Monday, November 10, 2014

The New England Butt'ry Shelf Cookbook

From Kate's Writing Crate…
          November and December equals food and family so now is when I look through favorite cookbooks to start planning holiday meals and treats. Two that still delight me are The New England Butt'ry Shelf Cookbook: Receipts for Very Special Occasions and The New England Butt'ry Shelf Almanac: Being a Collection of Observations on New England People, Birds, Flowers, Herbs, Weather, Customs and Cookery of Yesterday and Today by Mary Mason Campbell. Both are illustrated by Tasha Tudor.
          These books were Christmas gifts from my grandmother when I was nine years old. She had her own well-worn, cherished copies.
Even though I had never seen an old-fashioned butt'ry (pantry) before, I loved the cover illustration of one with wooden floor-to-ceiling shelves crammed full with mason jars filled with bright red, yellow, and green preserved fruits and vegetables, blue and white crocks, pots, pans, platters, and pitchers. Baskets of apples, onions, and potatoes sit in front of the shelves alongside ripe pumpkins at the edge of an oval blue and red braided rug with dried herbs hanging overhead. It's comforting and cozy.
          Inside the Butt'ry Shelf Cookbook are ideas and recipes for holidays as well as afternoon tea parties, birthdays, anniversaries, breakfast under an apple tree, and mountain cookouts. Who wouldn't want to attend these events?
          The Thanksgiving Dinner menu (page 129) includes:
Oyster Cocktail
Hearth-roasted Turkey with Spiced Red Crab-apples
Sausage and Sage Dressing           Giblet Gravy
Creamed Onions        Mashed Potatoes       Squash Souffle
Eben's Cranberry Sherbet
Cranberry Sauce       Celery Sticks       Pickled Peaches
Cornbread               Fresh Butter
Pumpkin Pie       Apple Pie
Mince Pie with Brandy Hard Sauce
Thick Cream              Yellow Cheese
Champagne Cider       Coffee       Orange Liqueur
I have never tried Eben's Cranberry Sherbet or Champagne Cider; however, when my grandparents were alive, Thanksgiving always included giblet gravy, creamed onions, squash, and Mince Pie with Brandy Hard Sauce. Time passes and some traditions fade away, but it makes me happy to have the recipes in case I ever need them.
          Mary Mason Campbell's books take readers back to yesteryear when everything was homemade and deliciously rich. Most of us don't have time to make everything from scratch, but a few of these dishes added to a Thanksgiving feast can become family traditions that make the holiday memorable.
          The Christmas menu is wonderful as well plus there are a dozen cookie recipes.
Happy Holiday Season!

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