Christmas shopping

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(HOST) While most of us were heading for the local stores to do our gift shopping, commentator Edith Hunter put another log on the fire, opened a book and did hers without leaving home.

(HUNTER) The morning I did my Christmas shopping was the
first heavy snow of the year – a good day to stay at home.

I went out in the shed to one of the freezers and took out two quarts of frozen strawberries. These are some of the everbearing strawberries that I was picking right up to the first frost in late October.

I have a great strawberry jam recipe that was in an old cookbook of Aunt Margaret’s, “Out of Vermont Kitchens.” The original copy-
right is 1939. It was produced as a money-raising project by the Trinity Mission of Trinity Church, Rutland, Vermont and the Women’s Service League of St. Paul’s Church, Burlington, Vermont. It must have been a successful fund raiser since mine
is the seventeenth printing, 1947. It was a paperback and had
long since fallen apart. My husband rebound it for me with a spiral binding so it lies nice and flat. It is still available in who knows at what printing at the Vermont Historical Society Bookstore.

As a frontispiece there is a reprint of the famous excerpt from President Calvin Coolidge’s speech at Bennington, September
21, 1929, “Vermont is a state I love.”

It also includes advertisements for Vermont products and services, mostly from Rutland and Burlington. The ads represent the busi-
ness world sixty-five years ago. They make interesting reading.
I imagine that many of the businesses have long since ceased to exist. Most of the banks that advertised have merged. There are numerous illustrations, some of Vermont landmarks, and others relative to the recipes.

The several hundred recipes are all handwritten by the person who contributed them. Undoubtedly most of the contributors are dead. But for me they are not.

Elizabeth Howe, writing in a large clear hand, was the author of the strawberry jam recipe that I cherish. Here it is.

“Warm slowly two quarts of capped strawberries until the juice is extracted, then add four tablespoons of vinegar and eight cups of sugar and boil for fifteen minutes after the mixture reaches a full rolling boil.

Set aside for twenty-four hours in a china or porcelain vessel, stirring occasionally. Put up cold and cover with paraffin. Never put up more than two quarts at a time.”

I find I need to boil it for closer to half an hour.

The eight cups of sugar I will get out of the sugar pail that once graced my mother’s kitchen. So with my mother, Aunt Margaret and Elizabeth Howe in my thoughts, as well as the friends who
will receive my strawberry jam, I did my Christmas shopping.

It was just the thing to do in a Vermont Kitchen on a snowy December day.

This is Edith Hunter on the Center Road.

Writer and historian Edith Hunter lives in Weathersfield Center. She spoke from our studio in Norwich.

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