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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Mexican Christmas Eve Salad


English: fresh fruit salad

English: fresh fruit salad (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fresh fruit and vegetable of Mexico in Mexico ...

In this salad I use the original beets as it lends a festive air to this Mexican style salad.  If you want to use this for a dessert instead, leave the beets out.  Fresh beets are best, but for ease of preparation canned beets may be used if thoroughly drained.  Fresh fruit is preferred.  Sugar is the only sweet added or it may also be served with a thinned mayonnaise.  I like the following combination, but you can substitute a fruit ingredient for some other that you prefer.

INGREDIENTS:

1  3/4 cups orange sections or mandarin orange sections
1 cup apples, unpeeled, cored and thinly sliced
1 3/4 cups pineapple chunks
1 cup sliced bananas
3/4 cups roughly chopped unsalted peanuts
seeds from 1 medium pomegranate
1 cups cooked sliced or diced beets
1/4 cup finely chopped peanuts

Mix all fruit pieces together.  Top with pomegranate seeds and chopped nuts

Sprinkle with superfine sugar (or granulated) or serve with thinned mayonnaise.

This makes a wonderful dessert or dinner starter served before a holiday meal.  It is usually served as part of the Christmas Eve meal in some parts of the world.

Aunt Julies’ Roast Turkey Stuffing


A stuffed turkey

A stuffed turkey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As promised, here is Aunt Julie Martins’ turkey stuffing recipe that was handed down for generations.  It is a very simple stuffing and one that does not present too much of a challenge for the everyday cook.  You can vary some of the add-in ingredients to suit your taste and mix them up for different flavor combinations.

YOU’LL NEED:

1  1/2 long loaves of white bread (Giant loaf or sandwich bread, fresh)
1 large onion
2 sticks melted butter or margarine
1 to 2  cups chicken or turkey broth ( or enough to moisten stuffing; homemade stock can be used)
Tablespoon dried sage
1 Tablespoon dried rosemary leaves
2 Tablespoon dried parsley
1  Tablespoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons pepper
1  1/2 cup raisins (or dried cranberries, light or dark raisins, snipped dried apricot)
1  1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Put washed, dried and dressed turkey on rack in roasting pan.  To prepare stuffing, tear bread into bite size, irregular shaped pieces and place in a stock pot, very large metal bowl or another roasting pan.  Add the large finely chopped onion.  Season stuffing with sage, rosemary, parsley, thyme, salt and pepper.  Add salt and pepper and mix together well.  Put in your choice of cranberries, raisins or dried apricot.  Add chopped nuts.  To this add just enough butter or margarine to moisten.  Add a small amount of broth to this to moisten it just slightly more. Remember that the liquid from the turkey will permeate the dressing, giving it more volume.  Stuff turkey with dressing.  If you have extra mixture, stuff neck cavity by loosening skin to form a pocket.
Cook as directed in previous post for Real Roast Turkey.  After cooling turkey, remove stuffing immediately.  Do not store finished turkey with stuffing inside.  The internal temperature of stuffing should read 165 degrees on a meat thermometer.

I hope you enjoy this turkey stuffing.  We’ve been making it this way in my family for over 100 years.  It’s very simple and straightforward.  This is very good to use in turkey sandwiches after the holiday is over.

A Real New England Roast Turkey


English: Thanksgiving Dinner, Falmouth, Maine,...

English: Thanksgiving Dinner, Falmouth, Maine, USA 2008 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Having been raised in the land of the Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving feast here in New England, I know firsthand that we take our selection of a Thanksgiving turkey very seriously.  It is that time of year again when the markets and supermarkets stock turkeys of all brands and varieties making selection a daunting task.  I don’t have room in a small post to list everything there is to know about selecting, thawing and preparing a turkey dinner, but I’ll try to break down the process into several smaller writings.

To those unfamiliar with the process of selecting and handling poultry, especially large American bred turkeys that can weigh over 24 pounds, I will simply give you this link to the United States Department of Agricultures’  fact sheets on the safe handling of turkey and poultry products:

http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Fact_Sheets/Lets_Talk_Turkey/index.asp

Here’s my familys recipe for roast turkey which is the way it was done by my great-aunt Julie.

ROAST TURKEY

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahreheit.

15 – 16 lb. thawed turkey
Aunt Julies’ stuffing (or of your choice to fill cavity of turkey)
1  1/2 sticks margarine or butter
1 1/2 Tablespoons sage (dried is fine)
1 Tablespoon thyme (dried o.k.)
1 Tablespoon rosemary (dried o.k.)
2 teaspoons pepper
2 teaspoons salt
1 can chicken broth (16 ounces)
1 1/2 cups water

Remove giblet packet and neck from inside of cavity of turkey.  Sometimes the neck is loose inside the neck cavity.  Thoroughly wash turkey with cold water and place on counter on a platter and dry it completely with clean cloth or paper towels.  Do not let the raw turkey touch surfaces of counter.  Wash up behind yourself and periodically wash your hands with hot soapy water.

Stuff the turkey with stuffing mixture and  place on raised roasting rack in a deep sided large roasting pan.  Baste the turkey with melted butter or margarine, then sprinkle liberally with dried herbs, salt and pepper.  Pour broth and water into the bottom of the pan and cover with heavy duty aluminum foil, tenting slightly in the middle away from the top of turkey.    Place the stuffed turkey in the oven on the lowest oven rack and roast for 5 1/2 – 6 hours.  About 40 minute before roasting is complete, uncover the turkey so that it may brown.  Cook for additional 40 minutes until turkey is golden. Remove turkey from oven and check internal temperature with meat thermometer.  The thermometer should read 165 degrees when place in the thickest part of the thigh and, also, it should measure 165 degrees when placed in the thickest part of the breast.  Stuffing, likewise should be thoroughly done at 165 degrees.  Juices at leg joint should run clear.  Let stand for 30 minutes. Carve and serve.

Serves 12 with leftovers

My hopes are that you have a very happy Thanksgiving season.
Aunt Julie’s Stuffing recipe follows in my next post.

Thank you for following my blog.

HALLOWEEN AND THE DRUIDS (with recipe)


The March 1909 edition of The Druid, the magaz...

The March 1909 edition of The Druid, the magazine published by the Ancient Order of Druids. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Halloween Costumes

About 2000 years ago in what is now the green lands of Ireland, the nation of France, and the United Kingdom, the new year was celebrated on November 1st.  It was the beginning of the cold, dark weather in those lands.  The winter season was synonymous with death.  The Celts lived in those lands and they held the belief that on October 31st, the night of Samhain, that the ghosts of all the dead came back to life.  n that night, the spirits played pranks and tricks, causing problems by damaging the harvest and reeking havoc in many other ways.  Celtic priests believed that these spirits had come back to earth to ease the Druids’ attempts to predict the future.

To solve this, the Druids built large bonfires to burn sacrifices.  The populace observed this day of the dead by wearing costumes in the form of animal skins or animal heads.  Fortune telling was also done on this night.  When the celebration was done the hearths were relit from the bonfires to usher in a mild winter season.

When the Romans conquer most of the territory in the year 43 A.D., they held rule for over 400 years.  During this time two holidays were merged into one creating the Celtic celebration called Samhain.  One holiday was Feratia, held in late October and the other was name after the goddess Pomona, goddess of trees and fruit.  It is believed that apple bobbing originated with this goddess because she was symbolized by the apple.  Today, children at Halloween parties held throughout the world bob for apples.  The custom more than likely originated in those ancient times.

By the seventeenth century, Christianity had spread to Celt lands.  Pope Benedict IV, in the 1600’s, deemed November 1st as All Saints Day, trying to replace the practice of the pagan festival of  the dead with a Christian replacement.  This day of All Saints was also known as All-hallowmas or, alternately, All-hallows.  The night before it, which once was known as Samhein began to be know as All Hallows Eve. and, as the years went by the night became known as Halloween.

To this day bonfire are lit, in some places, on Halloween night.  Children and adults alike dress in devilish costumes as ghosts, goblins, favorite characters and all manner of ghoulish, frightening dress.  The populace in many nations delight in door to door trick-or-treating and festive, spooky parties.  Little know the true meaning of Halloween night, but all delight in the ghastly activities.

Below is my recipe for Druid Stew.  No one knows from whence this stew came from, but it could have come from the burning hearths somewhere in the land of the Celts.

DRUID STEW

2 pounds stewing beef, cut in cubes

5 potatoes, skin on, chopped into one inch cubes

1  1/2 cups cut up celery, slice diagonally

5 Tbsp. quick cooking tapioca

6 carrots, cut diagonally

1/2 cup beans (northern, pea bean, kidney) – canned

1 package onion soup mix

1 Tablespoon sugar

2 cups tomato juice

4 cups water

two bay leafs

teaspoon parsley

1 teaspoon salt

pepper to taste

In layers with beef at bottom, place all ingredients except tapioca , juice and water, one on top of another (in layers) into a deep oven-proof pot with lid.  Pour liquid on top of dry ingredients and then sprinkle with tapioca.  Put lid on tightly or use tin foil.

Bake at 350 degree for 4 hours.  Do not open the oven door or take lid off pot.  Do not stir the stew – leave the lid on.

Serve with puff pastry pumpkins, witches and ghosts made from Halloween cookie cutters and frozen puff pastry sheets, or with your favorite ghostly bread. (Puff pastry can be found in your supermarkets’ frozen department).

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.