Well, it’s the Monday after Thanksgiving, and food is now the farthest thing from my mind. I’ve cooked and baked enough in the last week to happily sail through the next few months without doing either, but I promised you a series of “Madame De Ryther Mondays” until Christmas… So here is a 1904 article in which she discusses how to make puddings: rice pudding, tapioca pudding, chocolate pudding, and one other whose name is concealed by the Fulton History site’s logo label. Since I honestly can’t bear the thought right now of unwrapping another stick of butter or spooning heaping tablespoonfuls of sugar into anything, I am currently psychologically unable to try any of these recipes out myself. But don’t let that stop you if you have managed to remain “on your kitchen feet,” both mentally & physically, in the aftermath of Thanksgiving ;-).
In her article, professional-singer-turned-food-writer Madame De Ryther opens with a comment made by Madame Melba (1861-1931), an Australia-born, world-renowned opera star, with whom Madame De Ryther was obviously acquainted, their singing careers, perhaps, having brought them together at some point.
Who was Madame Melba? Per Wikipedia: Dame Nellie Melba GBE (19 May 1861 – 23 February 1931), born Helen Porter Mitchell, was an Australian operatic soprano. She became one of the most famous singers of the late Victorian era and the early 20th century. She was the first Australian to achieve international recognition as a classical musician. She took the pseudonym “Melba” from Melbourne, her home town. And, yes, “Peach Melba,” “Melba toast,” “Melba garniture,” and “Melba sauce” were all created in her honor by a French chef named Auguste Escoffier. I must admit that I often heard mention of Melba toast and peach Melba while growing up, but it was not until writing this post that I’d heard of Madame Melba (I’m embarrassed to say) and was able to put 2 and 2 together (much like discovering Italian opera singer Luisa Tetrazzini last year, and making the link with Chicken/Turkey Tetrazzini). (Note: Viewers of season 4 (2013) of Downton Abbey would have seen Madame Melba (played by Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, New Zealand’s famed soprano) perform for Lord and Lady Grantham; I was not a Downton viewer at that time.)
Getting back now to the article, Madame De Ryther reports that Madame Melba had once lamented to her the lack of good puddings in America, and having traveled the world and sampled desserts along the way, she indeed must have known a thing or two about the topic. In 1904, when this article appeared, everyone in America would have heard of Madame Melba, so using Melba’s opinion about America’s lack of good puddings was certainly a clever way for Madame De Ryther to hook her readers.
However, the food writer is not all that excited about replicating European puddings, more specifically English puddings, which she considers to be too heavy by American standards (and if you’re familiar with British cuisine, you know what she means—puddings here in the US are very different; Jello-type pudding comes to mind or rice pudding or tapioca, not hearty, classic fare like sticky toffee pudding, bread & butter pudding, spotted dick, and the like—puddings that I personally like, albeit usually in small doses).
The recipes Madame De Ryther includes here are for much lighter and “daintier” versions that she feels would suit the American palate better than English-style puddings which were designed to “to drive the heavy fog from [English] stomachs,” according to one French chef.
Of course, at this point neither a heavy pudding nor a light one could drive away the heavy Thanksgiving fog in my stomach! But that is neither here nor there. I’m sure Madame De Ryther’s recipes helped her readers “whip up” some divine puddings. I’ll just wait ’til I’m fully “recovered” to give them a try! 😉
PS: With Christmas fast approaching, for a fun and superbly informative post on English Christmas puddings that has lots of great images, click here. And for a few Madame Melba YouTube videos, scroll down below the article. Have a great day, all!
Thanksgiving—a century ago: Teddy Roosevelt, turkey, football, ragamuffin parades, and ‘Black Friday’
Thanksgiving is just a week away, and I enjoy thinking about how our ancestors may have gone about their own Thanksgiving Day preparations and celebrations.
I came across some ads and articles from 1904. What would have been going on back then? Grandma (not yet married) and her five sisters were likely cooking up a storm in the Woodruff family home in Hillside, NJ. The Andrew Jackson Brodhead family was marking its first Thanksgiving without family matriarch Ophelia. Did they spend the day at son James Easton Brodhead’s gloriously big home in Flemington, NJ? Did my great-grandfather Andrew Douglas Brodhead (James’ brother) and family of Perth Amboy, NJ, join them? And, on my mom’s side, the Trewin family was celebrating in Elizabeth, NJ. Did they get together with other family in nearby Bayonne or Jersey City, or have a quiet day at home? Did ‘Thanksgiving maskers’ come by to beg for pennies? (A tradition described very well in this Huffington Post article “A Forgotten Thanksgiving Custom: Masks, Mischief and Cross-dressing” – pub. 11/20/2012.)
In the early 20th century, the household radio had yet to exist, not to mention all the other devices available to us today—devices that, dare I say it, often distract us from interacting with the very family members in our midst? I imagine that back then, our ancestors enjoyed listening to the phonograph, dancing, playing games, and exchanging news and views on all sorts of topics. There’d certainly have been no TV football games to watch or fall in sleep in front of! But apparently high school Thanksgiving football games had become popular by then; so perhaps, our ancestors enjoyed watching a game or two in the crisp November air…or ventured into the Big Apple to watch a ‘ragamuffin parade‘—popular back then (see the below article “Turkey Feasts for Everyone”) and still a feature of many autumn festivals today.
It would seem safe to say that many of my ancestors would likely have read the text of the inspiring and patriotic Thanksgiving Day Proclamation (below) by President Theodore Roosevelt (Rep-NY) who had won reelection by a landslide that year. The ladies in the respective families may have poured over Jule De Ryther’s cooking tips. De Ryther, celebrated soprano turned food maven, provided instructions in the newspaper for the ‘little woman’ on how to make a ‘Yankee Thanksgiving Dinner’ (see below). And, yes, it seems likely that our ancestors had some shopping on their mind. I found one full-page ‘Black Friday’ ad (shown below) with a headline screaming “Give Thanks Today For These Bargains Tomorrow.” It would seem that not much has changed after all these years, except for the items on sale and, of course, the prices!
Anyway, back to 2014. Best wishes to all of you for a wonderful Thanksgiving. I’m still debating a couple of turkey recipes (Tyler Florence’s ‘Buried Turkey with Gravy‘ or Sandra Lee’s ‘Roasted Butter Herb Turkey‘). Both are excellent recipes. Tried Sandra’s last year and Tyler’s the year before. His is very handy if you want to get the bird cooked fast. It’s quick and easy and the meat comes out wonderfully moist and flavorful. Stuffing must be cooked separately however, and (for me) it’s a bit of a struggle to split the bird in half. Sandra goes the traditional stuffed-bird route, and rubs a garlic-herb-butter mix under the skin. The result is pretty delicious.
Feel free to share any favorite recipes in the comment box below. And, enjoy your Thanksgiving 2014!
P.S. What an ideal time to talk about family history and family traditions!
PROCLAMATION By PRESIDENT THEODORE ROOSEVELT:
It has pleased Almighty God to bring the American people in safety and honor through another year, and, in accordance with the long unbroken custom handed down to us by our forefathers, the time has come when a special day shall be set apart in which to thank Him who holds all nations in the hollow of His hand, for the mercies thus vouchsafed to us. During the century and a quarter of our national life we as a people have been blessed beyond all others, and for this we owe humble and heartfelt thanks to the Author of all blessings.
The year that has closed has been one of peace within our borders as well as between us and all other nations. The harvests have been abundant, and those who work, whether with hand or brain, are prospering greatly. Reward has waited upon honest effort. We have been enabled to do our duty to ourselves and to others. Never has there been a time when religious and charitable effort has been more evident. Much has been given to us and much will be expected from us. We speak of what has been done by this Nation in no spirit of boastfulness or vainglory, but with full and reverent realization that our strength is as nothing unless we are helped from above. Hitherto we have been given the heart and the strength to do the tasks allotted to us as they severally arose. We are thankful for all that has been done for us in the past, and we pray that in the future we may be strengthened in the unending struggle to do our duty fearlessly and honestly, with charity and good will, with respect for ourselves and love towards our fellow men.
In this great Republic the effort to combine national strength with personal freedom is being tried on a scale more gigantic than ever before in the world’s history. Our success will mean much, not only for ourselves, but for the future of all mankind, and every man or woman in our land should feel the grave responsibility resting upon him or her, for in the last analysis this success must depend upon the high average of our individual citizenship, upon the way in which each of us does his duty by himself and his neighbor.
Now, therefore, I, Theodore Roosevelt, President of the United States, do hereby appoint and set apart Thursday, the twenty-fourth of this November, to be observed as a day of festival and thanksgiving by all the people of the United States, at home or abroad, and do recommend that on that day they cease from their ordinary occupations and gather in their several places of worship or in their homes, devoutly to give thanks to Almighty God for the benefits He has conferred, upon us as individuals and as a Nation, and to beseech Him that in the future His divine favor may be continued to us.
In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington, this first day of November, in the year of Our Lord one thousand nine hundred and four, and of the independence of the United States, the one hundred and twenty-ninth.
Food writer Jule De Ryther turns up the heat in the 1904 Thanksgiving kitchen:
A little Black Friday shopping anyone? Men’s sweaters – 98 cents; Kashmir rugs – $8.75; women’s coats – $6.95 [CLICK TWICE to ENLARGE]:
PHOTOGRAPHIC IMAGES: New York City, Thanksgiving holiday scenes, 1911. Courtesy of Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA; VISIT: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2005675293/
Well, Thanksgiving 2011 has come and gone, and now many of us are searching for new ways to use leftover turkey. Below is a recipe I have used. It’s an Emeril Lagasse recipe that I found on the Food Network website. Though it says chicken, I have found it works well for turkey, too. I’d love to know what our ancestors’ favorite ways to use leftovers were. Thanksgiving has been a national holiday since 1863, when Abe Lincoln declared that the last Thursday of the month of November be put aside for a day of thanks (note: In 1941, congress officially moved the date to the fourth Thursday of November). So there are 150 years of family leftover secrets to be uncovered–an impossible task, unfortunately!
I hope to dig out Grandma’s old cookbook in time for some pre-Christmas posts this coming month. I know her fudge recipe is in there as are some other holiday treats. She was quite the baker apparently. Shame I never knew that side of her, as she was very elderly when I appeared on this planet. In any case, best wishes to all as we continue enjoying the beauty of this Thanksgiving season.