Memorial Day is this weekend, and it’s probably one of my favorite weekends. Just like every other American I love the time off from work (for The Sgt) and the beer and BBQ. So often we forget what the reasoning is behind this weekend. Or maybe we don’t want to remember. Truthfully, growing up I always just assumed it meant we should remember the guys in the military and that’s it. On that Sunday in church I would remember the pastor saying to “remember to pray for those who have fallen or sacrificed for this country,” we’d pray for our own servicemen serving overseas, and then the sermon would progress.
The reality of Memorial Day never hit home until I visited Arlington Cemetery when I was in 8th grade. As we walked through I became so frustrated with fellow classmates who had no idea as to what those white headstones meant. They were more satisfied complaining about how hot it was our how they didn’t want to go back to the Smithsonian. Because we went to a small Christian school my two older sisters (Hilary and Samantha) were also on the trip with us. Sami became just as frustrated as I was and snapped at a few people for being so disrespectful. I remember a lot about that day… Sami going all psycho on some people, spending an awesome day with my sisters, but one thing I will forever remember is how heartbroken I felt when I saw them preparing a new burial plot. I wanted to throw up. All wars, past and present, and all men and women who had given their lives became incredibly real to me. We walked out of Arlington quietly and respectfully and I had a huge lump in my throat as I passed hills of white headstones wearing the simple words of honor for soldiers, airmen, sailors, and marines who gave their lives for this country.
In 8th grade I had no idea that I’d be married to who I am. Let alone the idea that I would be married to a man in the Marine Corps. I didn’t grow up in a military family. The closest relative I have that served in the military was a second cousin who was much older than me. I would marry The Sgt and his mistress, The United States Marine Corps. Acknowledging from the get-go that I was 3rd in line. (Jesus, Marine Corps, Wife.) This lifestyle is a mystery to most. To this day our families still struggle to comprehend some of what goes into serving in the military. My husband does it so patiently, so bravely, and respectfully.
We’ve been through 3 deployments and leading up to each of those deployments is a slurry of preparation. Get the living and final wills and power of attorney taken care of, make sure the cars are ready to go, discuss what bills have to be paid and when, set up a plan if something happens. And you don’t think about the “what if’s?” until the day you drop him off at the hangar and kiss goodbye for 6-8 months. You don’t think about the “what if’s” until you’re sitting in your car in the driveway bawling your eyes out and refusing to go inside because you know on the other side of the door awaits 8 months entirely on your own. Eight months of worry, eight months of fear, and eight months of loneliness. You go to bed that night and cry yourself to sleep as you wonder what on earth you’re going to do if you get the knock at the door. That dreaded knock. Overtime you grow comfortable with life, but you can’t shake that fear. If you’re not expecting someone and the doorbell rings or there is a knock at the door your heart races and you get a lump in your throat … only to open the door and see the mail lady with a package that won’t fit in your box.
The reality of sacrifice surrounds those of us so close to the military. And sadly many have had to pay the ultimate sacrifice so that we can freely have our beer and BBQ. So this weekend when you are enjoying your BBQ and your family and friends just take a minute to remember the men and women that we have had to lay to rest as they have given all. And remember their families as they have made a significant sacrifice as well.
Now that we’ve dealt with the heavy … Let’s get down to the post …
Red Velvet Cupcakes.
Once a week my husband has training with some of his command. This week I whipped them up some rather patriotic cupcakes. Truthfully I’ve been wanting to try Swiss meringue buttercream for some time. I took the opportunity and ran with it. Now, I know people like the cream cheese frosting with their red velvet cake. Here’s a confession for you – I don’t. I hate, hate, hate cream cheese frosting on red velvet cake. Southern Belles all over are whipping their computers across the room. They’re probably giving me the finger and cussing, too. I guess I should confess this too – I hate sweet tea. Hate it.
Quit whipping your rebel flag around and sit down. I’m a northern girl. I like my red velvet cake with only 1 tablespoon of chocolate, regular buttercream, and unsweet tea on the side.
So now that I’ve pissed off all of our southern readers and they’re calling me the Antichrist … Let’s talk Swiss Meringue Buttercream.
You guys (Central Pennsylvanian version of ya’ll) … I’d bathe myself in this stuff. I was leery at first. Because this isn’t the typical buttercream where you throw some butter and powdered sugar in a bowl. This is fancy. Cooking egg whites with sugar, then whipping the crap out of it, and whipping the crap out of it more, and adding butter, and vanilla, and then whipping the crap out of it more. And when it’s done … oh gosh.
Well, it’s satiny, smooth, light, buttery, and vanilla-y deliciousness. It’s a dream to spread. It’s beautiful and shiny. It melts in your mouth. It is perfection.
And it makes 5 cups of icing.
So I went all sacrilegious and threw big heaping piles of that buttercream on top of my go-to red velvet cupcakes. I sprinkled a little blue on each (for the marines) and I only ate one.
But as I type this and as I look at these pictures I want to go stick my face in the bowl and just go away to my fat kid happy place …
You guys have a picnic to go to this weekend? Or even just have a long weekend to bake and wear your sweatpants and watch the countless TV marathons coming up? Make.These.Cupcakes! But make sure you do it with the Swiss Meringue Buttercream.
Or Northern Girl will judge you.
Remember all of our fallen soldiers, airmen, sailors, and marines this weekend. Pray for those like my husband still actively serving. Pray for our military families, those who have lost and those who still serve. It is an honor to be married to my handsome, loving, God-fearing, marine husband. And I cannot tell you how much we appreciate your support.
Happy Memorial Day Weekend!
Red Velvet Cupcakes:
*makes 2 dozen
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups oil
1 cup buttermilk (*NOTE: If you do not have buttermilk you can make it at home. Melt 1 tablespoon butter and then fill to 1 cup mark with milk. Wala!)
1 oz red food coloring
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 teaspoon vinegar
1) Preheat oven to 350. Mix dry ingredients.
2) Mix wet ingredients (except food coloring) and incorporate dry ingredients.
3) Add food coloring and mix well.
4) Fill cupcake liners 2/3 way full
5) Bake 15-20 minutes. (Check at 15. If toothpick comes out clean, they’re done.)
Swiss Meringue Buttercream
*makes 5 cups. FIVE.
5 large egg whites
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
4 sticks of butter, sliced by the tablespoon @ room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla
1) In mixer bowl blend egg whites and sugar, place over simmering water. (Try to avoid boiling water touching the mixer bowl if you can help it.)
2) Continually stir the mixture until creamy white and the sugar has dissolved. (This ensures the egg whites have cooked thoroughly as sugar melts at a higher temperature than egg whites cook!)
3) When sugar is dissolved place bowl on a towel to dry off the bottom, place in the mixer, and with whisk attachments beat the crap out of it until stiff, white peaks form.
4) When the egg/sugar mixture is white and stiff add the butter by the 2 tablespoons. Add 2 slices, allow to mix, add 2 slices, allow to mix, repeat and repeat until all butter is incorporated.
5) Set mixer speed to medium high and beat the crap out of this. *NOTE: It WILL begin to look curdled and you’ll think “OH MY GOSH I’VE FAILED!!!!” This actually means you’re doing good and you’re doing it right! Keep mixing. Keep mixing. Whip it, whip it good. Soon you’ll see this beautiful shiny deliciousness come together. Add the vanilla and blend some more.