Aunt Eunice here. November has arrived and I am planning many birthday parties for my family as six of us were born in that wonderful month. November is an interesting month. Technically it is part of the autumn season, but most of the colorful leaves are gone by then and many time the weather seems like early spring or winter. It can be warm, hot, cool or really cold! It seems like a month that can’t make up its mind.
As a child growing up in Monroe County it was the norm to have some snow in November and by December it was here to stay with layers just getting thicker and deeper. Flexible Flyer sleds were the favorite way to travel downhill and rides kept getting faster as the snow was packed down into a smooth, firm surface. By the time I had children the snow was concentrated in the months of January, February and March. There was rarely enough snow to pack down for the runners on sleds to ride on. Saucers, toboggans, and later on inflatable sleds that resembled pool floats, became the best way to ride on the lighter snows we were now getting.
November at Quiet Valley means a transition from the historic farm tours to winter programming. In the house and cabin many items are packed away and will spend the winter in the attic. Tools and equipment needed for outreach programs will be readied and the Education Center is prepped for school children coming to enjoy a Molly the Sheep program, and yes, the sheep will actually be there for the children to meet. The Farmhand Adventure is also popular and teaches the students about wheat, bread and butter making. They make their own small loaf of whole wheat to take home. Hands on History classes like Christmas in the Colonies and Just for Nice are available for groups, too. Many of these programs can be presented at schools, senior centers, libraries, etc.
In the past November was also a time of transition for the farmers. Time to move from the harvesting of crops to putting the gardens and fields to bed. Winter wheat was planted, it was time to cull the herds and plan for butchering, take care of repairing tools, check on the condition of buildings and farm equipment, split more firewood and later in the month the farm wives would plan for Thanksgiving and would bake for many days prior to the dinner. A traditional Pa. German favorite was black walnut cake. Black walnuts are very common in this area and are very tasty, but hard to get out of their shells, unlike English walnuts. They are worth the time it takes though. Watch out for small pieces of shell that can get mixed in with the walnut meat.
I am including a recipe for a black walnut cake. Make one to try yourself before you serve one to your company. That’s what my mother always taught me to do. Walnut cake recipe.
Since November is here my thoughts and energies at work will turn toward our final event of 2019, our annual Old Time Christmas. It is a lovely event. Stay tuned for details or visit the calendar of events page for more info. Thanks for checking in. Take care. Aunt Eunice