Cape May’s Victorian Fair 2012

That’s It For Celebrations, ’till Next Week

This past  weekend was the Victorian Fair on the grounds of the Physick Estate. We had pony rides, pony painting, Dr. Physick wandering the grounds, and John Phillip Sousa scaring little children. This year we had games of skill and chance with ridiculously easy-to-win prizes. There were lots of crafters, a nice selection of antiques (I saw a major 1880’s cover serving dish which I did not buy since I already own several.) Our guests at Leith Hall spent hours at the Fair.

Cowgirl Emily McLaughlin home on the range
Cowgirl Emily McLaughlin Home on the Range
Games of Chance and Skill at the Victorian Fair
Games of Chance and Skill at the Victorian Fair
pony painting at the Physick Estate
A Pony for Painting at the Physick Estate
Doctor Physick
Our own master of multiple personalities, Bob Heinly as Dr. Physick

 

John Phillip Sousa scaring little girls
John Phillip Sousa scaring little girls at the Victorian Fair
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Shocking Victorian Fair in Cape May

Prepare to be AmazedVictorian Bearded Lady

This year’s Victorian Fair will feature The Stupefying Sandy, so feminine, so comely, yet with a full beard!  Also, Tom Coyle, the strongest man in the Emerald Isle will amaze the audience with his feats of muscle. A juggler, stilt walker and a midway of Victorian games of skill and chance Cape May Victorian Fair Victorian Strongmanwill continue the thrills. The grounds of the Emlen Physick Estate will also host a crafts fair with a variety of skilled artisans. There will be ponies to paint (apparently the ponies don’t mind the indignity.)  Food, white elephant tables, wild (or very tame) animals will top off the day.

On the grounds of the Emlen Physick Estate 1048 Washington Cape May New Jersey unicycleStreet, only a few blocks from the mall. Parking available. Call us to make a reservation for this fun event coming up June 9 and 10

Cape May New Jersey Victorian Fair cutthroat croquet
Cutthroat Croquet
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Free Tickets for Cape May Music Festival

Just a reminder of our Music Festival Special; we’ll supply your tickets if you visit us for any concert.

There are two great evenings coming up. Both part of the

Cape May Music Festival free tickets from Leith Hall bed and breakfast
Happy Mendelssohn

CapeMay Music festival, but very different.  The first is Tuesday June 5, and is a performance by the New York Chamber Ensemble featuring works by Mozart and Mendelsohn. The New York Chamber Ensemble is so moving and their virtuosity is extremely impressive. The setting in the Episcopal Church of the Advent is also so intimate and beautiful that their concerts are always a night to remember.

bay atlantic symphony orchestra concert free tickets from Leith Hall bed and breakfast in Cape May
Jed Gaylin

The next concert is by the Bay Atlantic Symphony orchestra on Thursday, June 7. Jed Gaylin is the conductor and he always explains what the orchestra is about to play, giving you more understanding and insight into the work.

Some classical work that you’ve heard before is suddenly new and fresh and you come away with more appreciation and enjoyment than you ever had before. It even works for difficult music, though this concert will be all very easy to listen to. The June 7 concert will be all Viennese composers; Webern, Hayden, Brahms and Schumann.

The Gaylin family often stays with us at Leith Hall and it is always a joy to see them again.

Brahms concert in Cape May Music Festival
Johannes Brahms

Give us a call or go online to make a reservation.

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CAPE MAY RASPBERRY SOUR CREAM COFFEE CAKE for Donna B.

A recent Leith Hall b&b guest, Donna B.,  emailed me for two recipesbed and breakfast raspberry sour cream coffee cake for treats that we serve at afternoon tea. The first was Cape May bed and breakfast Gingerbread which was in an earlier post, and this is the second – Raspberry Sour Cream Coffee Cake. Of course, you could substitute any other preserves, but then it would be apricot or orange coffee cake.

 Raspberry Sour Cream Coffee Cake

2 tablespoons canola oil or melted butter

4 cups all-purpose flouregg for Raspberry sour cream coffee cake

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 large egg

1/2 cup milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract or vanilla paste

1/3 cup sour cream

1 small jar of raspberry preservesraspberry preserves

1 cup packed light-brown sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooledbrown sugar for Leith Hall raspberry sour cream coffee cake

Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

 

Line a 9”x11” baking pan with cooking parchment and spray with cooking spray.

Mix 1 1 1/2 cups of the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a second bowl, whisk together egg, milk, canola oil or butter, 1/3 cup sour cream, and vanilla. Mix dry ingredients into egg mixture.

Spread batter evenly into prepared pan.  Drop raspberry preserves over batter by random teaspoons full. Combine remaining 2 1/2 cups flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Pour melted butter over flour mixture, and toss with a rubber spatula until large crumbs form. Sprinkle crumbs over batter.Cape May bed and breakfast raspberry sour cream coffee cake

Transfer pan to oven, and bake for about 23 minutes. . Continue baking until a cake tester comes out clean or cake springs back when prodded with a finger.

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Cape May bed and breakfast Gingerbread for Donna B.

Recently one of our guests at Leith Hall b&b contacted me to requestLeith Hall Cape May bed and breakfast gingerbread two recipes we serve at afternoon tea. This one, Leith Hall’s Cape May bed and breakfast Gingerbread, is for Donna. It has bits of crystallized ginger in it for an extra sharp bite. Sometimes I ice it with a bittersweet chocolate and butter icing (which I’ll put on almost anything) and sometimes I’ll sprinkle it with confectioner’s sugar through a paper doily laid on top of the gingerbread. We always have one chocolate and one non-chocolate treat at teatime. Suzie would never forgive me if I left out the chocolate, and we sometimes have guests who (sadly) don’t like chocolate.

Leith Hall Cape May bed and breakfast Gingerbread

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup butter

1 egg

1 cup molasses

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

½ cup crystallized ginger, cut into tiny slicescrystallized ginger for Leith Hall Cape May bed and breakfast gingerbread

 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

 1/2 teaspoon salt

 1 cup hot water

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F   Line a 9 “square pan with cooking parchment and spray with cooking spray

In an electric mixer, cream together the sugar and butter. Beat in the egg, and mix in the molasses.

In a bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. Beat into the creamed mixture. Stir in the hot water. Pour into the prepared pan.

Bake 1 hour in the preheated oven, until the gingerbread springs back when prodded with a fingertip. Allow to cool in pan before serving.

Cape May bed and breakfastDid you know that wooden house trim is called gingerbread because gingerbread was once very heavily decorated? During the Middle Ages, ginger was fabulously expensive and gingerbread was a desert at Royal and Noble courts. Sometimes, it was ornamented with real gold leaf in elaborate swirls. When sawn wooden ornament was introduced in the nineteenth century, people started calling it gingerbread because it reminded them of Christmas gingerbread houses – which are the last vestige of great medieval gingerbread constructions. Architecture and dessert all in one, my favorite combination

 

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MEMORIAL DAY IN CAPE MAY

Memorial Day History in Cape May

Porgy and Bess on BroadwaySuzie and I just got back from New York where we saw the new Broadway production of Porgy and Bess, which is set in Catfish Row in Charleston South Carolina. Many thanks to SK for the tickets. The show was wonderful and the music was, as always, spectacular. The show, together with Memorial Day fast approaching, reminded me of the first Memorial Day, which is a little known story. Just after the Civil War, freed black slaves in Charleston South Carolina wanted to honor the hundreds of Union soldiers who were imprisoned and died in the Charleston race course. The soldiers had been buried in an  unmarked mass grave, so the freedmen cleaned up the site, built a memorial arch and landscaped the grounds. On May 1, 1865, they held a memorial service and supper to honor the Union soldiers.

Confederate groups held  services to commemorate Confederate dead, also usually in May. In the North, (in Waterloo, NY) John Logan proclaimed May 30 as Decoration Day in his capacity as Commander in Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, the Union veterans’ organization. The holiday was quickly adopted all over the North, while the south celebrated competing memorials on different days.

Cape May Lighthouse and Flag
Cape May Lighthouse and Flag

Memorial Day had its name changed from Decoration Day to Memorial Day in 1967. It was moved to a Monday date along with many other federal holidays in 1968, and became an official Federal holiday in 1971.  During Woodrow Wilson’s term, the emphasis of Memorial Day shifted from the Civil War to a more general national holiday, including the Spanish American War and WWI dead.  Wilson was the first southern president elected since the Civil War, and was the president who imposed racial segregation in the Federal Government.

From the beginning, Memorial Day has been the occasion for

Atlantic Brass Band

parades and barbeques, and the tradition continues  in Cape May. Memorial Day weekend begins our season of band concerts and Crafts and Antiques Shows  on the grounds of the Emlen Physick Estate. On May 28th MAC will offer  the  Atlantic Brass band in a free concert to round out the holiday.

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Gaze into My Crystal Ball

Crystal Balls in the Parlor

This year we’ve moved our collection of crystal and mirrored balls from the mantle in the

Spiritualism, cryatal balls, mirror balls, mercury glass
Mirror balls and Crystal balls in the parlor at Leith Hall

Iris Room to the piano in the parlor. Lots of guests and tour-goers ask about them, and one of our guests suggested that we write this blog post about them.

No Witches at Leith Hall

First, they are not Witch Balls. Those were blue or green blown-glass balls used to catch evil spirits. These beliefs existed in Europe in the 17th century and before. They are sometimes ascribed to New England – probably because of the Salem witch trials – but without much evidence. Usually, fishing floats, which are also blown glass blue or green balls, are brought out as evidence.

Gazing Ball in the garden at Leith Hall in Cape May
The gazing ball in the front garden at Leith Hall b&b

Victorian Gardens

Our collection is of mirrored balls and crystal balls. Gazing balls are the big mirrored balls seen on pedestals in gardens. They were very popular in the 19th century. Then again, Victorians could never leave well enough alone and packed their gardens with statuary, sundials, urns, gazing balls, trellises and arbors, obelisks, cupids and gnomes. We have a gazing ball in the tiny front garden at Leith Hall.

In the parlor, we have lots more mirrored balls. Some are mercury glass which was very popular in the early and mid-nineteenth century. It contains no mercury, but is silvered on the inside, then sealed. It was called mercury glass because it looks like mercury.  One interesting use for them was to display one large reflective globe on the sideboard in a dining room. That way, the master or mistress of the house could keep an eye on the servants during a dinner party and make sure they were doing their jobs properly.

Victorian Spiritualism

The clear balls are “crystal balls” for communicating with the “other side.”  These became very popular after the Civil War, along with séances, Ouija boards, clairvoyants, and Theosophy. The explosion of interest in spiritualism probably resulted from the number of young men lost in the Civil War and their families’ reluctance to be cut off from them. Or, maybe being a clairvoyant was one of the few ways for women to be famous in Victorian times. Or, maybe it’s just another one of the new religions of the nineteenth century, like Mormonism, Christian Science, Seventh Day Adventism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, etc.

Susan says, “We have lots of collections beside the mirror balls; Victorian Eastlake style silver, decorated Easter eggs, shells, and Japanese woodblock prints. Come visit us and see all of the Victorian stuff at Leith Hall.”

 

 

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Leith Hall ROMANTIC GETAWAY TRUFFLES

Chocolate championship at Leith Hall
photo by Edward Lea AC Press

We just had our third annual Spring Chocolate Championship yesterday and, once again, I didn’t win. You may remember that Chocolate Championship was my suggestion several years ago for MAC to start a new tour during Spring Festival. Any tour is improved by adding chocolate. Last year I made Julia Childs’ chocolate mousse, which is the best chocolate mousse ever, and yet I didn’t win. I consider it an insult to Julia Childs’ memory . (Maybe we can get Meryl Streep to protest.) This year, Anna Marie McMain won with with her Chocolate Delight. It must have been spectacular, ’cause my truffles were pretty darn good. Richard Degner wrote a very nice article in the Atlantic City Press about the contest and Leith Hall. You can have chocolate treats every day at teatime, if you make a reservation.

LEITH HALL

ROMANTIC GETAWAY TRUFFLES

I started making these chocolate truffles to include in our Romantic Getaway package. The basic recipe is incredibly easy, and depends on really good ingredients. The different flavors are created with extracts.

32 oz. (1 quart) heavy whipping cream

32 oz. by weight of bittersweet chocolate

1 Tbs. organic extract.

Melt the chocolate in the cream.  Use 60% to 72% chocolate. Use a very good brand Romantic Getaway chocolate trufflesbecause the quality of the truffles is entirely dependent upon the quality of the chocolate. I use Valrhona, Valor, Green and Black, Guittard or Ghirardelli. Don’t use Hershey’s or Nestlé’s.  You can microwave it for one minute at a time, stirring with a rubber spatula between minutes. Or you can melt the chocolate in an uncovered metal bowl over simmering water. Or you can melt it in a 200 degree Fahrenheit   oven.  It doesn’t matter. The important thing is not to overheat the mixture and to stir often.

Stir in the extract. I always use organic extract from the health food store. It really does taste better. You can use orange extract, peppermint extract, coconut extract, almond extract, or any other that you like. You can also double or triple the amount of extract.

Cool the melted chocolate mixture (ganache) in the refrigerator until it thickens. Whip it in a stand mixer. It will double in size and fluff in a few minutes. Scoop  the ganache into little balls with a little scoop. Put the balls onto a cookie sheet and refrigerate. Decorate the truffles by tossing in toasted coconut for coconut flavor, or toasted almond slivers for almond. You can toss any flavor in a mixture of cocoa and powdered sugar.

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FREE CAPE MAY MUSIC FESTIVAL TICKETS FOR LEITH HALL GUESTS

Get Free Music Festival Tickets

The Cape May Music Festival is coming up soon. If you come visit us to hear one of the

George Gershwin Cape May
George Gershwin

concerts, we’ll provide you with a pair of tickets – free. May 29th, the New York Chamber ensemble will be playing a concert called Music by the Numbers, which will include both George Gershwin (Lullaby, I Got Rhythm, and Someone to Watch Over Me) and Joseph Hayden’s Surprise Symphony.

Cape May Convention Hall on the beach
Cape May Convention Hall on the Beach

Sunday, June 3, the concert will be a tribute to George Mesterhazy, who was Cape May’s beloved jazz pianist. Several of his friends will be playing as well as special guest, Babatunde Lea. We are expecting a huge and enthusiastic crowd at the new Convention Hall.

George Mesterhazy Cape May
George Mesterazy

Just give us a call at (609) 884-1934 or go to our website at www.leithhall.com to make an online reservation. Mention that

Babatunde Lea Cape May beach
Babatunde Lea

you’d like Music Festival Tickets when you make your reservation. Cannot be combined with other offers or discounts.

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CAPE MAY BEACH SHORTBREAD COOKIES DOWN THE SHORE

Cape May Beach Shortbread Cookies

These will remind you of vacations in Cape May
Cape May Beach Shortbread Cookies

These cookies look like the sand on the beach in Cape May. The sprinkle of sugar on top even gives them the texture of the sand on the beach in Cape May. The best things about them are that they are stunningly easy to make and the richest cookies you’ll ever eat. I usually make this recipe in a parchment lined 9”x13” pan and cut them into bars for serving at afternoon tea. You could halve the recipe and make them in an 8”x8” or 9”x9” teatime at Leith Hall bed and breakfastparchment lined pan. Or you can roll he dough out (thick) and make cookie cutter cookies.

chocolate teatime treats at Leith Hall b&bIf you prefer, you can substitute lemon extract for the orange, or use vanilla extract for plain shortbread or even coconut extract. I use organic extracts from the health food store because they really do taste better.

 

1 ½ lbs. unsalted butter (3 sticks) melted

2 cups sugar

1 tbs. orange extract

7 cups white unbleached flour

½ tsp. salt

Turbinado or white sugar for sprinkling

Mix flour, sugar and salt in a bowl. Mix melted butter and orange extract. Mix flour mixture and butter together with a pastry blender, a rubber spatula, or a whisk. The idea is to cut the butter and flour together into crumbles, not to press them together into a dough. Dump the mixed crumbles into the lined baking dish. Press into an even layer with your finger-tips. Dock the dough by piercing it all over with the tines of a fork. Sprinkle with sugar.

Bake at 350F/degrees for about 20 minutes. The cookies are done when they are very light gold around the edges. Remove from oven and cut into bars or squares with a sharp knife immediately. Allow to cool in the pan completely before turning out.

I often serve these for tea at Leith Hall b&b. The other treat will always be something chocolate. If my other cake isn’t chocolate, I’ll dip the end of each shortbread bar in melted bittersweet chocolate. During the Summer when we’re sitting on the porch under the awnings, I know that Suzie will stage a insurrection if there’s no chocolate at teatime.

 

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