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Archive for November, 2013

A repeat post from last year. Yep. That’s right. I’m lazy!
Anyway…We should all hail the woman who’s largely
responsible for “inventing” our Thanksgiving holiday:
Sarah Josepha Hale! (get it? Hail Hale?! It’s a funny.
Or not!) Nevertheless, HUZZAH for Hale!

During the mid-19th century, Hale lobbied tirelessly for a national
day of thanksgiving. At the time, it was already observed somewhat
regularly in New England, but she thought it should be nation-wide.
As the first-ever female editor of Ladies’ Magazine and later, Godey’s
Lady’s Book
, Hale used her position to publish numerous editorials
promoting the idea. The New Hampshire native also wrote letters
to any and every politician she could find, including then-President
Abraham Lincoln. Her campaign finally proved successful when he
declared Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863. However, it was
many years before the entire country embraced it, particularly
in the South (for obvious reasons!). Nevertheless, Thanksgiving
has become one of America’s beloved celebrations. And we owe
it all to Hale’s incessant efforts. It’s amazing what one person
(and a woman, at that) can do!

Incidentally, Hale was quite a prolific writer. She penned a variety
of works, including cookbooks (such as The Good Housekeeper,
which was first published in 1839), numerous novels (she even
described a Thanksgiving dinner in one), and the nursery rhyme
“Mary Had a Little Lamb.”

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

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ADDENDUM 11/28/2013
For more information about Thanksgiving Day, its history, evolution,
and so forth, check out the following.

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New England, in the time of the so-called “Pilgrims,” when a day
of thanksgiving meant a day of fasting, NOT feasting:
http://marybarrettdyer.blogspot.com/2013/11/thanksgiving-in-new-england-no-parties.html
____________________

Confirmation from those who “live” it!
http://hazelwood.patch.com/groups/house-and-home/p/discovering-thanksgiving-the-truth-about-the-holiday
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Culinary historians’ viewpoints: http://m.livescience.com/41496-history-thanksgiving-menu-dishes.html
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The role of politics: http://www.bostonglobe.com/ideas/2013/11/24/thanksgiving-how-eat-american-politics/dr3jHLnGnsS7Cj9i9X44jP/igraphic.html
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Food at Plimoth Plantation, with a British bent:
http://www.britishfoodinamerica.com/The-Thanksgiving-Number/the-lyrical/An-Appreciation-of-Plimoth-Plantation-and-James-Deetz/#.Upd0xCdurT5
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And, lastly, apparently we silly Americans have it all wrong!
http://laudemgloriae.blogspot.com/2011/11/catholics-did-it-first.html

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Before we move on to the baking of those wonderfully
delectable ‘n delightful hard biscuits that were a part
of every Rev War soldier’s rations, I’d like to announce
that I was recently on the radio!

“Oh, oh, oh, on the radio!”*

Yes, this past Thursday, November 21, I was invited
by Linda Pelaccio to be interviewed during her show,
“Taste of the Past,” which airs on the Heritage Radio
Network
. Naturally, the topic of our half-hour chat was
my all-time most-favorite activity, namely, open hearth
cooking. HUZZAH! It was great fun. And I had a blast!
It all went by so quickly, though. I could’ve talked
for hours and hours and hours and…!

Here’s the link to the show.

Enjoy!

IMG_9124

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* My apologies to Regina Spektor! See the lyrics to her entire song HERE.

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…was all that was necessary, and all that was likely
used, by Revolutionary War soldiers to create a simple
bread, particularly on those days when they received
a pound of flour as part of their individual rations. This
basic dough would’ve then been cooked by spreading
it on the flat side of a piece of firewood, on a rock or
a plank, or even just setting it amongst a fire’s ashes.
Whatever was available, whatever worked. No matter
how it was baked, it would’ve constituted a day’s
serving of bread.

Of course, in true soldier’s fashion, flour and water
were also all I needed, and used, this past summer

colonial_bread on a plank_DN_onderdonk

for my “Cook Like a Soldier” programs. And the same
combination was also employed earlier this month
when I participated in the first-ever Military Timeline
Event at Long Island’s Old Bethpage Village (OBV),
along with fellow members of the Huntington Militia.
Again, using a soldier’s potential flour ration, mixed
with a little water, I worked up dough for another
round of what I’ve fondly dubbed “soldier’s bread.”

I also cooked a pot of rations at OBV, which consisted
of beef, peas, and rice, with a few pieces of hard biscuit
thrown in for good measure. They make for some fairly
decent dumplings!

IMG_0822

Of course, hard biscuits could also be distributed as part
of a Rev War soldier’s daily ration. I’ve baked quite a few
batches in recent months. More on that is up next.

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NEXT: Those delightful ‘n delectable hard biscuits!

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