his hand. But one refused to go off. To make sure he was hitting the cap in exactly the right spot, he bent his head close to the obdurate explosive and carefully aimed his blow. This time it did explode and blew out his right eye. Needless to say, that was the end of that in my household.

The trail of these stupid tragedies continues.

When we first arrived here, on the beautiful North Shore of Suffolk from our Texas air force base, at the end of June, 47 years ago, my husband, who was an ophthalmologist, applied for hospital privileges at St. Charles in Port Jefferson. He was admitted to the ranks with the news that his first “on call” day would be on July 4. His first patient, waiting for him in the emergency room, was a teenage boy whose eye had been destroyed by an Independence Day explosive. He tended to the boy, of course, but never got over the horror of that sight and was sickened by the memory every year. It had been more traumatic for him than the many cases he had treated during the Vietnam War.

With these illegal explosives, brought in gleefully from distant states, we are to this day making war on ourselves. There is the story of the young visitor from Virginia in New York City, who was romping over the rocks in Central Park with his two buddies, when he stepped on a plastic bag of explosives that went off and destroyed his foot. There are seemingly unending stories of hands blown off, faces disfigured, house fires started, bystanders wounded and all manner of ugly consequences from fireworks across America. Some 230 wound up in emergency rooms at the latest count.

When John Adams wrote a letter to his wife, Abigail, on July 4, 1776, envisioning a dazzling annual celebration of independence from Britain, he surely didn’t consider such carnage as part of the party. Nor did he imagine the single horror that brought about what was probably the first city ordinance in America banning the possession or sale of fireworks within the city limits.

It happened in Cleveland in 1908. A clerk in S.S. Kresge’s department store was showing a 4-year-old boy and his mother a “harmless” sparkler with which to celebrate the holiday when a spark flew into the nearby display of skyrockets, torpedoes and candles. The store was almost immediately engulfed in flames. Seven people died, including the little boy, and dozens more were injured as the store burned. The tragedy prompted the city council to act, and many more cities and states have outlawed explosives over the last century.

But there are still states where the sale of explosives is legal, and the present concern is that a growing movement seems underway to relax some of the current legal restrictions. The Consumer Product Safety Commission, which regulates the sale of fireworks, reported that in addition to the many maimings from explosives 11 people died in 2014 alone. Why?

The barracks of the 124th Illinois Infantry in Vicksburg, Miss. Photo in the public domain

By Rich Acritelli

Independence Day commemorates the birth of our nation as well as a day when the Union Army notched a huge victory during the Civil War. It was a July 4 more than 150 years ago that saw some of the most serious fighting ever to take place on U.S. soil.

President Abraham Lincoln wanted desperately to end the Civil War and preserve the Union. By mid-1863, the only way to accomplish that goal was to destroy the southern will to fight. Lincoln’s most important leader was Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, who in 1861 was a shop clerk in his family’s store in Illinois. Nobody, including Grant, could have foreseen his quick rise from obscurity to one of the best fighting figures the nation ever produced.

Gen. Ulysses S. Grant poses in Virginia in 1864. Photo in the public domain
Gen. Ulysses S. Grant poses in Virginia in 1864. Photo in the public domain

During the war, Lincoln grew increasingly bitter toward the officers tasked with attacking the South. He detested Gen. George B. McClellan and later fired him for his unwillingness to crush the rebellion in Northern Virginia. For two years, the Army of the Potomac became a revolving door for other officers who failed to defeat Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

Lincoln had a limited military background, serving as a captain during the Black Hawk War between the U.S. and Native Americans three decades earlier, but took his job as commander-in-chief seriously. One of his most important decisions was keeping Grant as the head of the Army of the Tennessee after the 1862 Battle of Shiloh and in the face of rumors that Grant was an alcoholic and unable to carry out his duties.

Grant’s rise to commanding general began during the Battle of Vicksburg.

Vicksburg was known as the “Gibraltar of the Confederacy” and the “citadel” on the Mississippi River. Early in the Civil War, Grant understood taking that location would divide the Confederacy, open the river to Union naval and commerce shipping and prevent resources from reaching Lee in Northern Virginia. Grant was determined to destroy it.

In April 1863, he saw he would only gain a victory by moving his army south and attacking Vicksburg on the same side of the Mississippi held by the enemy. This was a risky decision — one that could win or lose the war in the West. The campaign involved Grant cutting off his own supply and communication lines, with he and his men living off the land using the lessons he learned while fighting in the Mexican-American War. If he and his fellow soldiers could survive in the deserts and heat of Mexico, the Civil War fighters could do the same with the hearty agriculture, cattle and poultry resources in Mississippi.

On April 16, with his wife and youngest son Frederick next to him, Grant ordered a naval flotilla of gunboats and barges to make the perilous journey south. The Confederacy opened up its vast armaments but failed to destroy the ships, and Grant turned his gamble into a string of victories that led to the demise of Vicksburg.

Through July 4, Lincoln watched in amazement as the general decisively drove against the enemy. When one politician suggested the operation was a failure and that Grant was again drinking too much, Lincoln retorted that Grant was engaged in some of the most serious and successful fighting the world had ever known.

It was a cunning campaign to operate within the Confederacy. Southern Gens. Joseph E. Johnston and John C. Pemberton both commanded larger forces but under the attack of Grant’s Union Army were unable to combine their forces in battle. In Washington, D.C., Lincoln watched Grant take Jackson, Miss., the home of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, thereby cutting off the supply, communication and transportation links that supported Vicksburg.

In late May 1863, Grant began a 48-day siege that trapped Pemberton, a native of Pennsylvania, and his forces on the Mississippi River. By July 4, Pemberton’s men were starving and had lost their morale; they surrendered. On our nation’s birthday, Grant took 31,000 Confederate soldiers as prisoners of war, and seized 172 cannons and 60,000 rifles.

Church bells rang out in northern cities to celebrate the Army of the Tennessee’s efforts to finally take Vicksburg in one of the most vital campaigns of the war, on the road to reuniting America.

Rich Acritelli is a social studies teacher at Rocky Point High School and an adjunct professor of American history at Suffolk County Community College. He was a staff sergeant in the New York Air National Guard 106th Rescue Wing in Westhampton Beach.

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Village ready to kick off parade and fireworks on July 4

Antonio Febles, 3, and sister Sofia Febles, 7, from Port Jefferson Station get into the spirit despite the rain at the Port Jefferson Fire Department’s July 4 parade last year. Photo by Bob Savage

Port Jefferson is going to be a sea of red, white and blue on Saturday, July 4.

To kick off the day, the Port Jefferson Fire Department will hold its annual Independence Day parade, rain or shine.

The event will start at 10 a.m., with participants marching down Main Street from the Infant Jesus Church at Myrtle Avenue to the harbor, turning left on West Broadway toward Barnum Avenue, and then finishing at the firehouse on Maple Place.

According to the PJFD, roads along the parade route and participant lineup areas will be closed at 8:15 a.m. that day, including Main Street going as far south as North Country Road; Reeves Road; and High Street between Main and Stony Hill Road. Detour signs will direct drivers to the ferry and downtown area.

Later in the day, weather permitting, Port Jefferson Village will continue its annual tradition of setting off fireworks between its East and West beaches in a salute to the nation’s freedom and its Founding Fathers.

The free fireworks show will kick off at 9 p.m.

A resident parking sticker is required to park at the village beaches.

The fireworks are also visible from the neighboring Cedar Beach on Mount Sinai Harbor.

Bailey brought comfort to personnel in Afghanistan

Bailey’s journey isn’t over yet, but she has found her home again after reuniting with Staff Sgt. Kevin Brady at the Save-A-Pet Animal Rescue and Adoption Center in Port Jefferson Station on July 4.

Fireworks popped in the distance as the Anatolian shepherd mix whined, wagged her tail and moved frantically around Brady, whom she had not seen in a couple of months.

The National Guardsman and his unit took in Bailey in the fall, when she was about eight weeks old. The dog had previously been tagging along with the Afghani army and the American unit quickly became attached to her. Brady, who recently finished his second tour, said she provided comfort to soldiers who were away from their kids, families and pets.

When the unit went back stateside, “Just leaving her there just didn’t seem right.”

That’s where the Guardians of Rescue came in. Dori Scofield, the group’s vice president as well as Save-A-Pet’s founder, said Brady contacted her three months ago about bringing Bailey to the United States. Guardians of Rescue, which rescues and finds homes for animals in need, raised $5,000 in nine days to help the soldier and “his battle buddy Bailey.”

Guardians of Rescue president Robert Misseri said Afghanistan can be a hostile environment for a dog, and when some people find a dog U.S. soldiers have left behind, they will kill it.

For all military personnel do for their country, “the least we can do is help them get their war buddy home,” Scofield said.

Staff Sgt. Kevin Brady is reunited with Bailey the dog, above, on Independence Day. Photo by Elana Glowatz
Staff Sgt. Kevin Brady is reunited with Bailey the dog, above, on Independence Day. Photo by Elana Glowatz

Nowzad, an organization that rescues dogs in Afghanistan, brought the dog to Kabul for her vaccinations and to get her spayed, she said. Bailey, who is now about 11 months old, made a stop at a kennel in Dubai before being shipped to John F. Kennedy International Airport. Scofield picked her up there on July 2.

“I walked into the cargo area and heard ‘Woof woof.’”

Scofield said Brady had been in constant contact with her and when she told him the dog was having a bath, he texted back, “She went from peasant to princess.”

Bailey waited at Save-A-Pet for a couple of days for her soldier to pick her up and take her with him on a road trip back to his home in Sacramento, Calif., where Brady has two sons.

The staff sergeant, who is still on active duty, is also a deputy sheriff in nearby Placer County.

Scofield said Bailey “loves everybody, but she’s looking for him.”

When Scofield brought Bailey outside to where Brady was waiting on the afternoon of July 4, she ran to her whistling friend and whined as he laughed and petted her.

“She got a lot bigger,” Brady said.

Bailey may have been unsure when she first went outside to be reunited with her buddy, Scofield said, but when Brady whistled to her, “you saw the light bulb go off in her head.”