Monday, December 7, 2015

My View #171 - Christmas - Turkey, Cake, Pudding - Oh Oh!

Christmas, yes, Christmas, what a wonderful time, in our years. Our blessings time. Our Christmas, when I was young, I can remember well.

About age 12 years, my Mom said, "Letty, it is October and we must start doing the Christmas cakes."

"Why so early?" I asked.

"Because they have to age to be at their best for Christmas."

That was ok by me, and Mom showed me how to wash the raisins, currants, and sultans, which are rather dirty when you buy them. Soak them in hot water for half an hour, stirring them and break up the clumps. Rinse in cold water and then spread them out all together to dry, for two days. You get a rude shock when you see how dirty that hot water was.

Mom said, "Look, you don't need that dirt in your tummy. Put the dirty cloth in the garbage."

We had mixed enough for 14 pounds of dark fruit cakes, and the next week we had 7 pounds of mixture for light fruit cakes. After all were baked, they were wrapped and put in a big crock, in the basement, to age.

Later, in November, we made what Mom called "keeping cookies" and "squares" and so many "fancies," enough to feed an army of guests. Root Beer was a drink the children had, it was a nice non-alcoholic one and it was parked in the basement for weeks, too. And home-made candy - we were lucky.

The turkey tale now: Don't laugh, it was not funny, but you be the judge. We got our milk from a farmer Anderson, in a small town called Pashley, near Medicine Hat, and he sold turkey You put your order in  in October, delivery date December 23rd. It was delivered dead, but with all its feathers, head and feet still attached, price $6. What a time. Mary, my sister, looked after Dad's and the boys' meals, while Mom and I did the turkey.

Here is a You-Tube video on how to pluck and clean a turkey, just in case you'd like to try this yourself. 

My Dad chopped off the head and feet, came to the back door and handed it to Mom. She knew what to do and had a pot of boiling water ready and dumped poor turkey in, up and down, up and down, for about fifteen minutes and then laid it on an old oil cloth table cover, and she and I plucked that bird. All of this took place outside, behind the house in a lean-to. Feathers were everywhere, and it was so cold out, but this is what you did. Most feathers were put in the garbage, a few big ones were kept for the boys to play "Indian Chiefs" in the summer.

Next day, Mother (what a wonderful Mom) cleaned (took all the insides out, a very dirty, stinky job,) washed the bird's white body, singed the "pin" feathers and on December 25th at 6 a.m. (bless her heart) it was ready for the oven. But o my, "love" never tasted so good, for it was for love of her family that drove her to do it, this big job, until frozen turkey came to all. We really did enjoy the end results.

So all you people, be gracious about your frozen turkeys at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Letty Evans
September 19, 2009

I remember my mother cleaning chickens, which she bought at the butcher's store plucked, with head and feet removed, but not eviscerated. Cleaning the internal organs from any animal is indeed a dirty, stinky job. The sanitized fowl we purchase now barely resemble the live animals that gave their lives so we might eat.

Letty mentions pudding in her title, but not in the post. I remember making Christmas Pudding with her, mixing the fruit, adding some sherry, and steaming them in crockery pots for hours. Then they were covered with muslin and stored for six weeks. I can still taste that pudding with the sauce she made - mouthwatering!