Sunday, August 24, 2008

What a glorious July we had in Yorktown! Summer is hot and humid here--and ideal for the beach, for visiting shady battlefields, for strolling the tree-lined streets of Yorktown, and enjoying a nice view of the York River from a nice air-conditioned room!

The York River Inn welcomes guests for an all-American holiday!

The 4th of July in Yorktown is such a treat! Old-fashioned--families--food--no traffic in town--patriotic parade--and fireworks!

One of my guests for three days was Drew Finley from just across the river in Gloucester. He and his wife decided staying here would give them easy access to all the activities in Yorktown and little of the hassle. He's retired from the Coast Guard and has a business called "Finley Photography." He takes pictures of weddings, family gatherings, individual portfolios, and lots of other opportunities when folks don't want to take the pictures themselves. He took a lot of pictures of our 4th of July events, and he agreed to let me share some of them with you! Thanks Drew!

This is Yorktown's "Uncle Sam" ringing the bell from the now decommissioned USS Yorktown. Our "Celebrate Yorktown Committtee" which I started when I was director of the Watermen's Museum in Yorktown raised the money to have the stand constructed so that we could use the bell at special occasions

Our York Town fifes and drums playing in front of the Nelson House on Main Street. Nelson spent his entire fortune paying for the American Revolution and died owning no property and heavily in debt. Cornwallis used this house as his headquarters during part of the Siege of Yorktown. It's owned by and opened to the public by the National Park Service.

Our area has many military bases--the USCG Training Center is within sight of the beach; Ft. Eustis--US Army Transportation Center--is only 5 or 6 miles; US Naval Weapons Station-Yorktown is within sight up river--so our parades always feature many military marching groups, bands, or other participants.

The fireworks exploding over the town and the York River are always spectacular!

Thanks again Drew for these great pictures! Drew can be contacted at

One dish I served on 4th of July was my red white and blue jello parfaits. The recipe is pretty long since it involves making three different colors of jello, each with additional ingredients--and you have to wait for a while between each layer for the previous layer to cool. But--here it is if you want to try it for yourself:

Red White and Blue jello

2 3 oz "berry blue" or blackberry jello
1 can blueberry pie filling
1 3 oz lemon jello
1 8 oz cream cheese softened
1 6 oz frozen whipped topping thawed
2 3 oz strawberry or cranberry jello
1 10 oz frozen strawberries

Take 12 parfait glasses (or large wine glasses), or 4 small loaf pans (3 ½ X 7 1 /2 x 2 1/4) or a large 13 x 9 casserole dish. For the loaf pans, spray them with Pam–then I line the loaf pans with plastic wrap––the Pam makes it stick nicely to the sides of the pan–have a little overlap on the outside all the way around. I spray the casserole dish with Pam too–if you cut it into squares, they'll come out easier. You don't have to spray the parfait glasses.

By the way, don't use the aluminum foil loaf pans--because they're somewhat flexible, when you put in the second or third layer of jelled filling, the top layer will ooze down into the earlier layer.

Make the blueberry jello with 3 cups water instead of 4–stir in pie filling (if the filling has been refrigerated, it helps to set the jello faster) until thoroughly mixed. Divide into the containers. There will be some leftover if you use the 12 parfaits. Keep a Pam-sprayed casserole dish nearby to put the extra in. And be careful putting the blue layer in so that you don't get any on the sides of the glasses.
Cool until firm.

Add 1 cup boiling water to lemon jello. Beat this into the cream cheese. Cool to room temperature and fold in whipped topping. Spread evenly over the blue layer–be careful not to get any of this on the sides of the small pans since it will appear white when the wrap is taken off. For the parfaits, I usually put this into a plastic bag, cut the corner, and pipe the white layer into the glasses to keep from getting the white layer on the sides of the glasses.
Cool until firm.

Make the red jello with 3 cups water instead of 4. Stir in frozen strawberries and mix well. Cool to room temperature and pour on the top.

Cook in refrgerator for 4 or 5 hours until firmly set.

I usually take the loaf pans and turn them upside down on a serving plate–the wrap peels off very smoothly. If I make it in the bigger size, I cut it into squares. I decorate the loaf and the parfaits by using some little American flags on toothpicks, or some red white and blue decorations I've picked up at a decorations or some other store.

Making this dish in this order gives you parfaits with red on the top, then white, and then blue on the bottom. The loaf pans will be blue on top, then white, and red on the bottom, so if you want the loaves to be red on the top--then reverse the order of the preparation.

For Yorktown Day, AMERICA'S INDEPENDENCE DAY, October 19---I usually have a house full of French people who come to help us celebrate the victory! Then, I make the dish in the opposite order---with blue on the top, then white, and red on the bottom since the French flag is the "blue, white, and red" rather than the American "red, white, and blue."

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