Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Republican National Convention!

My life got incredibly complicated, so just bear with me and all will be back to normal when my 2 classes end in early October. I will NEVER take two classes again!

I will be starting a short-in-word-length but regular series of of posts for emergingcivilwar.com about the Election of 1860. I may try to write as if I were there . . . or not.

Anyway, with politics upon us beginning late this week, look for more posts.

I promise.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Red Velvet Cake! OMG!

Red Velvet Cake--what a scam! Nope--it wasn't invented at the Waldorf-Astoria. In fact, it is a Southern concoction.

It dates back to at least 1873. In Southern cookbooks of that time, the term velvet was used to describe a cake with a fine, even texture or "crumb." There were Chocolate Velvet cakes, Silver Velvet, etc.

Then came the Great Depression, and an entrepreneur named John A. Adams. His family had owned a food coloring and flavor extracts business since 1888, but was hit hard by the economy. Mr. Adams set up displays throughout the South and Midwest in grocery stores. Under a banner featuring the reddest of Red Velvet cakes, the offer of a free recipe for Red Velvet cake was given away free with every purchase.

The recipe included Adams Best Vanilla, Adams Butter Flavor and TWO bottles of Adams Red Color.  It became a sensation!

Which is why I laugh at the very idea of a Red Velvet Cake as a delicacy. Whether it is vanilla, or has a touch of chocolate in its flavor, basically the cake is a butter cake with a huge addition of red petrochemical dye.

My, my!!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Books! Books! More Books!

I am surrounded by books. I read constantly, and sometimes I read really hard stuff--not funny, or interesting, or even informative, sometimes.  Just difficult.

I have spent the last week powering through a week-long math workshop, then coming home and reading. No Olympics, just books.

Three Days At Gettysburg, Sun Tzu at Gettysburg, Jersey Cavaliers: A History of the First New Jersey Volunteer Cavalry 1861-1865, Gettysburg's Forgotten Cavalry Actions, The Battle for Brinkerhoff's Ridge and East Cavalry Field, "Come On You Wolverines!": Custer At Gettysburg, The Cavalry Battle That Saved the Union: Custer vs. Stuart at Gettysburg---

. . . and those are just the ones right in front of me.

I don't even like Custer very much.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Red Velvet Cake Exposed!

There has been a lot of hoopla over Red Velvet Cakes in the last couple of years. They always make me laugh!

When my mom taught me to bake, we discussed Red Velvet Cakes, and Devil's Food. 

The term "velvet" comes from the texture of the cake itself, and is just what one gets when one uses a cake mix. The grain is even and the cake hold together well. This used to be difficult to achieve when making cakes from scratch, but with a mix, it is a given.

I will explain Devil's Food Cake first, and tomorrow, Red Velvet Cake. Spoiler Alert!! This has nothing to do with the Civil War. It is from the Great Depression and earlier. I think it ironic that, just as we have entered another Great Depression, we have resurrected Red Velvet Cake. 

Basically, both require a whole bottle of red food coloring. When you make a chocolate cake from a mix, pour the bottle of food coloring into the measured amount of liquid used for the recipe. The result will be a very red-tinted chocolate cake--hence DEVIL'S Food.  The icing is any chocolate icing with red food coloring added. 

Yep--our traditional American foods usually require the addition of a significant amount of petro-chemicals.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

. . . and tonight's Top Ten!

Boy, am I in hot water now!

I thought it was a good idea to do a series of book reviews of MY Top 10 Civil war books for emergingcivilwar.com. You know, just to share with others & talk about how to build a pretty good little home reference/inspiration library.

So, I wrote up my intro, being sure to be gracious and underscoring that the forthcoming selections would be mine only. I invited comment & criticism even!!

Well, let us just say Fort Sumter has received incoming fire.

I wrote that my first would be Bruce Catton's series that ends with A Stillness At Appomattox, and that is all I have said, but I have already had folks tell me that I had picked an impossible job to do, etc.

(BTW, a faithful reader of First Fallen has made positive comments! Just sayin')

After a summer of war theory, I think I at least know the theory behind defense.
We shall see.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Johnnie, We Hardly Knew Ye

 I spend my days and nights surrounded by dead men.

Many of them weren't exactly men when they died, but were men in the way they chose to live their lives.

As a teacher, I come in contact with many students. Most are just faces in a moving stream of humanity, but once in a while one stands out.

My heart is broken--for his family, and for the loss to the rest of the world. Every death is difficult, but the death of a young person--unbearable. The same can be said for all my other dead men. We are poorer each time we lose one.

When a child in particular stands out like a beacon, the loss is doubly hard. Our country is poorer after every war, after each death. 

Johnnie Marfia, we hardly knew ye.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

I Feel Sorta Like McClellan--

History Cat here--Catmom is the WORST!! Nothing but excuses--& she has a ton of them--

  • HARPing the house
  • 2 classes in her Master's class (who are Jomini & Clausewitz, fgs?)
  • maintenance on the property
  • finishing the book by adding new research concerning the Republican Convention of 1860 and Colonel Ellsworth (who should have had a cat!!)
  • writing and researching for that "other" blog, emergingcivilwar.com
  • paying attention to her gentleman caller (grrrrr)
  • leveling her Horde Hunter in WoW (as if!)
  • Oh! School's starting in a week!!

See what I mean? It goes on and on--well, I am taking things into my capable paws from now on. I shall pester & bug her until she gets herself together. I gave her July, but now it's August--ALL FOR THE UNION!

Three cheers and a tiger, which is sort of like a cat, but bigger.