MORE ON GINGER ALE©

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This post may be considered a prequel to the previous post on making ginger ale as it will explore the earliest origins of what became one of the most popular drinks of the 20th century.

In the 18th century Ginger Beer was, “among the most popular drinks in the United Kingdom of Great Britain. This Ginger Beer was put up in stone bottles, and in order to mature it, several weeks’ storage was required before it could be sold for consumption”.

About 1850 a beverage was introduced which by reducing the aging process produced a clear beverage [ginger beer was cloudy] that still offered, “the pungent…taste and warmth-giving to the stomach”. Many found the clear product more pleasing in appearance but the flavor was less stable, a condition that would be remedied with perfecting the carbonation process. It was during this early period that bottlers began boosting the spicy flavor of their products for storage by adding, “chillipods”.

Supposedly the first Ginger Ale was exhibited at an exhibition in London in 1851. It was alcoholic and not particularly well received until through the addition of chili peppers to boost the flavor and ridding it of albuminous matter which fermented in storage and sometimes caused a gelatinous consistency , a clear and flavorful beverage emerged. The alcohol content was then, “trace”, and ginger ale, now billed as highly temperate, began a journey toward unbelievable popularity in 1852.

It wasn’t imported into the U.S. until 1866, but within the year it was being manufactured in New York by Henry Downs. – “American Bottler”. Vol. 30. April 15, 1910.

In 1845, that gelatinous consistency was further described as, “a thick, slimy consistence”, in drinks that were given an effervescent quality by injecting carbonic acid, the common process for the time. The thickening of contents was common regardless of which bottler produced them and occurred when flavored with lemon instead of ginger. – “The Annals and Magazine of Natural History”. Vol. 17. Jan. 1846.

A hundred years ago ginger ale was described as having a hold on the American people which far surpassed any other, “of the so-called soft drinks”, one which had been established as a, “stand-by”, and was bottled by every maker of such beverages. The addition of chili peppers had become a hotly contested issue by the turn of the 20th century prompting hearings to determine whether their use was required in labeling.

“But ginger ale, to be worthy of the name, must have certain qualities which are indispensable. First, it must be absolutely pure. By that, we mean that it must be exactly what its name implies. It must be made of ginger, not a mixture of capsicum or any other harmful substances as a substitute. Made in this way it is the ‘Prince of Beverages,’ always assuming that it is bottled with pure water.”

In other words, the classic warmth of ginger was being replaced with much cheaper but just as warm peppers. Lack of honesty in labeling is nothing new. Pepper soda doesn’t sound as appetizing as ginger ale and bottlers who chose to use only genuine ginger wanted their products distinguished from those with adulterants. Makers of pure ginger ale billed it as drinkable in any quantity, by those of any age, and at any time of day with no injurious effects.

Definitions of various terms regarding ginger ale were published in “Brewers Journal” in July 1922 under the title, “The Ginger Ale Controversy Settled”.

“Ginger Ale Flavor, Ginger Ale Concentrate, is the flavoring product in which ginger is the essential constituent, with or without other aromatic and pungent ingredients, citrus oils, and fruit juices.

Ginger Ale is the carbonated beverage prepared from Ginger Ale Flavor, sugar (sucrose) syrup, harmless organic acid, potable water and caramel color….

Ginger Ale with Capsicum Flavor is the water-soluble product obtained from ginger and capsicum, with or without other flavoring substances. The predominating flavor of the product is that of ginger.”

Manufacturers who used capsicum and color to make ginger ale were instructed to post those ingredients on the labels, “with as large type as ‘Ginger Ale’”.

Let’s conclude with some of the ways Ginger Ale and Ginger Syrup were used throughout the 20th century.

GINGER ALE RECIPES were published throughout the 20th century. The following were taken from “The Northwestern Druggist”. Aug. 1922.

Ginger Drake
1 oz. pineapple syrup, 1 oz. lime syrup, 5 oz. carbonated water, 3 oz. domestic ginger ale. Mix the syrups, add the carbonated water, and then float the ginger ale on top of this.

Ginger Soda
2 oz. ginger ale, 1 oz. lemon syrup, 1 oz. orange syrup, slice of orange, slice of lemon, 8 oz. carbonated water. Mix the syrups, then add the carbonated water and ginger ale and mix again. Decorate with slices of orange and lemon.

Orange-Ginger
1 oz. orange syrup, 4 oz. ginger ale, 3 oz. carbon ated water, sprig of mint. Mix the syrup with the carbonated water and ginger ale, add the sprig of mint, and serve.
Canada Dry Ginger Ale advertised three different ways to use ginger ale in “Life” magazine in April 1958, the first of which was mixing ginger ale and cold milk in a 1 to 1 ratio. The next was to heat 2 cups of ginger ale to boiling and stir in fruit flavored gelatin, mix, and refrigerate to produce, “Bright ginger flavor and livelier carbonation” in gelatin. Lastly, ginger ale was poured into a tall glass and topped with ice cream to make a float.

Using ginger ale in gelatin wasn’t new though as recipes had been published for some 30 years or more by the time Canada Dry’s advertisement appeared in print.

In 1919, Helen Moore included a whole chapter on drinks made with ginger ale and the remainder of the book was also liberally filled with drinks and punches in which ginger ale or ginger syrup was, if not the star, a major player in their production. Among them were what I described in a previous post as one of our favorites – white grape juice and ginger ale over ice. “Put one pint of white grape juice, and one quart of ginger ale on ice until very cold. Mix together when ready to serve”.

Interesting mixtures included ginger and cider, pineapple, eggnog, lemon and sarsaparilla, grape and pineapple, etc. – “Uncle Sam’s Water Wagon”.

For a bracing winter beverage the “Confectioners’ and Baker’s Gazette” recommended combining 1 oz. of ginger syrup with ¼ of a large lemon, and filling the mug with hot water. – Jan. 10, 1915.

More Soda Varieties

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Several people dropped a line saying they liked the article on making our own Ginger Ale I will add a few additional recipes. Any of them may be tweaked to your preference. We like combining 100% juice with club soda which requires absolutely no work. Our favorites are probably cranberry or white grape.

BLACKBERRY
1 to 1 ¼ cups sugar
1 cup water
2 cups frozen berries (blackberries, raspberries, elder berries, etc.)

Combine all ingredients in a nonreactive pan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, simmer about 10 minutes, stirring if needed. Remove from the heat and let cool. Strain out the solids and discard. Refrigerate the syrup.

To use: Fill a glass with ice, add syrup and fill with club soda. Start with 2 or 3 Tablespoons of syrup, and if you want the flavor stronger add more to taste.

RHUBARB
1 ½ cups chopped rhubarb
½ cup sugar
1 ½ cups water. Make as above, simmering the mixture about 15 to 20 minutes before straining it.

STRAWBERRY
2 cups hulled strawberries (or blueberries)
2 cups water
2 cups sugar

VANILLA SODA
2 cups sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
1 vanilla bean, split

Combine ¼ cup of water and the sugar, heat until it caramelizes. Add 2 cups water, the lemon juice, and the vanilla bean and seeds. Bring to a boil, simmer 5 minutes, and remove from the heat, cover, and let sit for 1 hour. Discard the vanilla bean. Bottle and refrigerate.

ORANGE
4 tablespoons orange zest, quickly blanched in boiling water and drained. Discard the blanching water and use fresh water for the recipe.
1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Strain before bottling and refrigerate.

COLA
The zest of 2 oranges, 1 lime, and 1 lemon
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated if possible
1 small piece of star anise pod, crushed
½ teaspoon food grade dried lavender
1 Tablespoon chopped ginger
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups sugar
½ cup dark brown sugar

Combine water with zests, and spices. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Strain and discard the solids.

Stir the sugars together and whisk them into the syrup with the vanilla. Refrigerate.

To use: Over ice, add ¼ cup of syrup with 1 cup club soda or to taste.

FLORAL SYRUP
2 cups fresh rose or violet petals (be absolutely certain there are no pesticides or other chemicals on them)
2 cups water
2 cups sugar or 1 cup each sugar and honey

Combine, simmer 20 minutes. Strain. Cool. Refrigerate.

APPLE MINT
1 quart apple juice
1/3 cup honey or raw sugar
¼ cup mint leaves, washed, drained

Bring to a boil, simmer until reduced to about 2 cups. Remove and discard the mint. Refrigerate syrup.

VANILLA CREAM SODA SYRUP
1 oz. pure vanilla extract
3 pints simple syrup
1 pint of cream

Bring to a boil, simmer about 5 minutes. Cool. Refrigerate. For the simple syrup combine equal parts of sugar and water, bring to a boil, and simmer 5 minutes. Refrigerate until needed.

WATERMELON (requires no cooking)
6 cups watermelon, seeded, chopped
4 Tablespoons Confectioner’s sugar
1 ½ Tablespoons of fresh lime juice
1/8 teaspoon salt.

Puree ingredients in a blender or food processor. Strain. Refrigerate the syrup. To use: combine syrup and sparkling water to taste and serve over ice. (You can try this with cantaloupe).

Experiment with whatever flavors you like and let me know if you have a favorite. – Blissful Meals yall, THF.

GINGER ALE: Home-made Goodness©

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Often in life there is good news and bad that can go hand in hand, in this article we’ll first discuss the disadvantages of drinking soda but then we’ll look at how to make a healthier alternative. It still contains sugar so remember, “All things in moderation”.
The terms ginger beer and ginger ale can be confusing. Authors have sought to define the two for over a hundred years. Apparently neither necessarily refers to an alcoholic content, although ginger beer can contain alcohol – up to 11%. The difference in intensity of the ginger flavor can vary with either.
Years ago I used to make the alcoholic version with yeast which went well up to a point. I hadn’t yet adopted the philosophy, “If it ain’t broken don’t fix it”, and decided to amp up the alcohol content by increasing the yeast. Can I tell you how big a mess exploding ginger beer makes? Now I prefer a non-alcoholic version and love the ability to prepare it from ginger syrup one glass at a time.
The Canada Dry folks, like many others, do not list the flavor ingredients on the label, instead, they lump everything under the title, “natural flavor”. That doesn’t sound bad until you realize that anything that comes from a plant or animal (any part of it) can be considered “natural”.
Title 21, Section 101, part 22 of the Code of Federal Regulations says:
“The term natural flavor or natural flavoring means the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional.”
By their definition a lot of things we’d never choose to eat can end up in our food or drink. Look up ingredients such as castoreum and you’ll see what I mean. Chances are a food or drink flavored with artificial vanilla, strawberry, or raspberry contains castoreum lumped in with other ingredients under the catch-all name of “natural flavor”. It is an exudate from the castor sacs of mature beavers, quite possibly mixed with beaver urine as the glands are located between the beaver’s pelvis and tail.
There are so many loop holes in food labeling just about anything could be lurking in the food on our plate or the soda in our glass and the FDA would be OK with it.
Ingredients on the label of Canada Dry ginger ale are carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, citric acid, sodium benzoate, “natural flavors” and caramel color. Since I haven’t observed their process, I cannot say with any certainty, but I suspect the ginger they claim to use is dried and not the fresh version as I find no need for caramel coloring with the recipe I drafted. See photo.
The dangers of high fructose corn syrup are too well known to need clarification so let’s skip to the innocuous term “caramel color”.
Rather than inundate the reader with foreign chemical terms, let’s look at what the Center for Science in the Public Interest has to say about the caramel color found in soft drinks.
“In contrast to the caramel one might make at home by melting sugar in a saucepan, the artificial brown coloring in colas and some other products is made by reacting sugars with ammonia and sulfites under high pressure and temperatures. Chemical reactions result in the formation of 2-methylimidazole and 4 methylimidazole, which in government-conducted studies caused lung, liver, or thyroid cancer or leukemia in laboratory mice or rats”.
In government studies on the dangers of 4-Mel found in caramel color it was noted that it caused cancer in mice and it was found to be “possibly” carcinogenic in humans by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. For those who say the amount is negligible, I ask, why have any at all if you can produce a beverage at home that has none?
One bad nasty ingredient in your soda may be considered “safe”, but at the end of the day if we could peruse a total of all the bad nasties we’ve consumed within a 24 hour period and see how high the combined totals are, maybe we’d all be more diligent in eliminating them from our diets.

GINGER BEER. Oct. 2, 1824. “The Chemist”.
“Take three-quarters of an ounce of pounded ginger, half an ounce of cream of tartar, and one pound of lump sugar, (if any person does not like it very sweet, a less quantity of sugar may be used) and five quarts of water; boil the ginger in the water about half an hour, and then pour the whole on the sugar and cream of tartar. When nearly cold, put a table-spoonful of the best yeast on a piece of toasted bread, and add it to the mixture. When it has worked about twelve hours, or somewhat longer in cold weather, bottle it in stone bottles, and be careful to tie or wire down the corks, or they will fly out. In about three or four days it will be fit to drink, and will form a pleasant, refreshing summer beverage”. [The days of home-made yeast are relegated to the past for most of us so I’d suggest starting with a lesser amount of yeast and tweaking the recipe a little at a time until you are happy with the results.]
I read several versions of Ginger Syrup, many of which were described as being very spicy and because I wanted a light refreshing beverage rather than something that would numb my taste buds, I came up with my own version.
GINGER SYRUP
1 generous cup of sliced or coarsely chopped fresh ginger, peel it or not as you like
2 ½ to 3 cups sugar, raw sugar if you like
4 cups non-chlorinated water
Pinch of salt

Put all ingredients in a nonreactive pan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer about 30 to 45 minutes (You should have about 3 cups of syrup). Remove from the heat and allow it to cool. Strain out the solids. Place the syrup in a covered container and refrigerate.

To use: Fill a glass with ice and add the ginger syrup with club soda (1 part syrup to 2 parts soda or to taste) and a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime juice if you like. I find it quite refreshing and tasty without the lemon.
I then dredged the ginger slices in sugar and popped them into a low oven (about 250 deg.) until they were dry but still chewy (2 to 3 hours). I’ll use the candied ginger in recipes or nibble on it as is.
See: ConsumerReports.org and http://www.cspinet.org/new/201102161.html.

AMERICAN CHICKEN BREEDS ©

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In 1917, the Dept. of Agriculture included in the American class of chickens the Plymouth Rock, Wyandotte, Java, Dominique, Rhode Island Red, and Buckeye. Plymouth Rocks included these varieties: Barred, White, Buff, Silver, Penciled, Partridge, and Columbian. The Wyandottes included White, Buff, Silver, Golden, Partridge, Silver Penciled, Columbian, and Black. Javas were either Black or Mottled. The Rhode Island Reds could be Single Comb, or Rose Comb.

It should be noted these are breeds that originated in the U.S., some older breeds were classed as English or other.

They were considered “general-purpose” breeds because they were good for both egg and meat production. All of them layed brown-shelled eggs, had yellow skins and shanks free from feathers – traits desirable in table fowl at the time. They were considered fairly good foragers.

They matured faster than meat breeds, but not as quickly as some of the breeds considered only for egg production. They were noted as good sitters and good mothers. “Where they are kept, natural methods of incubation and brooding can therefore be used”.

“The Plymouth Rock has been for years the most popular breed in the United States. The Barred Plymouth Rock was the original variety and was developed in the United States, various lines of blood being used in the making. It is probable that the Dominique, the Black Cochin, the Black Java, the Brahma, and the Pit Game were used for this purpose. The size and type or shape of all the varieties of Plymouth Rocks are supposed to be identical. In general the breed may be described as a good-sized, rather long-bodied chicken, with fairly prominent breast and good depth of body, showing when dressed a well-rounded, compact carcass. This breed has a single comb and yellow legs, bill, and skin. The standard weight of cocks is 9 ½ pounds; of hens, 7 ½ pounds; cockerels, 8 pounds; pullets, 6 pounds. They are layers of good-sized, brown-shelled eggs, and are reputed especially as winter layers.

The Barred Plymouth Rock…is by far the most popular general-purpose or farm fowl. This variety has so long been a favorite with the general public that the barred color is generally associated with quality in table fowls. The Barred Plymouth Rock plumage is a grayish white, each feather of which is crossed by dark bars which are almost black. It is desired that these bars should be as even in width, as parallel, as straight, and as well carried down to the skin as possible. Each feather should end with a narrow, dark tip. The barring in the hackle and saddle is narrower than in other sections. The alternating dark and light bars give a bluish cast or shade to the general color, which should be even throughout the surface. It is common for solid black feathers or feathers which are partly black to occur in practically all strains in this variety, but this should not be taken as a sign of impure breeding. Black spots are also common occurrences on the shanks, particularly in females, but this does not indicate impurity.

There is a decided tendency for the males of this variety to come lighter in color than the females, and for this reason breeders are usually obliged to resort to two separate matings, one for the production of males of standard or exhibition color and the other for the production of females of standard or exhibition color. This system of breeding is known as double mating. In mating for males of exhibition color a male of about standard color is used with medium dark females, or those two or three shades darker than females of exhibition color, in which the barring is as distinct and as narrow as possible, showing a clear-cut line between the black and white bars. This mating is known as the cockerel mating, because it produces a greater percentage of exhibition or standard-colored males, while the females produced are too dark in color for exhibition, but are suitable for continuing this line of breeding. In mating for females of exhibition color, females of about standard color are used with a medium light male or one that is two or three shades lighter than males of exhibition color, but which shows distinct barring and as strong barring in the undercolor as can be obtained. This mating is known as the pullet mating, because it produces a greater percentage of females of exhibition color, while the males produced are too light for exhibition, but may be used to continue this line of breeding.

The White Plymouth Rock…is the second most popular variety of this breed. All the characteristics of the White Plymouth Rock are supposed to be identical with those of the Barred Plymouth Rock except color…the White Plymouth Rock tends to run somewhat larger in size, and the type is a little more uniform and a little better than that of the Barred Plymouth Rock. In color the White Plymouth Rock should be a pure white throughout, free from black ticking and from any brassiness or creaminess.

The Buff Plymouth Rock is distinguished from the other Rocks by the color alone, which should be an even shade of golden buff throughout. Shafting, or the presence of feathers having a shaft of different color from the rest of the feather, and mealiness, or the presence of feathers sprinkled with lighter color as though powdered with meal, are undesirable. As deep an undercolor of buff as it is possible to obtain is desirable. There is a great difference of opinion as to what constitutes desirable buff color, some favoring the lighter color, approaching lemon, while others favor a much darker buff, approaching red. The important point is to have the shade as even as possible over the entire surface.

The Silver Penciled Plymouth Rock is one of the new varieties. Its plumage is distinctive and very beautiful. In general, the plumage of the male consists of a silver white top color, extending over the shoulders and back, the hackle and saddle striped with black. The rest of the body plumage, including the main tail feathers and sickles, is black. The wings when folded show a bar of black extending across below the shoulder. Below this the wing shows white, due to the white on the outside of the secondaries. In the female the general trend of color is gray, with delicate, distinct, concentric penciling of dark on each feather except the hackle, each feather of which is silvery white with a black center, showing a slight gray penciling, with the main tail feathers, which are black, with the two top feathers showing some penciling. The color of the plumage is practically the same as that of the Dark Brahma.

The Partridge Plymouth Rock is also one of the newer varieties of this breed. The coloring of this variety is very attractive and is practically the same as that of the Partridge Cochin and also of the Silver Penciled Plymouth Rock, except that the white of the Silver Penciled is replaced by red or reddish brown.

The Columbian Plymouth Rock, a variety of comparatively recent origin, is very attractive in coloring and has proved quite popular. In general the color is white, the hackle feathers being black with a narrow edging of white, and the main tail feathers black, the tail coverts being black with a distinct white lacing. The wings also carry some black on the primary and secondary feathers, which is almost hidden when the wings are folded. The color of this variety is practically the same as that of the Light Brahma.

The Wyandotte is a rose-comb breed and is characterized as a breed of curves. The body is comparatively round and set somewhat lower on the legs than the Plymouth Rock. It is inclined to be a looser feathered breed, and its general shape and character of feathering gives it an appearance of being somewhat short backed and short bodied. The Wyandotte is a breed which also was developed in the United States, and has become very popular. The Silver Wyandotte was the original variety, and it is generally believed that the Dark Brahma, the Silver-Spangled Hamburg, and the Buff Cochin played a part in its origin. It is somewhat smaller than the Plymouth Rock, the standard weight being, for the cock, 8 ½ pounds; hen, 6 ½ pounds; cockerel, 7 ½ pounds; pullet, 5 ½ pounds. The hens are fairly prolific layers of brown eggs, are reputed to be good winter layers, and the breed as a whole makes a fine table fowl. The young chickens do not tend to have the same leggy stage which is characteristic of the Rocks and most of the other general-purpose breeds, and the breed is therefore well suited for the production of broilers. Like the Plymouth Rock, all the varieties of this breed are yellow legged and yellow skinned, which adds to their market popularity.

In the Silver Wyandotte…the male has a silver-white back and saddle, the hackle and saddle feathers being striped with black. The feathers of the body and breast are white, each laced with a black edge. The main tail feathers are black. The fluff is a slate color with some gray mixture. The color of the female shows white feathers laced with black over the entire body except the hackle, which is black laced with white, and the main tail feathers, which are black, and some black in the wings, while the fluff is slate mixed with gray. The color combination and the character of markings of the Silver Wyandotte make this a very attractive variety.

In the Golden Wyandotte the general color scheme is the same as in the Silver Wyandotte, except that the white of the Silver variety is replaced with red and reddish brown. Like the Silver Wyandotte, the color and markings of the Golden are very attractive.

The White Wyandotte is undoubtedly the most popular variety of this breed. The color is white throughout, and should be free from any brassiness or creaminess or black ticking.

In the Buff Wyandotte the color should be an even shade of buff throughout, being identical with that of the Buff Plymouth Rock.

In the Black Wyandotte the color is black in all sections, showing a greenish sheen, free from purple barring. The undercolor is lighter, somewhat on the slate order.

In the Partridge Wyandotte the color is the same as in the Partridge Plymouth Rock. In the Silver-Penciled and Columbian Wyandottes…the color is the same as in the corresponding varieties of the Plymouth Rocks.

The Dominique is also one of the oldest of the American breeds. The Dominique color is associated in the minds of people throughout the country with the barnyard fowl and is frequently confused with the Barred Plymouth Rock color. The Dominique is somewhat smaller and somewhat slighter in body, with a tail somewhat longer and sickles more prominent, than the other American Breeds. This breed has a rose comb and yellow legs and skin. The hens lay brown-shelled eggs and are good table fowls, although somewhat smaller than the other general-purpose breeds. The standard weights for this breed are: Cock, 7 pounds; hen, 5 pounds; cockerel 6 pounds; pullet, 4 pounds. The pure-bred Dominique is not extensively kept at the present time in the United States.

In color of plumage the Dominique has a general bluish or slaty cast, the feathers in all sections being barred throughout with alternate, rather irregular dark and light bars. The markings somewhat resemble those of the Barred Plymouth Rock, but are less distinct, and lack the clean-cut character of the Plymouth Rock barring. Like the Barred Plymouth Rock, each feather should end with a dark tip. The Dominique male may be, and often is, one or two shades lighter than the female. Slate undercolor occurs throughout.

The Java is one of the oldest breeds developed in the United States. In general this fowl tends to be long in body and broad in back. The comb is single, and the legs of the Black variety are black, or black approaching yellow, while those of the Mottled variety are yellow and leaden blue. The color of the legs detracts somewhat from the fowl for market purposes. The skin, however, is yellow. The hens are good layers of brown-shelled eggs, and the fowls are suitable for table purposes. This breed is not very commonly found at the present time. The standard weights are: Cock 9 ½ pounds; hen, 7 ½ pounds; cockerel, 8 pounds; pullet, 6 ½ pounds.

There are two varieties of Javas, the Black and the Mottled. The color of the Black Java is black throughout, with a greenish sheen on the surface plumage. Purple barring is undesirable. In the Mottled Java the plumage is a mottled black and white throughout, the black being more plentiful than the white. The undercolor of the Mottled Java is slaty…

The Rhode Island Red…is one of the newer breeds which have been developed in this country. At the present time it bears an excellent reputation among the farmers and is kept very extensively throughout the farming districts. The breed originated in Rhode Island, where it was developed by the farmers engaged in poultry raising. The Malay, Buff Cochin, Buff Leghorn, and Wyandotte are said to have been used in its development.

In type the Rhode Island Red has a rather long, rectangular body and is somewhat rangier in appearance than the Plymouth Rock or the Wyandotte. The hens are prolific layers of brown-shelled eggs, and the breed makes a very suitable table fowl, having yellow legs and yellow skin. The Rhode Island Reds have enjoyed an excellent reputation for hardiness, which, in the main, they have well deserved. The standard weights for this breed are: Cock, 8 ½ pounds; hen, 6 ½ pounds; cockerel, 7 ½ pounds; pullet, 5 pounds.

There are two varieties of the Rhode Island Red which are identical in color and type, but one of which has a single comb and the other a rose comb.

In color the Rhode Island Red is a rich, dark red, approaching a mahogany. It is desired to have this color as even as possible over the entire surface. There is a tendency, however, for the hackle and the lower part of the saddle of the male to be lighter in color than the back and shoulders. The main tail feathers in both sexes are black, and the wings also show some black. In the hackle of the female there is also a slight ticking of black. The undercolor of all sections should be red, and free from a dark or slaty appearance, which is known as smut.

The Buckeyes are an American breed of comparatively recent origin. In type they approach somewhat to the Cornish, being erect and broad-breasted. The standard weights are: Cock, 9 pounds; hen, 6 ½ pounds; cockerel, 8 pounds; pullet, 5 ½ pounds. This breed has a pea comb, which doubtless comes from the Cornish blood used in originating it. The hens lay brown eggs. In color Buckeyes are mahogany bay, which is slightly darker on the wing bows of the males. The flight and tail feathers often carry black as well. The undercolor should be red, except in the back, where a bar of slate is desired.

Source: Farmer’s Bulletins. #806. April 1917. Pages 1-18.

Buffalo Meat and Preparing It. ©

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©The following recipes may be considered a continuation on the post on buffalo [bison] in Alabama. Cookbooks weren’t being published in America during the heyday of buffalo cookery so while there are few actual recipes in early sources, there are many recorded instances of eating buffalo. As for the cooking, the following accounts, with a little imagination, will serve us well.

For this article, a buffalo ”chip” is not a piece of crunchy meat, and buffalo does not refer to a chicken wing swimming in hot sauce, or to a species of fish.

The prime cuts from a buffalo were the hump and the tongue followed in preference by the liver, ribs, and marrow bones. A sinful amount of meat went to waste when herds were slaughtered for their hides and, “the carcasses were left to the wolves and buzzards.” There was a market for salted buffalo tongues [sometimes referred to as pickled], but the harvesting was still sinfully wasteful, the tongue often being the only cut harvested from an animal.

Salted tongue, required removing enough of the salt to make it palatable when served. It was often boiled in successive waters (pouring off the water and replacing it with fresh water during the cooking process) or soaking it prior to cooking, again often in successive waters. “The salter [sic]meat is, the longer it should be boiled. If very salt, it is well to put it in soak over night; change the water while cooking…”. “Buffalo’s tongue should soak a day and a night, and boil as much as six hours”.

Buffalo ribs from the humps were much appreciated and could be roasted by propping them up near a fire. Let’s look at words penned b y Josiah Gregg for an idea of the quality of the meat that was so vastly wasted. “The flesh of the buffalo is, I think, as fine as any meat I ever tasted: The old hunter will not admit that there is anything equal to it. Much of its apparent savoriness, however, results perhaps from our sharpened ‘prairie appetites’ and our being usually upon salt provisions awhile before obtaining it. The flesh is of coarser texture than beef, more juicy, and the fat and lean better distributed. This meat is also very easy of digestion, possessing even aperients qualities. The circumstance that bulls of all ages, if fat, make good beef is a further proof of the superiority of buffalo meat…Of these, the udder is held as hardly second to the tongue in delicacy. But what the tail of the beaver is to the trapper, the tongue of the buffalo is to the hunter. Next to this are the marrow-bones, the tender-loins, and the hump-ribs.” The author acknowledged that many animals were wantonly slaughtered by travelers and hunters, but said hardly less was, “the still greater havoc made among them by the Indians, not only for meat, but often for the skins and tongues alone (for which they find a ready market amount their traders)…”.

Charles Murray said of choice cuts in the 1830’s, “…the ribs, and the back, especially the hump, are, if properly dressed, as sweet, tender, and delicious beef as the most delicate epicure could desire; and both the fat and marrow are certainly finer than those of any domesticated cattle…”.

Not sure what to do with marrow-bones? After roasting the bones, the marrow was removed. “…oh, shade of Eude, the marrow-bones! No man can guess what marrow amounts to until he has been to the Far West and eaten it as Wallace, who cooked on the plains for me, dressed it. The bone was brought to table in its full length, and they had some way of hitting it with the back of an axe which opened one side of it only, like the lid of a box. The bone, then, when this lid was removed, exposed in its entire length a regular white roll of unbroken marrow, beautifully done. When hot, as the lid had kept it, and put on thin toast, it was perfection! On inquiry I found that the two extreme ends of the marrow-bone only were placed on the red embers, and the heat of the bone itself dressed the marrow. As far as the bison meat went, it was precisely lean beef; with no more flavor than lean beef in England would have…“.

One writer wrote that it took a while to consume a whole buffalo which would have required smoking, drying, or salting to preserve it. “…for a long time, on the general bill of fare at Sydenham’s ranch, was buffalo rump, buffalo tongue, buffalo ribs, buffalo steak, boiled buffalo, jerked buffalo, and dried buffalo…”.

When cooked outdoors, rarely are vegetables or other dishes mentioned as accompaniments, the meat being consumed by itself or with bread or crackers and steaming hot coffee. “Meanwhile, the cook of each mess…has been preparing hot coffee; and offers it with the unleavened cakes which were baked over night against a spade or board, and some boiled or fried buffalo meat for breakfast: as a rarity, he gives them a morsel of fried pork.”

We can thank Frederick Townshend for a look at Native American cooking of buffalo meat, but we must look beyond his words for an accurate picture. Rare beef, or in this case buffalo, is much the standard today and would hardly be worth mentioning, but for Townshend it seems to have made an impression. “The Indian manner of cooking buffalo meat is simple in the extreme. Lighting a large log fire, they bend across it sticks of green wood, on which they hang large pieces of flesh. Then, sitting round the fire, they cut strips of meat off with their knives, and devour it half raw…”.

“Indians often use wood-ashes as a substitute for salt and never use salt with buffalo-meat; but their liking or preference comes from their habit of invariably broiling buffalo-meat on wood cinders or buffalo-chips” [now you know what chips are].

Recipes:
BUFFALO STEAKS. Rorer, Sarah Tyson. “Mrs. Rorer’s Philadelphia Cook Book.” 1886. Philadelphia.
Buffalo steaks are broiled precisely the same as beefsteak, seasoning only with butter, salt, and pepper. Buffalo meat may also be roasted or stewed.

Juliet Corson in “A Course of Lectures on the Principles of Domestic Economy and Cookery”, noted that her venison recipe worked quite well when cooking buffalo. The venison was browned in smoking hot butter on all sides and a Tablespoon of currant jelly added per pound of meat. “It will cook, if it is an inch thick, pretty well done in about twenty minutes. Season it with salt and pepper, and when it is done put it on the platter and pour the currant jelly and butter over it. The cooking of the jelly with the venison makes it a nice sauce or gravy. [1887]

Frances Owens tells us that, “Bear and buffalo meats are cooked substantially the same as beef or venison”.

PEMMICAN—TO PREPARE. Mrs. Owens.
Pemmican is made of the lean portions of venison, buffalo, etc. The Indian method is to remove the fat from the lean, dry the lean in the sun; then make a bag of the skin of the animal and put the lean pieces in loosely. To this must be added the fat of the animal, rendered into tallow, and poured in quite hot. This will cause all the spaces to be filled. When cold, put away for future use. In civilized life, a jar can be used in place of the bag. Pemmican may be cooked same as sausage, or eaten as dried beef. It is invaluable in long land explorations, and is of great use in sea voyages.

SOURCES:
Drury, Newton B., Director, National Par, Service. “The Comeback of the Bison”. Published in “The Rotarian” Dec. 1946.
Hooper, Edward James. “The Practical Farmer, Gardener and Housewife”. 1840. Cincinnati.
Gregg, Josiah. “Commerce of the Prairies”. 1851. Philadelphia.
Murray, Charles. “Travels in North America During the Years 1834, 1835 & 1836. 1839. London.
Berkeley, Grantley Fitzhugh. “The English Sportsman in the Western Prairies”. 1861. London.
Root, Frank A. “The Overland Stage to California.”
Cooke, Philip St. George. “Scenes and Adventures in the Army: Or, Romance of Military Life”. 1859. Philadelphia.
Townshend, Frederick. “Ten Thousand Miles of Travel, Sport, and Adventure.” 1869. London.
Blot, Pierre. “Hand-book of Practical Cookery.” 1884. NY
Rorer, Sarah Tyson. “Mrs. Rorer’s Philadelphia Cook Book.” 1886. Philadelphia.
Owens, Frances. “Mrs. Owens’ Cook Book. 1903. Chicago.

© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Victoria Rumble

NATIVE AMERICAN WASTE OF THE BUFFALO &c. ©

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Buffalo skulls
Photo: Two men shown with a mountain of buffalo skulls, public domain.

© We are conditioned to think of Native Americans as good stewards of Nature, taking only what was essential for their well-being, yet it is not hard to find first-hand accounts of buffalo hunting which paint a different picture. No one would argue the senseless slaughter and waste of these magnificent animals at the hands of the Europeans, however, the loss of the buffalo also rests on the shoulders of the Indian.

“If the chase has been a successful one, the remains of partially dressed buffalos are left; but if not, they [Indians] return, and the carcass is cleaned and meat taken to camp”.

While one might wonder at his qualifications to make such a statement, Thomas Thorpe wrote that, “No part of North America was originally unoccupied by the buffalo”, and took note of the commonality of the Indians wasting a degree of the meat after a hunt. “The Indian gluts himself with marrow and fatness…he spends days and nights in wasteful extravagance, trusting to the abundance of nature to take care of the future.”

“You may say to them that the Indians do not eat all the game they take,–that it is not supposed they eat more than four-fifths of the deer they kill. The skins are of great value to them, and having secured these, the bodies are left for the wolves to devour, and it is much the same with the buffalo; they are hunted for their tongues, and skins, of which they manufacture robes, and sell them to the fur traders. The tongues are esteemed a great luxury. If I should tell you how many thousands of these robes are made and sold in a year by the Osages, and other more distant tribes, you would be astonished that there were any buffaloes to be found within hundreds of miles. Some of their most skillful hunters will kill nearly a hundred deer in five or six weeks. If they do not become civilized before many years, the game will become so scarce that they must waste away in the wilderness, and perish from want”.

Adair stated in 1775, “The buffalo herds are now becoming scarce. The thoughtless and wasteful Indians used to kill great numbers of them, only for their tongue and marrow bones, leaving the rest of the carcases to the wild beasts”.

Josiah Greg noted in 1835 that travelers and hunters wreaked havoc on the buffalo but that the Indians often killed them merely for their skins and tongues. Romans had described the wanton destruction of the buffalo by those who took, “his tongue only” some 60 years prior [1776].

“Still, vast as these herds are, their numbers are much less than in earlier times, and they are diminishing with fearful rapidity…it would be well to attach the most stringent penalties against the barbarous practice of killing buffalo merely for the sport, or perhaps for the tongues alone. Thousands are killed every year in this way. After all, however, it is perhaps the Indian himself who commits the mischief most wantonly”.

Joel Allen studied the destruction of the buffalo with astonishing results, particularly regarding the Indians’ part in decimating the herds through the sale of buffalo robes. For the most part the hides were the only part of the animal that was harvested in those endeavors. His figures were taken from such notable sources as a partner in the American Fur Company and a railroad agent’s reports on the transportation of the robes and given the average waste of some three to five animals for every robe produced he arrived at the figure of 1,800,000 animals killed just by one group of Indians during a three or four month period annually. That does not include the robes kept for their own use.

For doubters of the figure, let us consider the number of such robes that were received at only a few posts on the Upper Missouri during a season. Ft. Benton – 36,000 robes; Ft. Union 30,000; Ft. Clark and Ft. Berthoud about 10,000 each; Ft. Pierre 19,000; bringing the total for the year to about 75,000, “which he informed me was about the annual average at that period”. The number of buffalo products he quoted that were enumerated by the auditors of the Kansas Pacific and other railways which hauled them was mindboggling for the same year, but it cannot be determined how much of them white hunters or Indians were responsible for. It might be noted that at the time this research was gathered and these killings took place [1871-2], herds had already dwindled to a mere fraction of what they’d been a century before and were completely nonexistent in some states.

Caitlin described in detail a one-day Sioux hunt in 1833 at the mouth of the Teton, when some 600 Sioux came into the settlement of the Fur Company at sunset with “fourteen hundred fresh buffalo tongues”, which they exchanged for a few gallons of whiskey. He said not one skin, nor one pound of flesh was saved from the slaughtered buffalo, everything save the tongues left to rot.

After describing the methods used by Native Americans to hunt deer and elk, John Hunter wrote, “The Indians seldom eat the flesh of either of these animals, while that of the buffalo can be obtained; it is, nevertheless, excellent in its season, particularly that of the deer”. He said further that while the Indian had once venerated the beaver, upon discovering the value the whites attached to the skins, they, “hunt it with an avidity and industry that threaten in the course of a few years to eradicate them from their hunting grounds”.

Alaska natives also hunted for the hides alone. Treasury agents noted in 1898 seeing bales of hides waiting to be shipped and upon inquiring what was done with the meat were told that the deer were shot only for the hides. “White men go out and kill the animals for fun…The natives kill them, because they can get a drink of whisky, valued at 25 cents, for every skin secured”.

There are accounts to the contrary, so perhaps the wastefulness varied between tribes, or, perhaps Ernest Seton was correct in saying, “Many of the Indians armed with rifles have learned to emulate the white man, and slaughter game for the love of slaughter, without reference to the future. Such waste was condemned by the old-time Indians, as an abuse of the gifts of God, and which would surely bring its punishment”.

SOURCES: Batty, Joseph H. “How to Hunt and Trap: Containing Full Instructions for Hunting the Buffalo, Elk, Moose, Deer, Antelope, Bear, Fox, Grouse, Quail, Geese, Ducks, Woodcock, Snipe, Etc., Etc.” 1878. NY.
U.S. Dept. of the Treasury. “Seal and Salmon Fisheries and General Resources of Alaska. 1898. Washington.
Thorpe, Thomas Bangs. “The Mysteries of the Backwoods, Or, Sketches of the Southwest”. 1846. Philadelphia.
Tuttle, Sarah. “Letters on the Chickasaw and Osage Missions”. 1833. Boston.
Greg, Josiah. “Commerce of the Prairies”. 1851. Philadelphia.
Romans. “Natural History of Florida”.
Baird, Professor. Pat. Office Rep., Agriculture, 1851-52, Part 2. P. 125.
Schoolcraft’s History, Condition, and Prospects of the Indian Tribes of the United States. Vol. IV, p. 94.
Allen, Joel Asaph. “History of the American Bison”. 1877. Washington.
“The Gentleman’s Magazine”. Aug. 1885.
Hunter, John Dunn. “Memoirs of a Captivity Among the Indians of North America, from Childhood to the Age of Nineteen.” 1823. London.

© All Rights Reserved

Abuse of Public Assistance

Note: This is a non-historical post, hysterical perhaps, but not historical.

A recent public announcement showed there are more families living on public assistance in Alabama than there are working families in the state, so I ask you, “Who is paying the bills for these families”? The answer is – hard-working families who are paying more and being taxed to death.

Alabama shares the distinction of having more welfare families than working families with sister states Maine, New York, Ohio, Kentucky, Illinois, South Carolina, Mississippi, New Mexico, Hawaii, and California. This is a club to which each of these states should be ashamed to belong. – dated Oct. 2013, Economic Policy Journal.com.

I am not alone in my resentment at supporting families in which one or both adults are perfectly capable of working and choose not to. Let’s look at some statistics for 2014.

In Alabama welfare recipients can receive benefits that are equivalent to $23,310. yearly, or to break it down further, that is about $11.21 per hour if the recipient worked full time, and they do nothing to earn it. A study by CATO showed there are 35 states where welfare benefits are higher than the salary for a full-time job at minimum wage so there is NO incentive for irresponsible people to work.

Let’s look at it another way, “The median salary in Alabama is $29,848. That means a person on welfare can make 78.1 percent of the state’s median salary and live at 136 percent of the federal poverty level” and qualify for all manner of assistance which working families cannot.

Abuse of public assistance programs is running rampant in this country. One only has to look at a few forums and web sites or listen to news broadcasts for an idea of how big a problem it is.

Fraud includes recipients who sell food stamps for pennies on the dollar and use the money to purchase non-food items, often while their children are receiving two free meals a day at school rather than at home.

Total number of Americans on welfare: 12,800,000; total number of Americans on food stamps: 46,700,000; total number of Americans on unemployment insurance: 5,600,000; percent of the U.S. population on welfare: 4.1%; total government spending on welfare annually (not to include food stamps or unemployment): $131.9 Billion dollars. –Source: Dept. of Commerce statistics.

To show the depth of the welfare abuse, the Washington Times reported that welfare spending has increased 32% during the Obama presidency – from $563 billion in fiscal year 2008 to $746 billion in fiscal year 2011. How long can this country stay solvent with welfare spending increasing at this rate?

We haven’t even touched on the number of children some of the families on public assistance have, and don’t tell me I don’t have the right to tell someone how many children they can have because as long as deductions from my paycheck are helping to support these families I have every right. Remember your parents saying, “As long as you live under my roof you will do as I say”? Same difference.

I had two children because I could not clothe, feed, educate, and provide for more than two yet families in which the medical cost of having the children is paid by Medicaid; the cost of feeding them is taken care of by programs such as Alabama Summer Food Service, WIC, Alabama Special Milk Program, Alabama School Breakfast and Lunch Program, and Alabama Food Assistance Program; and homes are warmed or cooled by allowances from the Alabama Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program and the Alabama Weatherization Assistance program, etc. often have large families.

Liberals can ask how can anyone want to deny a family assistance with one of these programs, to which I reply it is a well known fact that another aspect of public assistance fraud is the large percentage of families who receive aid from multiple programs at the same time.

Drawing public assistance, (food assistance program or Medicaid) is not the end of the story. Families on those programs and others are entitled to free cell phones, and in fact, in Alabama a Medicaid recipient has to send a letter declining the phone otherwise it is sent as a matter of course. I think of this every month when I pay my cell bill. A family in public housing, drawing SSI, receiving the NSL’s free school lunch program, or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families etc. may also qualify for free phones and free cell service.

I do not include the elderly, the disabled, those who have lost a job due to a plant closing or other circumstance beyond their control, or military veterans in my rant against public assistance. God knows a disabled veteran deserves every form of assistance possible, however, studies have shown that some welfare/public assistance recipients draw more in food assistance per month than some veterans’ benefits combined. See: http://gopthedailydose.com/2013/10/29/welfare-recipients-receive-benefits-permanently-disabled-combat-vet/

There have been bills introduced in Alabama that, if passed, would allow drug testing for some welfare recipients, make it a crime to defraud public assistance programs, require welfare recipients to show proof of trying to find employment, etc., but these measures are simply putting a band-aid on a scar.

Because of prison overcrowding the state is considering releasing criminals with time remaining on their sentences so it is unlikely someone caught selling food vouchers is going to prison and it is doubtful they’d even see a lapse in benefits. The legal system is not going to suddenly decide to get tough with public assistance abuse unless the system is overhauled from the ground floor up.

I agree with Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions – welfare should be viewed as a temporary measure and not as a permanent way of life. From presidential candidates down to the lowliest town mayor candidate may forego their bickering and mudslinging in the coming years, not promise reform they can’t deliver, and tell the American people one thing – what their strategy is for reversing this pattern and rewarding working families for making their own way. You don’t reward an unruly child, so why should you reward someone who chooses not to be a responsible worker with a free cell phone?

Wake up America and demand a change while there is time to reverse, or at least slow down, this downward spiral before working Americans are crushed under the weight of entitlement.

See: http://blog.al.com/wire/2014/01/governor_bentley_offers_unapol.html

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Brigitte

The following article was published in the Evening Sun, Hanover, PA, by Martin’s niece, the awesome Brigitte Brady and it is so informative that I asked if I could share it. The photo is Brigitte doing a school program on nutrition with her “lab assistant”, Beaker. Why weren’t such classes that much fun when I was in school?

We are especially proud of Brigitte because her Grandma, the equally awesome, Mrs. Anna Zartman Brady, wrote a weekly column for the Evening Sun for some 30 odd years and Brigitte is following right along in her footsteps. I would love to see the paper compile her articles into book or CD form so that I could enjoy each and every one. I am so very blessed to be part of this wonderful family! – Blissful Meals Yall, THF.

Family Living Focus: Taste the rainbow of fresh and local produce
By Brigitte Brady
Family and Consumer Science Assistant

POSTED: 06/13/2014 11:46:11 AM EDT0 COMMENTS

One of my favorite things to do during the spring and early summer in York County is to stroll through one of the many local farm markets and savor the sight and fragrance of the just-picked produce. Everything is so ripe, so fresh and, best of all, nearly everything is locally grown. There is an abundance of great produce in season right now that it is easy to leave the market with my bag teeming with fruits and vegetables of every color of the rainbow. It is such a treat to have fresh, off-the-stalk green beans, cucumbers and tomatoes, crisp butter lettuces and a tasty array of sweet-tart berries to incorporate into my diet.

Buying local produce is rewarding to both the community and the consumer. Purchasing local fruits and vegetables helps support York County farms and businesses. Local produce purchases shorten the amount of time it takes to get the food from the farm to our tables, ensuring the freshest product possible. You may not be aware of this fact, but the longer a fruit or vegetable sits uneaten the more nutrients it loses. That being said, how much Vitamin C is really in that asparagus being shipped to the grocery from Peru, South America by the time it gets to York County? Buying local produce is starting to look a lot smarter and healthier.

So what is the key to selecting the most garden-fresh produce? The appearance, color and texture of the fruit or vegetable are crucial to determining its freshness. Bright, vibrant colors without dark spots, bruising or discoloration generally indicate a good product. Produce such as berries should be dry, firm, not mushy or shriveled; strawberries should have bright green caps intact and seeds should not be hard or brown. Greens such as lettuces and spinach should be crisp and not limp or brown around the edges. Tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers should be vivid in color, firm and juicy, and free from bruising or scars. Green beans, also called string beans locally, should be firm and snap easily when bent. Smell is also an important factor when considering the freshness of a fruit or vegetable. The produce should have a light aroma indicative of its flavor. A strong scent or off scent is a sign that the product is past is peak of freshness and is on its way to spoiling. Use your best judgment. If it looks good enough to eat, it probably is!

Now that you have picked the perfect produce, properly washing and storing it will provide the best guarantee that the valuable nutrients will be maintained as long as possible. To clean most fruits and vegetables you must simply rinse them thoroughly under cold, running water. They should be placed in a plastic bag or wrapped in a paper towel and stored in the crisper of your refrigerator. For items such as lettuce heads and other leafy greens, be sure to separate the leaves to remove all the dirt. They should be dried, either by use of a salad spinner or a colander and paper towels; they can then be stored in the refrigerator in a plastic bag for up to five days. Tomatoes are the exception to the refrigeration rule. They taste best at room temperature and chilling them actually expedites the ripening process. You should only refrigerate tomatoes if you cannot use them before they spoil.

My favorite spring and summer treat, the fresh berries, generally have the shortest shelf life. Still, with proper handling, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries will keep in your refrigerator three to five days and blueberries will keep for up to two weeks. The key is to not wash the berries until you are ready to eat them as extra moisture accelerates the ripening and spoiling processes. Also be sure to take them out of their original container and place them on a single layer in a shallow dish or tray. If you have too many berries to utilize before they spoil, they are easily frozen. Simply arrange the clean, dry berries in a single layer on a cookie sheet, freeze for one hour then place them in air-tight bags and store up to three months in the freezer.

Purchasing fresh, local produce is a wonderful way to add variety and nutrition to your diet. For more information regarding the types of produce available during the various growing seasons, the USDA website (www.usda.gov) and York County’s Chapter of Buy Fresh, Buy Local (www.buyfreshbuylocalyork.com) are very helpful resources. These sites can provide additional information, nutritional values, and a multitude of recipes to complement the produce that is in season. Remember the more colorful your plate is, the more nutrients you are consuming. Don’t be afraid to try something new!

Brigitte Brady is a Family and Consumer Science Assistant at Penn State Extension in York County. Penn State Extension in York County is at 112 Pleasant Acres Road, York PA, 17402, call 717-840-7408 or email brb18@psu.edu.

BUFFALO IN PRESENT DAY ALABAMA ©

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The following brief summary documents the presence of buffalo in the Southeast, particularly in present day Alabama.

Animal-Range-and-farm-Buffalo

© “On the high plains of North America, the buffalo was the economic basis of Native American life well into the nineteenth century. When European-American settlement began to encroach on the area early in that century, an estimated 30 million buffalo lived in a large area from present-day Texas in the South to northern Alberta. East and west, buffalo ranged from present-day New York state to Alabama and Mississippi, to Idaho and eastern Oregon.” – Johansen, Bruce. “The Encyclopedia of Native American Economic History”. 1999. Greenwood Press.

Southern states in which buffalo were documented include Virginia, the Carolinas, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. One writer documented buffalo in Georgia to the middle of the state and in Mississippi to the coast, but stated he had found no primary source from the earliest settlement for buffalo in Alabama. He explained, however, that due to them being common in the neighboring states they were obviously present in Alabama but not documented by the early writers he had studied. Perhaps this was because in the mid-18th century Alabama was not yet a state and buffalo present in the area were lumped in with neighboring states or territories. [AL became a state in 1819, GA in 1788]. – “The Extermination of the American Bison”. 1889. U.S. Govt. Printing Office. Project Gutenberg.

Compare the first map below which dates from shortly after the French and Indian war (mid-18th century) with the second one from 1800 and note how the boundaries of Georgia have changed. In 1800, Georgia’s boundary has receded eastward and the area where Alabama will eventually be is labeled Mississippi Territory.

Southern-Colonies after F&I War

us_1800

A little known account written in 1708 and published in 1988 documents buffalo in Alabama. The 18th century journal of Thomas Nairne was published by the University of Mississippi Press in 1988, and in it is found the following letter, penned by Nairne: “…the usuall divertion of the hunters was either to look for Bare [bear], fire a ring for Dear or go to the Clay pitts and shoot Buffaloes, for you must observe that in the spring and all sumer these cattle eat abundance of Clay. They find out such places as are saltish, which they like [lick] up in such quantities as if some hundreds of thousands of Bricks had been made out of them, and the paths leading to these holes are as many and well Trod, as those to the greatest Cowpens in Carolina…”.

The area Nairne was describing was on the Chattahoochee and crossing the Coosa, near present day Mongomery. – Nairne, Thomas, ed. By Alexander Moore. “Nairne’s Muskhogean Journals: The 1708 Expedition to the Mississippi River. U. of Miss. Press. 1988.

Thomas Foster says that buffalo were probably utilized by the Lower Creeks from the 1720’s or earlier. “In August 1739, at a Creek town on the Chattahoochee River (Russell County, Alabama), Oglethorpe’s men observed Creek men hunting turkeys, deer, geese, and buffalo. At another Creek town in Alabama, the white hunters observed that the Indians ‘spend much time in hunting deer, turkeys, and bison’.” He noted that by the 1770’s buffalo were probably becoming scarce in Florida, South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama. – “Archaeology of the Lower Muskogee Creek Indians 1715-1836”. 1970.

Sir Robert Montgomery described neighboring Georgia as the land between the Altamaha and the Savannah Rivers, “and abounding with large herds of deer, will buffalo’s, and most kinds of beasts, birds, …”. James Oglethorpe on his way to meet with the Creeks in Alabama encamped at Oconee River and the next day, “crossed the river and killed two buffaloes of which there are an abundance.”

Buffalo were prevalent in the area of Anniston, Alabama in the 1500’s according to author Ernest Callenbach who also noted the Army had a small herd of bison at the Depot there during present times. – “Bring Back the Buffalo!”. 1996.

An archaeological excavation at Moundville turned up bones which are thought to be bison. They weren’t positively identified as bison bones, but they did come from, “a very large mammal”, and there were distinct skinning marks on the bone further strengthening the belief that they were bison. – Knight, Vernon J. “Mound Excavations at Moundville”. 2010. Tuscaloosa.

“Before the days of white settlement in Alabama, herds of bison and elk grazed the prairies of the Black Belt and Wire-grass sections, and black bear and deer ranged the upland forests and river bottom canebrakes.” The author who penned those words went on to say that early explorers into Alabama found the Indians using hoes made from bison shoulder blades. – Writers Program (Ala.). “Alabama a Guide to the Deep South”. May 1941.

It is obviously safe to say that buffalo did once roam freely through Alabama, more’s the pity that “civilization” pushed them to the brink of extinction. Good day, – THF.© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

MORE ON THE INDIAN PEACH

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[See the previous post for more on Alabama fruit and fruit growers.] Peaches are not native to America, though they arrived so early that some of the earliest writers thought them so. Spanish explorers are credited with introducing the peach, as it was documented growing commonly in Mexico 50 years after Cortez arrived and the Spanish are said to have grown it in St. Augustine, Florida by 1565. It was spread in part by the Jesuit and Franciscan fathers.

There are many accounts of the “Indian Peach”, and we will examine a few.

“The Indian Peach.—John Lawson who was in this country between 1700 and 1708, says in his New Voyage to Carolina (London, 1709), a propos of the peach: ‘I want to be satisfy’d about one sort of this Fruit, which the Indians claim as their own, and affirm they had it growing amongst them before any Europeans came to America. The Fruit I will describe as exactly as I can. The tree grows very large, most commonly as big as a handsome Apple-tree; the Flowers are of a reddish murrey Colour; the Fruit is rather more downy than the yellow Peach, and commonly very large and soft, being very full of Juice. They part very freely from the Stone, and the Stone is much thicker than all the other Peach Stones we have, which seems to me that it is a Spontaneous Fruit of America; yet in those Parts of America that we inhabit, I never could hear that any Peach-Trees were ever found growing in the Woods; neither have the foreign Indians that live remote from the English any other sort. And those living amongst us have a hundred of this sort for one of the other; they are a hardy Fruit, and are seldom damaged by the North-East Blasts, as others are. Of this sort we make Vinegar; wherefore we call them Vinegar-Peaches, and sometimes Indian peaches”.

Le Page Du Pratz wrote in 1758 that the natives had peaches and figs when the French settled in Louisiana in 1698. He thought they’d gotten them from the English in Carolina, but it is more commonly accepted that they came from the Spanish in Mexico or Florida.

Some years afterward, John Bartram said the peach and plum orchards still stood and bore fruit when he traveled through the Cherokee town, Sticoe, about the Savannah River [Georgia], and he found peaches growing near the ruins of a French town near Mobile, AL.

Du Pratz said, “Our colonists [French] plant the peach stones about the end of February, and suffer the trees to grow exposed to all weathers. In the third year they will gather from one tree at least two hundred peaches, and double that number for six or seven years more, when the tree dies irrecoverably. As new trees are so easily produced, the loss of the old ones is not the least regretted.”

John Lawson also noted that trees grew from stones and bore in three years. “Eating peaches in our orchards makes them come up so thick from the kernel, that we are forced to take a great deal of care to weed them out, otherwise they make our land a wilderness of peach trees. They generally bear so full that they break [a] great part of their limbs down.”

The Indian Peach was introduced into South Carolina from the Indians in Georgia and in 1806, it was, “looked upon a great rarity in South-Carolina, where it has just began to be cultivated”. It was described as having a deep brown skin when ripe, the flesh underneath the skin yellow, and beet red toward the stone.

The Indian Peach was somewhat of an anomaly in that old records say it could be grown true to form [at least for several generations] from seed while other peaches are grafted to get the desired result. It is ancient in origin by American standards although some nurseries still sell what they claim to be the Indian Blood Peach. How true these heirloom peaches may be to the original Indian Peach is not certain. Called by growers the Columbia peach, subsequent generations of the Indian were said to be growing inferior in quality when discussed in 1897 and it was noted that it was disappearing from the markets.

The “Genessee Farmer” said of it in 1833, “Thirty years ago when we [New York] had scarcely any other kind than the old Indian peach in the country, it was observed to come very true from the stone; and amongst the hundreds of trees produced in this way, we have not met with any distinguishable sub-variety.”

While I make no claim as to the authenticity of any such-named tree currently available on the market, perhaps those who are interested will be able to search heirloom fruit trees for the closest relative of the original Indian. Blissful Meals, THF.

SOURCES:
Georgia State Horticultural Society. “Proceedings.” 1897. Augusta.
Hilton, William. “A Relation of a Discovery Lately Made on the Coasts of Florida”. 1664. Force Hist. Tracts.
Hedrick, U.P. “The Peaches of New York”. Albany. 1917.
Bartram, William. “Travels Through North and South Carolina, Georgia, East and West Florida”. 1791.
Kalm, Peter. “Travels Into North America”. 1771.
Schecut, John Linnaeus Edward Whitridge. “Flora Carolinaeensis”. 1806. Charleston.
“Genessee Farmer and Gardener’s Journal.” Vol. 3. Sept. 21, 1833.

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