Tuesday, January 28, 2014


A trip to visit Aunt Alice and Uncle Bob was filled with new adventures each visit. Unfortunately Geary was very young and can only remember some of these vacations. Here we will share some of the places that made a trip to Pennsylvania magical.

I believe our aunt and uncle felt it important to share with us our rich heritage of ancestry from the north. An early trip  in 1984 was to view most of the historical sites of Philadelphia.

 Geary recalls Independence hall and being sort of freaked that we were walking upon the graves of our forefathers to the underwhelming little home of Betsy Ross. We were given a copy of the constitution and told of its importance having had relatives lose life and limb to make that document a reality.
Christ Church

Danielle recalls  the fascination with the Christ Church and Betsy Ross's House. We sat in the pew that belonged to Betsy Ross .

Inside Betsy Ross House

Liberty Bell

   We saw the Liberty Bell  and rang the Texas bell we learned  that each state has their own bell.
Inside the Betsy Ross house they had  large "dolls" dressed as Betsy and her family members.

Early  in 1982 our grandparents,  Alice and Gerhard McGee, joined  us to two little known amusement parks. Great Adventure and Dutch Wonderland and Safari. One of the Biggest memories of that trip was that o the way to great adventure our grandfather's muffler fell off the  car . That led us to the  muffler shop  for a couple of hours  while the car was being worked on.  One we got there we took the safari ride  as our uncle told us stories about the many animals we would encounter.  Our Uncle Bob is big nature enthusiast.

Dutch Wonderland 1984
Dutch Wonderland  is located in Lancaster Pa. As we rode through Amish country we saw horse and buggies  Amish people as Aunt Alice explained to us the different cultures.

We ate lots of Amish food and rode the rides at the park. one was called the space shuttle.   We headed off to the ski lift where our Aunt Alice  had a mishap with her shoes she wore these slide on sandles and as we got on the ride she felt that she would lose them so she had to take them off during the ride.

We later went to Valley Forge, PA, Valley Forge National Historical Park is the site of the third winter encampment of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War, taking place from December 19, 1777 to June 19, 1778.

It has been many years and everyone is older.. and slower. We feel that the time we spent walking, gawking, learning and laughing left their impression upon us as young children. We have grown into adults who value where we come from and the importance of honoring and passing these stories on.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Food and Family Traditions

“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations.” 
― Oscar WildeA Woman of No Importance

When I think of family traditions, get-togethers and important memories, I often recall the meal or sweet that accompanied that time. From  our grandmother Alice McGee's potato salad to that time when I begged to cook my specialty at the great old age of 5 ...mushrooms. 
Here follows some of those flashbacks and the recipes that made their way into our remembrances and our hearts:

Potato Salad
Alice McGee (1920-1982)
By Danielle

When I turned 10 years old in 1982 Grand mom McGee asked me what I wanted for my birthday my request was a big bowl of her potato salad.  She was surprised but she brought this huge tupperware container full to the rim with potato salad . I couldn't wait to dig in it took me a week to finish the whole thing but I enjoyed every bite of it. After my many attempts at making this salad I finally asked my aunt Alice what the secret was she told me Hellman's Mayo was the secret and Apple Cider Vinegar. years later I found out that my mother often requested this when ever she would visit them in Philadelphia.   Today i make this for my own family and it is a summer staple in our house.

Grandmom Mcgee's Potato salad
1 5 lb bag of red potatoes
1 large Onion
1 bell pepper
1 small jar of Hellman’s Mayo
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tsp of Apple cider vinegar add more to your taste
Optional ingredients  sweet pickles , Spanish olives  

cook potatoes till fork tender
Chop onion & Pepper
mix vinegar and Mayo salt and pepper together in separate bowl
put potatoes and veggies in large bowl or container.
pour your dressing mix on potatoes and veggies
wash your hands and then use them to mix the salad well
Chill for a hour then serve.

Faschnaut Donuts
Nella Louise McGee (188-1956)
By Geary

My aunt Alice told me a funny story of her childhood memories of her grandmother Nella Louise McGee. Nella was from a Pennsylvania dutch family, the Beilings, and she preserved some of the german traditions. One was Fauscnaut Day, the Tuesday before Easter. Nella was a very avid baker and often sold sweets to make ends meet. On this special Tuesday however she would make homemade donuts. Alicemae related how donuts would be hanging all over the house . She would fill potato chip tins with sweets and lined them up along the hallway . Alicemae would come home from school the home filled with the smell of cakes and donuts. The donuts would be hung around the home on strings. It was a sight.

Photo of Fastnachts (German Doughnuts) Yield: 25 doughnuts 

Units: 1 cup lukewarm milk 1 fresh yeast cake 3/4 cup soft butter 2 tablespoons sugar 6 eggs 6 cups flour 2 teaspoons salt Directions: 1 Dissolve yeast in lukewarm milk. 2 Sift in flour and salt in bowl. 3 Make a hole in the center. 4 Pour dissolved yeast and all other ingredients into the hole and mix until not sticky. 5 Cover and let rise until doubled. 6 Punch down, then let rest for 10 minutes. 7 Roll out to about 1/4-inch and cut. 8 Let rise another 20-30 minutes. 9 Fry in deep fat until light brown. 10 While still hot, roll in sugar.

At Aunt Alice's 1987
Spaghetti Squash
By Geary

My Aunt Alice also known as Alicemae is my father’s older sister. she has been such an anchor in our lives. An unfortunate lifetime illness of extreme food allergies has fortunately given us some food adventures. She was the one to introduced us Texas youngsters to Eden Soy brand soy milk, which I drink to day even instead of milk. At Aunt Alice’s was the first time I ever put blueberries in my cheerios or ate beets. These are all favorites of mine to this day.
When I myself was diagnosed with food allergies Aunt Alice was very sensitive to my sense of inferiority and made extra certain that I wasn't left out of spaghetti and meatball night. While Danielle and Uncle Bob had had their heeping helpins of spaghetti Aunt Alice and I had spaghetti squash with tomato sauce. Here are a few pictures i took of me baking a spaghetti squash just the other night:

Cut lengthwise

Remove seeds

Remove any loose hairs

put some water in a baking pan

Place halves upside down and bake on 400 till shell is soft

Remove from oven and meat will be removable and resemble spaghetti strands
Serve with spaghetti sauce and Parmesan cheese over it

Danielle's Crunchy Macaroni

One year when our Mother was really ill I decided to take it upon myself to make dinner for Geary and I. I set out to make macaroni and cheese and hotdogs . I figured I could make it after seeing mommy making it numerous times . So I added the water turned on the stove and waited for the water to boil when it did I dumped the macaroni in and timed it I figured 3 minutes would work I didn't want to burn it , turned off the stove and dumped cheese sauce mix added butter and milk and mixed away .feeling proud of myself  I went to work on the hotdogs. once they were done I called geary to the table and proudly told mom not to worry I had supper done. Geary sits down to eat and takes a bite first and says “This macaroni is crunchy!”Needless to to say I was devastated that I forgot to check to see if the noodles were done.   

We have shared just a few of our food and family stories but many more remain with us and remind us of the blessings we had and the rich cultural tapestry that is our ancestry.