Sunday, December 30, 2012

End of year cranberries

For most people in the western world Christmas is now over, but not for everyone.  Already in January 2010 I explained in a post that for Eastern Orthodox Christians,  Christmas is celebrated in January.  One year during the Holidays my daughter and I were in Heliopolis, Cairo, visiting my first cousins (Armenians.) They celebrated Christmas on January 6th.  Please read my post of January 2010 here regarding the traditional Christmas date.  So, for my Armenian family, I say "Have a Merry Christmas" (I don't know how to say it in Armenian as in the card below.)

We drove to Tennessee to be with our daughters and family to celebrate the holidays.  The three grand-children had grown since we had seen them.  I did not take good photographs of the two eldest grandsons (6 and 4 years old) as they were always moving, but I did take some of the youngest (17 months old.)
Two years ago there was snow in Tennessee during the Holidays - it was so beautiful.  There was no snow in Georgia in 2012.  Hopefully we will see some in 2013.  I would not mind walking through the snow, like the lady below.
 A Winter Landscape by Giuseppe de Nittis, Italian, 1846-1884

 It would be even better if the snow was in Paris - 
 Boulevard des Italiens by Antoine Blanchard, French 1910-1988

or in New York City.
 Fifth Avenue in Winter by Childe Hassam, American  1859-1935

 But the house in Tennessee was warm and cosy with lovely decorations.
 My daughter followed Santa Claus' travel around the world on her computer for the grandsons.  In the picture below Santa is in Douala, Cameroon and going next to Lagos, Nigeria.(Click on picture to enlarge.)
My daughter Celine, who had driven to Nashville from Memphis, Tennessee, made her famous "penguins" with her nephews (made with olives, carrots and cream cheese.)  I baked several cookies including the chocolate chip cookies below.
 For Christmas Day, my daughter Jessica served a ham with homemade cranberry sauce.  I really enjoy cranberries - I had never tasted cranberries while growing up in France.  I decided that upon returning home I would try to bake some goodies using fresh cranberries.  We left Tennessee after the Christmas celebrations and I drove back to Georgia using an alternate route to avoid bad weather.  Below is a town in Tennessee, Johnson City, the way it would have looked during the Holidays in 1958. (Courtesy Johnson City Historical Society.)
Once back home I went to the supermarket and purchased several packages of cranberries.  I made one recipe last night.  I created it, but I did not like the result too much.  I think it would have been better with three cups of cranberries (I used 2 cups.)  It also would have tasted better if I had not forgotten it in the oven and over-cooked it.  My husband liked it though because he said it tasted "rough."  I am not sure how to take this comment.  Here is the recipe.

Fresh Cranberry Bars

1 cup light brown suger, firmly packed
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 cups flour (you may use Biscuit Mix, omit salt and baking soda)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg, 1/2 tsp cardamon, 1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 apple, chopped
1/3 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt
3 cups fresh cranberries
Streusel: 1/2 cup oats, 1/2 cup slivered almonds chopped, 1/3 cup brown sugar, 3 Tablespoons soft butter
Cream together oil and sugar.  Add eggs and vanilla, blending well.  Sift together flour and dry ingredients. Add to egg mixture and blend well.  Stir in apple and cranberries.
Streusel: in a small bowl combine ingredients with fork until crumbly.
Place cranberry mixture in a 9x13 inch well greased pan. Sprinkle streusel on top.  Bake in 350 degree F oven for 45-50 minutes.  
 I forgot it in the oven for well over one hour, maybe more... so it was crispy on top...  I was not pleased with myself.  But it still tasted OK and would taste really delicious if baked properly.  So I decided to try another cranberry recipe this morning.  I had received some nice presents for Christmas - CDs, chocolate and books, including a cookbook.
 The cookbook is called "Foodista" Best of Food Blogs Cookbook.  There was a cranberry recipe in this cookbook.  The recipe was written by Katie Goodman of Albuquerque, New Mexico.  I checked and she is still writing her blog - Good Life EatsHer recipe is called "Cranberry Crumb Bars" which she posted in October 2009 - you can find it here.
 It was very easy.  The result was excellent.  
Here is a cranberry bar, below, to enjoy "virtually"...
Now I am coming to the end of my post, and to the end of the year.  I'll wish you a Happy New Year in French for 2013 as they did in the postcard below, one hundred years ago.
Here is another vintage postcard, but in English.
 and now I wish you a Happy New Year in French, English and Armenian.  May you look forward to a great 2013 filled with good health, good cheer and much happiness.


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas at Bulloch Hall with US Presidents - Part 2

This is a continuation of my post of December 13, 2012.  I read in a couple of comments that some felt strange to see the US flag with Christmas ornaments.  The theme for the decoration of Bulloch Hall this year being about the White House, I can understand that it would have to be patriotic.  In addition, the USA is one of the few countries whose flag is like an icon.  There is a flag on my neighbor's house and a flag on a tall poll on my neighbor across the street.  They keep them up all year.  During our last trip to Europe I noticed very few flags and while in Ukraine had a hard time finding one to photograph. The USA is also the only country (apart from the Philippines) where children pledge allegiance to the flag in schools. (Please click twice on the collages - the pictures look so much better when they are enlarged)
We continued our visit and entered the room where President Abraham Lincoln (16th President 1861-1865) was standing with his wife First Lady Mary.  The information panel stated that these were full life-size figures.  Certainly President Lincoln was tall - 6 ft 4 (1m93) and his wife looked diminutive next to him at 5 ft (1m52.)
President Lincoln was the 16th president but not of all the US states.  For example, he never was recognized as the US president by the state of Georgia.  Georgia seceded from the Union on January 19, 1861 before President Lincoln's inauguration on March 4th, 1861.  President Lincoln died on April 15, 1865.  The state of Georgia was the last Confederate State to return to the union, after reconstruction, in 1870.  Please click on the collage below to read the information panel on President Lincoln and decorations in the room.
We moved to the room showing President James Madison (4th US President 1809-1817) near First Lady Dolley Madison. 
Dolley Madison entertained with splendid tables containing magnificent platters of meats and fowls, cakes, fruits and bottles of spirit. When in August 1814 British soldiers burned the President's House, Dolley Madison rescued important documents and the painting of George Washington from the burning house.
Also in the Morning Room was a panel on President Thomas Jefferson (3rd US President - 1801-1809.)  There was no portrait of President Jefferson, just his image on the 2 dollar US bill.  Jefferson is credited as author of the Declaration of Independence and was responsible for the Bill of Rights.  President Jefferson was also an accomplished violin player.
As we walked back into the upstairs hall, I stopped to look at a Christmas tree decorated with White House ornaments.
Some of the ornaments show the White House and several US presidents.
 The Back Hall had a little exhibit on the White House pets.
Many pets have called the White House home.  The Marquis de Lafayette gave President John Quincy Adams (6th President - 1825-1829) a pet alligator and it lived in the East room bathtub.  Other pets along the years included horses, guinea pigs, birds, cats, dogs, a pigmy hippo, a bobcat, a cow, etc.  
Walking back downstairs we entered the Pantry and were greeted by President Jimmy Carter (39th President - 1977-1981) and First Lady Roselyn Carter.  
I walked behind President Carter to look at the items in the cupboard.  They contained photographs of the president and his family and books that he wrote.
The star on top of the Christmas tree was made by Jimmy Carter and his brother and sisters when they were children. 
Entering the Master Bedroom we saw President Andrew Jackson (7th President - 1829-1837) and many children.  
Click on the picture above to read the information panel.  President Jackson was a widower but loved to give lavish parties where children would be invited.  They could play in many rooms and had fights with snowballs made out of cotton.
President Jackson's parents had emigrated from Ireland.  He was a tough ex-military officer.  His large plantation called The Hermitage is located near Nashville in Tennessee.  I was going to visit it when we saw our daughter last time, but I do not think they allow photos to be taken inside the house.
 As we entered the Library we could hear a bear playing a spirited ragtime on the piano.  President Theodore Roosevelt (26th President - 1901-1909) and First Lady Edith loved dancing.
Mittie Bulloch lived in Bulloch Hall as a small child and was married to Theodore's father in the dining room on December 22, 1853.  Every December Bulloch Hall has a re-enactment of the ceremony with members of the wedding in period costumes.
There were many teddy bears in the room.  The Teddy Bear was named after Theodore Roosevelt when, during a hunting trip, he refused to shoot a small bear.
As we were getting to the end of our tour of Bulloch Hall, my husband looked at the old trees from one of the windows and decided to take a look at the garden.
I followed him outside but while on the front porch I saw a little rose near one of the Doric column - and had to stop to smell the rose...
There were several roses in the garden actually and even a palm tree.
As we left Bulloch Hall we remarked that we had thoroughly enjoyed the tour.  In what theme will Bulloch Hall be decorated next year?  We'll have to wait until then.
And so we left lovely Bulloch Hall, the old trees and roses.  When we returned home later that day the sun, which had appeared in the afternoon, was making an extraordinary red glow in our woods - everything looked red.  (I did not enhance the colors.)
 But it did not last long.
It was quite pretty but I would have rather returned to a house in the snow... as shown in the vintage postcard below.
This scene would be more typical for Christmas.  December has many celebrations and so I wish you a Happy Chanukah, a Joyous Yule, Happy Kwanzaa Days, Joyous Pancha Ganapati, Happy solstice and a Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Christmas at Bulloch Hall with US Presidents - Part 1

I was going to continue writing about our trip to Venice, but yesterday we returned to Bulloch Hall which is decorated for the holidays in December.  To be more in keeping with the Christmas season, I'll share some of the photos I took there.  In December 2010, we had already visited gracious and elegant Bulloch Hall in Roswell, Georgia (a part of the metro Atlanta area.)  The 2010 Holiday theme was "The Symbols and Traditions of Christmas."  I wrote a post on it showing pictures of the house and decorations.  Click here to see this post.  We bought our entrance tickets and walked up to the front door.
There was a panel by the side of the door explaining that this year the Holiday theme was "Christmas in the White House at Bulloch Hall."  Please click on the picture below to read this panel.
Bulloch Hall was completed in 1839 as a home for Major James Stephens Bulloch and his family. In December 1853 Mittie Bulloch married Theodore Roosevelt, Sr. in this house.  Later their second child, Teddy, became President of the United States.  Their third child, Elliott, was the father of Eleanor Roosevelt, the wife of Franklin D.Roosevelt (her father's fifth cousin.)  Bulloch Hall is a Greek Revival mansion listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  I enjoyed walking on the front porch and taking several photos.
Maybe Mittie sat in a similar rocking chair in the front porch waiting for the Christmas guests to arrive.
Inside the home two docents gave us a brochure for the self-guided tour explaining the decor of each room. It gave information on the eleven US presidents represented there.  On this post we'll visit with Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, George Washington., Grover Cleveland and John F. Kennedy.  We will visit the other presidents in my second post - part 2.  The front hall is decorated in a patriotic scheme.

On the walls were campaign poster portraits of several US Presidents
and a patriotic Christmas tree.
From the front hall I could see President Franklin D.Roosevelt sitting by the fireplace with his dog Fala on his lap. (32nd President - 1933-1945.)
As we entered the front Parlor, we saw Eleanor, the wife of the president, standing near the piano.  Was she going to play, go and eat a cookie or sit on the sofa and proceed with her knitting?
The Roosevelt grandchildren will enjoy the Christmas tree in the Parlor with the original 1930s and 40s decorations.
Approaching the dining room we could see President Dwight D. Eisenhower (34th President 1953 to 1961) at attention near the Christmas tree.  (The life size presidents and first ladies were made by local artist Mary Jane Stone and are on loan from the Teaching Museum North.)
First Lady, Mamie Eisenhower, loved the color pink and had the first pink Christmas tree in the White House.  In 1958 she had 27 trees throughout the house.  She also wrapped all the gifts herself. President Eisenhower was an avid golfer.  His sport is represented by bronze statues of golfers on top of a cabinet.
 As we move to the breakfast nook we see an inviting tea and cookies set on the table near the radio.  Are there good news?  What are the headlines?  
The East Liverpool newspaper on the table says "Britain Intervenes - Yanks Blast Japs In Town After Taking Shuri Castle."  So we are back in May 1945 when the US battleship USS Mississippi began shelling Shuri Castle in Okinawa and then burnt it down.  "Rebel Company A" of the 5th Marine Regiment even hoisted a Confederate Battle Ship Flag on the castle site as they said it was the only flag available.  It stayed there for 3 days until removed.  Below is a photo of Shuri Castle taken in 1925 and another photo of the rebuilt castle after the war. (courtesy Wikipedia Commons.)
Now we are going downstairs to the kitchen and first we take a look at the cellar.  
Under the stairs we find a starkly handsome fox.
I guess he escaped the hunt that President George Washington (1st President - 1789-1797) organized this morning with his guests at Mount Vernon.  The President, in front of a bountiful repast, is waiting with First Lady Martha to greet the tired and famished hunters.
There is a large Virginia ham, home baked breads, cheese, fruits and succulent desserts waiting on the pie safe.
The room exudes warmth and companionship.  Near a bright fire many gifts have been placed under the Christmas tree. 
Now we are going upstairs to Mittie's bedroom.  There we meet President Grover Cleveland (22nd and 24th President - 1885-1889 and 1893-1897.)  I remember him well - in 1886 he presided over the dedication of the Statue of Liberty (a gift from the people of France.)
President Cleveland was a bachelor until the second year of his first term and then married Frances Folsom - being the first President to have his wedding at the White House.  At 21 years old, Frances was the youngest First Lady - President Cleveland was 49 years old.  (The White House Historical Association issued an ornament in 2007 in honor of their wedding.)
They had five children.  Frances became the first wife of a President to give birth in the White House.  Another first for the White House was when President Cleveland started using electric lights.  His Christmas tree was decorated with red white and blue lights and a small model of the White house was placed under the tree.  One of his presents to his daughter was a pretty dollhouse.  The Clevelands considered Christmas a children's festival.  Frances Cleveland was a member of a "Christmas Club" that offered gifts to poor children.
Now we pass to the Wing Room where President John F. Kennedy (34th President - 1961-1963) is standing by the fireplace.

Presently First Lady Jacqueline is joining him.

In 1961 she initiated the idea of having a theme for the official Christmas tree at the White House. In 1962 the theme was "The Children's Tree"
We said "goodbye" to Mr. and Mrs. Kennedy as they were waiting for their guests.

As we walked near the Sewing Room we saw Archie Roosevelt, age 8, fifth child of President Theodore Roosevelt.  With the help of the White House staff, he secretly brought a tree into the house with a gift for each member of the family including the dog, the cat and the pony.
Archie had a large amount of "Teddy" bears next to him - they were named in honor of his father, President Theodore Roosevelt.
But we could not stay long to admire them as we had more US Presidents to visit...
More to come in part 2 ...

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