According to the U.S. Department of Labor's Web site, the first Labor Day was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City. The idea of a "workingman's holiday" caught on and grew in popularity as the labor organizations gathered steam, and by 1885, the holiday was recognized in many burgeoning cities across the United States. Over the next few years, individual states began to recognize the holiday, but it wasn't until 1894 that Labor Day became official on a national level. We can thank President Grover Cleveland for signing the bill into law that made the first Monday of every September a federal holiday.
So, what does Labor Day mean, exactly? Back then, it was a day to reflect on the often poor conditions endured by the average worker and to commemorate the struggles and successes of the labor organizations on the workers' behalf. It was a sort of shout-out to the American laborer and those who advocated for him or her. Nowadays, for many people, it's viewed as a farewell to summer, a last fling at the beach or the barbecue before shaking the sand out of the floormats and herding the kids off to school.
Labor Day is a huge day for picnics, cookouts, family get-togethers, and neighborhood potlucks. If you're fortunate enough to be invited to one of the above and have been asked to bringe a dish to share, consider making some Lemon-Dill Deviled Eggs. Barring adulteration with anything downright gross (and I mean downright - think along the lines of a roving cockroach or someone's wayward Band-Aid), deviled eggs are always, always a hit. (If you're a veteran of the potluck scene, you know what I mean. No matter how over-mayo'ed, how over-paprika'ed, how someone-must-have-dropped-this-on-the-way-in-from-the-car they appear to be, the deviled eggs are always one of the first things to disappear.) You may want to hide these - or consider putting a private stash aside for you and your family. If you bring these, you'll be going home with an empty plate.
Of course, some of us won't be taking the day off. There are those of us who must continue to grease the wheels of the capitalist machine lest it grind to a terrible, shuddering halt. It is only fair that those of us who must work this Labor Day are entitled to certain perks: namely, someone should make a batch of deviled eggs just for us. Or, if the situation arises that we inadvertently come across someone else's private stash of deviled eggs (say, that of a family member who heartlessly went to a Labor Day cookout bearing a platter of deviled eggs, instead of companionably suffering at home on the couch with a bowl of cereal for dinner) while foraging in the refrigerator for sustenance, we may eat every last egg without guilt. After all, the workingman must keep up his or her strength!
Happy Labor Day!
Lemon-Dill Deviled Eggs
- 1 dozen hard-boiled eggs, shelled and halved lengthwise
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1/3 cup sour cream (can use light)
- 11/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Dill sprigs or grated lemon zest and black pepper for garnish
Remove egg yolks from egg halves and place in a small mixing bowl. Arrange the hollowed-out whites on a serving platter. Using a fork or the back of a spoon, mash the yolks.
To the mashed yolks, add mayonnaise, sour cream, Dijon mustard, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Stir to combine. Fold in chopped dill and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Using a piping bag or a small spoon, fill the egg whites with the yolk mixture. Garnish with sprigs of fresh dill or sprinkle lightly with lemon zest and black pepper.
Cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. These can be made a few hours in advance. For best results, though, don't garnish until just before serving.
(Recipe adapted from epicurious.com/Bon Appétit April 2006.)