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Convection

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.

Winfield Ross

Guest Editor

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