This past Monday was one of those spectacular summer days — high-70s, light breezes, a nearly cloudless sky, and no humidity. I didn’t have a specific plan for the day but I knew that the “dog days of summer” would be returning shortly and this might be my last chance to enjoy a long bike ride. I decided to ride downtown and head over to Governors Island in New York Harbor.
For almost two centuries, the Island was closed to the public, operating as a military base for the U.S. Army and, later, the Coast Guard. After a few years of dormancy, it became a place of art, performances, and numerous recreational activities, including bike paths. It’s only a 172-acre island, but it has the most spectacular views of New York Harbor, including a close-up vista of the Statue of Liberty.
I stopped by the Hammock Grove that overlooks Lady Liberty for a quick break. While lounging on one of the many hammocks available, my thoughts turned to the upcoming celebration of the 4th of July, the significance of the Statue of Liberty to the world — and more specifically, to my own heritage — and the current state of affairs in the U. S.
Now, most people think I’m an “Aryan from Darien,” but the truth is, I’m only a second-generation American and I’m half Portuguese — an ethnicity that was not always welcomed with open arms but was allowed into the country, nonetheless.
My grandparents migrated here and passed through this very harbor seeking a new homeland. I wondered, how did the U.S. go from a land of opportunity, welcome, and refuge to a place where immigrants are feared, reviled, and looked upon with suspicion.
From the beginning of his campaign, President Trump has taken a polarizing stand on immigration. He blames many of our society’s ills on immigrants and frequently uses derogatory words — “rapists,” “criminals” and “bad hombres”— to describe groups of people (these words, in particular, aimed at Mexicans). There’s already a proposed wall to be built on our southern border to keep people out, a travel ban of Muslim countries, and we’re only five months into his term. Who knows what group(s) will be in the crosshairs next, or where the pervasive nasty rhetoric will lead.
Research, though, seems to contradict this Administration’s ideas about immigration. A study on the short and long-term effects of migration during the late 19th and early 20th centuries published by the National Bureau of Economic Research was just released. The research found that “locations with more historical immigration today have higher incomes, less poverty, less unemployment, higher rates of urbanization, and greater educational attainment. If history is any indication — and it almost always is — we will continue to need immigrants to further our economic and social successes as a nation.”
The U.S. is a land of immigrants — immigrants who were fundamentally responsible for the impressive historical economic and social prosperity that built the U.S. into a global power. In an article that was published on the Niskanen Center’s site, Kristie de Peña opines, “In large part, those who came to America were self-selected; the nation’s exceptionalism turned on the determination and ingenuity of a diverse group of new Americans. Even though the country’s sentiment towards specific immigrant populations at any given time has fluctuated wildly, aggregate prosperity in America has remained constant.”
In any event, my objective today is not to rant (though, as you can imagine, I have a lot to say on the topic). Rather, it’s meant to focus on the positive — to take a moment and be grateful for those optimistic, hard-working, and determined immigrants who struggled through adversity to make this country truly a land of freedom and opportunity. And to express my deepest hopes that our country will remain a place of safe haven for future generations to come.
So, in honor of my country — the U.S. of A. — I offer this poem by Emma Lazarus, a poem that is engraved on the pedestal where Lady Liberty stands, right smack dab in the middle of New York Harbor for all to see.
The New Colossus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles.
From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she.
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
~ Emma Lazarus
Have a safe, thoughtful, and enjoyable 4th of July holiday!
TIME TO DINE: Cooking for Joan
When I was deciding on this week’s recipe, I, of course, wanted to showcase an American dish appropriate for the 4th of July. What’s more American than good old fashioned apple pie, I thought. However, that seemed too expected and traditional.
So, I’m offering up a twist on the standard dessert — Baked Apple Roses! I found this recipe on a Tip Hero fast action video. At first, you may think it’s an intimidating dish — baking, precise rolling…ugh! But it’s relatively easy as long as you follow the recipe and/or watch the informative and entertaining video. The end result is not only delicious, it’s really pretty!
Serve it as a brunch item or make it a dessert.
Happy 4th of July!
Click for the Video Recipe
Baked Apple Roses
Prep Time: 20 min | Cook Time: 45 min | Difficulty: Medium
- 4 red apples, cored and halved (leave the skin on)
- Juice from 1/2 lemon
- 3 Tbsp apricot or any favorite fruit preserves
- 2 Tbsp water (plus more for apple soak)
- 1 sheet of puff pastry Cinnamon, to taste
- Confectioners sugar to garnish
Preheat Oven to 375 degrees
On a cutting board, take a halved apple with the skin side up and horizontally slice 1/8” thin slices (the apple slice should be in a half moon shape)
Put apple slices in microwave safe bowl. Fill bowl with water and juice from half a lemon
(Use enough water to make sure apple slices are covered by water)
Microwave for 3 minutes. This will soften the apple slices and make them more pliable for rolling up.
Grab a sheet of puff pastry. Flour your board and roll out the puff pastry enough to make 6 strips at 3 inches wide. Use a pastry or pizza wheel or a knife.
In a bowl mix your favorite fruit preserves with 2 tablespoons of water. Then lightly spoon out the preserves in the center of the strip of puff pastry.
Place the apple slices long ways halfway on the strip. Keep adding slices until you reach the end.
Sprinkle on a little cinnamon on each slice
Then fold the puff pastry over the bottom of the apple slices.
Roll up the puff pastry and place in a greased muffin tin.
Bake the apple roses for 35-45 minutes.
Pull out of oven and let cool for 5 minutes.
Give each rose a dusting of sugar and serve