Welcome reader to my blog - a mixture of this and that. Now that we are living in a retirement community in downtown Columbia, MD my personal gardening activities are somewhat curtailed. I still enjoy visiting gardens, reading, watching wildlife on my walks, traveling, and occasional food commentary. Please leave a comment if you feel inspired to do so. I read every one of them.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Strawberry Pie Season

Strawberry pie starts with a baked shell.  I use my mom's crust recipe: 2 cups flour, 1/2 cup vegetable oil, 1/4 cup milk.  Sometimes the wet ingredients need to be just a smidgen more especially if I use King Arthur's flour.  Bake the shells for 15 minutes at 425ยบ then let cool.

Here's a close up of the pie recipe.  I doubled it to make two pies.

Half the strawberries go into a pan and are mashed.

The other half are set aside.

I saved out these two to go on top.

Here is the mixture cooking with the cornstarch, lemon juice and sugar.  Note the color.

Still not ready.  It needs to get translucent and very thick.

I'm cooking on an electric stove these days, when I cook.  No big meal prep with living in Vantage House. Family coming in two weeks so I'll be using the stove more while they are here.

Aww, here's the right color.  So thick the spoon will stand up in it.

Rather than folding the cut up strawberries that were set aside into this mixture after it cooled I put a layer of it in the bottom of each pie crust and then the cut berries.

I covered it all with the remaining cooled mixture and then more cut up strawberries.

This pie went to someone at church who purchased it at our church fundraising auction in April.

Here's the other one in the refrigerator ready for guest who came to dinner last night.


Saturday, May 20, 2017

Fredericksburg - A Town Between Two Capitals

The two capitals being Washington, DC - the U.S. capital and Richmond, VA - the Confederate capital.

Over 18 months, the Union Army had four battles in and around Fredericksburg.  The area became known in history as the most contested ground in America, and the bloodiest landscape on the continent. (Source: NPS Brochure)

Joining Through My Lens

We stopped in the Visitor Center for the Fredericksburg Battleground on a Sunday afternoon, just in time to view the film and then join the walking tour of the Sunken Road.  The Park Service official was outstanding in his knowledge of the battle.  I am sorry I didn't get his name.
 It was good to walk where men opposed each other and see what they would see.  These walks are only offered on weekends because of budget cuts, I do believe.

Our walk started in front of the map so we could get a lay of the land and the positions of the Union and Confederate troops.

The sunken road was a major roadway between towns.  Confederates had the advantage of being on this side of the wall with a hillside to their backs where their artillery could shell the Union troops coming up from lower ground where the town was on the Rappahannock River.

Confederates had sharpshooters in this house but it was on the other side of the wall.

When the Park Service restored it they found bullet holes in the inside walls.  We could see them when we peered in the windows.

Below is the original wall left intact.

This mansion on the hill on the Confederate side is now the residence of the President of Mary Washington University.

We walked to the top of the hill where the artillery would have been pounding the Union troops contributing to their loss of this battle.

The Union graveyard is there now.

Its sobering to consider how many died in these battles.  At the Chancellorsville Visitor Center that we stopped in on Monday, there was a floor to ceiling wall of all the names of those who had died there at that battle, thousands of them.  It brought tears to my eyes.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Fredericksburg Auction Block

Our map of the historic district of Fredericksburg, VA showed a spot where the slave auction block still stood.  We arrived there and looked around, then looked down on this.

It wasn't what I expected - nothing like what I saw in the movie "12 Years a Slave".

Did enslaved men, women and children have to stand on this small block?

I went searching the internet and came across this blog that had several posts about the auction block.  The author did find contemporary texts stating that the block was used to elevate slaves being sold. Read his entry that I linked to above if you want to learn more about this block.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Fredericksburg Steeples

Most of the churches in the historic part of Fredericksburg, VA are gathered on one street in town.

We walked passed most of these on our way to a restaurant on Mother's Day.

Same steeple - different angle.

I think the one top and below had the same architect.

This one we saw coming from our BnB.  Not sure what happened to the rest of the building.  I guess we'd know if we'd stop to read the historical marker.

I only captured half of the front, but it was symmetrical so you can imagine what it looked like.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Bank to Restaurant

We visited Fredericksburg, VA with friends Janet & Will on Sunday to Monday of this week.  This is the first of several posts on what we saw.

We had lunch at Foode.  They didn't take reservations and being Mother's Day and a graduation weekend we took our chances at getting seated.  We arrived at noon and got on their list for an hour and 3/4 wait.  Turned out to be only an hour which we used to walk around the old town.  They called Will and we were only a 5 minute walk away at that point.

Foode is in an old bank building.  A great use of the space.  

We were surprised to see Lincoln's face above the mantle in this southern town.

Even the old vault is used for seating.

No photos of the food.  It was good.  Janet and I had the grits and eggs served with a tomato cheese small salad mix on top.  Dan had a large salad with grilled chicken and Will had waffles and fried chicken.  As an appetizer we had pimento cheese toast. 

Monday, May 8, 2017

Airplane Noses

A second post from our visit to the Udvar-Hazy Center of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum

I was taken by the decorations on the various planes, mostly in the front or the nose.  And that part of the airplane came in a variety of shapes.

I think the first one is a Corsair.  Someone who knows their planes may correct me.  Very popular among pilots in WWII.  Women flew these in the States but not in battle.

Compare the nose above to the Blackbird which flew incredibly fast and used in Cold War aviation.

Skunk on the Blackbird has something to do with how it smelled.  The plane is made of titanium which the US didn't have access to so dummy corporations were formed to purchase titanium from the Soviets.  The plane was then used to spy on the Soviets but never flew over their airspace.

This one as insignia on the fuselage.  Recognize it?

Here's a close up.  It's the USA throwing its hat in the ring to join the war.

Love this eagle!

Look closely at this image.

Yes, daring young men on the flying trapeze.

Here's the nose of the Concord.  It may have been a fast flight over the Atlantic but required so much fuel that it wasn't economical to fly.  Notice the very small windows - necessary because of its speed.

This one is really shiny.

Here is one of the smallest planes.  7 foot wing span!

You know what this one was famous for.

Interesting pattern on this nose.

Can't remember what this was

Here's the nose of the space shuttle.  

To get the shuttle in the building the roof had to be removed above the doors.

It is a fascinating place.  More to come in another post.

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