Tag Archives: food

Top Ten Posts of 2015

You may be excused if this gets too geeky for you. On the other hand, you might discover a post among the top ten posts that you missed along the way, and this gives you a second chance to read it.

Ancestors in Aprons launched in April 2013.  Since then, I have published 331 posts. In 2013, I wrote 31 posts telling stories about ancestors–some about more than one, and sometimes writing about one person more than once. In 2014 and 2015 I participated in 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, which ensured that I would write about at least 104 ancestors and I actually sneaked in a few extra people.

Top Ten Posts on People: THE MOST POPULAR KIDS ON THE BLOCK in 2015

According to Google Analytics, based on the number of people who looked at each post this year, the Top Ten posts–10 most popular ancestors were:

Joseph Kaser's carpentry

Great Grandfather Joseph Kaser made this handkerchief chest.

Harriette Anderson, coach

Harriette Andrson (on the right) coach of Killbuck Women’s Basketball Team 1928

Helen Stucky

Great-Grandma Helen Kohler with Mike, Kenneth Paul, and Brent, in Ohio, 1966

Irene Kaser Bucklew quilt

Irene Bucklew Wedding Ring pattern Baby Quilt 1939. Crib sized gift for me when I was born.

  • Henry Butts wrote home from the Civil War (Dear Wif) and I published all the letters we have. The first one made the top ten list, but I think all of them deserve a look as they tell the story of the war from the point of view of an apolitical, farmer soldier who is patriotic, but more concerned about his family than national affairs. (January 2015)

A slightly different popularity list comes up if we look at who people searched for on the site. There we find Revolutionary War solider Jerusha Howe, Pilgrims William Bassett and Sarah Bassett and Peregrine White are the subjects of curiosity.


(Same criteria as above applied to the food pages–top ten posts about food.)

The first year of Ancestors turned out some lasting favorites.








And then you skipped right over 2014 and chose five recipes from 2015:





Probably more significant in the food category is what foods people searched, because you tend to spend more than twenty minutes on the site when you search for a food story or a recipe. That is a really significant amount of time on a blog, where people average 20 seconds or so.

Searchers landed on:

  • Food books
  • Tomato soup
  • Food grinder
  • Amish Buttermilk Cookies
  • Big Boy Barbecue Cookbook
  • Cornbread
  • Civil War Food
  • Scalloped Corn

Interested in any of those topics?  Just type it into the search box over on the right hand side of the page, and  you’ll find stories and recipes.

So that is YOUR top ten posts. What about my favorites– those things that I thought deserved a few more readers?  I would recommend:

The Civil War Letters of Henry Allen Butts, particularly the one where he loses his temper.

Love Letters and the Course of True Love, My parents love story. I love letters and love stories.

Avoiding the Storm, the story of many German Immigrants. I learned so much while writing this.

Ann Barbara Müller Lost Half Her Children. A sad, and sadly not untypical story.

Paul Kaser, Hydrologist. A family historian’s dream is to have a relative or ancestor who kept lots of records. My father left a fat personnel file that reveals how he went from day jobs to a career.

Where There’s a Will. There were three parts to this, each fascinating as I learned new things about people and how they lived through their last bequests.

Adam Limback loved Women, Married Five. Sure, it was common for men to remarry when their wives died, but Adam Limback Jr. carries it to extremes, wouldn’t you say?

As for food–I have so much fun researching old and foreign recipes that I wouldn’t dare start picking favorites.

What would YOU like to recommend? Or see more of in 2016??


Sex, Booze and Pie Crust, The Top Ten of 2014

What you were reading at Ancestors in Aprons in 2014

As everyone knows, sex and booze sell.  But here food goes over pretty well, too!

strawberry-Rhubarb pie

Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie made Agnes Badertscher’s way with tapioca.

I look at these statistics at the end of the year in hopes that I can figure out what you like the most, so we can bring you more of it.  (*That “we” is not an affectation, I owe huge thanks to contributors–particularly Brother Paul and Sister-in-Law Kay, whose writings and research help scored in the first- and third- most read articles.)

Since we* write about food and family, in almost equal parts. I was curious to see which category you read the most, and fascinated to see that of the top ten viewed pieces in 2014, the outcome was 5 and 5. On the other hand, five of the top six were about food!

So here’s the count down of the top ten most-read articles:

10. Civil War Deserters: Erasmus Anderson Letter #7 As with the case of Naughty Pilgrims below, I think we are attracted to the people who do not obey all the rules. This is the only one of the Civil War letter from Pvt. Erasmus Anderson that made the top ten, but that series was my own personal favorite section of Ancestors. If you’re a Civil War buff, follow the 16th Ohio Volunteers from Cincinnati to Vicksburg with this index.

9. Mysterious Case of the Missing Wife. 52 Ancestors #15 Mattie Worley In which a great-uncle goes West, makes his fortune and his official record makes a wife disappear.

Jesse Morgan on plaque

Squatters Riot Plaque, Sacramento, listing Jesse Morgan, squatter. From Roadside America.com

8. Mystery of ’49er Jesse Morgan: 52 Ancestors #25 Here my brother writes of the dramatic death of our mysterious great-great-grandfather Jesse Morgan–shot on the street in Sacramento.

7. 52 Ancestors: #1  Rhema Anderson Fair  To kick off my 52 Ancestors effort, I chose a favorite relative, my inspirational Aunt Rhema.  I suspect the numerous long-lost Fair cousins contributed to the popularity of this one.

6. Polenta? NO!  Grandma Cooked Corn Meal Mush An amazing number of readers fondly remembered or still eat corn meal mush. For those who haven’t tried it–there’s a recipe.

Pilgrim Punishment

5. 52 Ancestors: #46, My Bassett Ancestors–Naughty Pilgrims.  The 52 Ancestors challenge presented by Amy Johnson Crow at No Story Too Small, had me telling the stories of my ancestors–positive or not. I have to admit that title was created as click bait, but I love finding the unexpected.

4. Perfect Pie Crust gives my favorite pie crust recipe. The tradition of good pie crust, if not this exact recipe comes down from my grandfather to my mother to me. Apparently, a lot of you are looking for Perfect Pie Crust.

3. Family Restaurant with Home Cooking introduces the people and the Anderson Restaurant in Killbuck, Ohio that is pictured on the masthead–my Grandparents and helpers. And I share a favorite pork chop recipe.

Dalton Dari-ette, opening day 195 , (before Dick Kohler owned it). Picture used courtesy of Dalton Dari-ette

Dalton Dari-ette, opening day 195 , (before Dick Kohler owned it). Picture used courtesy of Dalton Dari-ette

2. Vintage Family Restaurant: Dalton Ohio Darriette, where Kay Badertscher writes about her Uncle’s classic drive-in. (Complete with recipe for one of their specialties.)

Broken piece of hardtack from collection of Minnesota Historical Society.

Broken piece of hardtack from collection of Minnesota Historical Society.

1.  Civil War Rations: Hardtack and O. B. JoyfulThe MOST READ post of 2014: My brother helped me by contributing information gained in his years as a Civil War reenactor.

What missed the list? What was my favorite?  I have already mentioned the Erasmus Anderson letters.  But here are two that I thought deserved more readers. I concentrated for a few months on the Puritan ancestors from Massachusetts, and in September visited the home of the Howe family. These two are members of that branch. Check them out and let me know if you agree they are worth reading about.

52 Ancestors: The Wheeler Dealer, #37, Samuel Howe

52 Ancestors: It’s All Relative, #35, Hepzibah Death

So much for looking back at the top ten of 2014.  Now let’s look back at the Civil War in 1861, and then the centuries and ancestors that came before.

December 21,Forefather’s Day and Plymouth Succotash

Since the Pilgrims did not celebrate Christmas, today at Ancestors in Aprons we are celebrating Forefather’s Day instead of Christmas, with a recipe for Succotash.

Pilgrims Going to Church

Pilgrims Going to Church, watercolor painting by George Henry Broughton (1833-1905)

Boston Globe reports on the early celebrations of Forefather’s Day (long before Thanksgiving was an official holiday), when notables like John Quincy Adams and Daniel Webster gave speeches.

In 1769 the holiday organizers ate a meal that was undeniably New England, but not much like today’s Thanksgiving feast—they consumed, according to contemporary records, “a large baked Indian wortleberry pudding, a dish of sauquetach (succotash), a dish of clams, a dish of sea fowl, a dish of cod fish and eels, an apple pie, a course of cranberry tarts and cheese.”

I don’t know about you, but to me, succotash is a simple, tasty vegetable dish combining beans and corn. When in doubt what to serve for dinner, dump a can of green beans and a can of corn in a pot–maybe add a little diced onion and butter–and you’ve got succotash. That’s the way my mother did it.

The dish was understandably popular during World War II and the Great Depression, during times of food shortages because the ingredients were cheap and combining corn and beans provides complete protein.

The corn part is immutable, although lima beans are more traditional than green beans. Even though they are not correct historically, because they were not native to North America. The name comes from the Narrangassett and Massachusetts peoples–sohquttahhash— or “msickquatash” (depending on what source you believe), which meant broken corn kernels or maybe “cooked corn”.

But I was totally surprised when I was roaming through the Pilgrim Hall Museum site and discovered not only a Succotash that I did not recognize, but also a holiday that I had never heard of. Apparently I’m not alone,

In an essay accompanying the recipe, William Talbot, speaking of the Pilgrim Museum, writes,

Thanksgiving belongs to America Forefathers Day is ours. It’s so well hidden that even many Plimothians don’t know about it.They can live in the town and…still think succotash is corn and lima beans. We may deplore their ignorance, but Forefather Day has not been engulfed by the mass culture.
Unlike Williamsburg we can’t stick fancy fruit above the doors of the Pilgrim Village and decorate the Fort Meeting House with laurel and pine. The best we could do is reenact the event when Governor Bradford found some of the strangers playing a game on Christmas day and took away their ball.

For some reason the image of Governor Bradford breaking up the ball game cracks me up.  (As I’m sure you know the reference to “strangers” means those passengers on the Mayflower and other Pilgrim ships who were not members of the church, but were tolerated in Plymouth because they had needed skills.) The Pilgrims came to the new world so they could worship as they pleased without being harassed by government. But woe to anyone in the colonies who did not agree with their creed.

So why is Forefather’s Day celebrated?

Here’s William Talbot again:

We think what they did was worth doing and worth remembering too. We look at the cold waters of the harbor on Forefathers Day and think of them in an open boat heading toward land.It’s worth the effort to get together with others who care about the Pilgrims.

And HOW is it celebrated?  partly by eating succotash–much more complex than lima beans and corn, and probably close to a stew that the Pilgrim forefathers might have eaten. (Minus the food processor, of course.)

So invite one hundred of your closest friends over on December 21, the day that the Pilgrims landed, and serve up Plymouth Succotash. (Wortleberry pie and sea fowl optional.)

Plymouth Succotash

(Traditionally served on Forefathers Day)
For 100 people or 150 as a first course

  • 25 lbs. gray corned beef
  • 5 5-lb. fowl
  • 5 lbs. lean salt pork
  • 6 lbs. dry white navy beans
  • 10 lbs. boiling potatoes
  • 10 lbs. white green-top turnips
  • 20 15-oz. cans whole hominy

Put all the meats in cold water and boil until tender, then drain, reserving the
skimmed broth as stock to cook the vegetables. Bone and dice the meats, and
reserve. The beans take a long, slow cooking in some of the fat broth until they can be pureed in the food processor. The puree is then reserved, and care must
be taken to cool both beans and broth lest they sour, which is a frequent disaster with this dish. The potatoes, white turnip and hulled corn should be cooked in the broth.

Before serving, mix meat and vegetables together and add the bean puree as it is heated. Be careful it neither burns nor sours–small batches help.It reheats particularly well and can be frozen.

Recipe from Pilgrim Museum web site PDF.