My husband and I toured Belle Grove Plantation in Middletown, Virginia tonight to admire their beautiful Christmas decorations. Belle Grove Plantation was once the home of President James Madison’s sister, Nelly, and her husband Isaac Hite. If you have the chance, please stop by and visit Belle Grove and take a tour of this beautiful home. During the rest of the Christmas Season they also have special live music on Friday’s and Saturday’s from 6-8PM and you can also tour the home. Oh…don’t forget the fabulous gift shop too!!!
I believe winter has officially arrived in Virginia! Tonight was the perfect night to make something wonderful to keep us warm – so why not make a pot of yummy soup 🙂 Tonight we stepped back in time and made something that was most likely enjoyed by the Washington family – how cool is that?
While researching recipes today I was looking for something that was not complex and had only a few ingredients. So – this recipe for Onion Soup was perfect and I found it on the Mount Vernon website. It most likely was made in the Washington household and was a recipe included in the Hannah Glasse cookbook, The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Simple,which was first published in 1747 and went on to become a best seller for a century after it was published.
The recipe was very easy and I truly recommend you try it at home. If you have onions (a lot!), flour and broth? You are all set…here is the actual recipe:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 1/2 pounds onions, peeled and coarsely chopped (7 to 8 cups)
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups water
2 cups Basic Beef Stock
1 teaspoon salt
1 slice bread, toasted and diced
2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Ground black pepper
- Melt the butter in a heavy skillet over medium heat. When the butter is sizzling, add the onions, cover, and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring often to prevent them from sticking to the pan, until they are very soft and caramelized. Add the flour, stirring to coat the onions, and cook for about 1 minute.
- While onions are cooking, combine the water and stock, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. When the onions are ready, mix them into the hot stock, stirring until well combined.
- Pour a little of the hot stock into the skillet and stir, scraping up any onion particles that remain. Pour the stock into the stock and onions, and add the salt.
- Stir in the diced toast, cover, and simmer for about 10 minutes.
- Combine the egg yolks and vinegar. Gradually blend 1/2 to 1 cup of the hot soup into the egg yolk-and-vinegar mixture, stirring constantly to prevent the yolks from curdling. Stir the mixture into the soup, and simmer for several minutes until the soup thickens just slightly, stirring constantly. Again, do not let the soup boil, or the egg yolks will curdle.
- Season with pepper and additional salt, if necessary, and serve hot.
Of course we have our fun pictures from the kitchen tonight. Thank you to my ever so patient husband for cutting the soooooo many onions and for being my official taste tester.
We started with the basic…
While researching on what to make in the kitchen today – I came across a delightful (and easy!) recipe for Gingerbread that was used during the Civil War era. If they could, families of the Union soldiers would often send small care packages of gingerbread, socks, soaps and other food items from home. Since Gingerbread required molasses, it was a popular staple to make being that molasses was much cheaper to purchase than sugar in the Civil War era. This is why Molasses Cookies were also a popular item back in this era.
Here is the recipe that was used today:
1 tablespoon of butter (used for greasing the pan)
2 1/2 cups of flour
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda
1/2 cup of butter
1 1/4 cups of molasses*
1 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoon of allspice
1 cup of very hot water
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9″ square baking pan with the butter (1 tablespoon). In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, soda and spices, and cut in softened butter to the four mixture with a fork. Combine molasses, egg and water in a small mixing bowl. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir well. Pour the batter into a baking pan and bake 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Makes 9 servings. (Source: http://www.totalgettysburg.com)
*It seemed as if everyone in town was making something with molasses this weekend and after going to 3 stores…I relented and looked online for a molasses replacement (who knew that molasses was so popular in my small town??!!) Here is what I used as a replacement for molasses in this recipe:
1 1/4 cup dark corn syrup (you can also use honey or maple syrup)
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
There have been so many books that have influenced by life and most of them have been written before I was born – like before my grandparents (early 1900’s) time. I find that reading ones thoughts and words from a time so long ago allows me to almost time travel to an era that is so foreign to me but yet also so familiar. One of the books that has heavily influenced my life is Uncle Tom’s Cabin written by the wonderful author Harriet Beecher Stowe. In a time that our country was in an upheaval and the whispers of war between the states were kindling, Harriett Beecher Stowe did something that was extremely brave in writing a book about the detriments and heartbreak of slavery. When the book was published in 1852, it went on to become the best selling novel of the 19th century – and then it went on to become the second best selling book of the century (the Bible, of course, was the first). Some say that Harriett Beecher Stowe’s book even “fanned the flames” for the Civil War. To learn more about Harriett Beecher Stowe and her remarkable life, you can visit the Harriett Beecher Stowe Center in Hartford, Connecticut.
Today is National Chocolate Day! Here is a fantastic recipe from Mount Vernon for George Washington’s favorite morning beverage: Chocolate Cream. This is very simple and can be made in your own kitchen this weekend – especially fitting with the cool temperatures 🙂
(Picture from Mount Vernon)
In honor of Family History Month (this entire month yay!) I wanted to share with you one of my most treasured books. It tells the true story of Robert E Lee’s great granddaughter discovering her family’s receipts (recipes) and household tips in an old scrapbook and her journey of making the recipes of Martha Washington to her own great-grandmother, Mrs. Mary Custis Lee. It truly is a treasure and perfect for #familyhistorymonth