Lets give a big Wildflower Junction Welcome to author Tina Radcliffe! Many of you already know her and her stories! They’ve won all sorts of hi-falutin’ awards. Most recently Claiming Her Cowboy was a finalist in the 2018 ACFW Carol Awards. She has always been one to “give a hand up” to others and was honored recently as the 2018 ACFW Mentor of the Year. Tina is giving away two copies of her book, Christmas With the Cowboy to two lucky folk who comment!
Christmas Card Circa 1880 ~ Public Domain
Christmas in the 1800s wasn’t that much different from our celebrations today. But out West, it was most certainly simpler. Many prairie families couldn’t even fit a tree inside their small dwellings. Decorations were homemade and the presents beneath less fanciful and more practical. While cowboys on the trail didn’t have the luxury of a fireplace with stockings or a tree in the corner, caroling, and libations were still in order.
Researching this topic piqued my curiosity about the food prepared to celebrate the holiday season.
I’m all about the food!
According to Food Timeline’s review of the time period, “Christmas menus reflect traditional foods of the celebrant’s original culture.”
From “American System of Cookery,”by Mrs. T. J. Crowen [T.J. Crowen:New York] 1847
“To Arrange a Christmas Dinner. Place a high pyramid of evergreens (made as before directed) in the centre of the table. Let a roasted turkey of uncommon size occupy the middle or centre of one side of the table, on one end let there be a cold boiled ham, and at the other, fricasseed chicken or a roast pig; with the turkey serve mashed potatoes and turnips, boiled onions and dressed celery, or other salad with apple sauce–near the ham place fried or mashed potatoes and pickles or mangoes: and with the pig or fricassee, the same as with the turkey; large pitchers of sweet cider (or where that is not desired, ice water) should be placed diagonally opposite each other, on two corners of the table; boiled turkey with oyster sauce may occupy the place of the fricassee, or instead, a fine oyster pie. For dessert, there should be only two very large and ornamental mince pies, one sufficiently large that each of the company may be helped from it, in token of common interest, is desirable. Ice creams and jellies and jams and ripe fruits and nuts, with sweet cider and syrup water of different sorts, or wines, complete the dessert. Biscuit and jelly sandwich may be served at dessert, or paste puffs and charlotte de russe or blancmange with strands of jelly.”
Charlotte de Russe?
Betty Crocker tells us that the Charlottes are molded desserts. “The mold is lined with cake and filled with fruit and custard or cream mixed with gelatin. Charlotte Russe, made with ladyfingers and rich Bavarian cream, is served with fruit sauce.”
“Blancmange is a sweet dessert commonly made with milk or cream and sugar thickened with gelatin, cornstarch or Irish moss, and often flavored with almonds. It is usually set in a mold and served cold. Although traditionally white, blancmanges are frequently given alternative colors.” Wikipedia
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Sounds a bit fancy for prairie homes and cowboys on the trail who made due with what they could obtain.
A perfect example would be Black Pudding and Butterless, Eggless, Milkless Cake.
From Wink Crigler, owner of the X Diamond Ranch and curator of The Little House Museum in the White Mountains.
1 Cup Sweet Milk
2 Cups Flour
1 Tsp Soda
1 Cup Sugar
1 Tsp Cinnamon
1 Cup Molasses
Mix well. Pour into 1-pound can and steam for 2 to 3 hours by placing in a kettle of boiling water. Keep covered.
This is to be served with a vinegar sauce:
1 Cup Sugar
1 Tbsp. Butter
1 Tbsp. Flour
2 Tbsp. Vinegar
½ Tsp Nutmeg
Put in enough boiling water for the amount of sauce wanted.
Add two slightly beaten eggs and cook stirring constantly to the desired consistency.
Butterless, Eggless, Milkless Cake
Adapted from the Homesteading Handbook
Boil a cup of brown sugar in a cup of cold water with 1 and 1/2 cup raisins.
Add a teaspoon each of salt and cloves, and cinnamon.
Also, add 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg and 1/3 cup of shortening.
Boil for 3 minutes and let cool.
Dissolve a teaspoon of baking soda in 5 teaspoons of hot water, add 2 cups of flour, and half a teaspoon baking powder. Add the baking soda mix with the first mixture. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes at 350 F.
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This talk of food circles back to my holiday release, Christmas with the Cowboy
and the favorite food in the story, made by the heroine, Emma Maxwell Norman.
Emma’s Chocolate Muffins
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1?2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1?4 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 large eggs
1 cup milk
1?2 cup butter, melted
1?2 cup mini chocolate chips (optional)
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 12 cup cupcake tin or use liners.
Combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda in a large bowl, mix together.
Add eggs, milk, chips and melted butter. Stir until well blended. Spoon into muffin tins.
Bake 18-20 minutes.
Dust with powdered sugar or sprinkle with extra mini chips (optional).
Adapted from Genius Kitchen.
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Now that I’ve made you hungry, leave a comment or even a recipe sharing about your own historic family recipes. Two commenters will be drawn for a print (or ecopy for international winners) of Christmas with the Cowboy.
Merry Early Christmas to you the Fillies and you readers!
Home for the holidays
A second chance at love on Big Heart Ranch
Former navy SEAL Zach Norman has been avoiding his ranching roots—and the woman he couldn’t have. Back to visit his brother’s widow, Emma Maxwell Norman, and her adorable toddler twins, the bah-humbug cowboy is roped into helping prepare the ranch for the holidays. Working side by side, can Emma and Zach overcome their troubled past…and receive the greatest Christmas gift of all—love?
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A freelance writer for over twenty years, Tina Radcliffe is an RWA Honor Roll member, a two-time RWA Golden Heart finalist, and three-time ACFW Carol Award nominee. She is a 2018 ACFW Mentor of the Year recipient and a 2018 Carol Award finalist. Her 10th book for Harlequin released in October 2018. In addition to novel-length fiction, Tina has sold over two dozen short stories to Woman’s World Magazine. A former library cataloger, Tina is a frequent presenter on writing topics and an online instructor. She currently resides in Arizona, where she writes fun, heartwarming romance.