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Cold weather is here, and the winter’s chill
lures us all into the warmest room of the
house—the kitchen—a natural choice for
the cozy temperature and the good things
to eat there.
When in earlier times homes were
small and only one room, that room was the kitchen. Now
with giant houses and great rooms, the kitchen still dominates.
Little wonder—there are still good things to eat there.
In our kitchen we have a fat, expensive modern stove
with red knobs, and aspirations of being a good cook.
It has a state-of-the-cooking-art convection oven that
assures even browning of whatever we roast or bake.
Impressive as it is, our stationary stove makes us regret the
demise of the spinning rotisserie. Nothing could or can
beat the even roasting of meat or fowl on a turning spit.
Electric motors once brought that rotisserie into every
kitchen. On the hearth, however, constantly turning food
for even roasting was hard work, which led inventive cooks
to create the clock jack, a machine that handled the chore
with little attention or effort. We thank Old Sturbridge
Village curator Tom Kelleher for telling us the life story of
that clever invention to lead off our features in this issue.
Another forgotten side of the kitchen is candy-making.
We remember homemade fudge that all too often became
a gooey ice cream topping instead of tasty, chocolatey bites
(maybe we needed a better candy thermometer).
Instead of fudge, these days we look forward to making
cookies in the kitchen when the holiday season rolls
around because baking brings both delicious morsels and
fun with the kids and grandkids. But this year we might
give old-fashioned candy-making a try again—it’s easier if
a bit more dangerous than putting cookies in the oven—
and the sweets it makes will happily fill those stockings
hanging from the mantel.
The one stocking-stuffing candy we can be sure
colonial families treasured was barley sugar—now often
a name without a grain—that’s as easy to make at home as
boiling, well, sugar.
In every issue, we try to offer a variety of stories to
please every taste even if you don’t have a sweet-tooth. For
example, Dawn Adiletta makes a proxy visit to Jenay and
Dave Evans in their surprising bright and airy 18th Century
Massachusetts home that once belonged to a Minuteman.
While she lingered there, we headed to the Frontier Culture
Museum in Virginia, a place that adds a twist (we almost said
“barley twist”) to living history by showing not one but several
streams of our heritage and how they came together.
We step even further back to an English dynasty—the
Tudors—whose on-again, off-again attitude toward America
finally gelled in our nation. For collectors, we look at Rockingham
ware, a rich brown British glaze that American makers
of yellow ware made their own. Jeffery Jobe shows us
how colonial-era crafts-people fashioned jewelry from molds
made of sand. And to add the right spirits to the holiday
season, we not only visit Santa Claus but the oldest Moravian
Church in America, surprisingly hidden on a tiny island.
We anticipate a quiet Christmas this year, preferring
safety to society, but that will only bring us closer to our
family. That means fewer distractions (though of course
there—s always a game on the television) and a kitchen
warmed from roasting a more modest family feast.
Like you, we’ll probably take a moment, find a comfortable
chair by the stove or fire, and sit down and read
while convection perfectly browns our Christmas goose.
We might make a pot of camp coffee and savor the slower,
quieter time that we try to picture in our pages.
All the while and with visions of barley sugar twists
dancing in our heads, we’ll be thinking of you and wishing
you, our readers, a happy and healthy holiday.
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