Tag Archive | United States

The Historical Traveler is going on a New Adventure…

Meeting with the Historical Traveler today. He is going on a new adventure and I can’t wait to share it with you!

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Today in American History…William Henry Harrison was Born

Today in American history…William Henry Harrison was born in 1773. He was our 9th US President and unfortunately had the shortest Presidency (March 4 – April 4, 1841) due to becoming ill and passing away shortly after his inauguration. Unfortunately, he was the very first President to die in office. He also holds the record of having the longest inauguration speech (8,445 words which took nearly 2 hours to read!)
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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.

 

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…Gingerbread

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:

Gingerbread

Ingredients

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 egg

1 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon

1 1/2 teaspoon of allspice

1 cup of very hot water

Directions:

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

 

 

Today in History…Julia Ward Howe writes the lyrics to ‘The Battle Hymn of the Republic’ in 1861

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword:
His truth is marching on…

A song that has been sung over and over again in our Nations history and is truly timeless.  I remember as a child singing these words with my small hand over my heart while gazing at the American flag.  It has always been my favorite patriotic song – the words are so meaningful and beautiful.

In later years, the words to the song had a stronger meaning to me when I was at the Pentagon a week after the horrific day on September 11, 2001.  I attended a ceremony with thousands of others, as we all gathered to try to make sense of what had transpired the week before and to mourn our fallen comrades.  President and Mrs. George W. Bush were on the stage during the ceremony when this song was played and all began to sing the words, “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord…”  and I will never forget the looks of sorrow and anguish on President and Mrs. Bush’s faces and how the tears streamed like waterfalls down their cheeks. This is something that I will never forget for the rest of my life and I felt that the words were relevant on that day as it was back in 1861 when Julia Ward Howe penned the famous lyrics.

Let’s just take a moment out of our day today and be thankful for our Republic – which is still marching on.  Regardless of what transpires in the world and within our own borders – we should cherish our country and one another and always remember the lyrics to this song that was penned many years ago by the wonderful Julia Ward Howe.

Listen to the song here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p5mmFPyDK_8

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.

National Authors Day ~ Harriet Beecher Stowe

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.

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(Engraving by Francis Hall after the original by George Richmond n.d.)