Monday, June 30, 2014

Meeting the National Christian Choir at a Patriotic Concert

134_0724

Last night my family and I got to see the National Christian Choir! I have a friend, whom I met years ago through an on-line homeschool support group, who sings with them and it was great to meet her in person for the first time! After the concert we also got to meet her son and his friends. It was such a wonderful visit!
Before that, we had a glorious time listening to the music. I knew we would. I had previously listened to samples on-line and knew this was definitely a concert my family would enjoy.
This particular concert was a patriotic concert, celebrating the upcoming 4th of July!

After we were invited to join them in the Star Spangled Banner, the director read a prayer written by President Thomas Jefferson in 1801. She also read Psalm 33 and then the choir sang the beautiful words set to music.
This concert was more than great music. Not only was this patriotic...
134_0720

... but this was also worship. There was prayer.  The director shared that this concert would be about praising our God whom our country was founded.
After many patriotic songs and worship songs that fit with the theme, the choir sang one of my favorite songs, If My People, from II Chron 7:14 which I've been praying daily for our country for the last year, which my brother's church preached about last week, and which our church preached that morning. The songs that followed built up the theme about trusting God and praying for a spiritual revival in our country that begins in our hearts.
My husband was absolutely beside himself in enjoyment! While I got to chit chat with my friend after the program, he went to speak to the director. Then when he heard some of the guests auditioning with the pianist, he simply couldn't restrain himself! He went to the piano to audition too...mainly for the sake of singing. Rehearsals are in Maryland. We aren't quite at the point where we are free to travel right now but we did talk about joining. His voice is one that would pass the audition. Mine...well...I think until that day comes I'd best pull out my voice warm-up CDs and prepare this poor, poor voice which was never great but hasn't sung in a choir in ages. =)
When we left, I couldn't decide which CD I wanted. There are so many. I finally told my husband to choose whichever one he wanted so he bought one of their patriotic CDs! Tonight at the dinner table we started talking about last night and this man of few words used many exuberant sentences to describe his enjoyment!
My kids also enjoyed the evening and meeting new friends and talking to everybody!
I left quite ecstatic about meeting my friend and having enjoyed the concert. It definitely prepared my heart for 4th of July...and spiritual revival.
To see if there is a concert near you, check their schedule hear!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Purple Colonial Apron for a Baby Doll

And now ladies and gents, the latest offering from my daughter's needle is a hand stitched wonder for her baby doll that dates back to the 18th century...a colonial purple apron!
134_0661

Yes indeed straight pins were used to secure the bib part of the apron to the gown.
134_0663

Lavender grosgrain ribbon ties in back.
134_0664
The pattern is detailed in this post!

Friday, June 27, 2014

French Onion Soup as Historically Made by the Peasants

Since our next challenge in the Historical Food Fortnightly was "Soups, Gravies, and Sauces, I decided to make my favorite French Onion Soup. Instead of using stock, this soup uses only onions, water and seasonings, and of course bread and cheese, as the peasants would have hundreds of years ago. I first read of this historic recipe on Michael Ruhlman's food blog (he is one of the judges on Iron Chef America), where he mentioned the famed bouchons of Lyon, France where simple yet filling peasantry food abounds.  When I decided to make this recipe for this challenge, I did a bit more research into bouchons and French Onion Soup. Here I read about how centuries ago the peasants who labored in the silk industry for the aristocracy had hearty fare, such as French Onion Soup which are today served in Lyon's bistros called bouchons.   This Saveur article goes into great details about Lyon's bouchons and their simply yet hearty fare renown for pleasing many a palate. Finally The Thrifty Groove blog presents the history of the French Onion Soup, from the Ancient Romans and Greeks to the Middle Ages to the finesse of the French. Included are receipts, one from The French Cook, Francois Pierre la Varenne in 1651 ( and another from The Frugal Housewife in 1803.


I varied my own rendition of the recipe a bit differently from Michael Ruhlman, yet kept to the heart of his instructions to use NO broth. =) The happy result is a far more flavorful French Onion Soup, that is truely an onion soup. It's not a beef soup with onion added. Instead it is an onion soup as mild or strong as the cook's personal palette merely by the addition or cooking off of water. After all the tradition I have read of French peasantry food, I'm now wishing that for my literature challenge I had used the children's book, Stone Soup. I'm sure the resulting soup caused the French soldiers and peasants to say bon apetit!


I sliced 3-4 massively huge vidalia onions to saute in the heavy cooking pan in a bit of olive oil and salt.


134_0645


I turned the heat to a lower setting so they would not burn, yet they could carmelize over a few hours. For me this only took about 3 hours. I was surprised by how much they cooked down.  I'm adding more onions next time.

134_0646
To this I added 6 cups of water, which filled the pan.  It was much more than Michael Ruhlman advised, but I wanted to make as much as I could. Within minutes the water started taking on the caramel color from the onions. Throughout the cooking process I sampled the broth until it reached a flavorful stage. I had indeed added too much water, but no problem. It easily cooks off. If a stronger flavor is desired, cook off more water. If a milder flavor is desired, add water or cook off less water. After the soup reached the flavor desired, I added salt and pepper to taste.

134_0647
This is the first time I've ever used Gruyere Cheese...

134_0649
I grated the cheese and set it aside.

134_0650


I cubed a white flour baguette but I had strongly considered a whole wheat baguette, which I'm thinking would have been what the peasants used. I finally decided the family might not eat the whole wheat bread, but at dinner I was assured they'd probably prefer the whole wheat. So we'll try that next time. While the onions were cooking I dried out the cubed baguette in the oven. Meanwhile I placed 3 oven/broiler safe soup bowls onto a large baking sheet, then I filled the bowls with the toasted croutons while the broiler was heating up.

134_0651
I ladeled soup on top of the croutons in the bowls...

134_0652
Then I topped the bowls with the grated Gruyere Cheese. Then I placed them under the broiler about 5 minutes, perhaps 10. Keep a close eye on them. You want the cheese to brown but not burn. The time varies according to oven.

134_0653
This is the toasty look that I like to take out from the broiler. It actually looked a bit more toasty than this in reality.

134_0654
Seated at the table...anticipation...

134_0655
I served the soup with a red leaf toss salad with white wine vinaigrette, croutons and a soft cooked egg.

134_0656
Oh, that soup looks so yummy...

134_0657
When you break into that egg the yolk becomes part of the vinaigrette...

134_0658
Time to dig in...

134_0659


And now for the Historical Food Fortnightly Food Facts:

HFF


The Challenge: #2 Soup, Sauces and Gravies
The Recipe: Posted above with the photos, and linked to Michael Ruhlman's food blog, first link.
The Date/Year and Region: No one really knows but roughly 1651 Lyon, France and even before that.
How Did You Make It: Details posted above with photos, but basically with onions, water, salt and pepper, and addition of bread and cheese.
 Time to Complete: About 6 hours.
How Successful Was It?: Delicious! I've actually made this once before so I knew it would be good to use for the challenge.
How Accurate is it? Very

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Revolutionary City Scenes 2014

During Drummers Call we saw the latest version of Revolutionary City which now shows the same scenes each day... I already blogged about one of my absolutely favorite scenes with gobs of incredible photos since I got a front row seat, about Lafayette's spy, James Armistead.

134_0125

134_0126

134_0127

134_0132

134_0134

One clever addition was that of the auctioneer, which humorously started ringing his bell and auctioning his wares after the scene about profiteering during the war. This is a real auction of items from various stores in the historic area.  The highest price is never allowed to go over the regular store price. Quite a good deal for historic goods and sourvenirs!

134_0135

134_0136

134_0137

134_0154

134_0156

I loved this bit of humor! After several gloomy scenes about the war, he loudly gathered us around to listen to a bit of frivolity to cheer our hearts!

134_0314

134_0383

134_0384

134_0385

134_0386

134_0389

134_0390

134_0391

134_0392

134_0393

134_0395

134_0396

134_0397

One of the great interactive events at Colonial Williamsburg is being recruited into the militia, something my husband and son quite enjoy! These officers sent forth a call for recruits...
134_0156
Officers Calling for Recruits

to which my husband and son responded. They couldn't resist enlisting once again...
134_0157
My Son and Husband Volunteer
After they were sufficiently drilled by the sergeant...

134_0160
Drilling with the Sergeant


...the Fife and Drum Corps led them in a parade to the Courthouse...

134_0163
Standing at Attention for the Fife and Drum Corps


...where we all assembled to await the arrival of General Lafayette!

134_0169
Assembling at the Courthouse

134_0170

134_0171
Arrival of Lafayette

134_0173
Lafayette Speaks to the Citizens of Williamsburg and the Troops
My husband and son were extremely thrilled to be one of the recruits standing near the famous General Lafayette...who cheered them on to victory at Yorktown!



134_0175
Lafayette

134_0176
Lafayette

134_0177
Lafayette

134_0178
Lafayette

134_0179