Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Food Traditions

I feel certain that the founding fathers ate hot dogs.  Our history books surely include images of them sweating over grills, melting cheese on patties of beef, then crowding it all onto a plate next to 18th century potato chips.  They must have had picnics on red and white checked vinyl table coverings, on top of which would sit a 2 liter bottle of Coca-Cola with some Dixie cups.  I am certain that they must have had all of these things, because they are present every single year as we celebrate the birth of our nation.

It might be hard to say exactly where all of our food traditions came from; how some kinds of edibles have come to be known as particularly “American.”  No one has told me how apple pie won the title, or why franks and burgers have become the dinner of choice before the fireworks start. But I do know that I am profoundly grateful to be a part of a nation where we have such good reason to celebrate.

Over two hundred years ago, citizens of the American colonies agonized over the decision of independence.  Even before the Declaration was signed and sent out, many Americans had paid a heavy price to make a new beginning of our nation.  The blessings we have received as a result of those decisions are too many to count.  It is fitting to celebrate them with things that go boom. 

This holiday is also a time to remember that our nation is a work in progress.  The third verse of America the Beautiful – known in United Methodist circles as hymn #696 – says:

America!  America!  God mend thine every flaw.
Confirm thy soul in self-control, thy liberty in law.

I find it a comfort, when division is so rampant in our nation, to remember that our God is still shaping us.  We are not complete but still being formed – when we allow it –into a creation of God’s design.

There are lots of things I hope will happen as we move into the future.  I hope we will calm our loud rhetoric and listen instead for the modest voice of wisdom.  I hope we see the error of our ways when it comes to food production, and that our current trend toward local and whole is not simply a passing fad.  I hope that we will see with God’s eyes the abundance in our refrigerators and build systems and cultures that allow everyone throughout the world to have enough.

Tonight at our church, we will celebrate with hotdogs, games and fireworks.  Kids will decorate their bicycles and skooters in patriotic colors.  Grownups will set up chairs and picnic blankets.  We will gather as friends, neighbors and strangers to celebrate what we and our forebears have shared for two centuries: life in a nation where we enjoy many blessings, and through which we are called to bless the world.  May we be found faithful as those who came before us.

Blessed Eating!

This was as close to Apple Pie as I had on hand!

Apple Muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour             1/2 cup white sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder        1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup apple juice      1/3 cup vegetable oil (or milk)
1 egg                         1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup apples - peeled, cored and finely diced

Heat oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C). Grease bottoms only of 12 muffin cups or line with baking cups. In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt; mix well. In a small bowl, combine apple juice, oil, and egg; blend well. Add dry ingredients all at once; stir just until dry ingredients are moistened (batter will be lumpy.) Stir in chopped apples.  Fill cups 2/3 full. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 1 minute before removing from pan. Serve warm.

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