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Introduction (Page 4)

Authentic Pennsylvania Dutch Recipes from AlansKitchen.comDuring the colonial days, less successful farmers envied the success of these German farmers. Many resented that they spoke German. Even their customs and their customs allowed their English neighbors to ridicule.

The German language name for German is �Deutsch,� thus �Deutschland� is Germany. Their English neighbors called them �Deitsch,� �Dutch,� and often �Dumb Dutch.�

Actually, the term Pennsylvania Dutch distinguishes the Swiss and Low Country German settlers from the later nineteenth-century German immigrants.

Nevertheless, in those early years the name separated these people from their neighbors, set them apart cruelly, and sealed them into a double isolation of distance and language. For solace, they turned to their music and handicrafts. It is the origin of �Pennsylvania folk art.�

In the beginning, these early settlers were too busy to worry about what their neighbors thought of them. �Think what you please,� ran one of the adages, �but not too loud.� Another was �Better die eating than fighting.�

However, when the Revolution began, these people took the side of freedom. Although they continued to be peace loving, they knew that need to win their freedom and to hold on to it. The sects that would not permit the bearing of arms maintained hospitals or collecting supplies. The Revolutionary cause made large use of their skills, and their voices heard.

Pennsylvania rifles made by these German craftsmen turned the tide in many battles. Pennsylvania�s cannon and cannon balls cast in Pennsylvania furnaces were essential to victory. The fate of the nation depended upon Pennsylvania�s Conestoga wagons, creaking into Valley Forge, heavily laden with Pennsylvania�s stone-ground flour, or loaves of freshly baked bread.

History tells us that General Washington�s cook at Valley Forge that long winter was a Pennsylvania German. When Washington returned to Mount Vernon, he took with him a fondness for Pennsylvania cookery that lasted his lifetime. He was not the only one, for soldiers from other colonies, had learned to enjoy German cooking. They went home and raved about it. Meantime, the Quaker and Scotch-Irish neighbors of these Pennsylvania German housewives, learned to bake, preserve, and pickle. Many considered Pennsylvania German cookery to be the best in the land.

This cooking had come a long way from the valley of the Rhine, from the villages of Switzerland, and from the towns of Alsace. To fully develop in the New World required herds and the harvests for milk, butter, and flour. At first, they were luxuries in the new land.

They called these beginning dishes �poor man�s dishes.� However, the memory of good food does not die and as better times arrived, they returned to their grandmother�s techniques. From the closets, came their old handwritten cook books and they began to study and practice the old methods of cookery.

With bumper crops, they experimented with the fruits and vegetables found in the New World. They were encouraged to add some of their own recipes to their grandmothers in the same German writing. As a result, Pennsylvania German cookery developed.

Many Pennsylvania German cooks still use their handwritten cookbooks. Except that nowadays, they usually write in English. Just like the old ones, you are likely to find a table of measurements in the front and a few household remedies in the back. They skip the everyday recipes, but there is a rash of rules for cakes and pies, sweets and sours.

Mrs. Showalter won the blue ribbon at the country fair for her marble cake, so Mrs. Showalter�s technique is carefully noted. The fact that the cookbook already contains several recipes for marble cake makes no difference. It is baking nuances and the tricks of famous cooks, which are all-important. Aunt Katie uses �eating molasses� in her cake. Mrs. Weaver bases here success upon a certain kind of sugar � so various recipes for the same cake must be included.

In the best-liked dishes, the problem of measurements arises immediately. Pennsylvania German cooks give little thought to proportion and measures by feeling. Cooking is instinctive, and �butter the size of a walnut,� �one and a half eggshells of water,� �flour to stiffen,� and �as large as an apple� are their measurements. Standardization can take the life right out of a good Pennsylvania recipe.

The cupful: it may be the uniform measuring cup, but it is more likely to be a teacup that has lost its handle or a coffee cup � large, cracked one that still has its uses. You cannot be sure, with their measurements, but you strive for accuracy and hope for luck. For Pennsylvania German cooking, is a combination of practicality, imagination, and artistry!

The typical Pennsylvania German menu is generous and satisfying. You do not take their menus lightly. They may have come from the Old World, but they lost certain continental flourishes to the demand of pioneer life and adapted to become farm food. Even with the addition of many ingredients now available, it is much the same today as in the beginning, they are hearty size meals. Therefore, unless you have a formidable appetite, you should try this one recipe at a meal!

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