Hurray for the USAs red, white and blue
Jay Leno loves to let America's slip show.
On a recent installment in a 'Jaywalking' segment, Leno asked passers-by what the United States celebrates on the Fourth of July. Though the responses were erringly amusing, I was embarrassed that U.S. citizens would be so ignorant about their country's history. The respondents couldn't say, let alone sing, our National Anthem. They didn't know who wrote the song, didn't know what the Boston Tea Party was about, or from what country we were gaining independence, let along why.
This next Tuesday, 75 people from 39 countries - who do know the answers to those questions and more - are to be sworn in as United States citizens at the 44th annual Monticello Independence Day Celebration and Naturalization Ceremony. The ceremony and festivities will take place on the West Lawn of Thomas Jefferson's home Monticello, in Charlottesville, Va. The Dec-laration of Independence will be read; the environmental artists Christo and Jean-Claude will be the keynote speakers. There will be a picnic and, of course, fireworks.
These new U.S. citizens have had to learn to read, write and speak a second language, if they didn't speak English already. They have studied U.S. history and government. They know the principles of the U.S. Constitution and have earned their citizenship.
On Tuesday they will swear allegiance to the United States.
That is truly cause for a celebration. If he were alive, Jefferson would be throwing the grand soiree in honor of the new citizens himself!
I would love to celebrate the Fourth of July at Monticello. Jefferson, an original member of the Continental Congress, was instrumental in drafting the Declaration of Independence. Elected as our country's third president, he was a man who followed many pursuits - lawyer, farmer, explorer, vintner, inventor, architect, engineer and cook. He designed Monticello's 50 rooms, outbuildings and gardens himself.
Jefferson loved to entertain and meals at Monticello were lavish and long lasting. Guests enjoyed foods not found in other parts of their new country, as Jefferson cultivated vegetables and fruits and grew grapes for wines.
Jefferson often made ice cream for his guests. He was able to enjoy ice cream throughout the year because of his inventive process for 'harvested' ice from the river in winter. The ice was stored in the Monticello icehouse, which held 62 wagon loads. The icehouse located in Monticello's north wing was used throughout the year primarily to preserve meat and butter, but also to chill wine and to have for making ice cream.
Just in cause Jay Leno should ask you questions about our country's history, here are two bits of valuable trivia:
n Thomas Jefferson is credited with developing a method of putting dough or meringue on ice cream and then baking it, creating what we know as 'Baked Alaska.'
n Not a single signature was placed on the Declaration of Indepen-dence on July 4th, 1776. Most of the signatures were in place by early August; however, one signer, Thomas McKean, didn't actually sign the Declaration until 1781.
This recipe was transcribed from Jefferson's own handwriting and is credited as being America's first written recipe for ice cream. The original recipe is found in the Jefferson Papers collection at the Library of Congress.
For more information about the Fourth of July celebration at Monticello and Thomas Jefferson, go to www.monticello.org.
Happy Fourth of July and Bon Appetit!
Thomas Jefferson's Ice Cream
2 bottles of good cream (1 quart)
6 egg yolks
½ pound sugar (1 cup)
Mix yolks and sugar
Put the cream on a fire in a casserole, first putting in a stick of vanilla
When near boiling take it off and pour it gently into the mixture of eggs and sugar. Stir it well.
Put it on the fire again stirring it thoroughly with a spoon to prevent its sticking to the casserole.
When near boiling take it off and strain it thro' a towel.
Put it in the Sabottiere or ice cream maker.
Then set it in ice an hour before it is be to served. Put into the ice a handful of salt. Put salt on the coverlid of the Sabottiere and cover the whole with ice.
Leave it alone to set up for about 15 minutes to half an hour.
Then turn the Sabottiere in the ice for 10 minutes. Open it to loosen with a spatula the ice from the inner sides of the Sabottiere. Shut it and replace it in the ice.
Open it from time to time to detach the ice from the sides. When well taken (prise) stir it well with the spatula. Put it in mounds, justling it well down on the knee. Then put the mould into the same bucket of ice. Leave it there to the moment of serving it. To withdraw it, immerse the mould in warm water, turning it well till it will come out and turn it into a plate.