Over the River…….


English: Lydia Maria Child (February 11, 1802 ...

English: Lydia Maria Child (February 11, 1802 – July 7, 1880) was an American abolitionist, women’s rights activist, opponent of American expansionism, Indian rights activist, novelist, and journalist. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For this post I don’t have to go far from home to remind me of the holiday season, of  Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I’m reminded of one day in the 1980’s when I toured the home of Lydia Maria Childs’ grandparents who had owned an old Georgian Colonial on the other side of the Mystic River in Medford, Massachusetts in the U.S.A.  I had saved up enough money for a down payment on a house and Lydia Maria Childs’ grandparents old home was for sale.  I toured the house with my husband and I was extremely excited by the prospect of owning such a wonderful piece of American history. I said yes to the real estate agents offer of a purchase price of only $42,000.  Unfortunately, after adding up the costs of owning and maintaining such a large structure, we decided against the purchase and moved on to other options.  At a later date, Tufts University bought the home for a huge sum and the house remains on the U.S. Trust for Historic Preservations’ registered historic homes list.

Lydia Maria Child was a author, abolitionist and activist who was born into a prominent New England family in Medford, Massachusetts.  She was schooled in her early years in Medford Schools.  She would often visit her grandparents at their home and wrote this song as an adult.  Sometimes when the snow is deep and the air is chill, you can almost see the her sleigh coming across the old Craddock Bridge in Medford Square.

Over the River and Through the Woods to Grandfather’s House We Go

By Lydia Maria Child

Over the river, and through the wood,
to Grandfather’s house we go:
the horse knows the way to carry the sleigh
through the white and drifted snow.

Over the river, and through the wood,to Grandfather’s house away!
We would not stop for doll or top,
for ’tis Thanksgiving Day.

Over the river, and through the wood
oh, how the wind does blow!
It stings the toes and bites the nose,
as over the ground we go.

Over the river, and through the wood,
and straight trough the barnyard gate,
We seem to go extremely slow,
it is so hard to wait!

Over the river, and through the wood,
when Grandmother sees us come,
She will say, ‘o, dear, the children are here,
bring a pie for every one.’

Over the river, and through the wood,
now Grandmothers cap I spy!
Hurrah for the fun! Is the pudding done?
Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!

May your holidays be as filled with joy as the young Lydia Maria Childs’ was on that long ago Thanksgiving Day.

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HAPPY HALLOWEEN!


Deutsch: Halloween-Deko, Concord, MA, USA

stiff egg whites
stiff egg whites (Photo credit: She Paused 4 Thought).

Today brings a normalization of the weather here in New England after the monster hurriane, Sandy, hit our shores.  We give thanks to God that we were spared, in my hometown, the devastation that struck the coast farther south of here, especially in the states of New York and New Jersey.  Our prayers go out to those whose lives were disastrously affected by the hurricane everywhere along the eastern seaboard.

Today, for everyone who is able to celebrate this Halloween holiday with some resemblance of normalcy, I simply give you an recipe from an old church bulletin.  I’m unsure where it originated from, but it was being used and copied somewhere around the 1960’s and has been made in my family to celebrate different holidays since that time. It is very good to use at children’s costume parties.

RASPBERRY KISSES

3 egg whites

3  1/2 Tablespoons raspberry gelatin

3/4 cups sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 Tablespoon white vinegar

1 cup mini chocolate chips

Line and grease large baking sheet with parchment or brown paper and preheat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.

Beat egg whites and salt on high speed with electric mixer until light and foamy.  Gradually add gelatin and sugar and continue beating to stiff peaks.  Mix until sugar is totally dissolved or kisses will be sticky.  Add the vinegar.  Fold in the chocolate chips.  Drop by teaspoon onto lined, greased baking sheet.  Bake kisses at 250 degrees for 25 minutes and then turn off the oven, leaving them in oven for additional 20 minutes.  Remove baking sheet from oven and remove immediately to wire baking rack to cool.

Makes 6 dozen.

I hope you find these simple to make, and please have a safe, happy Halloween night.

Indian Pudding (sugar free)


Maple syrup houses

Maple syrup houses (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The First Thanksgiving, painted by Jean Leon G...

I often made a version of this Thanksgiving pudding in honor of the Native Americans who shared the first American Thanksgiving that took place close to my home at Plymouth, Massachusetts.  It is an old American tradition to have this simple pudding during this autumn season, but in these modern times, it has fallen out of favor to be replaced by packaged pudding mixes.  It’s very easy to make and would make a good addition to the Thanksgiving table.  Serve it up with some sugar-free dairy whipped topping or a dietetic ice cream for an almost authentic diabetic treat.

INDIAN PUDDING:

1/4 cup cornmeal

2 cups milk

1/3 cup thick sugar-free maple syrup

1 egg, beaten

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 Tablespoon margarine (60% oil content) or butter if desired

1/4 cup raisins

1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts

1/4 teaspoon salt

Mix together the milk, salt and margarine.  Scald this mixture by bringing it to a rapid boil.  Mix the cornmeal into the milk mixture slowly.  Cook in a double boiler for about 15 minutes until mixture is thick.  Add maple syrup, beaten egg,  salt, cinnamon, and raisins.  Add chopped walnuts and mix thoroughly.  Put into pan that has been sprayed with butter flavored cooking spray and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately two hours.  Pudding should be slightly firm and knife inserted should be slightly dry.  Serve cold or slightly warm.

Auntie Annie’s Halloween Chocolate Turtle Candy


English: A Pearson's Bun Bar shown whole. One ...

English: A Pearson’s Bun Bar shown whole. One of three flavors (caramel specifically) but all of the Bun Bars have the same outward appearance. Candy was provided from the Pearson’s Candy Company to Evan-Amos for the direct purpose of adding pictures to the Wikipedia articles. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My Auntie Annie’s busiest times of the year were most major holidays.  Not only was she busy during American holidays, but during most of the major international ones, as well.  You see, she was a worker at one of the larger U.S. candy factories that made famous brand novelty and boxed fancy assortments.  She had been working at the factory as a line worker and then a fancy chocolates dipper since the turn of the 20th century.  She would trek off to the chocolate factory every morning for over fifty years, having started her job, in those very emancipated days, at a young and tender age.   Her salary was well received by her struggling family, who also enjoyed the fruits of her labors – having access to chocolate bars, candy wafers, turtle clusters, caramel, and a full product line of tooth decaying, fattening goodies.

During the holidays , before Halloween, Auntie Annie would have us for a visit and when she was making candy gifts for Halloween, Thanksgiving, New Years, Hanukkah and Christmas, she would often teach me how to make one of the famous candies that she worked to turn out on a daily basis at the factory.  She would have huge pans of bubbling, boiling caramel.  Chocolate would be melting at the front of the stove.  Her idea of a double boiler was a spaghetti cooking pan with a very large bowl sitting on top.  There were several of these crowding her old fashioned stove.  She taught me how to make her famous Chocolate turtle clusters when I was about fifteen years old.  During that visit, she also tried to teach me how to put the swirls on those fancy chocolates with creme centers, but I was a dismal failure and my attempts looked more like puckery little blobs.  Those were fun and unique Autumn days and we, as little children (and all of our young friends, too),  looked forward to our holiday boxes and tins of these delicious, sinful, ultimately perfect treats. I hope you like them as much as my family does.

ANNIE’S CHOCOLATE TURTLE CANDY

Equipment needed – large baking sheets, metal spoons, wooden spoons, measuring spoons, waxed paper, large metal bowls, double boiler, candy tins and boxes.

Cover baking sheets with waxed paper and grease lightly grease waxed paper with margarine.

INGREDIENTS

42 candy caramel squares

3 Tablespoons butter

2 teaspoons shortening

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups dry roasted peanuts, unsalted (may use toasted walnuts, unsalted almonds, macadamia nuts or hazelnuts)

1 cup milk chocolate morsels or chopped milk chocolate bars

Arrange several nuts, in cluster, on baking sheet.  You may use the amount you would like.  Place nuts one inch apart or more from each other.  Put caramel squares in the double boiler with butter and put over boiling water until completely melted, stirring constantly.  When caramels are melted, remove from stove and stir in vanilla.  Drop melted caramel in spoonfuls onto nuts until they are thoroughly covered.   Let nut clusters cool to a firm, cool stage.  Melt the chocolate and butter in double boiler over low heat, stirring constantly, until smooth.  Pour melted chocolate over nut clusters and cool them on the tray until they are firm.  Do not chill in refrigerator as this may discolor the candy clusters.  Put in metal tins between squares of wax paper and store in a cool, dry place.

We always loved making these with my Aunt Annie and no holiday was complete without them.  I plan to get started on mine in a few days for future gift giving.  I wonder if my aunt haunts the old site of the candy factory these days, wandering the halls, checking on equipment, chocolate mixtures, and trekking into the factory to check on the efficiency of present day laborers.

If they hear the sound of her shoes tapping around the chocolate vats, then they know that she’s on the lookout  this Halloween season.

Happy Halloween.

The Witches of Salem, Massachusetts


Examination of a Witch by T. H. Matteson, insp...

Title page of "A Modest Enquiry into the ...

Salem, Massachusetts lies just north of my home in the vicinity of Boston, Massachusetts on the northeastern coast of the United States.  The town is steeped in early colonial history being the location of the famed Salem witch trials.  To this day, the infamy of trials remains strong in the minds of New Englanders, and to the thousands of American tourists and foreign visitors who flock to  Salem throughout the fall season and Halloween night on October 31st.  During this time, many venues are open to visitors who come dressed in all manner of costume to visit restaurants, plays, museums, local merchants, ghost houses, and historical attractions.  If you have a chance to come to Salem for a attraction or tour, don’t be surprised if you see revelers dressed as ghosts, goblins or ghoulies, witches, monsters, and vampires.  You might even meet up on their fog ridden, supposedly haunted sidewalks or graveyards,  the ghosts of hung trial victims or, perhaps, a wandering brain-eating zombie.  Revelers abound and children and, adults as well, all enjoy the festivities that are, in thanks,  mostly to the witch trials that took place there.  Here is a brief, capsulized explanation of the events that took place in those harsh, superstitious times.

In 1692 at what is now Salem, 20 people were put to death and 200 were accused of practicing witchcraft.  Hysteria reined in the town and the surrounding area, spreading throughout Massachusetts.  It was during those early years of the colony  that it was believed that the devil granted those loyal to him the power to cast spells and to bewitch the inhabitants.

In 1628, Massachusetts Bay Colony was founded through a charter with King Charles II of England.  The Puritans, through this charter, were given rights to colonize in that area of Massachusetts.  The charter was revoked later because of violations, including discriminating against Anglicans and running a mint, among other infractions.

In 1691, resentment ran high among the colonists.  Families argued with neighbors over minor disputes, smallpox ran rampant, and problems arose with the local Native American tribes.  Add to that harsh New England weather and the populace was ripe for tension.

In the early Winter of 1692, young girls – Elizabeth Parris and Abigail Williams began having fits (contortions, shaking, screaming and gibbering in what appeared to be some devilish throes of spasms).  Soon, other girls in the town also started showing signs of what the local physician deemed to be bewitchment by the devil.  Arrest warrants were issued the following month for Sarah Good, an elderly woman, and Sarah Osborn, a beggar, who the girls accused of witchcraft.  As time went on more girls joined the hysteria and they too began having uncontrollable devilish fits,  with the addition of feeling as if they were being bitten and pinched.

Mary Shelby, a neighboring matron, proposed a counter black magic in the form of requesting that her slave, Tituba, bake a rye cake cooked with the urine of a victim.  The cake was to be fed to a dog (a witches agent).  Tituba was also being suspected of witchcraft and bewitching of her neighbors.   Her baking of the witch-cake made her even more suspect.  On February 29th warrants were issued for Tituba and two other woman.  Some victims, at this point claimed  they saw “witches flying through the mist”.  Tituba, in the end, after a trial in a court of ‘oyer’ and ‘terminer’ admitted to being a witch to shift blame from herself and cast doubts on others.

Eventually, when the trials ended nineteen people had been executed, most hung at the Salem Gallows and others pressed by stone until their death.  Four of the victims of the witchcraft hysteria perished in prison.  Overall, 200 people were accused of witchcraft.  At a later date all of the people accused of witchery were exonerated, but the memory still lingers among New Englanders.  Today, what remains of the accused and victims are the, perhaps, imagined spirits that roam the streets and byways of modern Salem, Massachusetts.

I am including a recipe that I found locally that is very close to the original  used in the early years at Salem and the surrounding locale.  This recipe dates from the 1800’s, but I do not know how close in ingredients it is to the original.  Fat and calorie content have not been adjusted.  It would not do  justice to this original to change it.  The flavor would just not be the same.

SALEM PUDDING (or WITCHES PUDDING)

3 cups of all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup molasses

1 cup whole milk

1 cup salt pork, chopped very fine

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

Sift together the flour and spices.  Add in the chopped salt pork and raisins.  Mix thoroughly.  Dissolve the baking soda in the molasses and then add it to the milk.  Mix well until molasses is incorporated.  Gradually add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients, beating well with electric mixer until well blended. The mixture should be smoother at this point.  Pour into large pudding mold of your choosing.  A Halloween themed mold would be a good choice.  Steam the pudding for 4 hours.  Cool the  pudding and unmold on fancy ceramic plate.  Serve with sauce of your choosing.

(To steam pudding – 1. Find a large pan with tight fitting lid to fit your mold 2. Lightly bunch a large wad of aluminum foil and place in bott m of pan   3. Wrap pudding mold in cheesecloth and place of foil without mold touching pan bottoms or sides  4. Add water up side of pudding mold halfway  5. Cover pan tightly using fitted lid and steam on low heat for 4 hours on low heat or until tester comes out clean  6. Unmold from pan after gently loosening by turning upside down onto platter or plate.)

This can be served with some whipped cream.  This is a nice dish for a cold Halloween night dinner.