Wednesday, November 25, 2009

25 November 1955 “Thanksgiving Eve”

I thought this home movie from 1950’s Thanksgiving very sweet. I love the clothes and that dancing is part of their tradition. We might need to add that to ours next year!

I am planning on doing as much today as I can to make tomorrow easier on myself:

 roasted chestnuts I roasted the chestnuts last night and Gussie helped me shell and separate them over tea.

Today, I made my cranberries (from our local farm, grown right here in Sandwich MA!) to which I added clove, cinnamon, and nutmeg and of course sugar. I cook mine in Orange Juice, as I really love the scent of orange with it. It is actually amazing how easy it is to make. I know many of you like the canned, but along with the canned you should make some fresh as it is so easy and SO GOOD. I mean you literally put 1 lb of washed whole berries in a pot, add one cup O.J. one cup sugar and then spices as you like. Then, after 10 minutes or so (you can hear the little devils pop!) you just pour it into the pretty container in which you wish to serve them and ta-dah! You’re done. I then quickly zested some orange rind on top of it as it really mellows the flavor and will mirror the glaze for the turkey. (I reserved some of the juice from these cranberries to make the glaze for the turkey.) So that is done for tomorrow, just a reheat needed.

I am sampling my johnny cake (corn bread) right now, which I baked to make my stuffing. I am not sure if this is called Johnny cake anywhere other than New England, but its name goes back to the Colonial days. Here is the history of it from my 1950’s New England Cookbook.johnnycakes1 You should be able to click on it and get the history and recipe. Basically, our Colonial Grandmothers baked ‘Journey Cakes” of corn for our grandfathers to take with them. Journey became Johnny, I think this is because our accents were once English and Journey sounds rather like Johnny to our later ‘Americanized’ accents. However, if you did not have the time nor inclination, you could certainly mix up a quick batch of Jiffy corn mix. It is, I believe, still made by a smaller company. And, honestly, much better than just buying a bag of ‘cornbread stuffing mix’ as you can season it as you like and of course, do as I am doing now and take a little break to sip coffee and nibble a hot piece of ‘Johnny Cake’ while you plan the next item on your list!

1940s woman with rolls I am also going  to attempt, for the first time ever, Parker House rolls. I am using my Boston Cooking School book from the 1950s for this. I am going to make these up today and put them in the ice box and then bake them fresh tomorrow. It seems not too complicated, but we shall see. I couldn’t find if any prepackaged dough rolls were available in 1950s. I know the Pillsbury rolls didn’t appear until the 1960s. Do any of you know if they had pre-packaged dough rolls to bake in 1955? Well, I just didn’t feel right buying a package of Pillsbury rolls, since I should really try some homemade anyway. I cant imagine the packaged could compare to homemade, but we shall see. I will share the recipe.

I am also roasting an acorn squash and sweet potato and apple in maple syrup with rosemary. I am going to cut up and peel those things today and let them soak in their ‘juices’ tonight and just roast them fresh tomorrow afternoon.

I will even prepare my mashed potatoes today, which I will whip with garlic, chives, and sour cream. And of course, homemade gravy will come tomorrow with all those delicious drippings from the turkey.

I also made the trip to my local fishmonger today. Though I do not have a butcher close by, we are lucky to have so many wonderful fish markets as we are on the ocean. I purchased some mussels, a lovely haddock filet with skin and one lobster. I am going to make my bisque today and decided to include the other seafood as well to ‘stretch’ it. I am going to boil the lobster this evening and then hubby and I can ‘sample’ some of the hot fresh darling tonight and the rest will go into the bisque.

It was a very lovely New England moment, as the fish market is right on the water, and there was a cool grey mist hung in the air and the scent of the tide stung my nose. I was wearing a dress and the wind caught it up, but my hands were full of my bounty and I was thankful for petticoats, as those in the parking lot got a fine show of those crinolines. The gulls cried. The air had that thick wet briny  feel that I could wrap myself in. It is not a joke that I am most comfortable on the water and can only nap on boats. Hubby always laughs that the rougher the sea the more likely I will be down below snoozing away with the puppies! It is true.

I had forgot I was going to talk about centerpieces, as there are some interesting bits in my books. I did not get flowers, but will most likely make up something from the yard. We have holly and there are a few hydrangea blooms still holding tight to their branches.

I thought this sort of sweet, using what you have. 

centerpiece 1This also has such a simplistic innocence. centerpiece 2 There is also talk of placement of centerpieces from the center of the table to one end. There is one mention, where they balance the ends of the table with an arrangement on one end and bright dessert (in this case a cherry pie), which I thought a fun idea to use your pretty dessert as decoration. This, of course, left no one at the head or foot of the table, therefore making a more informal seating arrangement.

thanksgiving post So, lets remember those who have gone before us, even fought and defended our country for us. In this image I see two past heros, not only the soldier, but the grandmother, the silent holder of eons of women’s history. Let us remember both of these figures tomorrow and do all we can to make a future they would be proud to live in.

thanksgiving dinner photo So, Happy Thanksgiving to all, and those of you who do not celebrate, eat a Turkey sandwich in our honor tomorrow and we can all silently toast the APRON REVOLUTION!apron revolution

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