`Why, I owe at least a dozen pickled limes”- Amy March
I totally breezed past the fact that Amy was discussing limes in this chapter and not chocolate, fidget spinners, pogs or even digital Pokémon …looking back it may seem weird that pickled limes were the children’s currency of choice but lets be honest…my own babies will probably mock me in the future.
Once I accepted that pickled limes were all the fashion it was interesting to begin researching why and what teachers had against them. Linda Ziedrich concisely broke down the cost, hidden political dealings and social implications of these tasty treats in her book Pickling.
“There they were sold from glass jars on top of candy-store counters, and some families even bought them by the barrel. Because the import tariff for pickled limes was quite low – importers fought to keep them classed as neither fresh fruit nor pickle – children could buy them cheaply, often for a penny apiece. Kids chewed, sucked, and traded pickled limes at school (and not just a recess) for decades, making the limes the perennial bane of New England schoolteachers
Who knew there were lobbyists keeping regulation at bay that long ago? Lime lobbyists must have been a pretty tart bunch to deal with…see what I did there? Teehee. I previously wrote about plum pudding and referenced Eliza Acton’s amazing book Modern Cookery for Private Families from 1845 and of course she also has a pickled lime recipe!
I really want to make a batch of these but I’m struggling on what to use them in after. I can’t see my coworkers wanting to trade with me or eating them outright. I could see using the pickled lemons when roasting a whole chicken…perhaps a good future Christmas present: a jar of pickled lemons and a jar of sea salt with thyme and rosemary mixed in. It’s a small group of foodie friends that would value that gift but the reaction would be amazing!
I may need to start compiling a separate page just for all the recipes I’m compiling throughout the years writing on this blog. You can tell my priorities at least when reading. Love a story and a snack!
“Everything went right until I saw Marilla coming with the plum pudding in one hand and the pitcher of pudding sauce warmed up, in the other”
@emily_kw combines that rare mix of thoughtful, kindness and intelligence that you find once in a lifetime. We have cross stitched and drank wine for hours on her couch as the snow falls down around in us in Calgary, we have explored Chicago together on vacation and can be found together at all high holidays giggling over silver goblets sunk into a cushion of pillows and quilts.
We started our friendship off making dates to visit all of Calgary’s top named restaurants almost 6 years ago and food has continued to take a starring role on our adventures. Thanksgivings, Christmas dinners, themed brunches…you name it and she can put a meal plan, table runner and themed decor faster then you can say Julia Child. So it’s no surprise that when I want to combine a literary plum pudding moment from Anne of Green Gables and the original 1845 English recipe book that referenced plum pudding as Christmas pudding I would bribe @emily_kw to help. And by help, I mean do the majority of work as I perch on her table with a look of fear, respect and curiosity. I’m basically her house cat while she cooks though I’m very good at keeping her wine glass full- I can be taught!
Archive.org being the greatest of all resources has a 1882 reprinted copy of Eliza Acton’s book Modern Cookery for Private Families online. It’s here we first see plum pudding reference to Christmas. Eliza previously had published poetry but at the behest of her publisher (what, no male poets could also cook?) she took up researching, borrowed from friends and ended up publishing a cookbook that became the standard in the industry.
The plum pudding scene has become so iconic thanks to the Sullivan 1985 mini series and even on their website they have a plum pudding recipe from their Anne of Green Gables Cookbook. But plum puddings have rich English history steeped back possibly as far as King George I. These recipes would have been brought over to North America as families began immigrating and it’s possible that Lucy Maud Montgomery ‘s inclusion of the scene was due to her mother’s family special plum pudding moments.
So if I can bribe @emily_kw correctly you may see our Twitter and Instagram accounts light up with photos of us trying to create a new pudding Christmas memory this year. Comment below with your own special holiday traditions. If you get snowed this season in visit archive.org to read Modern Cookery for Private Families and try to recreate your favorite family recipe from the original.
I treated myself to the book The World of Little House a few months back while going through another nostalgia Amazon spree and this ended up in my cart. More juvenile then I originally intended but my thoughts were a bit impaired with wine that night…anyways… I thought I would try to recreate Laura’s recipe tonight. The biggest debate being adding the chocolate frosting or not she so loved! “Chocolate frosting adds to the goodness.” -LIW Comment with your results or Tweet/Instagram photos of the gingerbread on your Christmas tables!
1 cup molasses
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup shortening
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup boiling water
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon each: ginger, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
shortening to grease a 9×9 baking pan
- Preheat oven to 350 and grease the baking pan.
- Blend the sugar and shortening in the small bowl. Mix the molasses.
- Measure out a cup of boiling water in the 2-cup measuring cup and add the baking soda. Mix well.
- In the large bowl, sift together the flour and the spices. Add all other ingredients, mix well and pour into the greased pan.
- Bake for 45 minutes or until knife/cake tester comes out clean.
- Serve this warm or at room temperature.
Collins, Carolyn Strom., Christina Wyss. Eriksson, Deborah Maze, and Garth Williams. The World of Little House. New York: HarperCollinsPublishers, 1996. Print.pg. 131
“Ma was busy all day long [..] she baked salt rising bread and rye’n’Injun bread”-pg 62 Little House in the Big Woods
If anyone is a returning reader they understand my love of carbs based off my salt rising bread post. I decided to celebrate my upcoming birthday with making Rye n Injun bread! Check out my Instagram feed for my results. As I’m writing this before I take the photos you could see me crying on the floor or stuffing my face. Birthday gamble if you will. The recipe below comes out of the Little House Cookbook. The word ‘injun’ I don’t approve of in any way in 2017 which caused me to do a little surface research. Apparently injun bread was originally made with equal parts rye flour, corn meal and wheat flours. The injun in the title refers to corn meal as Puritans would have needed to get out of their European sole dependency for wheat flours in the New World. Boston Brown Bread is said to have evolved from this earlier version. The Ingalls family origins in New England may have brought the recipe to the Big Woods. The long steaming time would have allowed Ma to bake this bread slowly on the Sabbath as she could do all the prep work the day before allowed to steam/bake during the day. Pair this with some salt pork beans and you have dinner!
1 1/2 c. corn meal
1 1/2 c. rye flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 stp salt
3/4 c. molasses
1 c. buttermilk
In a large bowl, mix flours, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, mix eggs, molasses and buttermilk. Pour liquid ingredients into dry ingredients and stir until well mixed. Do not beat. Grease a 9×13″ pan. Put mixture in pan. Fill another 9×13″ pan with water and put on bottom rack of oven. Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Bake at 200 degrees for 3-4 hours. Cut into 16 pieces. Serve hot or cold. Great with butter and/or honey. Makes 16 servings.
“Ma was busy all day long, cooking good things for Christmas. She baked salt rising bread…” pg. 62
There is no quicker way into my heart then fresh baked bread. My husband used to make me dinner when we were courting and while it was typical University fare it was his fresh baked bread that won me over each time. Crunch to the crust and a soft interior…throw a sunbeam in there, rereading the Big Woods and I’m set. Years later this love turned into buying two loaves; one for dinner and one to eat on the back porch slowly while reading in said sunbeam with a glass of white wine.
For someone that finds proofing detailed I can’t imagine not having access to yeast for our dinner loaves. Since not having bread at the dinner table isn’t an option, clearly my ancestors, baking pioneers emerged using natural fermentation. Heat and time sufficed for the general store assistance. Instead they used long term warmth and natural bacteria.
Salt rising bread has maintained popularity in the Appalachian states to this day. A modern generation of bakers are continuing this tradition. Susan Ray Brown at Rising Creek Bakery in Pennsylvania specializes in salt rising bread. Her website saltrisingbread.net is a fantastic source of history and recipes. I’ve been combing through her pages reading the stories she’s compiled as well as recipe variations. I’ll be trying a recipe this weekend while I’m pre-purchasing her book off Amazon. She shared the below recipe on her website that comes from a baker in Pennsylvania that has been baking salt rising bread for over 80 years. Look for her book this June at your local bookstore.
“3 tsp. cornmeal, 1 tsp flour, 1/8 tsp baking soda, 1/2 cup scalded milk
Pour milk onto dry ingredients and stir. Keep warm overnight until foamy. After “raisin” has foamed and has a “rotten cheese” smell, in a medium sized bowl, add 2 cups of warm water to mixture, then enough flour (about 1 ½ cup) to make like a thin pancake batter. Stir and let rise again until becomes foamy. This usually takes about 2 hours. Next, add one cup of warm water for each loaf of bread you want to make, up to 6 loaves (e.g. six cups of water makes six loaves of bread). Add enough flour (20 cups for 6 loaves, or about one 5 pound bag of flour + 1/3 bag). Form into loaves; grease tops of loaves. Let rise in greased pans for several hours, maybe 2-6 hours. Bake at 300 F for 30 to 45 minutes, or until loaves sound hollow when tapped.”