Friday, September 30, 2016

Making Richard's Cookies

I've become interested lately in historic recipes & a friend of mine frequently posts her adventures in antique recipes on Facebook.  Some of these are beyond my pay grade--either too time-consuming or requiring utensils that I don't have--but I recently stumbled across one that is right up my alley: Bosworth Jumbles.

According to a news article in the Hinkley Times, the recipe for these cookies originated with Richard III's own chef. And of course legend has it that the recipe was ripped from the dead chef's hands after the Battle of Bosworth in 1485--perhaps by Margaret Beaufort herself? I'm sure the Ricardian fans who blame her for everything else will begin swearing up & down she did.  

The recipe presented in the article, however, had some discrepancies.  The list of ingredients was simple: Eggs, flour, sugar, butter.  No BFD. The instructions, however, mentioned lemon zest.  Uh, whut?

It's not a big deal, lemon zest. Take a lemon & rub it against a cheese grater--Voila, lemon zest.  But since it wasn't in the rather short list of ingredients, I was concerned that the author had left out other, possibly more important, ingredients &/or instructions.

What I found in a Google search was a wide array of recipes all claiming to be "authentic" Bosworth Jumble recipes.  They had the same ingredients but varied widely in the amounts (one called for a POUND of sugar & a cup of flour, for example. What the....?)  I ended up having to "read between the lines."  This picture is the recipe I used:

I decided after looking through several recipes to just go with the one that was closest to a sugar cookie.  Since I'm from Texas, I am required by law to add pecans. 

Everything mixed together just fine.  I didn't think the lemon zest was enough, so I squeezed the lemon to add the juice to the dough.  However, I had serious trouble getting the dough to form the required "S" shape.  I even chilled the dough for 30 minutes & while that trick worked for the first few cookies in the 2nd batch, the dough quickly melted again in my hands. I ended up grabbing a couple of spoons & making drop cookies instead.

The end result was 2 batches of crispy, sweet cookies with a lemony flavor and scent.  When I do these again, I will definitely chill or freeze the dough for a lot longer amount of time, perhaps overnight.  And even though the cookies don't look "done" in the pictures, they were crispy throughout. The middles just didn't brown like the edges (something I intend to work on as well).

I am also toying with adding chopped dried fruit, such as cherries or cranberries, and maybe adding a mint or vanilla flavoring. We'll see how it goes.  

I suspected the cookies would quickly disappear at the party, & I was right. Good thing I took a picture! (And yes, those are bluebonnets decorating the plate.)

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Big Surprises In Small Packages

Nellie Serena Pallady

or so the saying goes.  And so it is with the various genealogical DNA tests offered by several different companies.  I should know--I've tried most of them.  With the exception of one, all the tests involved spitting into a small tube, mailing the tube to the company, & then stalking your email waiting for the notification that your results are in. 

There weren't too many surprises in the results that I got back. Probably the biggest one was finding out I was more British & French than Irish & that my mother's haplogroup originated in the Basque region of Spain.

Each company has its own method of linking your results up with other people who share the same genetic history, with varying degrees of success.  I have had some success in finding new relatives & connections on, but the absolute biggest success for me came from the way 23&Me connects users.  Because of this method, I was able to blast through a previously-thought impenetrable brick wall just 3 generations back: my paternal great-great grandparents, James Stillman Pallady & his wife, Sarah Elizabeth Spencer.

The information that my mother & great uncle had put together for this couple amounted to little more than their names & when & where they were born.  And my great uncle even got my great-great grandfather's name wrong! It's a pattern that's seen again & again--youngest child of a parent who dies when said child is still very young leads to not very much information about the parents for the child to pass on to his or her own children.

Sarah Elizabeth Spencer
And so it was with poor Nellie Serena Pallady.  Until recently, we thought she was an only child born of parents who seemingly appeared out of nowhere & vanished without leaving a trace.  Try as I might, I could find no information about James Stillman Pallady, other than where he was born in upstate New York.  I found a reference to his marriage to Sarah Elizabeth Spencer at a church in Malone, New York around the time that Almanzo Wilder was living there (brush with greatness #1).  That same announcement listed some of the guests, including the bride's father, James C. Spencer, but not her mother's name. The 1840 Federal Census indicates the mother was alive, but that census was only a tally of people in each household.  By the 1850 Census, the mother had obviously died, as James C. appears in that census as a widower living with a few of his children, who thankfully, are named.  This was the extent of the information I had discovered about this little family group until I got the results of my 23&Me test.
James Stillman Pallady

Since Pallady was a name that I am on constant alert for, I tried out my first filter with it, and struck pay dirt.  I found a close DNA match & sent out a request to share information.  What I got back blew my mind.  This person's own great-great grandparents were the older brother & sister of my own Pallady/Spencer couple!  Double cousins!  Not only that, she sent along a couple of links to some local history articles that included names, dates, and locations of the Pallady & Spencer families!  

Now armed with this information, I kept plugging away.  I discovered that my g-g grandfather's brother attended the Franklin Academy that a future vice president of the United States (William Wheeler) & Almanzo Wilder's older siblings did.  (In the book "Farmer Boy," Almanzo watches his mother weave the cloth she would use to make Royal's academy uniform.  Although the name of the school is never stated, the author wrote that it was in Malone.)  I also found mention in a census that James Stillman worked with leather, making boots, saddles, & harnesses at a business in Atlanta, Illinois.  "Oh!" said my newly-found cousin. "That explains my family oral tradition that someone in our family made the boots worn by Abraham Lincoln at his inauguration!" (brush with greatness #2) I wondered why Lincoln would go all the way to Atlanta, Illinois to get his boots, but later discovered that the Pallady brothers owned several boot & saddle making businesses, with James actually starting the business in Springfield in the 1850's.  Their reputation was such they were able to expand to other cities, such as Atlanta, in the 1860's.

Not all the information I found about them has been happy, however.  I knew that at some point, James Pallady died and his widow remarried and moved to Kansas.  In looking at various federal censuses, I found mention of two sons, Charley & Bertie.   Having narrowed down when James could have died by looking at federal censuses, I decided to roll the dice and find his gravestone on  Paydirt again: He was listed as "J S Pallady," buried in Atlanta, Illinois in 1879.  Even more surprising was that on the reverse side of his tombstone was a list of the couple's children who had already died.  None of these children had lived more than a year or two.  Interesting note: In the 1900 Federal Census, Sarah E. Spencer is listed as a widow, living with her younger sister.  She told the census taker that she had had seven children, only 2 of whom were still living. (Shortly after this, I discovered that Charley had died in 1897.)  Sarah does not appear in any other federal census, so it is likely that she died before 1910.  I have not yet traced when and where, however.  As for Nellie, she died at home suddenly and only a neighbor was nearby to give the coroner any information.  All she had to give the coroner was the surname of Nellie's father & a possible name of her mother (which was incorrect.) Until this year, all the information my family had on this couple was based on this death certificate. How wonderful it has been that something as simple as a small tube of saliva could turn these ancestors into actual people who lived instead of just names and dates on a genealogical chart!

Of course, as more and more people get their DNA tested, more and more connections are being made.  Who knows what new discoveries await for family historians! Just today, I got hints that might help break down another brick wall in my family tree, this time from, so it does pay to test with more than one service. I have been quite satisfied with the results I have received & feel that what I have been able to uncover has been worth the cost of the tests.  (All photographs in this entry belong to me.)

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Royal Footie Fan

Hello, yeah, it's been a while. Not much, how 'bout you?

I've been dealing with quite a few issues since last I posted an entry on my blog, not the least of which was a group of trolls from an allegedly "friendly" group. But it seems they've finally grown up moved on, so I'm venturing back slowly to actually enjoying the subject of Richard III.  

I do have other topics for this blog in mind, but I'm still sorting those out and getting the posts in order, so for now, I'll just point out that the Leicester Football Club seems to be having an amazing season since Richard's reinterment in Leicester Cathedral. Since my interest in sports fades if neither the Seahawks or Spurs are playing, I'll just leave this entry with the following picture. 

Richard III a footie fan? Who knew? Guess he likes Leicester after all.