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Monday, December 19, 2011


Great Grandma Borchers' Lebkuchen

Lebkuchen is a traditional German Christmas treat that reminds many of gingerbread.  This recipe is more of a cake version of Lebkuchen with basic ingredients ground very fine as to almost hide the nuts and citron that blends all of the flavors to create a taste true to this variety of treat.   The flavor is a combination of brown sugar, allspice, citron, and walnuts.  

German bakers have been and continue to be rather industrious and talented with sweets.  Rather than simply making sweet treats out of sugar, vanilla, or chocolate (which is all great), they incorporate various spices and flavors that may seem rather unconventional in the U.S. but test and delight the palate of adults and children alike. 

This particular recipe is likely over 100 years old and was brought from Germany in the late 1800s and probably modified based on available ingredients from Missouri to Nebraska to Napa, California.  Enjoy my German family's traditional treat.  Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Happy Holidays!

Preheat Oven - 350 degrees
Cooking time - 30-35 minutes
-1-1/2 c. flour
-2 tsp. cinnamon
-1/4 tsp. allspice
-4 eggs
-1 lb. of brown sugar
-2 oz. finely ground citron
-1/2 c. finely ground walnuts

Cream together eggs and brown sugar.  Grind citron and walnut and mix them together.  Dash some flour on the citron to separate it and make it easier to mix in with the walnuts.  Add remaining ingredients and mix well.  Pour into a lightly greased 17"x 11"x1" pan.

-1 c. powdered sugar
-2 T. hot water

Spread the frosting on while the Lebkuchen is hot out of the oven.  This is more of a runny glaze that will dry on the treat as it cools.  Cut into squares right away.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Irish Heritage and Paul T. McLaughlin

Paul T. McLaughlin is a McLaughlin/Maxwell cousin of mine and he, like me, is definitely not shy about his willingness to share his information.  Again, I disclose that for living people, my privacy policy follows that of except when someone approves that they want to be revealed.

Below is a recent message that I received from Paul indicating where his collection is now located.

Thank you Paul for sharing this!



As I was researching one of my other interests, I came across the American Heritage Center which is part of the University of Wyoming in Laramie. WY.  It is one of the most respected archival centers in the states.  What caught my attention was that they have an Irish-American center so I thought of you.

I have been working with them most of this year and contributed my collection of sixty nine years to them this summer.  I've longed for and finally found a place where my collection will be available for posterity, if anyone is interested.  What took so long was that I could never find a place to dedicate it until I surfed across a posting they had about Martin Jensen, with whom I worked back in 1942, had  donated his papers to them 2 years before he died.  That was all I needed.  I contacted them and they were as anxious to get my collection as I was to get it to them.

Anyway, you might want to check into their Irish-American Center.


(Paul T. McLaughlin)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Mystery Person in The Photo Album

Update - Is this a Strehlow???

Sunday, December 11, 2011

My Great Grandparents Home

On Wednesday, I posted a photo of 1134 Willow Avenue, Napa, California.  I started really thinking about that house.  It was my great grandparents home in which I spent many a day hanging out at with family for Easter, Christmas Eve, summertime visits, and more.

When my great grandma sold it in the 1980s, the new owner redid the house and put a second story on it.   The second story is a little odd ball looking on what you an tell was a single story craftsman style ranch from the 1920s.  I guess the original house was not big enough.  While it was a bungalow type home, it did have 3 bedrooms and some rather large rooms including a big dining room and a large kitchen with laundry room connected.

To each his own in modifying a home to meet their needs.  The picket fence out front is a little much though in my opinion.

I do wonder what my great grandma's brother would say about the modifications to the home.  Afterall, he built it.  John Henry Vienop, Jr., or rather, Uncle Henry was a general contractor in Napa, California after WWI.  He built several homes in Napa.  He also built more than one house on Willow Avenue in Alta Heights.

When I look up 1134 Willow Ave. on, it indicates that it was built in 1926.  Well, my photo and family have indicated that was 1925.  I guess the proof is in the picture.  I suppose my grandma is not wrong....nor my great grandma....or my aunt.  They all lived in this home.  My aunt even has a beautifully painted water color of this house.  By the time I was around, the house was completely painted white.

I rather miss visiting this home around the holidays.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Saturday, December 3, 2011

MYOG Scanfest 2011

There comes a time when you've got to make copies of the information that you've acquired and return the originals to the current owner.  I am referring to all of the photos that I've borrowed from my mother.  In particular is my grandma's photo album.  It contains over 300 photos within the dimensions of an 7" X 11" book.  I am scanning each page right now.

Where I lack photos of my father's parents, I do have photos of my mother's parents.  In fact, I have 80 pages worth of photos of my grandma, Dorothy Marie Borchers Flanagan.  Included on those pages are my great grandparents (Mary and Herbert Borchers), one of my great great grandmothers (Anna Borchers), and several photos of my grandpa (Richard J. Flanagan).  There are some other relatives within the photo album including aunts, uncles, and cousins.

Many of the photos in this book are not labeled but credit goes to my great grandfather for even starting this album.  According to one of his daughter's, Herbert Borchers, Sr. was the person who created this album.  He may not have placed all of the photos in the book later on in his life but it is clear that my grandma did continue on with the placement of photos that include my mother.

Leave it to a Borchers to want to save and preserve these precious memories.  That side of my family is big into our family genealogy.  It is rather ironic because my grandma (Dorothy) never kept much of anything.  She was more of a minimalist who kept everything clean and organized.  I recall cleaning out my grandparents house and the bulk of the items were in the kitchen (pots, pans, etc.), fine china, linens, and garage tools plus the furniture.  There were also a couple of small boxes of memories including albums.  Can I just say that there was no clutter or hoarding going on in that house.  My grandparents did live a rather simple, modest life and were very happy for that.  I think getting back to that would work well in my life.

Anyway, I have embarked on my scanning project since my mother would like most of her photos back.  She misses being able to pull out the album when a name or memory comes up.  I respect that for sure.  There are also some random unmounted photos that she would like to frame including her grandparents and parents.

Currently, I am on page 15 of the photo album working away at scanning it, saving the original scanned page to my removable hard drive, cropping the page in Photoshop, and uploading the pages to Shutterfly.  My intent is to make a book of these photos.   I'd also like to know who the people are in many of the photos.  I will be asking my aunts when I see them.

Here's a sample page from the book.
Dorothy Marie Borchers and her mother, Mary Borchers circa 1922

So "Mine, Yours', and the Other Guy's" Scanfest 2011 is on!