Star Spangled Banner ~ Crab Cakes

“Then, in that hour of deliverance, my heart spoke. Does not such a country, and such defenders of their country, deserve a song?”  Those words were spoken by Francis Scott Key, overcome with emotion, after witnessing American troops defeat the British in the Battle for Baltimore during the War of 1812. The “Star Spangled Banner” was the result.

Today, in 1931, President Herbert Hoover signed legislation making “The Star Spangled Banner” our national anthem. What took them so long?

Here’s the quick history: Major George Armistead knew that, eventually, the British would attack Baltimore. He commissioned the widow Mary Young Pickerell to sew a United States flag to the measurements of 30 x 42. Why?  He wanted his position known, not only to the friendlies, but to the enemy.  Mrs. Pickerell, with the aid of her 13 year old daughter, Caroline, sewed the flag and Major Armistead ran it up a 90′ flag pole.

Anyway, the British landed 3,000 troops just north of Ft. McHenry, Maryland, on September 12, 1814. They were the “advance team” for the British ships that would commence bombardment of the Fort the next morning.  One problem: Thousands of Americans joined together and blocked the advancement of the British troops on the ground. (Do you love free people, or what?) 

The bombardment from British ships on Ft. McHenry started the next day, at dawn, and continued for 25 hours

Ft. McHenry had a mere 1,000 soldiers, but they valiantly (along with regular citizens) returned fire on the superpower of the day.

When Francis Scott Key went to sleep the night of September 13, the sights and sounds of the battle had begun to wane. Awakening at dawn the next day, he didn’t know if the Americans had been defeated or had been victorious.

Then he saw the flag that Mary Young Pickerell and her daughter had sewn. It was still flying.  And he knew.

I will never forget a special singing of this song when I was in my early 20’s.  It was the opening of the National Finals Rodeo, which at the time was held at the Myriad Convention Center in Oklahoma City.  An unknown native Oklahoma girl, riding a Palomino and carrying our flag, rode to the center of the arena. The lights were dark, except for a spotlight on this girl and her horse and our flag. She sang, a capella, the Star Spangled Banner.  Wasn’t a dry eye in the house by the time she finished. It was Reba McEntyre.

I digress.

Please learn about the Battle for Baltimore and Ft. McHenry here and here.

Read some fascinating history, look at artifacts from Ft. McHenry, take a virtual tour of the Fort and individual skirmishes in the Battle for Baltimore, learn about reenactments and plan a trip to attend one, and so much more.

Oh. You can also read the entire “Star Spangled Banner” as penned by Francis Scott Key. I particularly like the last stanza.

“Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heaven-rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: ‘In God is our trust.’
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!”

Does the star spangled banner yet wave o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

While you are thinking about that and reading some history, let’s eat!

The State of Maryland does have an official dessert which is Smith Island Cake.

I’ve not found an official food for the State of Maryland, but think crab cakes should be adopted.  If crab cakes aren’t the state dish of Maryland, they should be. Here’s my version:

CRAB CAKES
1 pound crab meat
1 cup fine bread crumbs
1 large egg, beaten
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon green onions or shallots, minced
1 tablespoon parsley, minced
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
Salt and pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients except the crabmeat in a bowl. Add the crab, and stir to incorporate. Form the mixture into about 2″ balls, flatten slightly, and fry until crispy and golden. Turn and fry the other side. (Use just enough oil to keep them from sticking.)

There is a restaurant near my old house that serves crab cakes on a bed of lettuce with a spicy roasted pepper sauce drizzled over the top. Rachel Ray has a good recipefor the sauce. It doesn’t taste exactly like the restaurant’s, but it’s really good!

RACHEL RAY’S RED PEPPER SAUCE
1 8-ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup prepared chili sauce

Combine everything in a food processor and pulse until smooth.

EAT YOUR HISTORY!

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