18 January 2013

18 January - Daniel Webster; Turnover Apple Pie

“Yes, Dan'l Webster's dead--or, at least, they buried him. But every time there's a thunder storm around Marshfield, they say you can hear his rolling voice in the hollows of the sky. And they say that if you go to his grave and speak loud and clear, "Dan'l Webster--Dan'l Webster!" the ground 'll begin to shiver and the trees begin to shake. And after a while you'll hear a deep voice saying, "Neighbor, how stands the Union?" Then you better answer the Union stands as she stood, rock-bottomed and copper sheathed, one and indivisible, or he's liable to rear right out of the ground. At least, that's what I was told when I was a youngster.”

So begins The Devil and Daniel Webster by Stephen Vincent Benet.

Today is the birthday of the lawyer, statesman, and orator Daniel Webster, born in 1782 in Salisbury, New Hampshire to Ebenezer and Abigail Webster.

You can read about this controversial but able speaker at Wikipedia, and explore his time as a student at Dartmouth at Daniel Webster: Dartmouth’s Favorite Son.  His birthplace is a New Hampshire State Historic Site; it is not open to the public until mid-June, but looks like a nice option for a day-trip come summer.

For me, it is time again to read The Devil and Daniel Webster.  The 1941 movie based on the story (with Walter Huston as Ol’ Scratch) is available on Hulu (online) and on DVD.  If you haven’t seen this movie yet, give it a try.

“But they say that whenever the devil comes near Marshfield, even now, he gives it a wide berth. And he hasn't been seen in the state of New Hampshire from that day to this. I'm not talking about Massachusetts or Vermont.”

For one of New Hampshire’s favorite sons, have something from the Granite State.  This recipe, from the Woman’s Day Encyclopedia of Cookery, is called NEW HAMPSHIRE TURNOVER APPLE PIE.  It’s not quite the ‘turnover’ that you are used to, and the cook’s helpers are likely to wonder (audibly) if you really know what you are doing.  Ignore them.

Preheat oven to 425° F.
Peel and thinly slice enough tart apples to make 5 cups.
Make or buy 1 pastry crust for a 9-inch pie.
Warm a serving plate (plate should be the same size as the top of the pie).

Fill a 9-inch pie pan with the apples.

Fit the pastry crust over the top of the apples (like a top crust) and trim the edge.

Bake for 25 minutes or until the apples a soft [how you are supposed to check if they are soft is beyond me.  I just leave them for 25 minutes.]

But… but… but… what about the sugar and cinnamon?  Fear not.  It cometh.

Remove the pie from the oven. [Here it comes] TURN THE PIE UPSIDE DOWN ON THE WARM SERVING PLATE.  [This is the ‘turnover’]

Lift off the pie pan, leaving the baked apples in the crust.  Carefully scoop out the apples from the CRUST back into the pie pan, and mash them with a spoon.  Now stir in ½ cup of sugar, 1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon, and 1 tablespoon of butter.

Spread the apple mixture on the crust again; dot with another tablespoon of butter.  Put it in a warm place until the butter is melted.

Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream.



“Birthplace of Daniel Webster” from The Private Life of Daniel Webster by Charles Lanman (1858).
“The site of the house is two and a half miles from the beautiful Merrimack River, and in the immediate vicinity of that where his father built the first log-cabin ever seen in this section of country, and at a time when, between his residence and the borders of Canada, there was not a single human habitation, excepting the Indian's wigwam. The house in question is not now standing; but the engraving which ornaments this volume is from a drawing correctly representing it, as it appeared only a few years ago, and is the only portrait of the place which ever received the approbation of Mr. Webster. It was a good specimen of the more elegant farm-houses of the day, one story high, heavily timbered, clapboarded, with rather a pointed roof, one chimney in the centre, one front door, with a window on either side, three windows at each end, four rooms on the ground floor, and an addition in the rear for a kitchen."

“Young Daniel at the Saw Mill” from Life of Daniel Webster: the Statesman and the Patriot by John Frost (1868)
“Near his birthplace and in the bed of a little brook are the remains of an old mill which once stood in a dark glen, and was then surrounded by a majestic forest which covered the neighboring hills. The mill was a source of income to Ebenezer Webster, and he kept it in operation till near the end of his life. To that mill, Daniel, though a small boy, went daily, when not in school, to assist his father in sawing boards. He was apt in learning any thing useful, and soon became so expert in doing every thing required, that his services, as an assistant, were valuable. Hence the reason for his being employed there when not at school or absolutely required elsewhere. But his time was not mispent or misapplied. After setting the saw and "hoisting the gate," and while the saw was passing through the log from end to end, which usually occupied from ten to fifteen minutes for each board, Daniel was usually seen reading attentively the books in the way of history and biography which he was permitted to take from the house."  Charles Lanman, Personal Memorials of Daniel Webster, (1853)