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Happy Birthday, America!

By: Bill Charles

Date Posted: 2006-06-30

Tuesday marks the 230th anniversary of the United States of America.

Frustration and anger over treatment by the King of England led a rebellious group of citizen lawmakers from 13 British colonies to break away from its European masters. The colonies, angry over what they called ‘taxation without representation’ organized its first independent First Continental Congress in 1774 to share their displeasure over the way England was treating them.

England, unhappy over the independent spirit being shown by its American continent colonies, sent troops to America in April 1775, firing the “shot heard round the world” as Paul Revere raced through the streets of Concord, Massachusetts warning ‘The British are coming, the British are coming!’. A month later, colonialists met again, the Second Continental Congress, but remained divided on how to resolve its problems with the British without declaring out and out war.

By June 1776, the colonies appeared united that they could not remain under England’s thumb, and drafted what ultimately became the Declaration of Independence. July 4th, 1776, they voted.

Although the Declaration of Independence called itself ‘unanimous’, it wasn’t. Pennsylvania’s nine delegates cast ‘No’ votes, as did South Carolina’s four delegates. Delaware couldn’t decide if the colonies should stay British or seek independence, while New York opted to abstain from the vote.

Nine colonies—Connecticut, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Rhode Island and Virginia—voted for independence.

The colonial delegates called King George III of England guilty of “absolute tyranny over these States” and demanded freedom. The Declaration of Independence spelled out the belief that “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 pursuit of Happiness”.

The delegates cited England’s imposing taxes without consent, but also lashed out at England cutting off America’s trade with other parts of the world, and said of King George III “He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns and destroyed the lives of our people”.

Without benefit of today’s technologies, it took days for Americans to learn of their new freedom. The Pennsylvania Evening Post was first to announce it, on July 6th. Two days later it was read in Philadelphia’s Independence Square. The official signing was complete until early August, but July 4th was adopted as the day freedom came to America.

The first Independence Day celebration was July 4th, 1777, and they’ve never stopped. Parades, family outings and picnics, and fireworks became part of the traditions.

Barbeques and mom’s apple pie have become traditional favorites, and Japan Update offers a couple recipes for making this weekend’s festivities a complete success.

Mom’s Apple Pie (makes two)
First, homemade crust is essential.
4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/3 cup Crisco or other shortening
15 tablespoons cold water

Mix shortening, salt, and flour until crumbly. Add the water and mix well. If too dry, add more water in very small increments

Apple Filling
15-16 Macintosh or Granny Smith apples, pared, cored and thinly sliced
4 tablespoons all purpose flower
1 ½-2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 cups sugar, 4 tablespoons butter

Combine sugar, flour and cinnamon in bowl, add apple slices and mix together.

Take half the pastry and use rolling pin to roll flat. Line two 9” pie pans with the pastry, fill with the apple mixture, and apply dollops of butter across the top. Then take second half of pastry dough, roll flat and place across the top. Pinch the edges, and take a knife to cut steam slits in top.

Bake for 45-50 minutes in 400-degree oven, or until crust is brown. Enjoy.


The heart of the barbeque is in the sauces and glaze. Here are the Japan Update favorites:

Beer Marinade
1 Quart beer
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup vinegar (cider style is best)
1 teaspon chila powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dry mustard
2 teaspoons hot red pepper flakes

Mix ingredients in a large pan, heat, then bring to a boil, then allow to cool.

Poor marinate over ribs, allowing to marinate for 18-24 hours in refrigerator. Place ribs on grill or oven rack and cook 6-8 hours, until tender. Baste with marinade every half hour.

Barbeque Glaze
3 cloves chopped garlic
¼ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon dry oregano
1 teaspoon basil leaves (fresh chopped, if possible)
1 ½ cups finely diced tomatoes
½ cup mild red wine
1/8 cup lime juice (or juice from two fresh limes)
¼ cup honey
¼ cup parsley (fresh chopped, if possible)

Saute the garlic in olive oil, then add all other ingredients except lime juice, wine and parsley. Allow to simmer 10-15 minutes. Add the red wine and lime juice and cook slowly another 10 minutes. Add the chopped parsley.

This glaze is excellent for all meats and poultry.

Happy Independence Day weekend.

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