Tag Archive | Presidents

Today in American History…Nancy Hanks Lincoln was Born in 1784

Not much is known of Nancy Lincoln except for the most important aspect: she was Abraham Lincoln’s mother. There aren’t any pictures of her – only a depiction (made into a painting by Lloyd Ostendorf, February 12, 1963)

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(Image of Nancy Hanks Lincoln is courtesy of Lincoln Boyhood National Museum)

We do know that she was a warm, caring mother and that her son, Abraham Lincoln, loved her very much.  He was only nine years old when his mother died of milk sickness on October 5, 1818.  Throughout his life, he recalled the love of his mother and once said, “I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life.”

William Herndon, Law partner with Abraham Lincoln and a close confidante, later wrote a book, Life of Lincoln, and described Nancy Hanks Lincoln most likely from Lincoln’s memories of his mother and those who knew her:

She was above the ordinary height in stature, weighed about 130 pounds, was slenderly built, and had much the appearance of one inclined to consumption. Her skin was dark; hair dark brown; eyes gray and small; forehead prominent; face sharp and angular, with a marked expression for melancholy which fixed itself in the memory of all who ever saw or knew her. Though her life was clouded by a spirit of sadness, she was in disposition amiable and generally cheerful.

 

Happy Birthday, Robert E. Lee

Today in American history…Robert Edward Lee was born at Stratford Hall plantation in Westmoreland County, Virginia in 1807. His had a great pedigree: his father was Major General Henry Lee III aka “Light Horse Harry” Lee, Governor of Virginia, and Anne Hill Carter Lee of the prestigious Carter family who resided at Shirley Plantation in Tidewater, Virginia.

I have always been fascinated by Robert E. Lee.  It could be the many school trips that I went on as a child to his Arlington home, known as Arlington House or the Custis-Lee Mansion that sits on a steep hill overlooking Arlington Cemetery. Or maybe it was his connection to George Washington that intrigued me (Robert E. Lee married the daughter of George Washington Parke Custis who was George Washington’s step-grandson and eventual adopted son).

As with my love of all things related to Abraham Lincoln, I have always had an affection for Robert E. Lee as well.

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Even today, his name brings controversy because he was – after all – a Confederate General. He went against the United States of America and was considered a traitor. He went against all that he believed in, as a career Army officer, to fight for a cause that he felt that he needed to fight for: the protection of his homeland, the Commonwealth of Virginia.  You can almost feel his angst when he wrote his resignation letter to General Winfield Scott:

Arlington, Washington City, P.O
20 Apr 1861

Lt. Genl Winfield Scott
Commd U.S. Army

Genl,
Since my interview with you on the 18th Inst: I have felt that I ought not longer to retain any Commission in the Army. I therefore tender my resignation which I request you will recommend for acceptance. It would have been presented at once but for the struggle it has Cost me to separate myself from a Service to which I have divoted all the best years of my life, & all the ability I possessed. During the whole of that time, more than a quarter of a century, I have experienced nothing but kindness from my superiors & the most Cordial friendships from any Comrades. To no one Genl have I been as much indebted as to yourself for kindness & Consideration & it has always been my ardent desire to merit your approbation. I shall carry with me, to the grave the most grateful recollections
of your kind Consideration, & your name & fame will always be dear to me. Save in the defense of my native state shall I ever again draw my sword. Be pleased to accept any more [illegible] wishes for “the Continuance of your happiness & prosperity & believe me

Most truly yours
R E Lee

Robert E. Lee was not only a famous Civil War General. He was also the President of Washington College (later renamed Washington and Lee University) in Lexington, Virginia from 1865 until his death on October 12, 1870. He was also a family man who truly loved his wife, Mary Lee, and their seven children.

~ Coleen

 

Mary Todd Lincoln House – Lexington, Ky

Some years ago, my hubby and I had the chance to visit The Mary Todd Lincoln House in Lexington, Kentucky. What a treat it was to walk the same floors that Mrs Lincoln walked many years ago. To touch the same stair bannister that Mr Lincoln touched and walk into the same bedroom that he stayed in on his only visit to the house.

The home has many original family artifacts from the Todd family and also Mrs Lincoln’s personal items from her later years in life.

Mary Lincoln spent many happy girlhood years in this home with her family when she lived here from 1832 to 1839 – when she moved to Springfield, Illinois. She would then soon after meet the love of her life and as the saying goes…the rest is history.

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In the Kitchen Tonight…Onion Soup

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.

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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:

Onion Soup

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Stir in the diced toast, cover, and simmer for about 10 minutes.
  5. 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.
  6. Season with pepper and additional salt, if necessary, and serve hot.

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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.

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We started with the basic…

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My hubby chopped and chopped (and chopped!) 

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Fabulous onions 

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My ever so faithful cast iron skillet was wonderful tonight – here we are getting ready to saute the onions 

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caramelized onions – after about 15 minutes.  Then added flour for minute. 

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In a separate large pot – added the broth and water 

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The water, broth and onion combination 

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Chopped toast is added to the soup…

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along with egg yolks and vinegar 

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We have soup! 

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and my hubby loved it! Success! 

In the Kitchen Tonight…Mary Todd Lincoln’s White Cake

We wanted to do something special tonight in the kitchen to honor and remember the wedding anniversary of Abraham and Mary Lincoln who were unitedin marriage on November 4, 1842.  

I have read ALOT of books about the lives of both Abraham and Mary Lincoln and what has always seem to peak my interest about these two is how they both came from such diverse backgrounds – she grew up with servants and living in a beautiful home in Lexington, Kentucky while he was born in a log cabin in the backwoods of Kentucky.  Somehow they simply found one another and with the trials and tribulations of courtship (their previous engagement was broken off and her family was not thrilled about her marrying someone “beneath” her) they decided that in the end, they simply wanted to be together.  

Mary Lincoln made a white cake for Abraham Lincoln while they were courting and it was one of his favorites after they were married. So, with yesterday being their wedding anniversary, I felt it was very fitting to make something that was dear to both of their hearts (and their taste buds!)

The recipe that I used was from the book, Lincoln’s Table, by Donna D. McCreary and was adapted by Janice Cooke Newman. 

Mary Todd Lincoln’s White Cake 

Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup blanched almonds, chopped in a food processor until they resemble a coarse flour

  • 1 Cup butter

  • 2 Cups sugar

  • 3 Cups flour

  • 3 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1 Cup milk

  • 6 egg whites

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • confectionary sugar

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a bundt cake pan.

  • Cream butter and sugar.  Sift flour and baking powder 3 times. Add to creamed butter and sugar, alternating with milk.  Stir in almonds and beat well.

  • Beat egg whites until stiff and fold into the batter.  Stir in vanilla extract.

  • Pour into prepared pan and and bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Turn out on a wire rack and cool.  When cool, sift confectionary sugar over top.

  • A basic white frosting sprinkled with almonds was also popular.