Monday, February 23, 2009

Presidential trivia quiz

2/11/09 Chatterbox
Betty Kaiser

I have whined about this subject before so you just know that I’m going to bring it up again. It’s February — President’s Day month — and after all these years, I’m still bent out of shape that Congress in its infinite wisdom screwed up our two favorite presidents’ birthday celebrations.

Once upon a time our country celebrated holidays on the date that something actually happened. All of that changed in 1971 when the Uniform Holidays Act went into effect. At the whim of Congress (who never met a Monday that they didn’t like) anything of importance had to be celebrated on a long weekend. Veterans Day (formerly known as Armistice Day) is one of the few holidays that has not been changed to a Monday.

This year President’s Day conveniently falls on Feb. 16. According to President Nixon and congress’ decree, it commemorates all former presidents. For us old timers, it is sort of a generic one size fits all party. Formerly, only two outstanding and historic presidents were actually honored across the nation on their birthdays: Abraham Lincoln and George Washington.

George Washington was the first and only President to have his birthday officially celebrated by the federal government. Every year school kids prepared for the Feb. 22 holiday by learning about our first president. We all related to the fabled tale of how he chopped down the cherry tree but wasn’t punished because he told the truth. And we could all picture the cold, courageous general as he plowed through the icy Delaware River during the Revolutionary War.

Abraham Lincoln’s Feb.12 birthday was never a federal holiday. It was and is, however, celebrated as a legal holiday in many states.

Lincoln’s life and subsequent election was the stuff that legends are made of. Stories of his boyhood are legion and appealing to children and adults. He lived in a log cabin; only attended school for a total of one year and his mother died when he was a nine-year old youngster. There was no Ivy League education for him.

In spite of all these hindrances or perhaps because of them, he became America’s most beloved president. He was that rare political figure with a tender heart who had strength of spirit and character. He didn’t back down from a fight when the cause was right but agonized over the toll of the battle. His Emancipation Proclamation and freeing of the slaves came at a great cost to him as well as the country.

This year is the bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth. Tomorrow we celebrate his 200th birthday and Washington D.C. is getting ready to throw him a really big party. The National Park Service will celebrate the 16th president’s birthday on Feb 12 at the Lincoln Memorial and events are being planned for the entire year.

I can tally 12 presidents who have served our country during my lifetime. It’s been a while since I was in school so naming them in sequence was a challenge. Try it and see how many you can name beginning with FDR. The list follows.

And once you have your brain all warmed up, check out the following presidential trivia questions. Then try the quiz on your friends. By that time you’ll know the answers and can grin as they fumble their way through it. Answers are at the bottom of the column.

1. Which president took nude early morning swims in the Potomac River?
A. George Washington
B. John Quincy Adams
C. James Madison’
D. James Garfield

2. Which president’s lunch often consisted of cottage cheese smothered in ketchup?
A. Dwight Eisenhower
B. Calvin Coolidge
C. Richard Nixon
D. Bill Clinton

3. Which president is on the $100,000 bill?
A. Grover Cleveland
B. Woodrow Wilson
C. Lyndon Johnson
D. None. It never existed

4. Which president is the only president to have worn a Nazi uniform?
A. John F. Kennedy
B. George W. Bush
C. Jimmy Carter
D. Ronald Reagan

5. Which president was given the first raise in U.S. history?
A. John Quincy Adams
B. Theodore Roosevelt
C. Ulysses S. Grant
D. Abraham Lincoln

6. What was the name of the Lincoln Family dog?
A. Lee
B. Fido
C. Kent
D. Charlie

7. Who survived two assassination attempts by two different women in just over two weeks?
A. Gerald Ford
B. Thomas Jefferson
C. Ronald Reagan
D. William Howard Taft

8. Who considered joining the KuKlux Klan to advance his political career?
A. Harry Truman
B. James Buchanan
C. Herbert Hoover
D. Franklin Delano Roosevelt

9. Who was Lincoln’s first Vice President?
A. William R. King
B. Hannibal Hamlin
C. Andrew Johnson
D. Ulysses S. Grant

10. Which president painted a portrait of Abraham Lincoln?
A. John F. Kennedy
B. Benjamin Harrison
C. Dwight D. Eisenhower
D. Calvin Coolidge

Presidents #32-#44 in numerical order:
Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, William Clinton, George W. Bush

Answers to presidential quiz:
1. B (Adams)
2. C (Nixon)
3. B (Wilson)
4. D (Reagan in a movie)
5. C (Grant)
6. B (Lincoln)
7. A (Ford)
8. A (Truman)
9. B (Hamlin)
10. C (Eisenhower)

I failed this test miserably with a measly 50-percent score. So congratulations if you got more than 5 correct answers!

Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the heart. Contact her at 942-1317 or via e-mail —

Yummy presidential & valentine treats

2/4/09 Cook’s Corner Betty Kaiser I loved the month of February when I was growing up. In elementary school we kids called it the holiday month. Special days were nicely spaced out to help dispel winter’s gloom. Near the beginning of the month we celebrated President Lincoln’s birthday. It was closely followed by Valentine’s Day while George Washington’s birthday closed out the short festive month. Each holiday meant that our class would enjoy a special dessert made by the room mothers. Of course, that was back in the day when moms could serve homemade goodies and no one worried about us being sickened by salmonella, E. coli or other stuff. We were young and carefree but we always knew whose mom could be depended on to bring special treats. My grandmother baked and decorated great cookies. Carol’s mom excelled at cupcakes with yummy frosting and the Harvey boys’ mother always made brownies. Desserts were always the food of choice on these occasions! So “Lincoln Log” brownies were a popular treat on Lincoln’s birthday. Decorated heart shaped sugar cookies were the choice for Valentine’s Day and cherry-flavored cupcakes with boiled frosting were a coveted favorite for George Washington’s birthday. I’ve never been quite sure about the origins of Lincoln Log brownies. It must have had something to do with Lincoln’s humble beginnings and life in a log cabin. Folklore tells us that he was an expert log splitter who loved to read. Sometimes he would be found reading next to a pile of logs that he should have been splitting. Maybe he was eating brownies at the same time! And it really isn’t known whether George Washington chopped down that fabled cherry tree but it sure makes for good story telling and a reason to eat cherry pie. So we’ll start out today’s recipe roundup with a cherry dessert in honor of George. Enjoy!
Cherry Cream Pie Taste of Home
Crust: 1 cup all-purpose flour 1 cup finely chopped walnuts 1/2 cup butter, softened 1/4 cup packed brown sugar Filling: 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened 1 cup confectioners' sugar 1/4 teaspoon almond extract 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, whipped 1 can (21 ounces) cherry pie filling Directions: In a small bowl, combine the flour, walnuts, butter and brown sugar. Transfer to a 13-in. x 9-in. baking pan. Bake at 375° for 15 minutes, stirring once. Set aside 1 cup of crumbs. While warm, press the remaining crumbs into a greased 9-in. pie plate, firmly pressing onto the bottom and up the sides. Chill for 30 minutes. In a small mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, confectioners' sugar and almond extract until smooth. Spread over bottom of crust. Gently fold whipped cream into the pie filling; spread over cream cheese layer. Sprinkle with reserved crumbs. Chill for at least 4 hours before serving. Yield: 6-8 servings. Note: To lighten up the sugar and fat content, substitute light cherry pie filling for regular and light Cool Whip for the whipped cream.
Basic Sugar Cookies
1 cup sugar 1 cup butter or shortening, softened 2 eggs, beaten 1 teaspoon vanilla 2-1/2 cups flour 1 teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon cream of tartar 1/2 teaspoon salt In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until creamy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Add dry ingredients and combine until thoroughly mixed. Cover and chill dough for one hour or more. After dough is chilled, preheat oven to 400° F. Roll out dough on floured surface 1/8-1/4-inch (thinner cookies will be crisper). Cut into shapes with floured heart shaped cookie cutter. Place cookies 1-inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Sprinkle with colored sugar if not planning on frosting. Bake until a delicate golden color, 6-8 minutes. Cool slightly before moving to racks. Decorate as desired. Makes about 3-1/2 dozen.
Cookie Glaze
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted 4 teaspoons milk 1 teaspoon vanilla (may substitute other flavors) 1 tablespoon corn syrup Food coloring (gel or regular) Add milk to powdered sugar in bowl and mix evenly. Add vanilla and stir. Finally, add the corn syrup and mix well. Mixture can be divided into separate bowls if using different colors. ‘Paint’ the cooled cookies using a pastry brush. Allow to dry completely before stacking (overnight is best). NOTE: The mixture must be thin enough to spread easily but not so thin that it runs off. Start with the recipe amounts and if too thick, add more milk if necessary. Do not add extra corn syrup.
Brownie Lincoln Logs
2 cups sugar 2 cups flour 1/3 cup cocoa 1 teaspoon baking soda ½ teaspoon salt 1 cup (2 sticks) margarine 1 cup water ½ cup buttermilk 2 eggs 1 teaspoon vanilla Preheat oven to 400° F. Combine dry ingredients in large mixing bowl and mix well. Heat margarine and water in saucepan until boiling. Pour over dry ingredients and mix. Beat in buttermilk, eggs and vanilla. Pour thin batter in greased and floured 15X10-inch pan. Cool in pan and frost with the following.
Chocolate Butter Frosting
1/3 cup butter or margarine, softened 3 cups powdered sugar, sifted 1/3 cup cocoa powder 1 teaspoon vanilla 3-6 tablespoons milk Combine all ingredients except milk in mixing bowl. Beat at low speed, scraping bowl often and gradually adding enough milk for desired spreading consistency. To make logs Cut chocolate-frosted brownies into bars about 3-inches long and ¾ inch wide. Draw prongs of fork through icing to resemble a log. Decorate with a tiny paper flag. Makes enough for a crowd. Two logs per serving. Keep it simple and keep it seasonal! Betty Kaiser’s Cook’s Corner is dedicated to sharing a variety of recipes that are delicious, family oriented and easy to prepare.