Friday, July 1, 2011

Bell Ringing Bean Salad

In the wake of September 11, the Liberty Bell was moved to closed and guarded quarters, that it might remain safe from any attack.

The summer I was eleven, my parents decided it was time for the three of us sisters to get in touch with our country's origins. Our family would drive to New York to see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Along the way we'd stop in Philadelphia to visit Independence Hall where the Declaration of Independence was signed.

Independence Park itself is comprised of four city blocks and includes outlying areas that include Carpenter's Hall where the First Continental Congress met, Ben Franklin's home, the Gaff House--where Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, and City Tavern, the center of revolutionary war activities.

My favorite landmark was the Liberty Bell. I was entranced. I took out the small Brownie camera I carried and shot photo after photo. For someone who loved history as much as I did, it was the star of the summer. There it sat, right out in the open, almost within a hand's reach. How I would have loved to hear it ring.

It has been said that "it's chime changed the world." Dramatic interpretation perhaps, but when the Liberty Bell rang out from the tower of Independence Hall during the original reading of the Declaration of Independence on July 8, 1776, everyone who heard it knew change was on the wind.

Originally cast in 1751 by the Whitechapel Foundry in England, the bell was intended to be nothing more than a State Bell to commemorate Pennsylvania's Charter of Privileges which set forth the rights and freedoms valued by people the world over.

History did not record why or when the bell cracked, only that once it did it was re-cast in America and then again in England. What we do know is that the bell rang to call the Pennsylvania Assembly together, to summon people for special announcements or events, when King George took the throne in 1761, to summon folks to discuss the Sugar Act of 1764 and the Stamp Act of 1765. By 1772 the people in the nearby vicinity had had it with all the noise and petitioned the Pennsylvania Assembly to "stop ringing that bell." 

When the British occupied Philadelphia in 1777, the bell was spirited away from the city and hidden beneath the floorboards of a church in Allentown, Pennsylvania. No small feat. The bell weighs 2,080 pounds, bears a lip circumference of 12 feet and stands nearly 5 feet high. The yoke is fashioned of Slippery Elm, and in itself weighs 200 pounds.

Today the bell is owned by the city of Philadelphia and is on display in Independence National Historic park--crack and all. Guess they really did ring it one too many times.


This is a wonderful salad for a backyard BBQ or any other place you  get together with friends to celebrate America's birthday. This recipe makes a lot and gets better the longer it marinates. Even better, no worries over contamination if it sits un-refrigerated. My suggestion is to make it a day or two ahead. I've eaten many a marinated bean salad in my day, but this is the best of them all. It's a real bell ringer.

1 can red kidney beans, drained
1 can cut green beans, drained
1 can garbanzo beans, drained
1 can black-eyed peas, drained.
2 1/2 cups chopped celery
1 cup finely minced parsley (important to the flavor)
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 3 oz. jar stuffed green olives
1 can chopped black olives

In a separate bowl combine:

1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
2 Tbs. brown sugar
1 clove garlic, crushed

Whisk together and pour over the bean mixture, tossing lightly. Cover and refrigerate at least over night. To serve, mix well and arrange in a bowl lined with crisp romaine leaves.

"Cheers for the sailors who fought on the wave for it,
Cheers for the soldiers that always were brave for it.
Tears for the men that went down to the grave for it.
Here comes the Flag!

Author unknown
Copyright 2011 by Sandra L Keith, All rights reserved.

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