Monday, February 16, 2009

A Presidents' Day Adventure

Here's another title to add to your Official List of Top 10 Favorite Historical Fiction Novels:
The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg.
(Sidebar: Please DO NOT tell me you don't have a list. You know how I feel about Historical Fiction lists, people! Also, it's okay by me if you want to bump out Number the Stars from the Top 10. It makes me weepy, too. I won't tell your teacher.)

With it being Lincoln's birthday and all I was feeling especially patriotic and America-loving and thought a trip back in time to the Civil War would be especially historical. I even donned my American flag earrings (and I swore I would NEVER be one of those teachers who accessorized by the season!) and a red and blue sweater. With my Fourth of July mix playing in the back ground and a giant hot dog at the ready, I was ready for reading.

As soon as I cracked open the book and began reading, The Stars and Stripes Forever was immediately drowned out and my hot dog long forgotten. Rodman Philbrick, whom you may recognize as the author of Freak the Mighty, weaves an enormously engaging tale of Homer Figg, adventure bound farm boy from Maine and fib-teller extraordinaire. Homer sets out on wild journey across America to find his brother, Harold, who was illegally sold to the Union army by their despicable guardian (despicable meaning foul, awful, or worthy of being despised). His journey begins with an escape from the little town of Pine Swamp, Maine and an encounter with two of dirtiest slave catchers in the North, Smelt and Stink, and a kindly Quaker named Jebediah Brewster who not only hides runaway slaves in his basement but funds Homer's journey across the country. Stink and Smelt are not the only sleazeballs Homer will come across in his journey to find the Union soldiers. After traveling by train to Portland, Homer then sails to New York aboard a steamship for the very first time and is taken advantage of by two professional thieves who swindle his money and leave him for broke. As the journey continues, Homer is featured as a headlining attraction while traveling with a Medicine Show, whose leader is arrested for being a spy for the Confederate Rebels. (This is called treason). Just when you think the edge of your seat can't get any tinier, Homer finds himself smack-dab in the middle of the Battle of Gettysburg, dodging bullets and bayonets, all the while keeping up the search for his beloved older brother. I won't give away the ending, but I will tell you that after finishing the book I bit into my cold, shriveled hot dog wishing I had paid closer attention in my 10th grade U.S. History class.
The marriage of Mary Todd to Abraham Lincoln is best expressed by the words Lincoln had engraved inside Mary's wedding band, "Love is Eternal." Mary expressed her feelings in less dramatic, but lasting and tasteful terms. She baked him her favorite white cake.
This is her recipe. (If you really want to annoy your mom, tell her you want to be 100%AUTHENTIC and cook it over hot coals without any electric devices--just like in Lincoln's day.)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup butter (churned by hand)
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/4 c. cake flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 1/3 cups milk (fresh from the cow)
1 cup finely chopped almonds
6 egg whites - stiffly beaten (collected from the hens out back)

Cream sugar, butter and vanilla.
Sift together cake flour and baking powder three times.
Add to creamed mixture alternately with milk.
Stir in almonds. Gently fold in the egg whites.
Pour into two greased and floured 9 x 11/2-inch round baking pans.
Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.
Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan.
Note: Although far more complicated, this is tastier than a cold hot dog any day.
*Recipe courtesy of the Southtown Star
More Lincoln Food Facts:
It is said that his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln had a hard time getting him to remember to eat at all. When she did discover things that he truly enjoyed, she made sure that they were available whenever he wanted them. For the most part, his food tastes were simple. He loved fresh fruit, particularly apples. One of his favorite meals was simply fresh fruit and nuts, cheese and crackers.
Thank you to Esme of for the fabulous recommendation!



  2. Dear mrs. S,i I do NOT KNOW HOW to make a poll,can you show me how?Ps.I HAVE BEEN DOING DANCE MAT TYPING.