Monday, July 4, 2011

US Independence Day

Guest post by "Quay Lo" (Gary Davis)
Growing up in Oklahoma, in a post WWII, working class home, and being a statistical component of the great global generation known as the baby boomers, has, no doubt, served to shape who I am. Looking back I think I would be tempted to describe my youth as somewhat idyllic with an almost clichéd existence. Home was, in a physical sense, a small, brick & frame house built on a tract along with several similar homes. Perhaps the only unusual fact about our home was that the land had been purchased by the developer from a native American from the Osage tribe, but in every other way, it was an ordinary house, on a typical middle American street. Houses like ours exploded in number after WWII. My parents, of Ohio and Oklahoma pioneer stock, chose to expand the home as our family grew, rather than join the rush to the newer suburbs of our booming town. Those expansions were built by my father, with his own hands, using the experience of a lifetime in the carpentry trade. One such expansion involved tearing down a brick outerwall, to make way for the addition of a new room. I was young at the time so that my job assignment was the menial task of chipping the mortar away from the old bricks and reclaiming as many as I could. Waste not, want not was the rule in my family, set by parents with vivid memories of the great depression.  Still, the implied promise of the "want not" side of that equation was always fulfilled when it came to truly needful things. I was always well fed, clothed, and shod (even though that meant occasionally in hand-me-down shoes from an uncle). I cannot recall ever feeling deprived or poor, and a generous, caring household was my, and my siblings, great fortune to grow up in.
Life in those early years was marked by seasonal cycles of recurring themes. School days that signaled the end of Summer, played out through Fall, Winter, and Spring, and were punctuated with the holidays. My life, in recollection, seems like a blur of Church services and Sunday school,  boy scout activities, music lessons, school plays, newspaper delivery routes, barber shop visits, bus trips to downtown, family dinners, school books and homework, leaf raking that gave over to snow shoveling, Saturday matinees at the movie house nearby, listening to my crystal radio that was shaped like a rocket, with a thumbwheel dial that could tune in Chicago radio stations, lunches packed in a tin box that was decorated with enticing pictures of the Lone Ranger and his sidekick Tonto, long weekend drives into the countryside with my parents, class trips to museums, were among the highlights. Each year we looked forward to the heady days of summer. The summers of my youth were intoxicating in their sense of freedom, and childish joy. It meant days of  explorations, bicycle trips to the country side, freshly cut lawns, iced lemonade,  fishing trips with my father, and the joy of just lying on our backs to watch the clouds float by. That sheer exuberance reached its apex with the Fourth of July celebrations and that meant primarily one thing to me. Fireworks! I had an unfortunate preoccupation with blowing things up in those days, even though my parents never, ever, allowed us to possess the means to indulge that childish fetish. All of my pyro-maniacal pursuits were by neccessity clandestine, and along with a few neighborhood friends, conducted with the utmost secrecy. For a period of a few weeks, there was no tin can, no  cigar box, and no sweaty hand, that was safe. We exploded everything, and boldly did so anywhere as long as we deemed it far enough from prying adults eyes. Of course, we wanted to keep our backsides safe, while lighting our imaginations of great battles fought with valor. At the time, I did not truly understand what we were acting out. Our youth was regaled by movies and TV serials depicting victorious American soldiers, in heroic, and largely fictionalized accounts of violent encounters with evil people. Today, my parents refusal to entertain us with fireworks, to the extent of not even taking us to the legitimate firework displays that blossomed on the Fourth Of July,  seems to have been a form of wisdom. The glorification of armed conflict is highly misplaced. War is anything but glory to me now. And today I am more consciously a citizen of the world, in addition to being an American. It is a much troubled world by all accounts. Without doubt the events of the more recent past four decades have tested America's resolute commitment to democracy, even more so than the misguided Vietnam conflict that preceded them.  And I am a different person than the starry eyed youth of so many years ago, seeking glory in faux battles. However, in spite of those tests, and in spite of slipups by relinquishing ourselves to fear mongering politicians with dubious agendas, I find that the core resolve still stands strong. I am not making any apologies for American policies nor am I beating a drum and waving a flag. We all understand that nationalism is a two-edged sword, and can be a force for evil as well as good. Most of us are aligned with the latter and vilify the former.
Today we all live in a world where we may be forgiven for thinking the balance between good and evil is more precarious than ever before. It seems that everyday brings new headlines, screaming of atrocious behavior. Is it that we no longer have our youthful naiveté and are now more aware of consequences, or is it that news dissemination is much more efficient than during our early years? I think the answer is at least partially, yes, but I find no solace in that.
These thoughts, and many more, have roiled through my mind over the past several years. One is never more conscious of being a patriot until one becomes an expatriate. It is a paradox, to be sure, but in my own personal accounting of who I am, and where I come from, I know at least, that I love my country, more so now than in any time in my life. On this, her 235th birthday, I wish her the strength and resolve to adhere to the founding principles from which we started.  
With these thoughts in mind, I was surprised when my loving wife presented the following to me. She knows that there are times of the year when my roots call to me. While lovely cupcakes are a little less showy, and less noisy symbol of celebration than the Independence Days of my youth, it is perhaps time for a more contemplative, wary, and quiet celebration of the endurance of true American ideals. And now it is also a time to soak up the warmth of my wife's love.  


 Cupcakes with butter cream frosting





Ingredients:
250 gm butter
190 gm castor sugar
4 eggs
150 gm  self raising flour
35 gm plain flour
120gm  sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract

Method:
Beat butter & sugar with mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in egg one at a time. Fold in shifted flour and sour cream. Scoop batter into cup cake paper cups to slightly more than half.   Bake at 180 degrees C or 375 degrees F for about 15 - 18 mins.  Remove from oven and let them cool on the wire rack.

Plain butter cream frosting

Ingredients:
250g butter
3 C icing sugar
3 tbs water

Method:
Have butter at room temperature. Place butter in an electric mixer and beat until butter is as white as possible. Gradually add sifted icing sugar, a tablespoon each time and beating constantly. Mixture should be smooth and easy to spread with a spatula. Add water icing until frosting is of a spreadable consistency. Continue beating until the frosting is silky.  Divide into 3 portions and add in color. Pipe your favorite design onto the cup cakes after they are cool completely. 


Note: Keep remainder butter cream frosting in air tight container and keep in the fridge. It is good for 2 weeks. Whip it again before use.

20 comments:

  1. What a lovely gesture! Happy fourth!

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  2. What a perfect way to celebrate 4th of July with these amazing cupcakes with bling! Too pretty to eat!

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  3. Beautiful sentiments! And a great recipe too.

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  4. These cupcakes are the perfect celebration treat; Happy Holiday.
    Rita

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  5. It looks very good. I would like to try it.

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  6. What a lovely narrative and delicious looking cupcakes!

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  7. i think many of us share your sentiments in regardless where we're from. Nowadays we are more aware of what is happening around the globe and around us. Though sometimes i hear unpleasant stories and issues going on in the country, i still love my country and will always will. How can we forget our roots?

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  8. Your called certainly sounds like something out of a Rockwell painting!

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  9. OH MY GOD... This is super cute!!!! Well it's also beautiful too! I hope you had a wonderful 4th of July weekend!

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  10. These cupcakes are so lovely....

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  11. @Yummy Bakes, That Girl, yummychunklet, Rita,
    Rosaria, Small Kuching, Belina, Many thanks.

    @Nami, We did, we had a happy 4th and scrumptious lunch at the Chillis with our good friends.

    @lena, one should never forget his or her roots.

    @Filip, Please do, this recipe will not disappoint you.

    @Adrian, that was what my mum said to me too.

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  12. Beautiful cupcakes to go with a beautifully written post :) very happy to have found your blog, it really is lovely

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  13. @The Procrstobaker, Thanks for the compliment on the cupcakes and I will pass your compliment on the post to my Quay Lo. I am sure he is very pleased. Many thanks for your visit and I hope to see you around often.

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  14. Thank you for sharing that with us, Gary. Wow! I thought these cupcakes were super explosive already. I love everything about them, from the beautiful colours and decorations, to the cute cup cake holder. A great way to end a great post!

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  15. that is such a pretty color blue on that frosting!

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  16. Perfect cupcake for independence day with beautiful write up... May I know is the red flowers on top of the cupcake is using royal icing?

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  17. @LeQuan, @The Urban Baker
    If there is not a new comment I would not have known you commented. So sorry I miss your comments. My apology.

    @baby girl diary
    Yes, the red flower is made from royal icing:D Thanks for your comment. Hope to see you around more often.

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  18. Thanks for your sharing.... Will definitely dropped by more often.... Hv a great day!

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  19. I share to your blog to my twitter. By regards Wholesale Printing And Trade Printing

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