Juneteenth 2020!

19 Jun

This year 2020, is one that is literally rewriting the history books. Juneteenth, considered our country’s second Independence Day has long been celebrated by African Americans. However it has largely been unknown to the general population and folks outside of Texas. Juneteenth recognizes the day, post-Civil War that more than 250,000 enslaved African Americans in Texas learned they were free—June 19, 1865, two and one-half years after the date specified in the Emancipation Proclamation!  On this date Union soldiers arrived in Texas, notifying enslaved African Americans in Galveston Bay that they along with others in the state were free.  

Today’s tech adept folks, streaming current events and strident protests have helped put Juneteenth on the national calendar. Though the original date freed the enslaved, this 2020 date is freeing ethnic images linked to iconic brands from the product packaging where they became famous— Aunt Jemina, Uncle Ben, Mrs. Butterworth and Chef Frank L. White of Cream of Wheat.  Though their images have garnered tons of feedback over the years, in just a few short weeks of this year–whoosh, they’re being removed as the recognition of Juneteenth has blown up.

Juneteenth is a time to celebrate, gather as a family, reflect on the past and look to the future. In recognizing this historic event, food is central and a key element of African American culture. In looking to our food legacy, ChowChow and Soul reached out to Chef Adrian Lipscombe owner of Uptowne Café & Bakery in LaCrosse, WI for her thoughts on June events and of course a recipe. We’ve shared Lipscombe’s thoughts below and of her recipe for Tea Cakes. Bake a batch as you and your family commemorate the importance of this 155th Juneteenth in 2020!

Chef Adrian Lipscombe, cooks Tea Cakes and more at the cafe in LaCrosse, Wisconsin.

ChowChow & Soul: What is your first memory of a soul food dish or recipe?

Chef Lipscombe: My first memory of soul food comes from my Nana.  Nana always made Sunday dinner.  It always started in the morning before we went to church.  On the same stove where we had our hair pressed, she would create magic.  All my memories of soul food have always been with family. 

ChowChow & Soul: The Juneteenth commemoration of slavery’s end in Texas is one of the reasons I selected June as the month to celebrate National Soul Food Month—what are some of the links or synergies you see between the two events?

Chef Lipscombe:  Soul food is about coming together and sharing among one another.  Soul food also carries and tells a story of our past. Juneteenth carries so much history and celebration of our ancestors. Juneteenth is about coming together, celebrating our freedoms and to remind ourselves how far we have come today. 

ChowChow & Soul: What is the one soul food dish that you think people should know how to make? 

One of the first dishes I would want people to know how to make would probably be tea cakes.  Tea cakes are cookies that can be made any time. It is a simple cookie with a deep history. Recipes vary from family to family. Making Tea Cakes is one of my fondest memories of baking with my Nana and my mother.

Adrian Lipscombe’s Tea Cakes

1 cup of cold butter

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar 

3 eggs 

3 cups of all-purpose flour 

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon of ground nutmeg 

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1 teaspoon of lemon extract

Cream butter and sugar together in a mixer. Add eggs one at a time until blended and fluffy. Blend in vanilla and lemon extract. Add combined dry ingredients to butter mixture, mixing until blended.  Refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour or until stiff.  On lightly floured cutting board roll out dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Using round cookie cutter or inverted glass, cut to desired size. Bake on parchment lined cookie-sheet at 375ºF 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.

Note from Chef Lipscombe: For a longer shelf life and to keep that softness add one slice of bread with the cookies in a sealed container. 

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