November is a fickle month. It is an unpredictable month weather-wise. And it is an election year with just six days to go to find out if all that has been predicted for this November comes true.
If you haven't caught the campaigner's spirit by now, maybe you should invite some friends in and watch the results. We always hope our choice will be the winner in a clean sweep and not go down in dismal defeat -
either way it is nice to share whatever emotion the results may bring you.
You might send invitations out that read 2008 Official Ballot - Appetizers: Republican Punch, Ballot Bites, Assorted Nuts; Main Course: Democratic Stew, Vegetable Caucuses, Lame Duck Salad, Roll Call Rolls; Desserts: Party Platforms, Campaign Promises, Candidates, Acceptance Peaches. This can be a light-hearted gathering with a menu mostly made ahead or you can delegate.
Note: I actually have recipes for the above, from Sunset Magazine, November 1988. Call me if you are interested.
You might want to bake the traditional Hartford election cake. As early as the 1630s, colonial housewives were making special cakes to celebrate the democratic ideals of their new homeland. After independence in 1776, the celebrations became more elaborate. In New England, town meetings often lasted all day and the village store served this cake for the noon recess. It was one of the first foods to be identified with American politics and was served to celebrate an election victory or while awaiting the returns.
HARTFORD ELECTION DAY CAKE
21/4 cups flour
1 package active dry yeast
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup milk
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 cup raisins
In large mixing bowl combine 1 cup of the flour, yeast, salt and nutmeg. In a saucepan heat milk, granulated sugar, brown sugar and butter just till warm, stirring constantly. Add to dry mixture in bowl. Add egg; beat at low speed of electric mixer for 1/2 minute, scraping sides of bowl constantly. Beat 3 minutes at high speed. By hand stir in remaining flour and raisins. Cover; let rise in warm place till double, about 11/2 hours. Stir dough down. Spoon into greased 9- by 5- by 3-inch loaf pan. Let rise until nearly double, about one hour. Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for 40 minutes. Makes 1 loaf.
- from "Better Homes & Gardens Heritage Cook Book"
Tabulating election results used to continue through the wee hours of the morning, but this flavorful cake will be declared a winner after just one bite.
I have a 1913 copy of "The Boston Cooking School Cook Book" by Fannie Merritt Farmer and in it is a recipe for Election Cake that calls for 1 cup bread dough and sour milk and figs.
Most interesting was the little card that fell out of the book. It was a notice to customers: "On account of the greatly increased price of feed, due to the drouth of the year, we are compelled to start early winter feeding. Therefore the following prices on milk and cream will become effective September first: Milk, quart 12 cents, Milk, pint 7 cents, Cream, half pint 15 cents, Cream, quarter pint 8 cents.
Then there was burgoo - a hearty concoction of chicken, beef and vegetables that took all night to prepare. Even rallies began to be called "burgoos." It seems to have originated in the mid-18th century as a thick porridge. It first found popularity in Kentucky and was made thicker with the addition of meat from hens, squirrels, beef, hogs and lambs, and a wider assortment of vegetables and seasonings - a hearty concoction that took all night to prepare.
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 beef bone with meat
1/2 pound veal
1 cut-up chicken
2 quarts water
1/2 tablespoon salt
2 cups chopped onions
1 clove garlic,
1 cup diced potatoes
6 stalks celery, diced
1 large can tomatoes
3 diced carrots
1 green pepper, chopped
8-ounce can butter beans
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
4 whole cloves
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup chopped okra
1 package frozen corn kernels
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup chopped parsley
Heat oil in large pot; add beef and veal and brown. Add chicken, water and salt and cook over low heat, covered, until very tender. When cool, cut the meat and chicken into small pieces, removing the bones and skin, and return to the broth. Add onions, garlic, potatoes, celery, tomatoes, carrots, green pepper, butter beans and seasonings and cook slowly for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Then add okra and corn and cook 15 minutes longer. Before serving, combine butter and flour and stir into the burgoo; cook, stirring constantly, until it has thickened slightly. Sprinkle with parsley and serve to 10.
- from "Better Homes & Gardens Heritage Cook Book"
BRUNSWICK STEW was another popular dish served at political rallies, especially in Virginia. It began as a squirrel stew but chicken is now accepted as its major ingredient. The same ingredients are called for as in burgoo, with the addition of ham bones and a squirrel and the omission of garlic, carrots and green peppers. The recipes for both vary from county to county, state to state.
We have come to the close of another campaign that some feel "generated more heat than light," so gather some friends together and bring it to a fitting finale. You might prefer to serve this easy CREAMY BEEF BURGUNDY that can be put into the crock pot in the morning - serve it on noodles with a tossed green salad and you have a winner.
Check out the Friends of the Fields Web site at www.friendsoftrhefields.org. Local ingredients are healthier, fresher and make your meals taste better! Make sure you have the best local ingredients from our productive local farms by supporting Friends of the Fields in its efforts to preserve local farmland today.
4 pounds round steak, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 can cream of celery soup
3 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 cup burgundy or other dry red wine
1 can mushroom slices or pieces, drained
1 packet dried onion-mushroom soup mix
Combine meat, soups, wine, mushrooms and soup mix in crock pot; turn on high and cook 6-8 hours.
Serve with noodles to 12.
Or put into baking dish, cover and cook 4 hours in a 250-degree oven, or until beef is very tender.
- from my files
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