Rural Community’s Friendsgiving–1922

Hello Friends!

The hard economic times and food shortages brought about by World War I were the impetus for a small Kansas community to launch what would become a years-long tradition — a Community Thankfeast. Demonstrations of industry, generosity, reverence, patriotism, compassion, and hospitality accompanied the overarching sentiment of gratitude as folks, young and old, gathered for not only a Thanksgiving banquet but also for a patriotic program put on by the school children. Supper (Yes! an additional meal of the overabundance) followed by music and dancing through the evening wrapped up the day. Guests from out of town were welcome and in some years the attendance swelled to twice the population. Donations of 35 cents per person–for those who could pay–were collected and donated to the community church and school.

I hope you enjoy this heartwarming story.

Elaine

Kansas Folk Get Together

Dinner

In our rural town of about 220 inhabitants, we host what we call Our Annual Thankfeast. About two weeks before Thanksgiving, the women of the community, meet and elect a captain who appoints important committees and has charge of the affair. A soliciting committee composed of several groups, canvases the town and surrounding country for edibles of all kinds, to be served at the community feast on Thanksgiving Day. These are donated. Things are prepared as far as possible at home although the dinner is served in a large hall, where fully a dozen efficient cooks are busy warming up meats, cooking potatoes, dumplings, gravy, coffee. These cooks, decorators, and table arrangers meet in the afternoon preceding the dinner, stoves are arranged, tables spread, vegetables prepared, decorations completed and everything made ready for a glorious morrow.

Come rain, come shine the town is full of guests throughout the following day. There is also a large church attendance. Before the dinner is served, thanks are offered up to the Bountiful Giver of all things. The charge for the dinner is 35 cents.

No amount of expense or culinary art in the individual homes could provide the variety of choice foods which in this way are served to the public. Then there is the delightful companionship, the intermingling of old and young, the gaiety and reverence for the occasion.

Entertainment

After dinner, while clearing away and washing the dishes, groups have a social good time visiting; others go out-of-doors where contests are put on for small prizes.

About three in the afternoon the children, who have been well trained by the teachers put on a creditable, patriotic program. They are equipped with caps and streamers of red, white and blue, and march through the street. When they reach the flag pole, the flag is hoisted with appropriate honors, while the crowd listens to a brief oration and joins with the children in singing The Star Spangled Banner. Supper is then served on the long tables arranged to seat as high as 250 guests. Sometimes five or six hundred are fed during the day.

Later, there is dancing for those who wish. Others listen to the music and visit.

The entertainment is sometimes free; sometimes ten cents is charged. Funds not used to pay expenses, go to either church or school. Poor and rich fare alike. Those whom it is known cannot pay are served free of any charge and engage in the festivities of the day with their neighbors. It is a democratic gathering, where superiority and wealth go entirely unnoticed and true worth is extolled. It is a gala day of thanks, joy, solicitous endeavor, pleasure, and happy contentment for this rural community. The happy custom originated during the war when foods were scarce and prices high and has been successfully carried out since, making a joyful community day for all.

Happy Thanksgiving to You and Yours!

The article above was originally published in The Farmer’s Wife–A Magazine for Farm Women November 1922, Webb Publishing Company, St Paul, Minnesota. Articles may be edited for length and clarity.

Cooking With Ida: Potato Stuffing–1924

Hello Friends,

Over the weekend, I did some Cooking With Ida, this time exploring stuffing recipes from a hundred years ago. Mrs. Allen’s book Cooking Menus Service (1924) was my source. The heading of the Meats and Meat Dishes section restates Ida’s primary focuses in her cookbooks–economy through self-reliance (cooking with what you can produce and preserve yourself) and zero-waste. This section includes several inventive/frugal stuffing recipe options. Each recipe includes bread, however, bread is not the main ingredient.

Sage and Onion Stuffing

The first recipe, Sage-and-Onion Stuffing, begins with familiar ingredients–bread, sage, poultry seasoning, and onions–six large onions! The onions are to be boiled in water until tender then finely chopped. Two cups of bread that has been soaked in cold water for one hour then squeezed dry is combined with the onions and seasonings and is then stuffed in the bird.

Giblet Stuffing

Giblet Stuffing, a common stuffing even today, is to be prepared by simmering “one set” of giblets until tender and chopping them. Two cupsful of bread are prepared (similar to the recipe above) by soaking the bread in water and squeezing it until “quite dry”. The moist bread is then tossed with two minced apples, two minced onions, prepared giblets, poultry seasoning, and salt and pepper.

Corn Stuffing

Corn Stuffing, not to be confused with cornbread stuffing, is another option. One cupful of canned corn or dried and stewed corn (evidently including the liquid) and poultry seasoning is heated with two tablespoons of butter or butter substitute (think salt pork or bacon fat). Two cups of crumbled stale bread, minced parsley, and “scraped” onion is stirred into the warm corn mixture. It is then ready for stuffing the bird or to be baked as a side dish.

Potato Stuffing

The recipe that I chose to prepare was Ida’s Potato Stuffing. The reason for my choice was twofold. First, the recipe was made up of three cups of mashed potatoes and one cup of stale breadcrumbs with minced onion and seasonings. I love mashed potatoes, and so does my husband, so I knew he would be on board as a taste-tester. We also raised our family on meat and potatoes, so leftover mashed potatoes were always in the fridge. Following Ida’s zero-waste philosophy, mashed potatoes as stuffing would have been a natural fit for my family.

The recipe calls for three cupsful of hot mashed potatoes, and since mine were leftovers, I reheated them in the microwave. My leftovers had been seasoned with salt, pepper, melted butter, and sour cream. However, that is not what the original recipe was calling for, but it definitely elevated the final dish! For the breadcrumbs, I used one cup of panko because that is what I had in the pantry. I sauteed the minced onion in a half cup of butter instead of salt pork or bacon fat. I also sauteed a heaping cup of chopped celery for texture, even though the recipe didn’t call for it. An egg tossed in at the end to bind the ingredients together might have been a luxury a hundred years ago as hens lay fewer and fewer eggs as fall progresses. I baked the stuffing at 325 degrees for about 35 minutes in an uncovered casserole dish just until the edges started to crisp up. My kitchen smelled like Thanksgiving!

The results of our taste test revealed that it was delicious, however, we really missed the texture of bread stuffing. The chopped celery that I added helped texturally, but I should have chopped it more coarsly. In a tight economical situation, I can see using this recipe as a substitute for bread stuffing, and being proud to serve it.

Good luck in your Thanksgiving preparations and/or travels. Check back on Wednesday for a heartwarming story of a Community Friendsgiving from 1922.

Elaine

Cooking With Ida–Preparing Turkey for Roasting–1924

In preparing this post, I have gained a great appreciation for rural farm women from the 1920s. The effort required to get a turkey butchered and processed for Thanksgiving dinner is labor-intensive, not to mention the time, effort, and expense of raising the bird, to begin with. The text regarding processing turkeys comes from Ida Bailey Allen’s cookbook, Cooking, Menus, Service 1924. The fact that this detailed information was included in her cookbook tells me that it was very pertinent for its time. The photographs of the processing come from the website Ask A Prepper (HERE). They are very helpful in understanding the whole process. The most surprising fact that I learned is that every turkey has a parson’s nose (aka pope’s nose). I hope you enjoy reading this post. It has given me one more thing to be thankful for in 2021–my turkey is fully processed and waiting for me at the grocery store!

Elaine

Picking

Both chicken and turkey are sold picked in city markets.

After killing, the bird is plunged into boiling water to loosen its feathers.

In the country, this usually is done at home and merely consists of picking the feathers from the bird. Chicken may be picked wet or dry, the dry picked being the best. Wet picking means that after killing the bird has been plunged in boiling water to loosen the feathers that they may be extracted more quickly. Wet-picked poultry does not keep as well as dry picked.

All pin feathers must be removed one at a time, either with the fingers or with a pair of nippers for the purpose.

Singeing

The long hairs on poultry must be removed by singeing. This is done either by holding the bird over a flame until the hairs are singed off or by applying a light twist of paper or a lighted wax taper (candle) to the flesh until the same results are obtained.

Drawing

Make a lengthwise cut through the leg at the knee joint; remove tendons.

Wash the turkey or chicken after singeing. Wipe carefully, remove the head, and if the sinews or tendons are to be removed make a lengthwise cut through the leg under what might be termed the knee joint, pick up the tendons one by one on a strong skewer and pull them from the drumstick. There are seven tendons, and if they are removed the drumstick will prove as tender as any other part of the bird. The butcher can do this readily by making the same cut, then putting the tendons over a hook, giving one twist and a pull, then they all come out together. His usual method of preparing a bird, however, is to chop off the legs at the joint, leaving the tendons in the drumstick.

Removing Crop and Giblets

Remove the crop (food bag) from the neck opening. Make a cross-cut at the vent, keeping this as small as possible, and remove the intestines, gizzard, heart, and liver, being careful not to break the gall bag which is attached to the liver; if broken, it spreads its bitter contents on every part of the bird which it touches. Pull out the windpipe after the intestines are removed, then take out the lungs, which are closely attached to the inner side of the backbone. Discard the intestines and windpipe, but keep the liver, gizzard, and heart to be cooked, minced, and added to the gravy. The inner part of the gizzard enclosed by a very tender skin must of course be removed, for this inner part is where the food is ground up and contains particles of stone and pebble.

Removing Oil Sack

Turn the bird over and cut out the oil bag which is found at the tip of the “parson’s nose” (the tail)—this is a little sack containing a thick yellow deposit strong in both odor and taste.

Wipe the inside of the bird with a damp cloth, stuff as desired, and sew or skewer up the vent before trussing.

To Skewer a Vent

Stick four or five wooden toothpicks through the skin from side to side of the vent then take a piece of white thread and fasten it cross-cross fashion, as a small boy fastens his shoelaces, tying it at the end. After the bird is cooked the toothpicks can be drawn out; the thread will come with them, and there will be no cord to entangle the knife of the carver.

To Truss a Turkey or Chicken, Duck or Goose

Cut the neck as close to the body as possible.

Trussing is a very simple process and is done to keep the bird in shape while cooking. Cut the neck as close to the body as possible (it may be added to the giblets and stewed for gravy), draw the skin of the neck over to the back, and secure with a skewer. Press the legs close to the sides of the bird, the knucklebones against the vent, tie them there and run a skewer through them, or fasten with a heavy thread carried right through the body of the bird by means of a trussing needle. Press the wings down toward the back of the bird and fasten theses also with a skewer or with the trussing needle. If any tying is done let it be under rather than over the body, as the marks of the cords will show if allowed to cross the breast.

The Roasting of Poultry

Allow twenty-five minutes to each pound. Begin the cooking in a hot oven—400-425 degrees—reduce it after the first then minutes, that the meat may cook gently.

Most people cook poultry breast uppermost; this, however, causes the juices to flow away from the breast, making it dry. The bird should be laid on its side during the early part of the cooking, then turned breast uppermost to finish.

There are roasting “saddles” on the market in which poultry can be suspended so that the breast does not have to lie in the fat in the pan. As with all meats, season when partly done, baste thoroughly and frequently to keep the flesh juicy and dredge with flour when beginning to brown to assist the browning and to give a rich thickness to the gravy.

Poultry may be stuffed if desired, both in the crop cavity and in the body, or the stuffing may be baked in a separate dish or pan and served as an accompaniment.

Roast chicken and turkey, being somewhat dry-fleshed, can be garnished with curls of bacon or with sausages cooked in the pan.

Roast Turkey

Clean a turkey according to directions given in the Roasting of Poultry, fill with potato, giblet, egg bread, chestnut, or oyster stuffing. Place on a rack in the dripping pan and cook according to general directions for roasting, allowing three hours for a turkey from eight to ten pounds.

Make plain or giblet gravy as directed, and serve the turkey with or without a garnish of sausages and cubes of cranberry jelly.

Irene Rich, an American film actress from the 1920s and 30s

Grocery Ads — Second Week in November 1921

Grocery Shopping in the 1920s

Hello Friends!

Grocery Ads this week offer various sweeteners from granulated sugar, sorghum syrup (similar to molasses), and maple-flavored pancake syrup. Cake flour and all-purpose flours are on sale just in time for holiday baking. Langlie’s meat department has several pork products in their ad. Dolva’s Cash Grocery has sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving and the North American Grocery has citron, lemon and orange peel for holiday fruit cakes and puddings. Cheese lovers will find cream cheese, brick cheese (probably an American-made cheddar), and Limburger available at The Independent Grocery. Other essentials such as coffee and tobacco are on sale this week as well. The final ad titled Saturday Specials is a collage of products and businesses that advertise weekly in the Cannon Falls Beacon.

It is interesting to note that the grocery stores represented here are independently owned “mom and pop” businesses, but in the 1920s America was on the cusp of serve-yourself shopping and grocery store chains.

Thanks for stopping by.

Elaine

Lone Star Grocery, Cannon Falls, Minnesota, November 12, 1921
Pantzke Bros. The Leading Grocer, Little Falls, Minnesota, November 11, 1921
Dolva’s Cash Grocery, Morris Tribune, Minnesota, November 11, 1921
The Independent Grocery, Cannon Falls, Minnesota, November 12, 1921
Henry Langlie Grocery Store, Lanesboro, Minnesota, November 10, 1921
North American Grocery Co. Little Falls, Minnesota, November 11, 1921
Cannon Falls Beacon, Minnesota, November 12,1921

Cooking With Ida

Crumbs from the Rich Man’s Table

They have a place--
Crumbs. 
Singly--they mean little. 
Part of the whole--they have the same attributes.
O crumbs from the Rich Man's Table, what are you that we have not? 
You are not air, full and free. 
You are not water, clean and pure. 
You are not sunshine. 
Often you represent foolish desire--Waste, envy, or jealousy.
Why live or think in terms of crumbs? 
The penny is a dollar's crumb. 
The crust a part of the loaf. 
The scraps part of the roast. 
The wasted gas, part of the bill. 
"Crumbs" 
They are worth thought for what they can be.
Not the Rich Man's Crumbs. 
Let me gather up my fragments 
And make them whole.

This post begins a new series within my blog titled Cooking With Ida. It is inspired by the works of cookbook author Ida Bailey Allen.

Ida was born in 1885 in Connecticut. As a young woman, she studied domestic science and nutrition in New York and Massachusetts which led to her life’s work. Considered one of the most prolific cookbook writers in American history, Ida Bailey Allen published her earliest cookbook in 1916. Throughout her lifetime she would write and publish over fifty books including her final work Best-Loved Recipes of the American People in 1973, the year she died.

Drafted by the US Food Administration during WWI, Ida became an influential educator and lecturer on nutrition and home economics. She was an active food writer and subsequently became food editor for Good Housekeeping Magazine.

In 1928, Mrs. Allen began hosting a regular daytime radio show. Her show became so popular, it was extended from a one-hour time slot to two hours. In time she branched into television becoming the first female cooking show host. Ida Bailey Allen eventually reached national celebrity status as “The Nation’s Homemaker”. Today her cookbooks are highly collectible.

Using Ida Bailey Allen’s book Cooking, Menus, Service published in 1924 as reference, I will share the recipes and procedures that were required for rural homemakers of her day to prepare a meal for their family. The poem at the top of this post is from this cookbook and accurately represents Ida’s kitchen philosophy — thrift, economy, zero waste, and good nutrition according to the science of her day. The “Crumbs…are worth thought” mindset helped Mrs. Allen guide homemakers through food shortages of WWI, the agricultural depression of the 1920s, the Great Depression of the 1930s, and the food rationing during WWII.

With Thanksgiving in mind, next week Ida will coach us through preparing the turkey for Thanksgiving dinner. See you then.

Elaine

Thanksgiving Blessing Mix — 1997

Thanksgiving Blessing Mix is not a new idea. Many variations can be found on the internet, but I would like to share the recipe that I have used for the past twenty years. Printed in a charming cookbook titled Sweet Surprises for the Holidays 1997, each ingredient is a reminder of the sacrifices made by Pilgrim setters as they struggled to survive in a new land. Tossed together in trail-mix fashion, the salty-sweet mixture is a great pre-Thanksgiving snack.

When my children were growing up, we created a fun tradition of sharing packages of Blessing Mix with our family, friends and neighbors during the month of November. We would simply put the mix in zip-loc bags, but for a fancier presentation, the mix can be scooped into mason jars or other pretty glass jars with a length of ribbon or raffia tied around the neck. We also included a signed note explaining the significance of each ingredient. It’s delightful how something so simple can create so many fun memories. Enjoy!

Thanksgiving Blessing Mix

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Bugles brand corn snacks (found in the chip aisle)
  • 2 cups pretzels (traditional twist style)
  • 1 cup candy corn
  • 1 cup dried fruit (raisins, dried cranberries, diced dried apricots)
  • 1 cup nuts or seeds (mixed nuts, peanuts, sunflower seeds)
  • 1 cup Goldfish brand crackers (any flavor)

Directions

In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients together.

Note: Other ingredients such as dry cereal, miniature crackers, marshmallows or candies (think M&Ms) can also be added.

Recipe Compliments of Sweet Surprises for the Holidays and Cookbooklady.com

The following is the type of message we would include with our Blessing Mix:

Thanksgiving Blessing Mix

Ingredients

  • Bugles — Shaped as a cornucopia, they represent the bounteous blessings we now enjoy.
  • Pretzels — Symbolize our arms folded in prayer and thanksgiving.
  • Candy Corn — Reminds us of the five kernels of corn the Pilgrims were allotted each day during their first winter.
  • Dried Fruit — Represents a bounteous harvest.
  • Nuts and Seeds — Represent the hope of a bounteous harvest next season.
  • Goldfish Crackers — Remind us of the knowledge shared by Native Americans of planting fish along with the seeds to nourish the soil.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tucked inside the Sweet Surprises 1997 cookbook was a “Dear Abby” newspaper clipping from some years ago:

DEAR ABBY 001

Wishing you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving! Elaine

Creamy Pumpkin Pie — 1980

“Hurrah for the Pumpkin Pie!”

Lydia Maria Child 1844 — Novelist, Journalist, Poet

I remember Libby’s jingle from when I was a kid — If it says Libby’s, Libby’s, Libby’s on the label, label, label — You will like it, like it, like it on your table, table, table, and as Americans, we have loved Libby’s pumpkin pie on our Thanksgiving table for generations. Since the 1950s, home cooks, including my mother and grandmother, have been making pumpkin pies using the recipe printed on the back of the label. Calling for simple ingredients — Libby’s pumpkin, of course, granulated sugar, evaporated milk, spices, and a couple of eggs blended together and baked in a pastry lined-pan — pumpkin pie (with a dollop of whipped cream) is the perfect finishing touch to a Thanksgiving meal.

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Old Recipes Are New Again

Recently, after nearly seventy years of service, Libby’s classic pumpkin pie recipe underwent a makeover (recipe above). How did Libby’s update their recipe? Simply by changing the way the filling is sweetened. Instead of adding granulated sugar to the pie filling, the recipe calls for a can of sweetened condensed milk. (To adjust for the liquid in the condensed milk, the amount of evaporated milk had to be reduced.) That’s it. All the other ingredients stayed exactly the same. Did that make a difference in the flavor of the filling? Absolutely! Something about sweetened condensed milk adds a depth of rich, creamy, almost caramel-y flavor to whatever it’s in. It’s sort of like magic. As a matter of fact, adding sweetened condensed milk to pumpkin pie filling, was not a novel idea in 2019. Borden’s Eagle Brand Milk Company printed a cook booklet in 1952 with a recipe called Magic Pumpkin Pie (below) very similar to Libby’s new recipe. I guess it could be said that recipe developers in corporate test kitchens think alike.

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A Century of Sweeteners

Curious about the sweeteners traditionally used in pumpkin pie, I took to my twentieth-century cookbooks to see what the old recipes could tell me. Of course, many recipes simply called for granulated sugar. However, in the first half of the century, brown sugar was often the sweetener. Sometimes the brown sugar was paired with half granulated sugar, but frequently, it was accompanied by a little molasses or corn syrup — dark or light.

The Modern Family Cook Book 1953 offers two recipes for Pumpkin Pie — one calling for granulated sugar and the other for brown sugar. Recipe #1 also lets the home cook know what a perfect pumpkin pie should look like:

Perfectly baked pumpkin pie has no wrinkles or cracks on its surface. Long slow baking produces a smooth, shiny surface with the true golden pumpkin color.

Meta Givens, The Modern Family Cook Book 1953

A Lost Method

The instructions in recipe #2 are unique. Calling for canned pumpkin, it says to “turn the pumpkin into a saucepan and stir over direct heat (no heat setting is given) until pumpkin is somewhat dried out and has a slightly caramelized appearance.” Evidently this caramelization step has become “lost” as it was not found in any other twentieth-century cookbook. It would be interesting to know if the caramelization adds to the flavor of the pumpkin.

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Unusual Ingredients

Along with the typical eggs, milk, pumpkin, sugar and spices, several recipes included some unusual items in their ingredient list — baking soda, rose water, lemon juice, lemon zest, lemon extract, orange juice, brandy or rum, coconut and raisins. Mace and cardamom were each included in a recipe to go along with the traditional cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and allspice.

Mid-Century Chiffon Pie

The American Woman’s Cook Book 1966, introduces a new approach to pumpkin pie. Instead of baking the pie in the oven, the filling for Pumpkin Chiffon Pie is cooked on the stovetop and cooled, after which beaten egg whites are folded in. The filling is then poured into a gingersnap crumb crust and refrigerated until firm.

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A Lost Recipe

In a recipe book titled America’s Best Lost Recipes 2007 published by the editors of Cook’s Country, a charming story is shared of a young woman who submitted her grandmother’s Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie recipe — a Thanksgiving family favorite — for consideration as part of the publisher’s “lost” recipes project. Grandmother’s recipe made the cut, and after some America’s-Test-Kitchen adjustments, the recipe was included in the book. Sadly, what the reader gets is not grandma’s recipe, but the test kitchen version. Imagine my delight when I stumbled upon the original recipe.

Found in The Busy Woman’s Cook Book 1971, the recipe for Frozen Pumpkin Pie (below) calls for a quart of softened vanilla ice cream, a cup of pumpkin puree, a little sugar (Cook’s Country suggests using brown sugar) and some spices. Once the filling is blended together and spooned into a baked pastry shell, it is frozen for several hour (or overnight) — so easy. Another suggestion from America’s Test Kitchen was the use of a graham cracker crumb crust as opposed to a pastry shell — even easier. This recipe is going into my “must try” file. I will report on my results.

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Creamy Pumpkin Pie

In the 1980s, I came across a recipe for Creamy Pumpkin Pie in an old church cookbook. I tried it and it has become our Thanksgiving family favorite. The amount of filling this recipe makes is a little too much for a traditional 9″ pie pan, so in the past I either baked the extra custard in a lightly oiled ramekin or reduced the amount of warm water to 3/4 cup. This year I tried using a 9″ deep-dish pie plate and it worked perfectly. In place of the pumpkin pie spice, I make my own combination using cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg and allspice (measurements listed below). Enjoy!

Creamy Pumpkin Pie

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1 (9 inch) deep-dish unbaked pastry shell

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice OR 1 rounded tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ginger, 1/4 tsp cloves, 1/4 tsp nutmeg and a dash of allspice
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup warm water

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 450*.
  2. In a two quart mixing bowl, beat eggs with an electric mixer until light in color. Blend in pumpkin puree and sweetened condensed milk. Mix in pumpkin pie spice and salt. Stir in warm water. Pour filling into unbaked pastry shell.
  3. Bake pie on bottom rack for 15 minutes at 450*. Reduce heat to 325* and continue baking 40 to 50 minutes or until a knife inserted off-center comes out clean.
  4. Cool completely before serving. Refrigerate left overs.

Recipe Compliments of Cookbooklady.com