Friday, October 31, 2014

Your Own Maple Syrup—from UP A COUNTRY LANE COOKBOOK

Want a taste of the fall colors? Try making your own maple syrup with this recipe from Up a Country Lane Cookbook, by Evelyn Birkby.

Your Own Maple Syrup

2 cups white sugar
2 cups brown sugar, packed
2 cups white corn syrup
2 cups water
2 teaspoons maple flavoring

Combine ingredients and cook, stirring, until sugars are dissolved and mixture boils. Simmer about 5 minutes. Serve hot on pancakes, waffles, or french toast. Store in covered jar in refrigerator. Makes 5 cups.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Excerpt from ROWS OF MEMORY: JOURNEYS OF A MIGRANT SUGAR-BEET WORKER, by Saúl Sánchez


Every year from April to October, the Sánchez family traveled—crowded in the back of trucks, camping in converted barns, tending and harvesting crops across the breadth of the United States. In 1951, Saúl Sánchez began to contribute to his family’s survival by helping to weed onions in Wind Lake, Wisconsin. He was eight years old. In this excerpt from Rows of Memory: Journeys of a Migrant Sugar-Beet Worker, Sánchez invites us to appreciate the largely unrecognized and poorly rewarded strength and skill of the laborers who harvest the fruits and vegetables we eat.

--


The Mexicans that the sugar-beet companies recruited back then to work in the sugar-beet fields did not receive the same treatment that was given to the Russian Germans brought from Europe. The companies did not lend them money to buy land; they did not offer them any equipment, seed, or utensils to help them work the land bought with borrowed money…. In place of loans, they received credit in company stores to obtain their foodstuffs while they completed the harvest. And they were not paid until they finished…. They did not live in town either; there were separate labor camps for them to keep them apart from the white population. The only tools the companies allowed them, which were also purchased on credit from those same well-stocked stores, were the ones perfected earlier by the Japanese: the short-handled hoe.

For a person to be stooped or arched over (“stooped steep” as people would say with a touch of ironic humor) while hoeing with a hoe that has a ten- or twelve-inch handle for as long as eight, ten, or even twelve hours a day is how I would define the word torture…. It was a punishing way to make a living.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Excerpt from ROWS OF MEMORY: JOURNEYS OF A MIGRANT SUGAR-BEET WORKER, by Saúl Sánchez


Every year from April to October, the Sánchez family traveled—crowded in the back of trucks, camping in converted barns, tending and harvesting crops across the breadth of the United States. In 1951, Saúl Sánchez began to contribute to his family’s survival by helping to weed onions in Wind Lake, Wisconsin. He was eight years old. In this excerpt from Rows of Memory: Journeys of a Migrant Sugar-Beet Worker, Sánchez invites us to appreciate the largely unrecognized and poorly rewarded strength and skill of the laborers who harvest the fruits and vegetables we eat.

--

When I was young I used to hear members of my family say that our ancestors had come to the Winter Garden Valley of Texas at the beginning of the twentieth century, and that they came from the same area: the border between Mexico and the United States. What I have been able to ascertain is that they arrived during the time of the Mexican Revolution in the case of our maternal grandfather and a little after that in the case of our paternal grandparents….

[O]ur grandparents didn’t just decide one day to abandon the cotton fields in Texas to go up north and do sugar beets. It was an incremental transition. Their method of decision making was logical for those times. People acted as members of a family rather than as individuals. And they were traditional families, they were bound by powerful family ties. The decisions made by the elders, especially the older brothers, directly influenced the lives of all the members of the extended family.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Moshla Cha (tea with a mixture of spices) recipe—from BITING THROUGH THE SKIN

Have a hot drink in this cooling weather from Biting through the Skin: An Indian Kitchen in America's Heartland, by Nina Mukerjee Furstenau.

Moshla Cha (Tea with a mixture of spices)

Serves 6

Mixture to make ahead of time and use as needed for tea:
4 tablespoons ground ginger
2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
2 tablespoons green cardamom seeds
1 tablespoon whole cloves

Pot of tea
Milk and sugar to taste

Grind the spices in a clean coffee grinder. Store the mixture in an airtight container and add 1/2 teaspoon to a pot of hot water, add tea leaves, and steep for 3 to 5 minutes. Strain as you pour into cups and serve with milk and sugar.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Apple Tart from GARDENING THE AMANA WAY, by Lawrence L. Rettig

Have some apples to use up? Try this delicious apple tart from Gardening the Amana Wayby Lawrence L. Rettig.

Apple Tart

2 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2/3 cup butter
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups peeled, sliced apples
1/3 cup apricot or peach jam, mixed with 1/4 cup sugar
Extra milk and sugar

Combine flour, sugar, and baking powder and cut in butter until crumbly. In another bowl, mix egg with milk and vanilla. Add to flour mixture and mix well. Knead gently on lightly floured surface until smooth. Cover and chill one-third of dough. Pat remainder on bottom and up sides of a 9- or 10-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Arrange apples over pastry. Top with jam/sugar mixture. Roll remaining dough into ten-inch circle and cut into strips. Arrange lattice-style over apples and tuck in edges. Brush with milk and sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 375 degrees for forty-five to fifty minutes.

Friday, October 17, 2014

An Unlikely Heirloom, by Susan Futrell

It’s sacrilege to think of the Red Delicious as an heirloom, but in fact it has a humble and impeccable pedigree. The original Red Delicious tree was a stubborn seedling that sprouted in Jesse Hiatt’s field in Madison County, Iowa, in 1872. Over time, the branches chosen for grafting were selected for shape, color, and durability, and the modern flavor rarely lives up to its name. Strains of the original, sometimes called Hawkeye Delicious, can still be found and tasted.  

Heirloom trees and well-bred modern apples all trace back to seedlings that someone loved enough to keep and pass along. Zeke Goodband, orchardist at Scott Farm in Dummerston, Vermont, told NPR recently that eating and growing heirloom apples is “sort of like a chain letter” through history. Letter writing and apple eating are both among the most democratic of arts, and thankfully not yet lost.

Susan Futrell is writing a book about apples for the University of Iowa Press.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Excerpt from ROWS OF MEMORY: JOURNEYS OF A MIGRANT SUGAR-BEET WORKER, by Saúl Sánchez


Every year from April to October, the Sánchez family traveled—crowded in the back of trucks, camping in converted barns, tending and harvesting crops across the breadth of the United States. In 1951, Saúl Sánchez began to contribute to his family’s survival by helping to weed onions in Wind Lake, Wisconsin. He was eight years old. In this excerpt from Rows of Memory: Journeys of a Migrant Sugar-Beet Worker, Sánchez invites us to appreciate the largely unrecognized and poorly rewarded strength and skill of the laborers who harvest the fruits and vegetables we eat.

--

I write this memoir to leave behind some testimony of a way of life that has disappeared perhaps forever. It is a personal narrative based on experience, taken from memory, and written years after the episodes it narrates. These episodes may not seem exalted or seem like exceptional accomplishments to the reader, but they are to the author. They are exalted because the people who appear here sacrificed a great part of their lives, and in some cases all of their lives, for the benefit of their families. And they are exceptional because it is the narrative of a people who not only survived for years under shocking living conditions but also because of those individuals who appear in these pages managed to triumph in their lives. If we also add the fact that these people spoke Spanish and not English, it is not difficult to understand why they embody those exalted and exceptional qualities that one finds in epics.