Monthly Archives: November 2011

December First Friday: Copper Beech Tree Lighting

By Julia Einstein
Coordinator of Youth and Family Programs

The lighting of the Copper Beech tree is a favorite family event for all of us here at the Museum. The holiday season has officially begun and we are all excited to celebrate by lighting our 200-year-old Copper Beech tree! Frost is in the air, and the enchanting procession of families with mittened hands, holding candles, and lighting the way to the McLellan House patio is upon us!

This year, we are fortunate to have the talented members of the Vox Nova Chamber Choir performing at the event, setting the tone through traditional holiday carols and modern contemporary choral music.
“Our singers love the opportunity to sing for the Copper Beech Tree event. These songs are incredibly familiar, but we’ve all experienced them in our own way growing up, so everybody brings their own personality, memories, and associations with them. The personal connection with the music is contagious and the ability to pass that joy and enthusiasm to another person makes it even more special.” –Matt Kurt, Member of the Vox Nova Chamber Choir

The best part of the night comes at 7 p.m. when the choir leads the crowd in a count down. Then, like magic, the glorious tree is lit and the season has arrived! Happy Holidays!

Shake Up Your Holiday Meal!

This holiday season transform your traditional holiday menu with a few new dishes and desserts from Shaker Your Plate, a cookbook written by Sister Frances of the Sabbathday Lake Shaker Community in Maine and for sale in the Museum Store! Inspired by our exhibition Gather Up the Fragments: The Andrews Shaker Collection, these recipes highlight delicious wholesome food that is well prepared. Much like Shaker furniture and textiles, these recipes are simple yet artful!

Excerpts from Shaker Your Plate by Sister Frances

Bread Stuffing
2 pounds white bread, broken into small pieces
2 cups hot water
1 cup butter or margarine, melted
2 cups chopped onion
2 eggs, beaten lightly
2 tablespoons Shaker Sage, crushed
Salt and pepper to taste

Pour water and melted butter over bread. Allow bread to soften. Sauté onions over low heat until just tender, do not overcook. Add eggs, onions, and seasonings to bread. Mix thoroughly. Taste, or better still, have others around you taste, as it makes it interesting to add whatever bit of seasonings others may like. In addition to the sage, I like to add approximately 1 teaspoon of Bell’s Seasoning.

Because we eat very little white bread, we use whole wheat almost exclusively. I usually have a bag in the refrigerator in which I save all the odds and ends of white rolls, sandwich bread, and toast from white breads.

Brother Ted’s Swedish Meat Balls
1 and 1/2 pounds hamburg (lean with very little fat) or preferably 1 pound hamburg with 1/2 pound of ground pork
1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 eggs slightly beaten
2 cups light cream (I often substitute evaporated milk if I do not have cream)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 Teaspoon Shaker Bouquet Garni (for sale at the Museum Store!)
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 tablespoon molasses

Combine all of the above ingredients using only half of the cream and blend well. Form into small balls and place on greased cookie sheet. Bake for 20 minutes in a 350º oven or until browned. Remove and keep the meat balls warm while you prepare the sauce as follows—Measure 2 tablespoons of fat from baking pan into a saucepan. Stir in 2 tablespoons flour and 1 package of instant beef broth. Cook stirring constantly until just bubbly. Stir in the remaining cream and continue cooking until the sauce thickens and bubbles for about 1 minute. Add the meatballs and simmer over low heat until thoroughly heated. Serve plain or over noodles on a heated platter. Garnish lightly with Shaker Bouquet Garni.

If time is of the essence and you need to feed a larger amount of people, this may be doubled easily. Also, for a quick sauce simmer the meatballs in 1 can of beef broth. Add 1 can of cream of mushroom soup and 1 pint of sour cream. Keep hot but do not allow to boil.

This is a favorite at the Community and is always a part of the Christmas Eve smorgasbord.

Makes 6 servings. If you want a different hors d’oeuvre, make tiny meatballs and serve them on toothpicks. Prepare a dish of sauce for your guests to dip from.

Sister Frances’ Cheesecake
(Though the original recipe doesn’t specify this, best to melt the butter for the crust before combining it with the other ingredients!)

1-3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
4 Tablespoons butter or margarine
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 pound cream cheese
3 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 pint sour cream
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine the graham-cracker crumbs, butter, cinnamon, and sugar. Press out into spring-form pan. Beat together the cream cheese, eggs, sugar, and vanilla. Pour into crust and bake for 25 minutes at 350 F. Remove from oven and allow cake to cool slightly, approximately 10 minutes. While the cake is cooling, mix the sour cream, sugar, and vanilla. Pour over the cooled cake. Try to have it evenly spread over entire cake. Return to oven and bake at 450 F for 10 minutes.

Dutch Apple Cake
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
½ cup milk
2 cups flour
2 heaping teaspoons baking powder
4 apples
½ cup butter or margarine, melted
½ to ¾ cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350. Mix the sugar, eggs, milk, flour, and baking powder together. Pour mixture in a 12” x 16” pan. Pare and slice the apples. Lay them on the cake batter real [sic] closely together. Pour the melted butter over all and sprinkle the sugar which has been combined with the cinnamon. Bake until apples are tender. This should take about 30 – 35 minutes.

Happy Birthday Claude Monet! Born November 14, 1840 in France!

By Margaret Burgess
Susan Donnell and Harry W. Konkel Associate Curator of European Art

Monet traveled widely throughout his native country, settling in different places during his career, and capturing the landscape in a masterful opus of paintings. From 1878 to 1881, Monet lived in Vétheuil, a town on the Seine 40 miles northwest of Paris. The Museum’s painting La Seine à Vétheuil (circa 1880), on view on the second floor, brilliantly reflects his appreciation of the medieval town and the sweeping Seine. A generous gift of Mrs. Stuart Symington to the Museum in 1998, the painting depicts the verdant line of trees and foliage reflected in the river and the spires and Gothic towers of the village buildings in the distance. As Frank Rutter, a critic who saw landscapes from this period on display in London remarked; “Never before…had we seen nature painting in all the prismatic radiance of summer sunshine. These pictures sparkled, they scintillated with light, not with the golden glow of academic convention, but with dancing pin-points of a myriad of hues.” With its pastel colors and energetic brushstrokes, the painting exudes a painterly ebullience; but it was in fact a turbulent time for the artist personally. Not only did he face financial issues, but sadly his wife, Camille, died at the age of 32, the year before this work was painted. Monet seems to have sought and found solace in the landscape about him.

Come celebrate Monet’s birthday with a visit to the Museum! View this painting as well as Monet’s La Manneporte Seen from Below (circa 1884), on loan to the Museum from the Scott M. Black Collection, in our European galleries.