Saturday, November 1, 2014

Hop To It! 1837 - Ferment for Bread

Hops in bread?  When I first scanned the page I missed the word bread and hoped I had found a pumpkin beer!  This is very interesting...and gives me an extra push to plant hops.  I have wanted to for years but just never get around to it.

The Female's Friend, and General Domestic Adviser: Including a Complete Alphabetical Receipt Book. Instructions in Dress Making, &c - 1837


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

1829 - Pumpkin Tensions Between the North and the South

The following letter appeared in the 1829 The American Farmer.

Great Produce Of Pumpkins
Taylorsville, Hanover Cy. Va.  October 28, 1829
Sir,—I yesterday weighed the produce of three pumpkin vines, raised in my garden  among a crop of beets. There were forty-three pumpkins, that came to perfection, which weighed 1899 1/2 lbs.; besides there were a number that did not ripen. Sixteen of the largest weighed as follows: 67 1/2, 67, 66, 66, 66, 64 1/4, 63, 63, 63 1/2, 62 1/2, 62 1/2, 62, 60, 56 1/2, 52 and 50 lbs. I never before noticed the weight of the produce of a vine, and take the liberty of asking you if you ever did, and what was the greatest weight. I have known a single pumpkin to weigh 82 lbs.; it was raised a good many years past, in this neighbourhood, by Col. Win. O. Winston.
Wm. W. Taylor.

In January of the next year the periodical reprints this response to Mr. Taylor! (From the New England Farmer -Dec. 1829.)
Mr. Editor,—I observed in your New England Farmer of 4th inst. an article headed, "Yankees beat this if you can!"  from the New York Evening Post, giving a statement made by Mr. W. W. Taylor, of Taylorsville, Va. of his having raised in his garden the past summer, amongst some beets, three pumpkin vines, which produced 43 pumpkins that came to maturity, weighing 1899 1/2 lbs- the largest of which weighed 67 1/2 lbs.; besides these a number that did not ripen.
Being a native of New England, and in possession of facts that still give to her the palm,  I have been induced on reading the above, to give you the following statement for publication, notwithstanding its substance was noticed in several of our newspapers some years since.
In April, 1815, I planted in my garden among some cucumbers, one pumpkin seed.      On the 29th September following, I called on several of my neighbors to assist in gathering and witnessing its productions— the result was as follows: 44 pumpkins weighing 1040 lbs.; the length of the vine, including its branches, 105 rods, or 17,321 feet—circumference of the vine's stem 9 1/4 inches. 
Ten of the largest pumpkins weighed 923 1/3 lbs., viz., 135, 126 1/4, 97, 94, 91, 90, 90, 76, 64, 60 lbs., the remaining thirty-four weighed together 116 3/4 lbs. The noted tornado of 23d September so much injured the vine, that I considered it useless to leave the pumpkins any longer on it, notwithstanding it was in its most flourishing state at the commencement of the gale. 
The vine was spread on a grass plat, back of my house as it was measured, where it remained for public inspection from three to four weeks. On the the 14th morning after it was wide spread, I discovered twenty fresh blossoms on it. The month of October was remarkably mild, and judging by the appearance of the vine, could it have remained in the ground undisturbed through the season, its product would have been increased at least fifty per cent.
I raised also in the same garden the past season, a French turnip, which weighed 20 lbs, 10 oz-, after being closely trimmed. It was taken out of the ground in the month of September.
Respectfully your obedient servant,
J. Johnson. Jewett City, New London Co. Conn. Dec. 8, 1829.

Not that anyone would bother to add up the above pumpkin weights...but just in case one of you is that thorough, don't be surprised to find they are wrong.  It is impossible to read the blurry scans of the fractions and the OCR rendered them with great imagination!!  One was changed to Ariz. from 1/3...go figure...

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

From 1851 - A Couple of "Whopping" Pumpkin Stories

Couple of "whopping" Pumpkin Stories
Did you ever hear tell of a certain cucumber story, where a Rhode Island farmer took a half bushel of imported guano and put it into a hole in the ground, after which he dropped into the hill a dozen cucumber seeds, which he had no sooner done than a cucumber vine made its appearance, causing the man to drop his hoe and run for life, as the vine was fast curling about him, like a serpent. After he had run for three-quarters of a mile, more or leas, his legs became so entangled with the vine, that he fell to the ground, and was unable to extricate himself. Finding himself in such a "precarious situation," he at once endeavored to obtain his jack-knife from his pocket, but when he put his hand in said pocket, he found a big cucumber already gone to seed..
An old gentleman "down East" related the following as a "set off" against the above. He is a Connecticut specimen of the New England school:—
In my garden, where, I dare assert, a body might dig four-and-thirty feet, and there find the same rich soil, more powerful than seventeen cargoes— yea, seventeen thousand cargoes—of your guano, I have seen wonders. It has been my family garden, it was my father's, and even his father's father's; in short, it has been a family garden more than a century. 
Well, when I was a boy, I was hoeing one morning, with my good old father, in the garden, for a breakfast spell. I happened to be hoeing round a pumpkin vine, and was about to dig it up, when the old man said, "Stephen, don't dig it up, my son, let it grow, and see what it will eventually become."I obeyed, of course, yet could see nothing so very wonderful about it. "Now, don't you think," said he, earnestly, "that in time the vine grew so as to run over the north end of the garden wall, on the outside of which a very heavy ox-sled had been placed flatways, so as to keep it out of the sun during the summer months. This pumpkin vine eventually passed right under the sled, thence over another wall, thence through a cabbage patch and orchard, thence over a piece of meadow, a hundred and fifty yards wide, thence down a long hill, and at last crossed a stream of water, four rods wide.

 Now the soil of the garden being of such a powerful and unsurpassed nature, a pumpkin in time got under the sled; and it got to growing at such a thundering rate, as to raise that heavy ox-sled an inch every night  In a very short period of time it had got the big sled on a pise, and we were obliged to prop it on the weak side, so as to keep the mammoth sled from tipping over. One day an old sow was looking for ground nuts on the opposite side of the stream, when she espied the pumpkin vine, and tracked it to the water's edge; thence, by some mystic movement, she crossed the stream on the pumpkin vine, and coursed it along, until she found the pumpkin itself, when she went at it deliberately, and ate four-and-twenty days out of it. 
One night, my father fearing that we were to have an old-fashioned black frost, he ordered all hands, and invited the neighbours to lend a hand, to get the mammoth  pumpkin under cover. Well, we got the big stone drag down to the scene of action, and, after a while, two yoke of oxen and one horse made out to get it up to the back door. It was so big that it was an impossibility to get it in, so we took it round to the front door, which, as you have observed, is a wide old-fashioned one ; and here we were obliged to rip off the door-casings, and then the pumpkin just rubbed through, on a tight squeeze at that. 
Well, sir, it was weighed right in this big square front room, after a fashion, and allowing good honest Connecticut weight, it weighed just twenty-three hundred and seventeen pound!And in ten days, don't you think, full fifteen hundred people came from here, there, and yonder, to see this wonderful pumpkin!  Now war is poodle Rhode Island after that?" (That is not a typo and the italics are his :-)
This is a hard story, but it is far surpassed by the following '' whopper," also related by that same old Connecticut farmer. He says:—
"Man may ascend mountains, and dive into the bowels of the earth, but after all bis travels, the States of Connecticut will be found ahead. Now I'll just tell you another story, to show you the wonderful power of Connecticut soil. 
When spring came round, a nephew of mine happened to be down here on a visit from the northern part of the State, and when he got all ready to go home, I made him a present of a dozen of these pumpkin seeds, knowing that the soil on any part of his small farm was very powerful and rich. I couldn't spare him no more, as I had even sold some single ones as high as a dollar and seventy-five cents a-piece. Wal, my nephew wont home and planted a dozen hills, one seed in each, and eventually up came the vines, and on they grew rapidly—so much so, that the fellow's eyes began to stick out like two peeled onions in a pail of water, for it seemed as though the vines were bent t run all over creation.
"In the fall of the year I visited him, having a pretty fast, nag, full of the sap of life, and it took me just nine days to reach him. Well, I hadn't been there fifteen minutes before up drove, in haste, the widow Holmes, who lived about a mile and a quarter right north of my nephew's farm. Says she, in a passion, 'Be you agoing to take your pumpkin vines off my premises, or do you want me to destroy them Of course I at once mistrusted, and asked right off what all this meant, when I soon found out that the trouble was all about the pumpkin seed gave him to plantShe told my nephew that she shouldn't come again, and off she drove as spunky as a northeast wind. Now you see, the pumpkin vines were running miles and miles in length, and the very devil was to pay with the neighbours. One would come from one way and complain and another from this point of the compass, until my nephew wished them all in Halifax,
The soil must have been very, very rich!  said I, in a sober tone, interrupting him in his remarks.
"Oh yes, oh yea!—altogether richer, if anything, than my family garden. Any how, I can soon show you the power of Connecticut soil. When I got ready to start for home, I rode down the long lane and soon passed on to the turnpike. Well, Gid,' my young horse, hadn't more than struck the turnpike, before I observed, along the road wall, a very thrifty pumpkin vine, which I knew to be one of my nephew's, as the place where he had endeavored to 'fence in' the plaguey vines, when they first came up, was visible to the eye. I drove on, whistling in my natural way—and after going a few miles, darn my eyes, there was the pumpkin vine! This puzzled me; I at once reined up 'Gid,' and away I rushed it over the Bunkhard-good turnpike, expecting to pass the end of it every instant. "Well, now," said he, "don't you think I didn't pass the end of- that pumpkin vine until just about twenty minutes before the hour of four in the afternoon!   On I drove, and when night overtook me, I put up at the Dutch Tavern.          On the second morning, off I started again, but lordy! I smell the pumpkin vine in a wink of a jiffee, just as soon as I struck on the turnpike. At it we went, and it was near sundown before I overtook the end of it. Before stopping for the night, I drove on some nine miles ahead, but when I pushed for home on the third morning, lo, and behold! there was tho pumpkin vine!     "Then," said the old man, vehemently, "I was wrathy, vexed—yes, mad. The way 'Gid' did take up his logs was a caution to any of your Third Avenue horses, now I tell you. He spun out full sixty-five miles that day, but to do our best, we didn't overtake the end of the pumpkin vine until just about twilight.       I began to feel a little frightened, as well as being mad, yet knowing the almighty power of real Connecticut toil, I drove along, endeavouring to keep it off my mind as much as possible. On tho sixth day I didn't overtake the end of it at all.  On the seventh, I conquered just about dusk—then drove on eleven miles ahead before I put up for the night, intending to have a good start ahead of the vine on the morrow; "but you see," said the farmer, "it would make out to pass me nights while was asleepAnd I swear the pumpkin vine would have beat me home if a stout black frost hadn't killed it on the ninth night !"

The American Magazine - 1851

Monday, October 27, 2014

1885 - Use of Pumpkin, from Lafcadio Hearn's Creole Cookbook

I've been a Lafcadio Hearn fan for decades.  This was a shocker...a Lafcadio Hearn creole cookbook!! I never knew about, or read, anything of his beyond the Japanese culture books. I  was interested in this man who loved Japan.  So I was taken aback by not having had a fuller picture of his work until I finally figured out why that was.  I had become enamored of his work before the internet.  Sheesh...

The pumpkin orange woodcut above is by Lafcadio Hearn.  It is from a very enjoyable piece about his life in the National Endowment for the Humanities magazine.  It was there I found out he believed in the strength of an image to communicate.  As an art teacher this makes me like him even more. The article explains why he was in the United States as well, and why he was attracted to New Orleans.  Fascinating man.  

The University Press of Mississippi's book, titled Inventing New Orleans: Writings of Lafcadio Hearn, brings together a selection of Hearn's nonfiction on New Orleans and Louisiana.

 Yum...he is so right.  Simple and so good.  I like his parting comment. :-)

What exactly is salt meat?  I asked the same thing...and found the answer here.

La Cuisine CreoleA Collection of Culinary Recipes from Leading Chefs and Noted Creole Housewives, who Have Made New Orleans Famous for Its Cuisine

Sunday, October 26, 2014

1862 - The Improved Pumpkin - Humorous Prediction for 1962

This was a surprise!  In 1862 an illustrator was imagining what the pumpkin of the future would look like as people seemed to be breeding for size.    The future was faraway in 1962.

“ That's what we are coming to," said our humorous artist, as he threw upon our table the above picture which he had just sketched after examining the large pumpkins exhibited at the Office of the American Agriculturist in competition for the prizes offered. He has undoubtedly “ stretched things” somewhat, as is his wont, but we believe that no exhibition of the kind ever excited more wonder than has been expressed by the crowd of visitors who have thronged our office during the exhibition. It was a complete success in every respect, in the number and variety of specimens shown, and in the mammoth size of several monsters of the pumpkin tribe.

 The heaviest pumpkin shown in London weighed 176 lbs., the second largest 154 lbs. These would look small beside our mammoth specimen,_which stands 3 feet high, girls 8 feet 7 inches, and weighed when picked 289 lbs 1 Its 'weight has since been reduced by drying out. Four of our specimens each weigh over 200 lbs. So we can now put another feather in the cap of Yankee Doodle, and may claim the fastest yacht, the best reaper, the most effective gunboat, and the BIGGEST PUMPKIN!