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Introduction (Page 3)

Authentic Pennsylvania Dutch Recipes from AlansKitchen.comSince their farms were set apart, families had to function as a unit and large families were vital. The farmer and his sons raised the crops from the soil; the women cooked and baked, spun and wove. They produced bountiful crops and full food supplies. The need for thriftiness motivated the sale of surplus food to less fortunate � or less farseeing � neighbors. For themselves, the Pennsylvania Germans needed to buy little except salt and spices.

The children grew up and started their own families. Family gatherings became common. They came together to feast, to worship, and sometimes to mourn. They marked springtime and harvest with festivals. They were grateful for God�s gift of life in the New World. They loved and savored this life on earth.

Music and the arts flourished among the Pennsylvania Germans and their bookmaking was the finest in the colonies. The Plain People forswore buttons and other frivolities of dress. They adopted a uniform garb with invisible fastenings. In a gesture of religious humility, they washed one another�s feet at communion service. However, between the Sundays �preaching,� they indulged in hearty dinners, met their friends and neighbors to talk and catch up on the news, were outgoing and content.

These Germans were craftspeople. They made just about, whatever they needed. They built their great, stone-sided �Swiss� barns thoroughly and decorated them with what we call �hex signs.� It is doubtful that they intended these designs keep away witches, or even lightning, but they were pleasingly decorative and even mystical. They built their homes with native stone and just as solidly as their barns.

They make their own furniture. They paint chairs and chest in bright colors and decorated them with pomegranates, lilies, angels, and birds. These motifs come from the Old World. They weave their coverlets in patterns of tulips and stars, house and rose-trees. They piece their bright quilts in similar design. Blacksmiths make iron-laced trivets, tinkers shape cookie cutters to delight the children. They carve their butter molds with designs and a pie dish (Boi Schissel) display charming painted figures under its glaze. Schmutz Amschels (grease robins) are little iron lamps with suspended wicks and resemble birds.

By their flickering lamps they labored at keeping his family records, carefully lettering names and dates in German script and ornamenting the complete Fraktur with swelling heart, swirling vines, stars, and angles � and, if it was seemly, a pair of birds �conjugally facing.� Today you discover as collectibles and museum pieces, the old Fraktur, the pottery, and the cooking utensils of the early Pennsylvania Germans. You see the birth certificates, house blessings, pie dishes, butter molds, cups, flagons, trivets, and spice boxes. The main theme deals with food � �Here is Meat and Sauerkraut� reads the legends on one old plate. �Our maid she is a bride in the year 1810.� The plate commemorated as wedding; however, they mention food before the bride! Even in times of plenty, they recalled their years of hardship.

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