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Country Echoes

By MAE BABER

R.D.2, Brandon, Wisconsin

Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Here they come again. Each has its distinct meaning, especially for the children. Another name for Halloween is Allhallows Eve. It is the eve of the festival of All Saints.

In England and America this festival was long consecrated to harmless fireside revelries. I wonder when the fireside revelries turned to outside tricks. I can well remember when our neighbors long underwear was billowing from a telephone wire the morning after Halloween.

Not to be outdone by anyone were our neighborhood boys some forty years ago. They entirely dismantled our cream hauler's wagon, including the big cream cans of that day, and put it all together again on top of the schoolhouse woodshed. Needless to say the Cream Hauler was good at tricks also. Halloween was sometimes a time for settling accounts. How the day has changed from its original meaning.

Thanksgiving is no exception here either. The day originated in 1621 after the first harvest of the New England Colonists. Governor Bradford there made provisions for a day of Thanksgiving and prayer.

In 1623, during a severe draught, a day of fasting and prayer was held which changed to a day of Thanksgiving. Heavy rains began to fall as the colonists prayed. Gradually the custom was set to prevail after harvest. The proclamations were made annually by the Governors of the several New England Colonies.

It was in 1817 that New York formally adopted Thanksgiving as an annual observance. The custom spread through many of the States in the nineteenth century.

This was hardly a new idea. Thanksgiving Days were observed frequently many years before this. Sacrifices were made and thanksgiving for blessings received were offered repeatedly in the days of the Patriarchs, the Judges, and the Kings. References to these are numerous in the Bible.

Noah built an altar to Almighty God in thanksgiving after the Ark was again established on solid ground.

The British have had their Thanksgivings Days too. The first official Thanksgiving offered for deliverance from an enemy was held on November 24, 1588. The Spanish Armada had been defeated. Queen Elizabeth attended the function in person. Similar days followed such as when George 111 recovered from illness, for Naval victories in 1797, when the Prince of Wales regained his health in 1872. As late as 1918 when the First World War ended a day of Thanksgiving was held.

Isn't this wonderful history? Shouldn't it make our Thanksgiving Day more meaningful? We can meditate on this history and add our own private addition of 'Thank You's' on this Thanks giving Day of 1963.

To round out our three holidays we have Christmas which has probably seen the most change of all. The first certain traces of Christmas being observed are about 180-192 A. D. Then in 284-305 A. D. a man named Diocletian, while holding court at Nicomedia, learned that a great number-of Christians had gathered in the city to celebrate the birthday of Jesus. He set fire to the building and all the worshippers perished in the flames.

There followed a period of no uniformity in Christmas observance. Some held the festival in the spring, others in January, linking it with the Feast of The Epiphany.

Other festivals gathered around the observance of the Nativity from the fifth to the eighth century. What might be termed a Christmas Cycle eventually emerged from all of this. Christmas was first celebrated on its present date in Rome. This was about 1350 A. D. During the following centuries it became established through much of our world.

The visits of Santa Claus, bearing gifts, belong properly to December 6th., the day of Saint Nicolas. How I wish we could untangle all of this and get Christmas back where it should be. While the day is probably far from accurate in time set the weight of added trappings it has collected during the years is even more perplexing. Well we can always hope what the next five hundred years will bring. In the meantime may your Holidays be Happy Ones.

Mrs. Leonard Mann writes.....

I saw Mrs. Baber's recipe for Stone Ground Whole Wheat Bread. Since I thought some women might want a smaller recipe, here is mine:

Whole Wheat Bread
2 cups milk
1 pkg. or cake yeast cup lukewarm water
cup molasses, or brown sugar
2 ts. salt
3 Tbs butter
3 cups stirred whole wheat flour
Be sure to aerate flour
3 cups sifted white flour

Scald milk. Soften yeast in lukewarm water 8 to 10 minutes. Measure molasses, salt and butter into mixing bowl. Add hot milk. Cool to lukewarm. Blend in softened yeast. Add whole wheat flour and beat well (75 to 100 strokes.) Add white flour to sponge to make stiff dough. Turn out on floured board. Let dough rest while you wash and grease bowl. Knead dough 10 minutes, until smooth and satiny. Put in greased bowl. Cover. Let rise in warm place (80 to 85) until double (1 hours) or until dough will retain impression of finger. Punch down. Turn out on floured board. Cut in half. Round up each portion into smooth ball. Cover and let rest 10 to 15 min. Shape into loaves. Place in greased bread pans. Cover. Let rise until center is well above top of pan. Bake in moderate oven (350375) 50 minutes. Makes two 1 pound loaves.

This bread is delicious toasted for breakfast and very satisfying because it has all the vitamins and minerals in it.

Stone ground corn meal is so far superior to regular corn meal. Try it. Perhaps you could use these recipes.

Simple Yeast Corn Bread
cup boiling water
cup yellow corn meal
3 Tbs. shortening
cup molasses
2 ts. salt
cup warm water
1 pkg. yeast
1 egg
2% cups sifted white flour

Stir together in large mixing bowl, boiling water, corn meal, shortening, molasses, and salt. Cool to lukewarm. Then dissolve yeast in warm water. Add yeast, egg, and half the flour to lukewarm mixture. Beat 2 minutes medium mixer speed or 300 strokes by hand. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl frequently. Add rest of flour, mix with spoon until blended. Spread batter in greased loaf pan. Smooth top and pat into shape with floured hand. Let rise in warm place (85) until batter reaches top or 1 inch from top (about 1 hours) Sprinkle top with a little corn meal and bake 50 to 55 minutes at 350 to 375.

The rising time is only a third of what it used to be, and there is no kneading or shaping. Wonderful course texture, wonderful corn meal flavor. Perfect for parties or Sunday suppers. Delicious toasted.

Homemade Corn Bread Mix
4 cups sifted enriched flour
4 cups white or yellow corn meal
cup sugar
cup baking powder
1 Tbs. salt
1 cup lard

Sift together flour, corn meal, sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut lard into flour mixture with a fork or pastry blender until crumbs are about the size of small peas. Store mix in covered container in refrigerator until ready to use. This Mix will keep in the refrigerator a month or more. Yield: 8 cups mix.

Since there is a diabetic in our family I didn't use any sugar at all, and the Mix makes fine corn bread.

Corn meal Mix is a timesaver for busy homemakers. If you used shortening which does not require refrigeration, the Mix can be stored at room temperature. Always keep covered. With this Mix you can make corn bread, corn muffins, rolls, waffles, pancakes, fritters, brown bread, spoon bread, hush puppies, and cookies.

Corn Bread
1 egg
1 cups milk
2 cups Corn Meal Mix

Beat egg slightly and mix with milk. Add to Corn Meal Mix and stir until well blended. Bake in a greased baking pan in a hot oven (400 to 425) about 25 minutes.

Corn Meal Muffins

Make corn bread batter above. Spoon batter into well-greased muffin pans, filling 2/3 full. Bake in a hot oven 20 to 25 min. Makes 12 to 14 muffins.

Corn Meal Waffles or Griddlecakes
2 eggs
1 cups milk
2 cups Corn Meal Mix

Beat eggs slightly. Mix with milk and stir into the Corn Mix until blended. Bake in waffle iron or on griddle. Makes 6 to 8 waffles or 10 or 12 griddlecakes.

Spoon Bread
1 2/3 cups Corn Mix
2 1/3 cups milk
2 eggs

Put Corn Mix in pan, stir in milk, and cook until just' thick. Remove from heat and beat in egg yolks one at a time. Beat egg whites until the tips barely turnover. Fold whites into the cooked mixture. Grease the bottom of a 1 qt. casserole. Pour in mixture and bake in a slow oven (325) 1 hour.

Hush Puppies
1 egg
cup milk
2 cups Corn Mix
3 Tbs. Minced onion (optional)

Beat all together and form in finger-size rolls or drop from a teaspoon into hot deep fat (360) Fry a few at a time. Drain on paper. Serve hot.

Mrs. Leonard Mann, Otterbein, Indiana