Enjoyed my time in Alyth. Stayed at the Tigh na Leigh guesthouse on Airlie street. Nice hosts, clean, excellent food. They serve breakfast every day and dinner three nights a week. I ate dinner one night at the Lands of Loyal hotel situated above town on Loyal hill. Nice views of the valley and good food.
It was a beautiful day so had a nice walk along the Den of Alyth.
I stopped at a cafe in town for a sandwich at lunchtime. It was the meeting point for the local ladies who lunch group. All with their walkers in tow.
In the center of town there is a small museum only open in the afternoon. The caretaker was very knowledgeable and interested in helping people with any questions they had about the history of the area. He spent some time with me working on genealogy questions.
It’s snowing again. What else is new. I saw a movie years ago, I don’t remember the name of it or really much about it except it was about some nuclear war in the future. What I remember about it was the nuclear winter. It looked like it was snowing all the time. (It might have been The Day After) When I moved to Moscow I used to say I lived in the nuclear winter because it snowed constantly. That light steady snow that never accumulated much but just kept coming down. This winter feels like that. Constant snow.
I’m typing my mother’s letters she wrote to her family from Burma in the early 50’s. I’m almost done with 1953. She helped to edit the Rangoon International Cookbook put together by women, both expats and Burmese… and Indian and Chinese, American, English, French, Australian…In the Forward it says:
“There is a Thank You written invisibly to every contributor and source of treasured recipes, named and nameless. But here we wish to record our special thanks to Mrs. Sung San, honored with Burma’s martyr-hero, and beloved herself as Daw Khan Kai for her service to her people. In the midst of new and heavy responsibilities as Chairman of the Social Planning Commission for the Union of Burma, she has found time to give us her entire delicious “company menu”, with the recipes for the nine distinctive Burmese dishes therein.” (She was Aung San Suu Kyi’s mother)
One recipe contributed by my mother is an old favorite of mine. There were no lemons in Burma but she substituted limes and that worked fine.
(Mixture may have curdled appearance, but no matter)
Beat: 2 egg whites until stiff and fold into mixture.
Pour into buttered 1.5 quart casserole. Place in pan of hot water Bake at 325°F uncovered 40-45 min or until set (1 hr).
Serve warm or chilled. I like it warm!
The cook book was published by the Woman’s Society of Christian Service of the Methodist English Church, Rangoon, Burma 1954
About this time my father was traveling around Burma visiting schools to potentially help with agricultural education. He writes:
“I returned last Friday evening from my trip up country. We had a very enjoyable trip for that area is comparatively free from insurgent activity. We were able to drive about 150 miles away from Mandalay without a guard. That has been impossible until recently. On Sunday we were in Maymyo (by car) and the following Wed. the insurgents blew up the train and killed 14 between Mandalay and Maymyo. Day before yesterday the insurgents blew up the guard train and the regular train following behind between here and Moulmein. They then attached the train and killed several and robbed all the passengers. On our trip we were royally received everywhere we went. These people genuinely seem to like to have us visit their schools. At several schools we were presented bouquets of flowers and at practically every school we had to have tea or food. All the schools are clamoring for agricultural teachers so my program should continue to grow. They have never had teachers of agriculture in the schools before and the ones I turn out this year will determine how effective my program is for I’m the only one in Burma doing this work.
The Honorable Vice President of the U.S. is visiting here this week. There was some comment in the papers before his arrival that the Communists were going to demonstrate to protest his visit here but nothing has come off. There was a short meeting on Tuesday of the Embassy and TCA personnel to meet Mr. Nixon. So, when I get home you can shake the hand that shook the hand of the Vice President.”
More snow today. I’m getting tired of it. I drove across town yesterday to meet my cousin for lunch. It honestly felt like I was crossing a minefield. I was dodging potholes all the way. Some of them were very large. I feel lucky and surprised when I find a street that is fairly smooth.
I bought my train ticket from London to Dundee online but somehow I must have screwed it up because it turns out I have two train tickets from London to Dundee on the same train, three seats apart. There are so many different ways to buy tickets I guess I went back and didn’t realize I doubled up. Now I have to go back and try to figure out how to get a refund and hope I still end up with one ticket. I am obsessing over every detail of this trip. I was fine until I realized that I arrive the morning after Coronation Day. I’m sure London will be a zoo.
Today’s featured postcards at PostcardBuzz are of Guatemala. The postcards are paired with a couple photos I took when I was was there in the 1960’s. Here is more about that trip:
My first plane trip in many years was in the first class section on a PanAm flight from Mexico City to Guatemala City when I was twelve. We were the only ones in first class so I got to be kind of chummy with the flight attendant. Toward the end of the flight he asked me how I liked the flight and how I felt about it. I thought that was kind of odd and didn’t know what he was talking about. Apparently my parents had briefed him on me and my troubles with flying, and so he had made a special effort to distract me. (We had been in a plane crash when I was 5 years old.)
In Guatemala, we rented a car and drove up the mountain to Lake Atitlan. Volcanoes surrounded the city and the lake itself was a collapsed volcanic cone. On the way up the mountain, we saw people lying by the side of the road. We didn’t know if they were dead, passed out or taking a nap. It was very odd. We later found out that the previous day was payday and they had done their celebrating and not quite made it home. Apparently it was a familiar site in the countryside. We also went to Chichicastenango and to Antigua. This was major earthquake country. Antigua was the original capital of Guatemala but in 1776 there was such a bad earthquake they moved the capital to where it is today – Guatemala City. Antigua was surrounded by three volcanoes.
There was a new part of Antigua and an old part. The old part was all ruins. It was an eerie place. It was once a major city that tumbled down and was left there like a memorial. We stopped at a small restaurant and ate our meal in the yard. There was a group of musicians that wandered from table to table. We could see laundry hanging at the end of the lawn.
From there, we continued to El Salvador. One night in San Salvador we were staying in a high-rise hotel and I was sleeping on a cot. The building started to sway and my cot started moving across the room. All I could do was laugh at the crazy “ride”, as earthquakes were so common at home in Mexico City. In retrospect I guess we were lucky the building didn’t come down…
(excerpt from Expat Alien, My Global Adventures)
I continue to work on my mother’s letters. In one of them she describes a meal they had at a Chinese restaurant in Rangoon (1953).
The dinner was held at one of the Chinese restaurants, and consisted of about a dozen courses of perfectly delicious food. The one good thing about Chinese food is that it is served steaming hot, so that one may be sure that most germs have been thoroughly cooked. There was shrimp and vegetables, duck served with head and tail on and covered with big mushrooms and nuts in gravy, then a whole baby pig with head and tail of which we ate only the skin which was very crisp and chewy at that course, a whole fish with delicious sauce with vegetables, then the pig came back all cut up, soup with abalone, bamboo shoots, mushrooms, etc. served in a big gourd, fried rice, dishes of Chinese vegetables, tea with real flowers in it and cookies, then lychees for the final course served in ice water. I probably have forgotten some courses, for it is very hard to remember back. I liked most of dishes, and at least tasted all except a noodle dish (which I forgot to mention above). I’m not fond of Chinese or Burmese noodles! The fish and soup were my favorite dishes – always are of Chinese food.
March first. Winter is almost over?? So I never knew this but today is National Pig Day in the USA. Apparently National Pig Day is “to accord the pig its rightful, though generally unrecognized, place” as one of the most intelligent domesticated animals. Of course anybody who has seen the movie Babe already knows that about pigs… Happy Pig Day!
My relatives.. This is actually a postcard dated 1912. Apparently it was all the rage at the time to make your photographs into postcards. It is addressed to my grandfather and just says “My Latest”.
We are back in the deep freeze. Seven new inches of snow and temperatures well below zero F. with strong winds. Blizzard conditions. But, hey, this is Minnesota. We trudge on.
It is the first of two holiday weekends. Family, Festivities, Fun, Food. I’m making a Hazelnut Torte to take to the Xmas eve get-together. Then I will take my father to a nice restaurant for Xmas day. And it will be cold. I lived in Mexico City growing up. Our tradition was to get up the day after Xmas and load up the car and drive to Acapulco for a week. Now, that was way more fun than any other Xmas stuff. My holidays were always related to travel. Either traveling home from boarding school or traveling to the beach or, one year, we traveled to Kenya and Tanzania to see the game parks. I might need to revive that traveling tradition.
I became interested in the show Yellowstone because a new prequel just came out with Helen Mirren and Harrison Ford called 1923. So, thinking the whole show was on Paramount Plus, I signed on. I then saw there was another prequel called 1883. I have been binge watching 1883. I figured I would start at the beginning. Then I discovered the actual show isn’t on Paramount Plus, they sold it to Peacock. So if I want to watch the actual show I have to sign up with them. This is getting to be very confusing. And expensive. Maybe I can find it at the library…
Anyway, 1883 is about the Dutton family’s trek from Fort Worth Texas to Montana by covered wagon. They are traveling with a group of Eastern European immigrants. Within the first few weeks, half the people died in one way or another. Disaster after disaster. The narrator is a teenage girl who goes from despair to elation about love and nature and god’s hand in nature and the beauty of the land and the cruelty of it as well.
It made me think about my family and their trek across the sea and then half way across America. They must have traveled the same way. Covered wagons, horses. On my father’s side my ancestor came from Ireland in 1811, and bought land in Pennsylvania. They didn’t stay long. His son was born in Ohio in 1818 and they later moved to Missouri. When he found he was on the wrong side slavery, he moved his farm and family north to Illinois. After he died in 1858, the family moved to western Iowa where they had kin. My grandfather was born in Iowa in 1880. He dug in a farm and stayed there.
On my grandmother’s side, her family sailed from England to Connecticut in 1641. The family stayed there until the mid 1700’s when their house was destroyed by fire.
The father and two elder sons went into the wilderness to clear some land and left the wife and baby in a white settlement. The father and eldest son were killed by Indians. The second son, Isaac, was fourteen when he was captured by the Genesee Indians. Several years later he managed to escape but it wasn’t until he was 70 years old when he found his baby brother who had been left behind with his mother. By that time he was living in Ulster County, New York. The family stayed in New York until about 1880, when they up and moved to western Iowa. My grandmother was born there in 1881.
You can see why 1883 draws me in.
I hope you have a super duper holiday weekend!
½ lb shelled hazelnuts 8 eggs, separated 1 ½ cups sugar ½ cup breadcrumbs Grated rind of 1 lemon Juice of ½ lemon 1 tsp vanilla extract ½ cup whipped cream 1 cup tart jelly (I like raspberry)
Grind the unblanched hazelnuts very fine. Put 2 tablespoons of the ground nuts aside for the outside of the cake.
Beat the egg yolks with the sugar till very light. Add the breadcrumbs, lemon rind, lemon juice, vanilla and ground nuts. Fold in the egg whites whipped very stiff but not dry.
Bake in 2 layers, 30 minutes at 325 degree F. Cool in the pans.
Take out and put together with whipped cream and a little jelly spread between the layers. Whip the rest o f the jelly with a fork and spread it over the top and sides of the cake. Powder with unused 2 tablespoons of ground nuts. Decorate the top of the cake with a swirl of whipped cream. Chill before serving.
As you may or may not know I am interested in my genealogy. I spend hours down the rabbit hole at Ancestry.com finding tidbits. My current obsession involves my mother’s great grandmother who came from Perthshire, Scotland. I am planning a trip to visit the place next year so it is kind of cool to read about the farms they owned and rented over the years. A bunch of them were ministers so they worked in different parishes around the area. Mostly I just want to go to soak up the atmosphere and imagine what it was like back in those days.
On another note… I found this recently and am pretty amazed by the detail. My great grandfather (this one came from Ireland) was born in Ohio on March 2, 1841. In 1861 he was teaching district school in Monmouth, Illinois. At the breakout of the Civil War he enlisted in Company C, Thirty-sixth Illinois Infantry, and was sent to Missouri. The first battle in which he participated was at Pea Ridge. He helped to save Missouri to the Union. He was transferred to the Army of the Tennessee, and was at the siege of Corinth. In September, 1862, he was transferred to the Army of the Cumberland, and took part in the battle of Perryville and in the campaign of Stone River. The following spring he was in the Tullahoma campaign, then went to Bridgeport and through Georgia, and took part in the battle of Chickamauga, where he was wounded, being shot through the cheek, the ball coming out the back of the neck. He was then sent to the hospital at Nashville, Tennessee, remaining there till the expiration of his term of service, when he was mustered out in September 1864.
After that he taught for six more years, got married, had four children, farmed for a couple of years, and ended up in Iowa in the grocery business. He died at 66.
I actually have his discharge papers from the Army. When he died in 1907, his wife started to collect a pension of twelve dollars a month. In 1916 an Act of Congress approved by the President granted “increase of pension of a widow who was the wife of a soldier, sailor or marine during the period of his service in the Civil War, or who is the widow of a soldier, sailor or marine who served in the Civil War, the War with Mexico, or the War of 1812, and who has reached the age of 70 years”. The pension was increased to $20 per month. And then in 1917, it was again increased to $25 per month. I don’t know what happened after that. She died in 1923.
Anyway I have tons of info. I hope to put it all together at some point. Like I said, I have no shortage of projects.