Way back when, Wednesdays

Christmas feasts that you may not want to share

In the weeks before Christmas, we seem to inundated with sweet treats like mince pies, cake and chocolates.  We look forward to a splendid meal on Christmas Day, whether that be of turkey, seasoned chicken and ham, or seafood such as prawns, accompanied by an array of salads or vegetables.  This monumental meal is usually followed by desserts such as pavlova and Christmas pudding.  Many of us are fortunate enough to be able to purchase and enjoy a wide range of delicacies.

It seems that tastes have changed.  The curious world of Christmas, celebrating all that is weird, wonderful and festive by Niall Edworthy, gives us an insight into the not so delicious fare which was on offer in times past.

9781446422236 Curious world of christmas

In the Middle Ages, roast peacock meat was served with great pomp and ceremony in the castles and manor houses of the nobility.  Peacock meat was tough and dry but the idea of presenting an exotic, colourful Indian bird to guests must have appealed to the rich of this era.  Sometimes the peacock was made into a huge pie.  Its feathered head with a gilded beak would protrude from one end of the pastry with its tail sticking out of the other end of the crust.  As peacock meat was unappetising, cooks would sometimes substitute chicken or goose meat for the pie filling and attach the head and tail feathers of the peacock.  An awful end for such a beautiful bird!

peacock-vow-featured

Image: ‘The Peacock Vow’ a 15th century illustration from ‘Le Livre des conquetes et faits d’Alexandra.’ Currently held in Paris. muse du Petit-Palais, folio 86 recto. Painter. Anon. https://hforhistory.co.uk/article/roast-peacock-medieval-christmas/

Wealthy people in the Middle Ages would enjoy eating a range of foods over the twelve days of Christmas.  Geese were basted in butter and saffron, which is still the most expensive spice in the world.  Cooks stuffed lemons into the mouths of whole pigs or wild boars.  Sometimes only the boar’s head would be presented on a large serving dish, as a festive symbol.  A medieval Christmas ‘pudding’ was a great treat but the principal ingredients were cracked wheat boiled in animal stock, mixed with egg yolks and threads of saffron.  The mixture was left to set before serving as an accompaniment to roast meats.  As time went by, people replaced the costly saffron with other sweeter spices like cinnamon and nutmeg and added dried fruit to the recipe, such as currents.

So what did the ordinary people, the peasants, eat at Christmas?  Certainly not roast meat.  The average person worked hard every day for their local lord, usually farming his lands or labouring at a trade that benefited the estate.  A peasant would not get to eat a lot of meat, unless they poached an animal off a noble’s estate, a serious offence for which they could be harshly punished.  Peasants ate mostly dark, coarse rye bread and stew.  The stew, known as pottage, was usually made up of onions, peas and beans that people grew in their gardens.  If you lived near the sea or a river, you could catch some fish.  If peasants kept chickens or livestock they would have eggs and milk.  However, you could not afford to kill your animals for meat.  In the Middle Ages it was considered a privilege to eat meat, whereas dairy products and vegetables were viewed as foods suitable for peasants.

Sometimes the rich landowners would give the innards of their venison to their tenants who would make them into pies.  The offal was called ‘umbles’, from which the expression “to eat humble pie” is derived.  Unfortunately for the tenants, Christmas Day was one of four days each year on which they had to pay their lords rent for the hovels in which they lived.

Niall Edworthy also quotes an English saying of page 50 of his book “A dog isn’t just for

Christmas.  It’s jolly nice cold on the 26th as well.”

 

You can reserve The curious world of Christmas, celebrating all that is weird, wonderful

and festive by Niall Edworthy online or enquire at the Library.  Discover many more

interesting traditions and quirky facts about Christmas.  And enjoy your modern

Christmas dinner!

#waybackwhenwednesdays

 

 

Did you know…what to do with your Christmas leftovers?

If you are anything like me, you will no doubt have over-catered for Christmas. I actually believe that if you haven’t over catered, you are not catering properly! But after everyone has eaten their fill, what do you do with all those leftovers?

Here is one idea:

Christmas Leftover Risotto

Ingredients

  • 1 onion
  • 1 leek
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 heaped of thyme leaves
  • 200g of leftover turkey (shredded)
  • 200g of leftover ham (diced)
  • 300g Arborio rice
  • 1 glass of white wine
  • 1 litre of chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1/4 cup of grated parmesan (or any cheese you may have)
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 1 tablespoon of cream cheese (optional)
  • Olive oil

Method

Heat the stock.

Chop up the leak, onion and garlic.

Heat some olive oil in a pan and add the leak, onion, garlic and thyme.

Once the leak and onion starts to turn transparent, add the white wine and bring to the boil before adding the rice and meat.

Reduce the heat and begin to ladle in the stock, stirring continuously. Cook for about 20 minutes, continuing to add stock as it is absorbed. It is important to keep the dish ‘wet’.

Once the rice is soft and the butter and cheese and stir through.

Serve immediately with some crusty bread.

Delicious!

Way back when, Wednesday

Entrepreneurial Elf

Have you ever wondered what the elves do with themselves in the off-season, when they are not employed in Santa’s workshop? In the 2005 picture book The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition by Carol Aebersold, Chanda Bell and Coë Steinwart, the elves visit peoples’ houses. Once adopted, they watch vigilantly to see if children have been naughty or nice, then make a report to Santa.

 

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The Elf on the Shelf.  Reserve this book through the Library’s online catalogue

 

Perhaps a more commercially minded member of the fairy folk may have swapped the elven tunic, leggings and shoes with curled up toes for a suit and tie, then set up his own small business in Adelaide. The North East Leader, a Messenger Newspaper printed this advertisement for real estate agent Ernie D. Elf on page 25 of the edition dated 4 July 1973.

 

ernie elf real estate

If Ernie Elf sold your house or you bought a property through him, please let us know about your experience. Ernie Elf certainly looks like his name. Notice how his chin-length, Seventies style hair could hide a pair of pointed ears!

Elf real estate no longer operates at 598 North East Road, Holden Hill, this is now the site of a Caltex service station. What happened to Ernie? Although Elf Realty is listed in Queensland, Ernie is not listed as an agent. Maybe Ernie joined another firm or eventually retired.

Thank you for reading ‘Way back when, Wednesday’ this year, best wishes for a Merry Christmas!

#waybackwhenwednesdays

Way back when Wednesdays

Celebrate the season with Pyramid Power

Never mind the Santa hat! Imagine yourself relaxing, after the noise and bustle of the festivities is over, wearing your Pyramid Meditation Hat. The North East Leader printed this advertisement for Experimental Pyramids and Pyramid Mediation Hats on page 37 of the edition dated 20 December 1978.

Pyramid hat

During the mid 1970s people became fascinated with the concept of Pyramid Power. Though not a new idea, various authors such as Sheila Ostrander and Lynn Schroeder, Max Toth and Patrick Flanagan wrote books examining the concept that pyramid shapes can focus and generate energy, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pyramid_power.

Pyramid Power Toth         Pyramid Power Flanagan

The design of the Great Cheops Pyramid of Egypt gave rise to the study of Pyramid Power. The construction of the Cheops Pyramid was ordered by the pharoah Khufu (Cheops) during the Fourth Dynasty and completed around 2560 BCE. The Cheops Pyramid is a marvel of engineering and is considered to be the most mathematically perfect structure on Earth. The pyramid is aligned north-south, exactly parallel to the earth’s magnetic axis. The King’s Chamber forms the centre of gravity. Fans of Pyramid Power believe that the other small chambers carved out of the solid rock are recepticles for energy to collect and resonate. In the 1930s Frenchman Antoine Bovis experimented with the idea that small models of pyramids can preserve food. He constructed a scale model of the Cheops pyramid, under which he put organic matter. His work was based on the idea that when locals collected small dead animals which had wandered into the Cheops Pyramid in Egypt, the corpses were mummified, instead of decaying, despite the hot and humid atmosphere, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pyramid_power

Advocates of Pyramid Power in the 1970s claimed that food kept under a structure designed like the Cheops pyramid kept fresher for longer. The food dehydrated instead of rotting. An intrepid manufacturer produced pyramid shaped canisters designed for better food storage. Even more astonishing was the assertion that razor blades were kept sharp as the pyramid focused the cosmic energy and realigned the crystals in the steel! You could also polish tarnished metal using the power of the pyramid, http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/PyramidPower

fresher food

Sitting or lying under your pyramid was also supposed to speed up the healing of cuts and burns, lead to better sleep and even improve your sex life.

Sitting under a pyramid

Experimental research claimed that wearing a pyramid shaped hat could help relieve a headache. The pyramid also assisted you with focusing your mind, thereby increasing your ability to learn in the long term. The hat mentioned in the advertisement is not cheap. According to the Reserve Bank Inflation Calculator) you would now need $79.53 to purchase it. Your experimental pyramid would cost $124.29!  One may argue that sitting quietly and meditating is of benefit anyway, even without the hat. During the late 1970s there were even designs for pyramids shaped learning booths in which school students could relax and study, https://futurism.media/what-is-pyramid-power.

There are still people who believe in the properties of pyramids. However it should be noted that there is no scientific evidence to support the concept of Pyramid Power, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pyramid_power.
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Way back when, Wednesdays

What every child wants for Christmas

What would your children like for Christmas? Parents start putting toys on layby from the time of the mid-year sales. Or they race around the shops in December looking for the popular and sometimes expensive toys.

Search online and you will discover that a range of toys such as the Slime Factory, the Furreal Roarin Tyler and the Robo Alive lizard are in demand this Christmas. Santa is also stocking up on the cute L.O.L Surprise Dolls, the My Little Pony: My Magical Princess Twilight Sparkle and the Hatchimals. Lego and Star Wars related merchandise are listed as perennial favourites.

Would you like to encourage your children to play outdoors? Perhaps Santa could bring each of them a pair of stilts and they could have races! The North East Leader, a Messenger Newspaper printed this advertisement for Gimpy brand stilts on page 17 of the edition dated 7 December 1966.

Stilts

In a simpler time, kids probably had a lot of fun playing with their stilts over the summer holidays. Library staff who were children in the 1960s reflected on some of the Christmas presents that they received. Most parents never bought anything on credit. Only store-cards (which could be used exclusively in the issuing store) were available in Australia up until 1974 https://www.finder.com.au/credit-card-history and people usually could not afford to buy expensive gifts. Some toys were homemade. Intrepid woodworkers made and sold playsets such as a wooden hand-painted service station for toy cars. One member of our staff remembers that her uncle made her some furniture for her doll, a small wardrobe and a bassinet. Or you might gladly receive homemade clothes for your dolls. And you would have been very fortunate to receive several presents in your Santa Sack.

8f1559f2e1ec35a4997d251d3525845b--tonka-trucks-tonka-toys

Recollections of commercially made Christmas gifts include skipping ropes, Tonka toys, little cars, minature toy household appliances including a sewing machine and washing machine. There was also a treasured spinning top!

 

545e71c95db335a44c49f2e82da3ee00--spinning-top-art-metal

A metal spinning top

 

little washing machine

Mini washing machine that really worked!

Childlike dolls, Mattel’s Barbie and Skipper and Sindy manufactured by English company Pedigree were on many girls’ wish lists. Board games such as snakes and ladders and quoits were popular gifts as they encouraged family interaction.

Snakes and Ladders

Skipper

Or you could have lots of fun with dress up outfits like cowgirl and cowboy costumes or a nurse’s uniform (perhaps you were lucky enough to also own a toy medical kit with a stethoscope).

Most toys manufactured in this era relied on children using their imaginations or being physically active to have fun, rather than the use of technological components.

You can still buy stilts for kids online. The design is still basically the same. Modern stilts are made from metal or plastic and the height can be adjusted to fit the child. Some can also be strapped on. Parents might be concerned about accidents and broken bones. Unlike in 1966, it is now recommended that children wear safety gear when using stilts, such as elbow and knee pads and a helmet.

#waybackwhenwednesdays

Library opening hours for Christmas and the New Year

Christmas rainbow wreath decoration on white

 

The Library will be open at the special time of 9am and close at noon on Friday 23 December.

The Library will reopen on Tuesday 3 January 2017, from 10am to 5pm.

Christmas bonus! All loans for 4 weeks items have been extended to 6 weeks.

Best wishes from the Library staff for a happy and safe festive season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Way back when, Wednesdays

Scary Santa!

Everybody seems to have heard a story about a child who was terrified of visiting Father Christmas.  Or when some people get out their own Santa photos, they realise they look decidedly uncomfortable sitting on the weird looking man’s knee, surrounded by red satin and masses of snowy hair and beard.

The Leader Messenger printed a photograph of two little cuties visiting Santa at the Clovercrest Shopping Centre, on the cover of the edition of 7 December 1966.  The girl on the left of the photo looks quite apprehensive, while the younger child on the right could be wondering “What are you?”  And who is the ‘intruder’ peering out from behind Santa, is she a sibling or just a girl wanting to be in the local paper?

Nevertheless, Clovercrest Shopping Centre must have deemed the girls photogenic enough to reuse the image in a full page advertisement, on page 2 of the Messenger on 14 December.  If you were one of the children pictured, we would love to know!

scary-santa-cropped