Sunday, May 26, 2013

Memorial Day Blessings

I look out at the serenity of my world on this Sunday before Memorial Day and feel blessed.  Providence has brought me a life less ordinary and I feel blessed and thankful for those that have come before me and influenced my life's path.

Reflection is an important part of daily life for me, and it is even more important on these weekends that tend to become a whirlwind of activity.  Most of our weekend will be taken up with social events, household chores and some much needed R&R.  Memorial Day, however, is to be a time for reflection and an opportunity to honor those that have gone before us with the intent of making the world a better and safer place.  I am pleased that my kids will be taking part in a parade to honor this tradition, and it is a tradition that spans the globe.

Honoring those that have gone forth into lands unknown to make the world a safer place occurs world wide. In the US it is celebrated on the last Monday of May, but there are days set aside for remembrance in many countries.  During our stay in Australia, we were introduced to the traditions of ANZAC Day which is their day to honor the soldiers that went forth over the generations and served for the benefit of the entire world.

ANZAC stands for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corp and was initially formed during World War I.  The tradition of preparing ANZAC Biscuits, a type of cookie, in remembrance of those who served still stands today.  The ANZAC Biscuit was a staple prepared by the families at home to be sent abroad.  The ingredients are easy to store and are not perishable.

The recipe contains a couple of ingredients that may be unfamiliar in the Yankee kitchen.  Golden Syrup is a staple in the Australian and British pantry, but isn't often encountered in the States.  I was able to find it in the British section of the local Wegman's.  It has a color and flavor similar to caramel, and is a byproduct from the production of cane sugar.

The second less common ingredient is desiccated coconut, or coconut powder.  It is a very dry and finely shredded form of coconut.  The ANZAC biscuit has a crispy texture that is in part due to the use of this type of coconut.  The traditional form of moist, sweetened coconut generally used in American kitchens will result in a different texture and flavor.

The recipe I use was cut out of a random magazine or advert.  I did not keep track of the source, but it is the same basic recipe found in many different sources.  The dough will be loose and will need to be gently pressed together into a ball and then gently flattened with a fork.  I stop applying pressure when the edges of the cookie begin to split apart.

Australian ANZAC Biscuits

1 cup each of plain flour, sugar, rolled oats and desiccated coconut
120 grams of melted butter
1 tablespoon of golden syrup
2 tablespoons of boiling water
1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) dissolved in a little water

Preheat oven to 350F.

Mix plain flour, sugar, rolled oats and coconut together and let rest.

Melt butter and golden syrup together in saucepan. 

In a separate cup add bicarb soda to water, then mix with dry ingredients.

Roll tablespoons of the mixture into balls, place on a greased oven tray and slightly flatten with a fork.

Cook for 10 to 15 minutes at 350F.

As I prepared these biscuits for our Memorial Day Weekend, I thought of all the families surrounding the soldiers who received these in their care packages.  The sacrifices made by entire nations of families.  The efforts put forth from home to support those serving abroad and the losses we all endure.  I began to see these humble biscuits as a symbol of all the love and sacrifice that tie families together.

Wishing all a blessed Memorial Day that brings healing and hope to the families of our fallen heroes.