Friday, January 8, 2010

It's getting a little crowded up on the Ridge...

SPOILER ALERT: Dinna read unless you have reached Chapter 22 in  The Fiery Cross.

Let me tell you why Diana Gabaldon is such a fantastic writer: She makes you feel the story. I have spent countless hours reading these books and being uncomfortable. Or nervous. Or downright scared.

Right now I am feeling uneasy. And annoyed. And claustrophobic. Why? Because there are WAY too many house guests at Fraser's Ridge. The women woke up to empty beds; the men have all disappeared. To go hunting - or train - or something of that nature... which is what I'm assuming along with the wives. And the wives and kids are all sitting around the huge table, eating breakfast. Claire is taking mental notes of what food is still available in the pantries and cellars - and she's starting to get worried. And so am I. These people came along... and set up camp... and Mrs. Bug feeds them all nonstop... but has ANYONE caught anything lately? And they only have finite supplies of things like butter or raisins or parritch, etc.

And speaking of feeding them - has anyone noticed what big meals they eat for people who are low on supplies and sharing one household? Mrs. Bug is making them breakfast... just the women and children, no less... and it consists of toast and jam... sausage... porridge... raisin cake... and coffee. And now she's heading for the cellar to get some potatoes for the Muellers (who wouldn't be allowed in my house after the scalping incident; but that's just me. Yeah yeah, it was "the times".)  How about just a bowl of porridge and some coffee or water - and we'll save the cake and sausage for another day? Add some eggs and it's like a Grand Slam Breakfast! For moms and kids! My kids should eat so well every morning!

A few things you might want to know (all info and photos came from Wikipedia):

Head cheese (AmE) or Brawn (BrE) is a cold cut originating in Europe. Another version pickled with vinegar is known as souse. Head cheese is not a cheese but a meat jelly made with pieces from the head of a calf or pig (sometimes a sheep or cow) in aspic. It may contain onion, black pepper, allspice, bay leaf, salt, and vinegar. It may also include meat from the feet, tongue, and heart. It is usually eaten cold or at room temperature as a luncheon meat.

Corn dollies are a form of straw work made as part of harvest customs of Europe before mechanisation.

Hieronymus Bosch (English pronunciation: /ˌhaɪəˈrɒnəməs bɒʃ/, Dutch: [ɦieːˈɾoːniməs ˈbɔs]; born Jeroen Anthoniszoon van Aken [jəˈrun ɑnˈtoːnɪsoːn vɑn ˈaːkə(n)]; c. 1450 – August 9, 1516) was an Early Netherlandish painter of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The artist's work is well-known for the use of fantastic imagery to illustrate moral and religious concepts and narratives.


  1. I totally did a paper for one of my College Art History classes on Hieronymus Bosch. Very insightful, detail oriented, fucked up individual. Got an A.

    Head cheese sounds like something Grandpa would eat...remember the pickled pigs feet & ears we'd find in the fridge? Eww.

  2. Sounds like the italian version of headcheese is called soppresatta--don't remember anything like that ever lying around their house, but you never know!

  3. Oh god. I remember "cacoots" whatever THAT was (and however you spell it). And gizzards. And stinky cheese. And yes - pickled pigs feet; My dad had them in the fridge once in a while, too. Tom recently read that they replenish collagen. If that's the case, I'll eat a truckload. Bring 'em on! PS - thank god for Grandma and her sugar cookies, sticky buns and donuts. Even the boxed donuts with the frosting. FROSTING! For breakfast! God bless her.

  4. I feel a little connection to Jamie and Claire, my family on my mothers side is Scot-Irish and came over about the same time as Jamie and Claire and settled like Jamie and Claire in the mountains of North Carolina. These were hardy people that distrusted government (who can blame them after what was done to them by England throughout the centuries). These mountain people are actually the ones that turned the Revolutionary War around and won it for the Americans with their style of guerrilla warfare. The British style of fighting worked well on the open fields but not in the mountains, thats where they got creamed.

    More simple country food are what these people ate. They raised a garden during the summer which they harvested and did a whole lot of canning. Their diet consisted of a lot of High Fat products especially during the winter. Salt pork and foods seasoned with it where a fave especially beans for the high protein content.

  5. Here is a very old recipe. My grandmother used to make this.. and I can imagine Claire making it for Jamie.

    Just cut and paste this link on your address bar up top, or click on my name.... My grandmother made hers with fried apples in between the layers. This is a very crude looking cake and the cake layers look like pancakes.

  6. Ooooh Thanks Diane! I will definitely try that recipe. And thanks for the info - that is verra interesting that your family lived in the mountains in NC at that time. It's truly unbelievable what they must have gone through to survive. Tracey and I grew up near Valley Forge... and it was drilled into our heads at a young age how George Washington and his men lived through the winter at Valley Forge. How they did it is beyond me. No heat - not a lot of warm clothes or food. Sometimes we forget to celebrate those triumphs when we're all stuffing hot dogs into our faces on July 4th...