02 November 2010

2 November - All Souls Day; North Dakota and South Dakota

Today, the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed, we honor our dead and pray for their souls.

"On this day is observed the commemoration of the faithful departed, in which our common and pious Mother the Church, immediately after having endeavored to celebrate by worthy praise all her children who already rejoice in heaven, strives to aid by her powerful intercession with Christ, her Lord and Spouse, all those who still groan in purgatory, so that they may join as soon as possible the inhabitants of the heavenly city." — Roman Martyrology

Fish Eaters writes an in-depth article with customs, prayers, a recipe for SUGAR SKULLS,  and excerpts from The Golden Legend.

Catholic Culture has more information and activities, including recipes like EGGS IN PURGATORY and DRY BONES COOKIES.

On both is information regarding the indulgences available for this day and for the week following.  Consider dedicating all of your prayers, rosaries, and Masses in the month of November for the Holy Souls.

Wild celebrations are not in keeping with the tone of the day, anymore than would be on Memorial Day or the anniversary of a loved one's death, but nothing says we must mourn without ceasing all day, or that we must eat dust and ashes (or the equivalent).  Every culture has its favorite foods for the days that they honor their dead; from Mexico, we have a lovely sweet-bread called PAN DE MUERTO (Bread of the Dead).

There are several recipes online for the bread; this is one I found in an old magazine 30 years ago and have made every year:

Heat 1/4 cup of milk to boiling, stirring to prevent curdling; remove from heat.  Stir in 1/4 cup of butter until melted, 1/4 cup of sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.  Set aside. (Keep mixture at about 110 degrees F.)

In a large bowl, mix 1 package of active dry yeast with 1/4 cup of warm water until dissolved; let stand 5 minutes.  Slowly stir in warm milk mixture until well blended.

Separate 1 egg; reserve white.  Add yolk and 1 whole egg to milk/yeast mixture, then add 3 cups of flour, one cup at a time, mixing well.  Turn out dough onto a floured surface.  Knead dough until smooth.  Grease a large bowl. Place dough in  bowl, turn over to coat entire ball of dough with oil; cover with a dish towel, and let rise in a warm place until double, about 90 minutes. Grease a baking sheet.

Punch down dough, and turn out again onto a floured surface.  Knead until smooth.  Divide dough into fourths, setting one fourth aside.  Roll the remaining pieces into ropes.  Pinch one end of the three ropes together; braid them, form the braided dough into a circle and pinch the opposite ends together.  Place circle on greased baking sheet.

Divide remaining fourth of dough in half and roll each piece into a rope.  Use scissors or a knife to slice the ends of each rope about 1/2 inch; spread the cut sections slightly apart to form the 'bones'. Cross the bones on top of the braided dough.  Cover loaf with a dishtowel and let rise for about 30 minutes.

Now preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  In a bowl, mix together 1/2 teaspoon of anise seed, 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon, and 2 teaspoons of sugar, and reserve. In another bowl, beat the reserved egg white lightly.  Brush top of bread with egg white; sprinkle between the bones with sugar mixture.  Bake for about 35 minutes.

A slice of that, and a cup of hot chocolate beaten to a froth.... mmmmmm.

Today in 1889,  South Dakota and North Dakota, previously known as Dakota Territory, were admitted to the Union as the 39th and 40th states - only nobody knows which one was admitted first, nor does it matter.

This is magnificent country!  The wide Missouri River runs through both, splitting the states into distinctive areas - the Badlands, the mountains, and grazing land on one side, good farming country on the other.  That good farming country attracted a goodly amount of German farmers from Russia - Germans who had been invited to emigrate to Russia in the 18th and early 19th centuries, but by the middle of the 19th century found that they were no longer welcome by the Slavic majority.  These German-Russian immigrants adapted their meat and dough recipes as they adapted themselves to their new home, and so we have recipes like KNOEPHLA SOUP, which can be a simple broth with dumplings, or a hearty chicken and potato soup with dumplingsa third recipe uses meat-filled knoephla in broth.   

Another distinctive food is a deep-fried meat pie called FLEISCHKUEKLA (fleish-KEE-kla).  The recipe here makes a large size pie, along the lines of a pasty; while this recipe is for small, almost appetizer-like Fleischkuekle that would be good for watching-the-Big-Game (or the inevitable Midnight Snack). You can find more recipes (including one for Ammonia Cookies), history, and information on the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection site.

The State Dessert of South Dakota is KUCHEN, a good recipe for which you can find on Signs and Symbols of South Dakota (along with other Official State things.  Did you know that the Official State Sport is Rodeo?  That's my kind of state!)  Several more recipes for Kuchen can be found here, some with custard, some with fruit.  The Widow would be much inclined to add rhubarb to her Kuchen.

Did you know that Rugby, North Dakota is the geographic center of the North American continent?  Well, you do now.