Wednesday, July 4, 2012

And the rocket's red glare . . .

I take the invention of matches for granted . . . fire on a stick to light other stuff on fire . . . like magic only hotter.

I recently read something the piqued my curiosity about these little flaming wonders . . . it was nothing more than the fact they were called 'congreves' before they were called matches and I wanted to know why and whatfor.

In 1669, phosphorous was discovered.  In 1680, an Irish physicist discovered that he could make fire by coating a small piece of paper with phosphorous and a small piece of wood with sulfur.   He didn't actually invent matches, though.

It wasn't until 1827 that an English chemist by the name of John Walker invented the first friction matches.  He coated the end of a stick with antimony sulfide, potassium chlorate, gum, and starch.  After these chemicals were allowed to dry, he discovered that he could start a fire by striking the stick anywhere.   He called his little fire sticks 'congreves'.

He named his invention after the congreve rocket; so named after its inventor Sir William Congreve.  It was an incendiary rocket that utilized black powder packed inside an iron case. The rocket was propelled by a 16-foot guide stick that allowed the rocket to travel an amazing distance of 9000 feet.  

The congreve rocket was used United States in the War of 1812.  This rocket not only inspired John Walker but also Francis Scott Key.  The line from the Star Spangled Banner "rocket's red glare" was a direct result of Key seeing the congreve rockets in action.

Spicy Deviled Eggs

7 Eggs (just in case one breaks)
1 Lemon Wedge
Hot Sauce (I use Frank's)
Crushed black pepper
12 Green Olives

Place eggs in pot and fill with enough cold water to immersed eggs entirely.  Gradually bring to a boil.  Using cold water or cold eggs allows the eggs to warm gradually and will be less likely to crack.

Boil for 15 minutes.  Drain the hot water and fill pot with cold water and allow eggs to cool.  When eggs are cooled, roll the egg on the counter top to break the shell and then gently peel off the egg.

Take a sharp knife and cut eggs in half lengthwise. Scoop the yolks out into a bowl.

Smoosh the yolks with the back of a fork.  Add a dash of salt, a dash of pepper, a squirt of lemon juice and a generous splash of hot sauce.  Gradually add a bit of mayonnaise until the yolks hold together but aren't too creamy.

Spoon yolk mixture into the egg halves.  Top with an olive.  

Try not to eat them all at once and make sure to share.

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