February 22, 2012

Honoring George Washington with Cherry Tarts

February 22- George Washington's Birthday!

Did you know- Washington is the only American president whose birthday people celebrated while he was still alive! Most honoring for the man who was the first commander in chief of the army during the Revolutionary War!

When Washington was a young boy his mother would call the children together in the evening around the fireplace at their Mount Vernon home. She told them stories from the Holy Bible, and on the shiny tiles of the fireplace there were painted pictures of the stories she told. Thus George learned his Bible, and he learned to be good and honest and never tell a lie.

Once moved from this home to the Ferry Farm on the Rappahannock River George was taught to read and write and to dance- for every boy and girl in those days had to know how to dance. (And what beautiful dancing it was If I might say so!) He was big enough at this point to saddle his own pony and would ride to Fredericksburg Town for school. He was eager to learn, clever and listened to his teacher. In his copybook he wrote down all the rules a gentleman should know. He wrote:

In the presence of others sing not to yourself nor drum with your fingers nor feet.
Give not your advice without being asked.
Undertake not what you cannot perform, but be careful to keep your promise.
Let your countenance be pleasant, but in serious matters somewhat grave.

Taken from Best In Children's Books by Ingri and Edgar Parin D'Aulaire

As many of you know- George was as Honest as the day is long. Stories are told of him 'chopping' down his fathers favorite cherry tree in their garden. However- other versions- which I myself would believe more true- are that he tried his hatchet ( a birthday gift from his parents) on the edge of the tree and it barked it enough that it died. This was of course after he had chopped down many other things in the garden. When approached by his father the famous coining came of ' I cannot tell a lie' and he owned up to what had happened. His father was highly upset about the tree- however much more proud of a son for owning up to his actions.

My Oh My- I wish more people would act in this manner today- Adults and Children alike.

"I hold the maxim no less applicable to public than to private affairs, that honesty is best policy" - George Washington

Our First Commander in Chief and President of the United States (albeit not 50 at the time) said these words. I wonder how they would come out of politicians mouths these days. All I can say is our country would be in A lot better shape if Every person we elected to office held true of these words! I normally don't get on soap boxes too often- but I couldn't help it when I wanted to honor this great Gentleman!

So- Here is a little treat from me to you in honor of George Washington's Birthday!

Cherry Tarts

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c. shortening
4 TBSP water
3/4 c. sugar
3 TBSP cornstarch
2 (14.5 oz.) cans pitted Tart cherries (tart to remind you to tell the truth!)
1 TBSP butter
1/2 tsp almond extract
2 drops of red food coloring (careful- it can stain!)


In a bowl, combine the flour and salt. Cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add enough water until dough forms a ball. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut out circles large enough to lay over your tart forms. Flute edges or press into forms. Line tarts with foil and beans or pie weights. Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes till golden brown. Cool for about 5-10 minutes before removing tart shells; cool completely on wire racks.

For filling -in a saucepan, combine the sugar and cornstarch. Drain cherries, reserving 1 cup juice. Set cherries aside. Stir reserved juice into the sugar mixture until smooth. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from the heat; stir in the cherries, butter, almond extract and food coloring if using (it makes it pretty bright red). Cool to room temperature. Spoon filling into shells until overflowing- see photo!!

Enjoy the sweetness of these 'tarts' to remember the rewards of telling the truth are much sweeter than those of a lie!


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