I hope to share research, information, tips, and a little of my family history with others following the path to greater genealogical awareness. Let the search for enlightenment continue...

Sunday, July 31, 2011

A Little Slice of Heaven

A Recent Effort: Strawberry Pie
 (Original Image and Text, Copyright (c) 2011 Cynthia Shenette) My mother-in-law can whip up a homemade pie crust in less time than it takes me to get a frozen one out of the box.  As someone who's had more than my share of unfortunate crust mishaps, I can't tell you how much I admire her skill. Burnt edges, tough crusts, and soggy bottoms are my lot.  My mother-in-law's crusts are tender and flaky.  Perfect every time.  Whenever we visit there is almost always a pie of some sort cooling on the counter to be offered for dessert during our stay.  Strawberry rhubarb, cherry, apple, squash, and my favorite, blueberry.  Yum!

I love blueberry pie. No, I mean I REALLY love blueberry pie.  I've even been known to go blueberry picking at my in-laws' in the hope that my mother-in-law will make a blueberry pie upon my return.  Shameless?  Maybe.  Effective?  Definitely.  Not that I haven't made my share of blueberry pies.  Do you know the best part of making blueberry pie? Blueberry picking with my son. The funny thing is he doesn't like pie. He doesn't even like blueberries. I think he'll come around though. After all the love of pie is part of his genetic make up, kind of like his being Polish, Ukrainian, or French-Canadian. It's deep inside the DNA.

My mom made the world's best apple pie.  She used just the right amount of cinnamon and brushed the crust with a little bit of milk before popping it in the oven.  Is there anything that smells better than an apple pie baking in the oven on a cool fall day?  When Mom took the apple pie out of the oven, it was perfectly browned and slightly sparkly from the sugar she sprinkled on the top before baking. Despite my best efforts, I've never been able to get a pie to turn out the same way as my mother's.

While I love to eat pie at home I also love to try regional specialties when we travel.  A couple of years ago my family and I visited Lexington, KY, and I was pleasantly surprised by the delicious bourbon pecan pie offered on the hotel lunch buffet.  I was amused on the first day when the buffet server offered me hush puppies with my lunch.  I made the mistake of asking, "What's that?"  His response, "Where might y'all be visiting us from?"  Needless to say we bonded for the duration, especially when I kept coming back day after day for more hush puppies and yet another piece of that pecan pie.

While the bourbon pecan pie was yummy, I will say nothing can compare to my search for the best Key Lime pie in Key West.  I was on a mission.  I tried Key Lime pie everywhere.  Sometimes twice a day.  Frankly it was embarrassing.  I tried it all--the good, the bad, the so so.  The best was amazing.  A traditional tart Key Lime custard inside a chocolate cookie crust, with a thin layer of chocolate ganache on top, whipped cream and lime slice on the side.  I dream about that pie.

Once my husband and I were driving through the Arizona desert, giant cacti and desert as far as the eye could see.  The legendary, "middle of nowhere."  When we did return to small town civilization, we noticed what appeared to be a restaurant off to one side of the road and decided to stop for lunch.  When we walked in I was an awe.  Pie everywhere!  Chocolate, coconut cream, lemon meringue.  Cream pies, fruit pies.  There was a dessert-go-round thing filled with pies and a refrigerated counter case with pies.  Glass-covered cake stands lined the lunch counter.  It was like a pie oasis in the vast Sonoran Desert.  Over the years I've tried to find information on that pie place on the Internet, and every time without luck.  Neither my husband nor I remember the name of the place, and we don't remember exactly where it was located.  I've found a couple of places that seem like they might be the right one, but I'm just not sure.  Sometimes I wonder if it was all a lemon meringue mirage.

While I love fruit pies, cream pies, and custard pies, I love savory pies as well.  I love French-Canadian meat pie, tourtiere, during the Christmas season.  I love chicken pie, turkey pie, and Guinness pie from the Irish restaurant nearby.  On a slightly related note, can you guess my favorite Broadway musical?  Yep, Sweeney Todd.  How can you not love a tale of meat pie gone disturbingly wrong.  Maybe I am just a wee bit obsessed.

What's your favorite kind of pie?  Blueberries, raspberries, and peaches are in season.  Make a pie today.  You know you want to.  And when you do, don't forget to invite me over.  I'll just have a small piece, a sliver really.  Ice cream?  Sure.  Do I mind if you have a second piece?  No, not at all.  Go ahead.  You know you want to.  And while you're at it, could you cut another small piece for me?  Just a sliver, really...

Other Posts You Might Like:

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun...
Meditation: The Strength of Ordinary Women
Wordless Wednesday: Glorious Gladioli!
A Slice of Life: Confessions of a Lunch Box Trader

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Happy Birthday Mom - Wordless Wednesday

(Original Image and Text, Copyright (c) 2011 Cynthia Shenette) This was the first birthday cake I made for my mom.  As you can see I had a little, uh, issue with the frosting.  Luckily my cake decorating skills have improved over the years.  My mom would have been 90 today.  There isn't a day since she died that I don't think of her or miss her.  Happy Birthday, Mom.  Love you.

Other Posts You Might Like:

Meditation: The Strength of Ordinary Women
A Pretty Girl on Old Cape Cod
Girls Just Wanna Have Fun...
Wordless Wednesday: A June Wedding

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Little Ladd - Wordless Wednesday

(Original Image and Text, Copyright (c) 2011 Cynthia Shenette This is another cabinet card from my mother-in-law's collection.  She descends from the the Ladd family that settled in RI in 1633.  Her branch of the family eventually left Rhode Island to settle in the Mohawk River Valley in upstate New York in the late 1700s.  My husband's family still lives on the same property and in the original farmhouse built by Elisha Ladd in the late 1700s or the early 1800s.  As I mentioned in last week's Wordless Wednesday post, my mother-in-law found four albums with a couple hundred photos in them in a closet in the old farmhouse.  This is one of the photos from that collection.

According to the back of the card the baby boy in the photo is "Little Ashley D. Ladd 4 months old."  I did a bit of research and discovered Ashley was born in March of 1883 and his parents were Olney B. Ladd and Lovinia Jane Darling.  Might Olney be the man in the photograph with baby Ashley?  I thought I'd post the photo in case someone researching the Ladd family might want a photograph of their ancestors.

Other Posts You Might Like:

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Wordless Wednesday: Fuller Gardens, Circa 1966
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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

President and Mrs. Grover Cleveland - Wordless Wednesday

(Images no longer under copyright. Text copyright (c) 2011 Cynthia ShenetteTo answer the obvious question, no, the Clevelands and I are not related.  I found the President and the second Mrs. Cleveland, the former Frances Folsom,  in an photo album full of cabinet cards, Carte de Visite, and tintypes dating from around the 1880s at my in-law's house.  My mother-in-law found the album, along with three other albums of family photos, in the back of a closet in the old family farmhouse.  I spent the holiday weekend busily scanning as much as I could.  There are probably at least a couple hundred photos of one sort or another between the four albums.  My scanner and I ran out of time before the visit was up, but we'll be back...

Other Posts You Might Like:

Grandma and Grandpa's Barn - Wordless Wednesday
Not So Wordless Wednesday: View from "Grandmother's House"
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Girls Just Wanna Have Fun...