Just a short drive in the car, and taking a dollar bill from our wallet we can buy a sweet treat just any time we’re craving one. And, strange as it seems to me, today it takes a dollar bill to buy one of my most favorite treats, a chocolate chip cookie. Granted it’s a big one and generally extra good. But, there was a time when a dollar would buy a family a year’s worth of flour.
Down through the years, it’s amazing the books we have collected at our house. Recently I pulled one from the bedroom shelves entitled, “A Book of Country Things.”
We’ve always been interested in the days when our great, great grandparents lived and seldom bought anything, and this book tells the story of a family and their self sufficient ways of the country life they lived in the last century. The book is divided into sections and this time as a flipped through its pages a note on the side caught my eye. It reads, “Parched corn, raw turnip and boiled cider for treats.” The book is about the age when people didn’t have a car and seldom had a dollar in their pocket. So what did they eat to satisfy their sweet tooth?
I don’t know where I have been all these years, but I was not aware of boiled cider.
From what I’ve read, it’s as simple as boiling down sweet cider to the thickness of syrup then if you concentrate it even further it becomes cider jelly. Actually the syrup is a natural sweetener and can be used to make Boiled Cider Cookie Bars, even Boiled Cider Pie.
I won’t leave you wondering what parched corn is. Sweet Corn must be dried and then
soaked and finally parched in a slow oven using lard to keep it from sticking. The book says it comes out tasting a little bit like roasted peanuts, takes a lot of jaw power to eat, but tastes good. Actually it makes a good trail mix, keeps well in a cloth bag or leather pouch and sprinkled with garlic salt it has a whole, new flavor.
Raw turnip was something Gramps ate after his teeth were gone. I have a harder time believing this was much of a sweet treat. I do cook turnips, mash and add butter, just like potatoes, but cutting off the
purple top and scraping the inside so it is a pulp that can be eaten without teeth, just doesn’t sound very sweet to me. I haven’t tried it, though.
I think we’ve just cover other reasons why we can be thankful we live in this day and age. You may want to try the smokey, burnt flavor of boiled cider and cider jelly or the lard parched sweet corn, maybe even the mushy, raw turnip, but I think I’ll stay with a
chocolate chip cookie. Anybody have an extra dollar?