The document called the Articles of Confederation was, really, the first Constitution of the United States. Adopted by the Continental Congress in 1777, the Articles didn’t become the law of the land until March 1, 1781, when all 13 new states signed on. Thus, the United States of America was born. A straightforward reading can be found here.
Being obviously nervous about a strong central government, the Articles didn’t create three branches of government, as our current Constitution does. Instead, a committee of delegates from each state met to conduct the business of foreign relationships, declaring war, and maintaining a national military. All other matters were in the hands of individual states, which the Articles declared as sovereign entities united in mutual friendship.
It didn’t take long to realize that no national mechanism to deal with collecting taxes, regulating interstate commerce, etc. was in place. Thus, our current Constitution was adopted by the Constitutional Convention in 1787.
If it’s been a while since you’ve read some founding history, do yourself a favor and hit the links. The history is incredible.
Now, onto something to eat.
I found a wonderful place, Feeding America that has complete copies of very early cookbooks. All you foodies out there will have a field day reading them. Also give a visit to Hearth & Homes for some early american cooking terms. Since seafood was so abundant, and clams were a favorite, let’s make some clam chowder. This clam chowder is a little more modern than what was made during the 1780’s.
NEW ENGLAND CLAM CHOWDER
1/2 lb. bacon, diced medium
1 Cup chopped leeks
1 Cup chopped onions
1 Cup chopped celery
3 bay leaves
1 Tbs. chopped fresh thyme
1/2 cup flour
1 lb. potatoes, peeled & chopped
4 Cups clam juice
2 Cups cream
2 lbs. clams, shucked & chopped (PLEASE read about clams at the end of the recipe)
2 Tbs. parsley, chopped
In a big stockpot, cook the bacon over medium high heat until crispy. Stir in the leeks, onions, and celery. Cook until the veggies just start to get tender. Taste it. Add some pepper, if you want. Add bay leaves and thyme. Stir it again for a minute or two. Add flour. Stir and cook a couple of minutes. Add potatoes and stir them around. Add clam juice. Bring everything to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender. Add the cream. Bring everything back to a simmer. Taste it, and add salt or pepper to your taste. Add the clams. These will cook at a simmer (if you’re using fresh ones) in no more than two minutes. Stir in the fresh parsley and serve immediately.
~ About those clams: If you are using fresh clams, get a couple of pounds and steam them until they open, then take them out of the shells and chop them up. You can also use frozen clams (thaw them & chop them before putting them into the chowder). Canned clams are also great. Just be sure to not throw out the juice they are packed in. Every person’s palate is different when it comes to the amount of clams. I leave it to you!
~Eat Your History~
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