VIEW STOP 12 SCRIPT
Hello, let me introduce myself. I’m Arminda Hallock, Halsey’s mother and the grandmother of Hal, Bessie and Ella, who I think you have already met.
I married Halsey’s father Herman in 1828, the year that rascal, Andrew Jackson, was elected president. In those days, this smokehouse was an essential piece of equipment on any farm. We couldn’t keep fresh meat for long without it going bad. The smoke treated the meat and kept it from spoiling. I smoked lots of hams, bacon and sausages right hee-aa in this old smokehouse.
My son Halsey always talked about those fine slices of my home cured ham hot from the stove. Why, my lands, hee-aa he is right now:
“Yes, home cured and smoked in the old smokehouse. Oh yes, those nice fat slices of sausages – I mean mother’s sausages, not the kind the meat shop hands out, well, you may call it what you please, but it doesn’t come up to mother’s not by half a long way.”
We were equally frugal in the kitchen. Those ashes from the stove, why, we saved them up and every spring I leached the lye out of them to make soap.
When we butchee-aad a pig, we always saved all the fat to make lard. We cut the fat into small pieces and then cooked them in a big iron pot until the lard was rendered – or “tried out” as we always said. We used the lard the way you use shortening today – such as in pie crusts, cookies, cakes or for deep frying. Any crust made with lard was really good – better than anything you have ever tasted.
We never bought shortening. No sirree – not when we could make lard. The remaining pieces of brittle meat left after rendering the lard were called cracklings. We used those too – added them to bread or fed them to the chickens.
We also saved all the suet when we butchered cattle. You know what suet is? The hard fat found around the kidneys of cattle or sheep. You probably just feed it to birds. What a waste. Like lard, it can be used for pie crusts or deep frying.
One of my favorites is suet pudding. This is really more of a steamed cake but we called it a “pudding” in the old fashioned English way as a synonym for dessert. The pudding had a little cinnamon, cloves or nutmeg as flavoring and lots of raisins. We steamed it in a tightly covered tin pudding mold that was standard equipment in Sound Avenue kitchens back in my day. I think there are still a few in the Homestead kitchen today. Heavens-to-betsey, those suet puddings were good.
Now take a look at our vegetable garden just to your left. I think Halsey is working there now.