Thursday, June 30, 2016

Wait, How Old Were They?

We have arrived at the final post for the Signers of the Declaration of Independence.  Next week we will celebrate the independence of our nation - and of course, there will be the traditional viewing of 1776, but please take a moment to peruse the list below - noting the ages of the "Founding Fathers" and other prominent personalities of the age on July 4, 1776 [from the Journal of the American Revolution, via kottke].
  1. Andrew Jackson, 9
  2. (Major) Thomas Young, 12
  3. Deborah Sampson, 15 
  4. James Armistead, 15 
  5. Sybil Ludington, 15 
  6. Joseph Plumb Martin, 15 
  7. Peter Salem, 16* 
  8. Peggy Shippen, 16 
  9. Marquis de Lafayette, 18 
  10. James Monroe, 18 
  11. Charles Pinckney, 18 
  12. Henry Lee III, 20 
  13. Gilbert Stuart, 20 
  14. John Trumbull, 20 
  15. Aaron Burr, 20 
  16. John Marshall, 20 
  17. Nathan Hale, 21
  18. Banastre Tarleton, 21 
  19. Alexander Hamilton, 21* 
  20. John Laurens, 21 
  21. Benjamin Tallmadge, 22 
  22. Robert Townsend, 22 
  23. George Rodgers Clark, 23 
  24. David Humphreys, 23 
  25. Gouveneur Morris, 24 
  26. Betsy Ross, 24 
  27. William Washington, 24 
  28. James Madison, 25 
  29. Henry Knox, 25 
  30. John Andre, 26 
  31. Thomas Lynch, Jr., 26^ 
  32. Edward Rutledge, 26^ 
  33. Abraham Woodhull, 26 
  34. Isaiah Thomas, 27 
  35. George Walton, 27*^ 
  36. John Paul Jones, 28 
  37. Bernardo de Galvez, 29 
  38. Thomas Heyward, Jr., 29^ 
  39. Robert R. Livingston, 29 
  40. John Jay, 30 
  41. Tadeusz Kosciuszko, 30 
  42. Benjamin Rush, 30^ 
  43. Abigail Adams, 31 
  44. John Barry, 31 
  45. Elbridge Gerry, 31^ 
  46. Casimir Pulaski, 31 
  47. Anthony Wayne, 31 
  48. Joseph Brant, 33 
  49. Nathanael Greene, 33 
  50. Thomas Jefferson, 33^ 
  51. Thomas Stone, 33*^ 
  52. William Hooper, 34^ 
  53. Arthur Middleton, 34^ 
  54. James Wilson, 34*^ 
  55. Benedict Arnold, 35
  56. Samuel Chase, 35^ 
  57. Thomas Knowlton, 35 
  58. William Paca, 35^ 
  59. John Penn, 35^ 
  60. Hercules Mulligan, 36 
  61. Andrew Pickens, 36 
  62. Haym Solomon, 36 
  63. John Sullivan, 36 
  64. George Clymer, 37^ 
  65. Charles Cornwallis, 37 
  66. Thomas Nelson, Jr., 37^ 
  67. Ethan Allen, 38 
  68. Charles Carroll, 38^ 
  69. King George III, 38 
  70. Francis Hopkinson, 38^ 
  71. Carter Braxton, 39^ 
  72. George Clinton, 39 
  73. John Hancock, 39^ 
  74. Daniel Morgan, 39 
  75. Thomas Paine, 39 
  76. Patrick Henry, 40 
  77. Enoch Poor, 40 
  78. John Adams, 40^ 
  79. Daniel Boone, 41 
  80. William Floyd, 41^ 
  81. Button Gwinnett, 41*^ 
  82. John Lamb, 41* 
  83. Francis Lightfoot Lee, 41^
  84. Paul Revere, 41 
  85. Thomas Sumter, 41 
  86. Robert Morris, 42^ 
  87. Thomas McKean, 42^ 
  88. George Read, 42^ 
  89. John Dickinson, 43 
  90. John Glover, 43 
  91. Benjamin Edes, 43 
  92. Samuel Huntington, 44^ 
  93. Richard Henry Lee, 44^ 
  94. Charles Lee, 44 
  95. Francis Marion, 44 
  96. Lord North, 44 
  97. George Washington, 44 
  98. Joseph Galloway, 45 
  99. Robert Treat Paine, 45^ 
  100. Friedrich von Steuben, 45 
  101. Richard Stockton, 45^ 
  102. Martha Washington, 45 
  103. William Williams, 45^ 
  104. (Dr.) Thomas Young, 45* 
  105. Josiah Bartlett, 46^ 
  106. Henry Clinton, 46 
  107. Joseph Hewes, 46^ 
  108. William Howe, 46 
  109. George Ross, 46^ 
  110. William Whipple, 46^ 
  111. Caesar Rodney, 47^ 
  112. John Stark, 47 
  113. Mercy Otis Warren, 47 
  114. William Ellery, 48^ 
  115. Horatio Gates, 48 
  116. Artemas Ward, 48 
  117. Oliver Wolcott, 49^ 
  118. Abraham Clark, 50^ 
  119. Benjamin Harrison, 50^ 
  120. George Mason, 50 
  121. Lewis Morris, 50^ 
  122. Lord Stirling, 50 
  123. George Wythe, 50*^ 
  124. Guy Carleton, 51 
  125. John Morton, 51*^ 
  126. Comte de Rochambeau, 51
  127. Lyman Hall, 52^ 
  128. James Rivington, 52* 
  129. Samuel Adams, 53^ 
  130. Comte de Grasse, 53 
  131. John Witherspoon, 53^ 
  132. John Burgoyne, 54 
  133. Johann de Kalb, 55
  134. Roger Sherman, 55^ 
  135. Thomas Gage, 56 
  136. James Smith, 56^ 
  137. Israel Putnam, 58 
  138. Comte de Vergennes, 58 
  139. Lewis Nicola, 59* 
  140. George Germain, 60 
  141. Philip Livingston, 60^ 
  142. George Taylor, 60*^ 
  143. Matthew Thornton, 62^ 
  144. Francis Lewis, 63^ 
  145. John Hart, 65*^ 
  146. Stephen Hopkins, 69^ 
  147. Benjamin Franklin, 70^ 
  148. Samuel Whittemore, 81
*  Evidence may exist that this age is not precise, or only a birth year is known
^  Signers of the Declaration of Independence (average signer age was 44)

Monday, June 27, 2016

Cashew Caramel Shortbread

I like cashews.  I like caramel. I like shortbread.  Mrs. BA, can I get some of these? From bakerita via BuzzFeed.

Cashew Caramel Shortbread Bars
Prep time 20 mins
Cook time 40 mins
Total time 1 hour
Serves: 16 bars

For the shortbread
  • ⅔ cup butter, softened 
  • ¼ cup white sugar 
  • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour 
For the caramel
  • ¾ cups sugar 
  • ½ cup heavy cream 
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, roughly cut into pieces 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla 
  • ¼ teaspoon salt 
  • 1¼ cups salted roasted cashews

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease 9-inch square pan with cooking spray. 
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together ⅔ cup butter, white sugar, and flour until evenly crumbly. Press into a 9 inch square baking pan. Bake for 20 minutes or until light golden brown. Remove from oven but keep it on. Let cool while you prepare the caramel cashew layer. 
  3. Place sugar in a nonstick saucepan over medium high heat. Let stand until bottom layer of sugar begins to melt, then start stirring, continuing to stir until sugar has turned light brown in color and smooth in texture. Pour in heavy cream, being careful of it splattering. Stir constantly until mixture is smooth again, about 5 minutes. Turn down heat and stir in butter, vanilla, and salt. Take mixture off heat and stir in cashews. Pour mixture into pan. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the caramel is all bubbling. 
  4. Let cool completely before cutting. Cut into 16 bars.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

That's Great - But Where are the Archives?

I would be remiss if I didn't post where you could find out more about these brave men who forged the document that guarantees our freedom.

All of the signers are linked to a website from ""  The landing page is here.  I have linked the states to my blog series on the States of the Union.

If you are interested in learning more about the signers, please consult their archives:
  1. John Adams (MA) - at the Massachusetts Historical Society.
  2. Samuel Adams (MA) - at the New York Public Library.
  3. Josiah Bartlett (NH) - there is a Bartlett Museum in Amesbury, MA, and there is an online finding aid for some Bartlett family papers at the Library of Congress.
  4. Carter Braxton (VA) - there's a body of papers scattered across several repositories, here's a list.
  5. Charles Carroll (MD) - primarily found at the Maryland Historical Society.
  6. Samuel Chase (MD) - there is an extensive essay found at the Society of the Descendants of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence.
  7. Abraham Clark (NJ) - a small collection of Clark's papers exist in several repositories, here's a list.
  8. George Clymer (PA) - there is a small collection of Clymer correspondence at the American Philosophical Society.
  9. John Dickinson (PA) - there is a collection of Dickinson papers at the college named for him.
  10. William Ellery (RI) - at the Rhode Island Historical Society.
  11. William Floyd (NY) - a limited collection, but you can visit the Floyd family home on Long Island.
  12. Benjamin Franklin (PA) - Franklin's papers are available online through a collaborative project between the American Philosophical Society and Yale University.
  13. Elbridge Gerry (MA) - on microfilm at the Massachusetts Historical Society.
  14. Button Gwinnett (GA) - a very small collection of correspondence is scattered across several repositories, here's a list from the Congressional Biographical Directory.
  15. Lyman Hall - a very small collection of correspondence is scattered across several repositories, here's a list from the Congressional Biographical Directory.
  16. John Hancock (MA) - at Harvard University.
  17. John Hart (NJ) - a very small collection - here's a list.
  18. Benjamin Harrison (VA) - There's a collection of Harrison's papers at the Library of Virginia.
  19. Joseph Hewes (NC) - scattered across several repositories, here's a list from the Congressional Biographical Directory.
  20. Thomas Heyward, Jr. (SC) - no major body of papers exists for Heyward.
  21. William Hooper (NC) - there is a good biography of Hooper at the North Carolina History Project.
  22. Stephen Hopkins (RI) - bits and pieces across several repositories, see this list from the Congressional Biographical Directory.
  23. Frances Hopkinson (NJ) - a finding aid is available online from the Historical Society of Pennsylvania for the Hopkinson Family Papers.
  24. Samuel Huntington - a scattered, small collection is listed here.
  25. Thomas Jefferson (VA) - two extensive bodies of papers exist for Jefferson, at the Library of Congress and the University of Virginia.
  26. Richard Henry Lee (VA) - there's a collection at the American Philosophical Society.
  27. Francis Lightfoot Lee (VA) - a small scattered collection exists - here's a list.
  28. Francis Lewis (NY) - a very limited collection is listed here.
  29. Philip Livingston (NY) - there are materials on Philip spread across many repositories, here's a list.
  30. Robert Livingston (NY) - at the New York Historical Society.
  31. Thomas Lynch, Jr. (SC) - like the man itself, who vanished, no body of papers appears to be extant for Lynch.
  32. Thomas McKean (DE) - some materials at the University of Pennsylvania.
  33. Arthur Middleton (SC) - there is a collection of Middleton's papers as well as the family's papers at the South Carolina Historical Society.
  34. Lewis Morris (NY) - a small scattered collection, here's a list.
  35. Robert Morris (PA) - there is a sizable collection at the Library of Congress.
  36. John Morton (PA) - you can read this essay on Morton at the Society of the Descendants of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence.
  37. Thomas Nelson, Jr. (VA) - there's a collection of gubernatorial papers at the Library of Virginia.
  38. William Paca (MD) - a finding aid of Paca's papers at the Maryland State Archives may be found here.
  39. Robert Treat Paine (MA) - at the Massachusetts Historical Society.
  40. John Penn (NC) - a essay on Penn is at the Society of the Descendants of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence.
  41. George Read (DE) - a scattered collection, here's a list.
  42. Cesar Rodney (DE) - some correspondence exists at the New York Public Library.
  43. Benjamin Rush (PA) - a prolific writer, there are Rush papers at several repositories, including the University of Pennsylvania and the American Philosophical Society.  Here's a complete list.
  44. Edward Rutledge (SC) - there is a small collection of materials at Duke University.
  45. Roger Sherman (CT) - the majority of Sherman's papers are at Yale University.
  46. James Smith (PA) - the majority, if not all of Smith's papers were destroyed in a fire.  Here's an essay on Smith from the Society of the Descendants of the Signers of the Declaration.
  47. Richard Stockton (NJ) - there is a collection of the Stockton Family Papers at Princeton University.  Here's a finding aid.
  48. Thomas Stone (MD) - no significant body of Stone papers have ever been located, here's a list of Stone material appearing in other collections.
  49. George Taylor (PA) - another obscure delegate with little "backstory" - here's an essay from the Society of the Descendants of the Signers of the Declaration.
  50. Matthew Thornton (NH) - a very small collection is listed in the Congressional Biographical Dictionary.
  51. George Walton (GA) - a manuscript collection is located at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
  52. William Whipple (NH) - another small collection is described in the Congressional Biographical Dictionary.
  53. William Williams (CT) - there is a manuscript collection at Yale University.
  54. James Wilson (PA) - there's a collection of Wilson papers at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.
  55. John Witherspoon (NJ) - a collection at Princeton and the New Jersey Historical Society.
  56. Oliver Wolcott (CT) - there is a collection of Oliver Wolcott papers at the Connecticut Historical Society.
  57. George Wythe (VA) - a small collection of Wythe's papers are at the College of William and Mary.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Slow Cooker Chicken Fajitas

Taco Night is a big hit at the Launchpad, especially for LBA.  On those occasions when we go out to a Mexican restaurant, I will often order the fajitas, if they are on the menu.  Now I can make them at home!  From Cooking Classy via BuzzFeed.

Slow Cooker Chicken Fajitas 
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Yield: About 9 fajitas

  • 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast halves 
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can petite diced tomatoes with green chilies 
  • 1 red, orange and green bell pepper, julienned 
  • 1 large yellow onion, halved and sliced 
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 2 1/2 tsp chili powder 
  • 2 tsp ground cumin 
  • 1 tsp paprika 
  • 3/4 tsp ground coriander 
  • 1 tsp salt 
  • 3/4 tsp pepper 
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp honey 
  • For serving: Flour tortillas, sour cream, cilantro, salsa, guacamole, monterrey jack or cheddar cheese

Pour half of the canned tomatoes into the bottom of a slow cooker and spread into an even layer. Top with half of the peppers and half of the onions. Sprinkle garlic in. Top with chicken breasts.

In a bowl whisk together chili powder, cumin, paprika, coriander, salt and pepper. Evenly sprinkle half of the seasoning over chicken breasts then flip chicken and sprinkle in remainder. Top with remaining half of the tomatoes, then layer in remaining peppers and onions.

Cover and cook on HIGH heat 3 - 4 hours or low heat 6 - 8 hours, until chicken has cooked through and veggies are tender (note that if you want to be able to cut chicken into strips cook more near lesser time on HIGH or LOW, otherwise it will probably just shred, which is also fine).

Remove chicken, and cut into strips, or shred. Ladle out 1 cup of the broth in slow cooker (mostly tomato liquid) and discard. In a small bowl whisk together lime juice and honey and add to slow cooker along with chicken and season with additional salt to taste if desired. Gently toss. Sere warm in warmed tortillas with sour cream and optional guacamole, cheese and salsa.

Recipe source: Cooking Classy

Monday, June 13, 2016

Twix Cookies

LBA is fond of the Twix bar (it's one of the candies he can eat).  I think that Mrs. BA should whip up a batch of these for everyone's good. From This Grandma is Fun via BuzzFeed.

Twix Cookies

  • 1½ cups softened butter 
  • 1 cup powdered sugar 
  • 3 cups flour 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla 
  • ¼ teaspoon salt 
  • 15 oz caramel **See notes 
  • 2 cups milk choc chips 
  • 2 tsp shortening 
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees 
  2. Cream butter and sugar together. Add your vanilla, flour and salt. Mix well. 
  3. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough out to ½ inch thick. 
  4. To cut cookies you can use a biscuit cutter or I just used a small glass that was 2 inches wide. 
  5. Place round cookies on a lightly greased cookie sheet. 
  6. Bake at 350 for 14-16 minutes. 
  7. Let cookies cool. 
  8. Melt caramel and spread the caramel over the cooled cookies. 
  9. Let caramel cool completely. 
  10. Add your shortening into the chocolate chips and melt in the microwave. Use a microwave safe bowl and watch so that the chocolate does not burn. 
  11. Spread melted chocolate over cooled caramel. 
  12. Let chocolate set before serving. 
  13. Do not put in the refrigerator as it will discolor the chocolate. 

I use Peter's caramel which comes in a 5 lb block. You can just cut off what you need, melt it and it's ready to go. If you use the Kraft caramels, follow the instructions on the bag for melting.

Shortbread recipe adapted by Food Network

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Signers: Virginia

For our last state in our series, we look at the Commonwealth of Virginia, producer of our first President, and several more after that.

  • Carter Braxton (1736-1797), was a farmer who lost most of his property and fortune in the course of the Revolution.  Braxton arrived in the Congress after the death of Peyton Randolph.  He invested heavily in privateers in the war and wound up in debt following the end of the war.
  • Benjamin Harrison (1726-1791), was the patriarch of a political family - his son, William Henry Harrison served as the ninth President.  Benjamin Harrison also served as Speaker of the Virginia Legislature and Governor of Virginia.
  • Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), was the author of the Declaration and served as the Third President of the United States. A true Renaissance man, Jefferson served in the Virginia legislature, the state's Governor, Minister to France, Secretary of State, Vice President, and President.  The Thomas Jefferson Pizza at Declaration features smithfield ham, arugula, lemon, olive oil, oven roasted tomatoes, fresh mozzarella.
  • Francis Lightfoot Lee (1734-1797), was Richard Henry Lee's younger brother, the only brothers in the Continental Congress.  He was an avid proponent of independence.
  • Richard Henry Lee (1732-1794), is the individual who proposed the resolution on American independence.  He later served as the President of the Congress while also serving in the Virginia House of Burgesses.
  • Thomas Nelson, Jr. (1738-1789), was a farmer and military leader in the early days of the American Revolution.  He served in the Congress until 1779 until frail health led him to return to Virginia.
  • George Wythe (1726-1806), was a prominent member of the Virginia delegation and made his greatest impact in the field of education.  An early abolitionist, Wythe provided for his slaves to receive a portion of his estate's lands in his will.  Upon learning of this, one of Wythe's relatives poisoned several of the slaves with arsenic, also killing Wythe in the process.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Chicken with Carrots and Potatoes

I'm always on the look out for new recipes, especially those that SoBA and LBA will eat.  Even though this has vegetables in it (carrots), even Mrs. BA might eat this.  And it's quick, which is a plus - I've found recently that I don't have the will to get started on dinner when I get home at night.  Via BuzzFeed.

Oven-Baked Honey-Dijon Chicken With Carrots and Potatoes
Recipe by Christine Byrne
Makes 2 servings

  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2 breasts) 
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper 
  • 3 medium red bliss potatoes (about ½ lb), roughly chopped 
  • 2 medium carrots (about ½ lb), peeled and roughly chopped 
  • 1 Tbsp. canola oil, divided 
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary, thyme, or sage leaves, divided 
  • 1 tsp honey 
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard 

Remove the chicken breasts from the fridge, dry them with paper towels, and season them with salt and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Place the potatoes and carrots on a large sheet pan and toss them with ½ tablespoon canola oil, ½ tablespoon chopped herbs, a pinch of salt, and some freshly ground pepper.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the remaining canola oil, the honey, mustard, the remaining chopped herbs, a big pinch of kosher salt, and some freshly ground pepper. Dry the chicken breasts again with paper towels. Add the chicken breasts to the bowl and toss everything together to coat. Place the chicken on the sheet pan with the vegetables, spreading everything out.

Roast in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through with no pink in the middle. A thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast should read 165°F.

Let everything rest at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes, then serve.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Traffic Court

I am not the best driver.  I tend to speed, especially with the new Brave Astronaut space vehicle, with its V8 engine under the hood.  I also come by it honestly, my mother had a lead foot.  Back in December, I was stopped on my way to work for failing to come to a complete stop at a stop sign.  It was an occasion where I was genuinely surprised that I was being pulled over.

I arrived at the intersection, where a car was making its way through the intersection, so I had to stop.  As I prepared to pull forward a cruiser arrived at the intersection to my right.  I proceeded straight and was pulled over by the same cruiser for failing to yield at the stop sign.  I accepted the citation and prepared to plead not guilty and request a trial.

And here's the moral of the story dear readers - ALWAYS plead not guilty.  And here's why.  First of all, your court date will be scheduled for some time later - as was in this case, I was pulled over in December and my court date was today, nearly six months later.  It is entirely worth your time to go to court and plead your case in front of the judge.

Secondly, if you go to court and the officer does not show up, your case is dismissed and you will be found guilty.  This was the case with me today (as was also the case for a speeding ticket I got last fall).  As I sat in the courtroom today, I did get to hear some good stories, including one gentleman who was stopped for doing 108 MPH on Route 50.  And even he got a reduced fine.  But what astonished me, was those individuals who had pleaded not guilty, requested a trial, and then didn't show up, FTA, or Failure to Appear, in the legal parlance.  If you're going to go through the trouble of pleading not guilty, show up for your court date - now those fine folks have more trouble on their plates.

Someday I might regale you with my other stories of traffic infractions and moving violations, but for today, Brave Astronaut beat the rap again.  And remember, ALWAYS plead not guilty.