October 12, 2011

Cider and Doughnuts!

"Treasures of Jolly Autumn" Washington Irving
Cider and doughnuts, a refreshing and delicious autumnal treat!
When I was growing up, my family usually enjoyed cider and popcorn on Saturday night. We liked the cider the best when it wasn't as sweet and it had, as we called it, "bees in it". Now I prefer my cider on the sweet side. At our wedding my husband and I served sweet cider.

At Tasha Tudor's wedding she served her guests 16 dozen doughnuts.

In 2005 I wrote a comparison between Meg's wedding and my wedding as we both had simple, country weddings.
In Louisa May Alcott's "Little Women" Meg is the first of the sisters to get married. Reading about Meg's simple wedding reminded Diane a great deal of her own. Diane's 5th great grandfather Eliakim May was 1st cousin to Louisa's great grandfather Samuel May. In "Little Women
" Meg said "I don't want a fashionable wedding, but only those about me whom I love, and to them I wish to look and be my familiar self." When Meg's proper Aunt March arrived at the wedding Meg ran out to greet her and the aunt saw that the groom was fixing a fallen garland, she told Meg "Upon my word, here's a state of things! You oughtn't be seen till the last minute, child." Meg replied "I'm not a show, aunty, and no one is coming to stare at me, to criticise my dress, or count the cost of my luncheon. I'm too happy to care what any one says or thinks, and I'm going to have my little wedding just as I like it." At the end of the chapter, after all of the festivities, one of the guests, who was quite fashionable, said to her husband, "That is the prettiest wedding I've been to for an age, Ned, and I don't see why, for there wasn't a bit of style about it."

The reception was held in an old 1796 building that was originally in the Kaatskills.
It was decorated for the reception in elegant, dignified simplicity.
An artist friend of Diane's brought in several portraits that she had painted.

Always favorites to read as the leaves are turning and the days are shortening are Washington Irving's "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and "Rip Van Winkle". The Kaatskill mountain area and the Hudson River valley has been home to my ancestors since the 1600s and has always felt like home to me.

Diane's great great grandfather, who was born near the Kaatskills.
Diane always thought of him as the family's own Rip Van Winkle.
On the 1865 Agricultural Census he is listed as having 30 apple trees, 20 bushels of apples, and 1 barrel of cider on his farm. In 1864 he had 10 acres in meadows for hay and 10
tons of cut hay. In 1864 he had 2 acres of Indian corn and harvested 20 bushels.

Hay stored for winter in the high big old barn at Corgyncombe, that we call "The Ark".

As Ichabod, the "itinerant pedagogue", is journeying on his horse to attend the party at the Van Tassel house, Washington Irving wrote the following in "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow":

"It was, as I have said, a fine autumnal day, the sky was clear and serene, and nature wore that rich and golden livery which we always associate with the idea of abundance. The forests had put on their sober brown and yellow, while some trees of the tenderer kind had been nipped by the frosts into brilliant dyes of orange, purple, and scarlet. Streaming files of wild ducks began to make their appearance high in the air; the bark of the squirrel might be head from the groves of beech and hickory nuts, and the pensive whistle of the quail at intervals from the neighboring stubble-field."

"The small birds were taking their farewell banquets. In the fullness of their revelry, they fluttered, chirping and frolicking, from bush to bush, and tree to tree, capricious from the very profusion and variety around them. There was the honest cock-robin, the favorite game of stripling sportsmen, with its loud querulous note; and the twittering blackbirds flying in sable clouds; and the golden-winged woodpecker, with his crimson crest, his broad black gorget, and splendid plumage; and the cedar bird, with its red-tipt wings and yellow-tipt tail, and its little monteiro cap of feathers; and the blue jay, that noisy coxcomb, in his gay light-blue coat and white under clothes; screaming and chattering, nodding and bobbing and bowing, and pretending to be on good terms with every songster of the grove."

The apple stem is caught in the V of the old apple picker and a gentle tug will bring the apple from the tree. It is then brought down in its cage and deposited carefully in a basket.

"As Ichabod jogged slowly on his way, his eye, ever open to every symptom of culinary abundance ranged with delight over the treasures of jolly autumn. On all sides he beheld vast store of apples; some hanging in oppressive opulence on the trees; some gathered into baskets and barrels for the market; others heaped up in rich piles for the cider-press."

Corn harvested from the fields at Corgyncombe.

"Farther on he beheld great fields of Indian corn, with its golden ears peeping from their leafy coverts, and holding out the promise of cakes and hasty pudding; and the yellow pumpkins lying beneath them, turning up their fair round bellies to the sun, and giving ample prospects of the most luxurious of pies; and anon he passed the fragrant buckwheat fields, breathing the odor of the bee-hive, and as he beheld them, soft anticipations stole over his mind of dainty slapjacks, well buttered, and garnished with honey or treacle, by the delicate little dimpled hand of Katrina Van Tassel."

"Thus feeding his mind with many sweet thoughts and "sugared suppositions," he journeyed along the sides of range of hills which look out upon some of the goodliest scenes of the mighty Hudson."

Corgyncombe corn shock with pumpkins round and pumpkins in the wheelbarrow.

My daughter Sarah and I are researching ancestors who were married in the Old Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow.

Amongst some of our early Dutch families are the Van Alens. There have been reports that Washington Irving was inspired by a Van Alen girl when he created the character Katrina Van Tassel.

Our direct ancestor Jacob Van Alen married Rachel Quackenbush. Corgyncombe's Quackenbush the Duck's name was inspired by our old Quackenbush families. Our early Quackenbush family had kilns and were famous for making bricks.

Dilley Dibble Dabble and Quackenbush at a Valentine tea party!
Quackenbush had a special red paper hat made for the Valentine's Day occasion, which sports one of Post Mistress Phidelia Finch's feathers tucked in the side. The instructions for making the paper hat is in the book, "Tasha Tudor's Old-Fashioned Gifts". The Corgyncombe Courant reporters Diane and her daughter Sarah have had a personal lesson in paper hat making from Tasha Tudor herself.

Picking apples with an old fashioned apple picker on a pole to reach the high ones. Diane takes great joy in using antique tools for their original purpose.

"A mellow October day, when the air was full of an exhilarating freshness which made the spirits rise, and the blood dance healthily in the veins. The old orchard wore its holiday attire; golden-rod and asters fringed the mossy walls; grasshoppers skipped briskly in the sere grass, and crickets chirped like fairy pipers at a feast. Squirrels were busy with their small harvesting, birds twittered their adieux from the alders in the lane, and every tree stood ready to send down its shower of red or yellow apples at the first shake. Everybody was there, - everybody laughed and sang, climbed up and tumbled down; everybody declared that there never had been such a perfect day or such a jolly set to enjoy it, - and every one gave themselves up to the simple pleasures of the hour as freely as if there were no such things as care or sorrow in the world." - from "Little Women" by Louisa May Alcott

Diane's 5th great grandfather was 1st cousin to Louisa May Alcott's great grandfather Samuel May.

Corgyncombe's favorite apples in Diane's old crock.

Peeling apples for a pie.

A Corgyncombe homemade apple pie.

Daisy made her own little apple pie, completely homemade by her "delicate little dimpled hand", to serve her friends and their Baby Dolls.

The little Dibble Dabble Duckies have their bills together quacking and discussing how to pick the winner of the Corgyncombe Courant Tasha Tudor Birthday Celebration Giveaway of the book "Drawn From New England, Tasha Tudor; A Portrait in Words and Pictures by Bethany Tudor". They have settled on a plan to pick the winner of this delightful book. Tomorrow's post will divulge the winner!!!



Gretel said...

I read Little Women when I was about 7 or 8, as a sheltered English girl, growing up without a television, it was one of my first introductions to America and I think I've always imagined that there are little bits of L.M Alcott's world somewhere...now I see that I'm right! What wonderful barn and delicious pictures; it's apple time over here too, though I've never seen such a wonderful picking tool as that!

Marqueta (Mar-keet-a) said...

Dear Diane and Sarah,

Thank you for another delightful post; I always enjoy learning about your ancestry! The photos are lovely, and the pie looks delicious. Enjoy the harvest for us!


Marqueta and children

Christie said...

What a delightful post...you always provide such beautiful photographs to accompany your splendid stories of the past. How pretty you were on your wedding day! Those precious duckies are adorable. All of us here at Rose Water Cottage will be crossing our fingers and wings and little mousie paws;))

Jeri Landers said...

How did I miss this delightful post?!!
What a wonderful read from Washington Irving,it makes me want revisit the story from start to finish. I have had a desire for some time to illustrate The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. You have such a remarkable way of weaving the past with the present with your images and words, really lovely. "THE ARK" is the best barn I have ever seen and your apples and corn make me feel so full of Autumn, I can almost taste the cider.
My father's family is of Dutch decent, from the area of upstate NY., so I always loved the idea of the Dutch town in the "the legend".
Maybe, we're related on that side too!
Cousin Jeri

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