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The Grateful American™ Foundation blasts out a fact-filled educational magazine to alert our readers about out latest video interview, upcoming events for kids at the nation’s presidential and historic homes, fascinating historic facts, and more!

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Grateful American Magazine

November-December 2017 — The Art of Dining at Mount Vernon

“George Washington always paid keen attention to his dining spaces and their furnishings; mealtime rituals provided opportunities to present himself as a sophisticated member of the gentry class, an enlightened gentleman, and a gracious host,” explains historian Carol Borchert Cadou in, “Dining with the Washingtons: Historic Recipes, Entertaining, and Hospitality from Mount Vernon.”

Cadou, the Robert H. Smith senior curator and vice president for collections at Mount Vernon, reports that one 1777 guest observed: “[Washington] keeps an excellent table and a stranger, let him be of what Country or nation, he will always meet with a most hospitable reception at it. His entertainments were always conducted with the most regularity and in the genteelest manner of any I ever was at on the Continent.”

The meals prepared often came from one of Martha Washington’s cookbooks, which include a manuscript handed down through several generations of women from the family of her first husband, Daniel Parke Custis; she inherited it upon their 1750 marriage. Another often-used cookbook in the Washington kitchen was the sixth edition (1763) of Hannah Glasse’s “The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy.”

While the Washingtons may not have sampled recipes from “The Virginia Housewife,” Mary Randolph’s popular cookbook was also utilized during the Revolutionary era.

So we were thrilled when historians at Mount Vernon opened the doors (and the outdoor kitchen) to welcome three of our Grateful American™ Kids — AJ, Avery, and Callie — to prepare two dishes the Washingtons and their guests would have enjoyed: curry of catfish and peas porridge.

These students from Longfellow Middle School in Fairfax County, VA, were our reporters for the day as they were guided through a Revolutionary Era cooking lesson by Deborah Colburn, the interpretive programs supervisor at Mount Vernon, and her colleague, interpreter Sara Marie Massee.

Scroll down to learn how to prepare these recipes, which may be a fun addition to your meals this holiday season.

Here’s to cooking, and eating, like the Washingtons! Wishing you and yours a very happy Thanksgiving! David Bruce Smith, founder, and Hope Katz Gibbs, executive producer, Grateful American™ Foundation / Grateful American™ Kids

September 2017 — Have You Been Inside George Washington’s 16-Sided Barn?

Did you know that George Washington invented and designed a 16-sided treading barn for processing wheat on his plantation at Dogue Run Farm?

It was in the fall of 1792, and the barn was desperately needed on Dogue Run, one of five working farms on Washington’s 8,000-acre estate.

“When Washington moved from tobacco to wheat as his cash crop, he faced the challenge wheat farmers have always encountered — that is, how to separate the wheat berry from the top of the wheat stalk,” explains Deborah Colburn, interpretive programs supervisor of the historic trades at George Washington’s Mount Vernon.

She notes that after wheat is harvested, the common way to separate the wheat berry from the stalk was to thresh it with a flail. “A laborer would literally beat the grain to separate it from the straw. This was very time-consuming and exhausting.”

Fortunately, there was another way to thresh wheat: treading.

“The animals on the farm could walk over the sheaves of wheat and the impact of their hooves would separate the grain from the straw,” Colburn adds. “Treading was done outdoors, which exposed the wheat to the elements and mixed dirt in with the grain. A significant portion of the grain was ruined or lost as a result. Both methods are fraught with problems in that once the wheat is harvested it must be kept dry. Processing the wheat out of doors left the crop exposed to fast-moving thunderstorms that could ruin a crop in moments. Washington could lose up to 20 percent of his harvest to soil and sky.”

The brilliance of the 16-sided treading barn was taking the most efficient method of processing — horsepower/treading — and moving it under cover, Colburn shares.

To learn more, watch our video featuring Colburn and three Grateful American™ Kids — AJ, Avery, and Callie. She takes these students from Longfellow Middle School in Fairfax County, VA, inside the barn for a history lesson. Don’t miss their excellent questions!

Be sure to scroll down for additional information about Washington’s barn by Dennis J. Pogue, PhD, adjunct associate professor in the historic preservation program at the University of Maryland.

Here’s to bringing American history to life! — David Bruce Smith, founder, and Hope Katz Gibbs, executive producer, GratefulAmericanFoundation.com / GratefulAmericanKids.com

August 2017 —In Memoriam: Author Tom Fleming Provided Insight Into “The Intimate Lives of the Founding Fathers”

“How do you write a book?” 24-year-old Thomas Fleming asked best-selling writer Fulton Oursler in 1951.

“Write four pages a day,” Oursler said. “Every day except Sunday. Whether you feel like it or not. Inspiration consists of putting the seat of your pants on the chair at your desk.”

Fleming followed that advice in the more than 50 books he wrote throughout his life.

The writer of great histories, novels, and a true gentleman of the 20th and 21st centuries died at his home in New York City on July 23, 2017. He was 90.

His book, “The Intimate Lives of the Founding Fathers,” was his 50th published work. Twenty-three of his books were novels. He was also the only writer in the history of the Book of the Month Club to have had main selections in fiction and in nonfiction. And, he won prizes.

Fleming told David Bruce Smith, founder of the Grateful American™ Foundation, that he sees “Intimate Lives” as a perfect combination of his double talent as a novelist and historian.

“Novelists focus on the intimate side of life,” said Fleming, who was born in Jersey City, the son of a powerful local politician. “This is the first time anyone has looked at the intimate side of the lives of these famous Americans with a historian’s eyes.”

It was a pleasure to meet and interview Fleming in May 2014. We filmed the video on location at Alexander Hamilton’s home, The Grange, in New York City. We hope you’ll enjoy watching it as much as we did filming it.

Click here to watch the interview, in which Fleming answers these questions:

  • What were the lives of the great figures in American history really like — including George Washington, Ben Franklin, John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison?
  • What role did the Founding Mothers play in the lives of these famous men — such as George Washington’s mother, Mary Ball Washington, who was known to be not particularly affectionate?
  • How do the customs of the 18th century differ from today’s, including those related to courting, medicine, and hygiene?
  • What makes it so important that their stories live on — especially in the minds of kids?
  • And how can parents help their kids develop a passion for history?

Scroll down for a dozen fascinating facts about the founding era of our country.

Here’s to bringing American history to life, for kids and adults!David Bruce Smith, founder, and Hope Katz Gibbs, executive producer, GratefulAmericanFoundation.com / GratefulAmericanKids.com