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November 20, 2008

"Whether your Thanksgiving holidays mean a gathering of the relatives, the arrival of the college set or just the usual family circle, it's wise social strategy to be prepared for informal entertaining."  Margaret Pettigrew, Eagle Staff Writer

Most people groan when they have to conduct research on microfilm machines.  I love it.  Sure, it makes you a bit queasy and it is hard to walk in a straight line once you've finished, but it is well worth it in my opinion.  I am fascinated by recipes from the early twentieth century.  And the Brooklyn Daily Eagle does not disappoint when it comes to recipes that grandmothers in Brooklyn once clipped and followed. 

The Brooklyn Public Library has the full run of Brooklyn's newspaper, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, on microfilm from 1841 -1955 (1841-1902 can also be found online).  Imagine having a tin of recipes from the early 1900s through 1955 sitting on your kitchen counter top!  By searching the microfilm for recipes, you can!  (There are also entire recipe books in the Eagle Libraries series--but that's another post...) The Brooklyn Daily Eagle included recipes and food commentary in many issues.  You can also research the price of food: in Brooklyn in 1941, for example, turkey cost 37¢ per pound.  Today, I pay $2.90 per pound for a grass fed, humanely raised and killed bird.  The royal bird, as Pettigrew calls it, is worth every cent.  Brooklyn Eagle Photo, November 17, 1941

For Thanksgiving 1941, Ms. Pettigrew suggests the following menu:  Roast turkey with oyster stuffing, giblet gravy, cranberry sauce, baked onions and potatoes, mashed turnips, baked sweets, green salad, relishes, pecan pumpkin pie, nuts, raisins, cider, and coffee. 

If you don't already have a menu planned for this year's Thanksgiving, this looks like a tasty suggestion.  Here is the recipe that Ms. Pettigrew used from the kitchen of Mrs. Florence Phillipson for turkey and stuffing:

Recipe: Roast Turkey with Oyster Stuffing

Season turkey with one eighth teaspoon of salt per pound of bird. "Stuff, truss, and grease thoroughly with melted or softened unsalted fat.  Salted fat tends to blister and break the skin.  Place turkey, breast down, in open roasting pan. Cover with fat-moistened cloth and roast at a constant low temperature of 300 to 325 degrees.  Turn bird, breast side up, when about half done.  Keep cloth moist by sprinkling it with melted fat." Oyster Stuffing "2 cups bread crumbs, 3/4 cup chopped celery leaves, 1 onion minced, 3 tablespoons diced bacon, 1 quart oysters, cut in pieces, 1/4 pound mushroom caps, halved, 2 teaspoons of salt, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce. Mix ingredients by tossing together lightly; pack loosely in cavity.  This recipe yields enough stuffing for an 8 to 10 pound bird."

The image shows the turkey garnished with a lovely assortment of poached pear halves and I'm assuming, cranberry jelly molded into festive stars.  Just a touch of parsley for added green and voilá! an eye catching presentation for your Thanksgiving feast. 

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