Sunday, January 25, 2009

Arnon and ‘THE PIE’, By Diana McCarty

It is a well-known Taylor/Baker family tradition, that Arnon Taylor makes pies. Good pies. Lots of pies. He hardly ever made just ‘one’ pie. Usually making pies meant that he couldn’t decide or everyone wanted a specific kind so he would make four or five or ten pies. Lemon and Banana Cream were always much in demand at family events.

So, ever the dutiful daughter that I am, on a trip to Lexington, Kentucky I happened upon a cookbook in the Shaker Village that touted it's 'famous and renowned' Lemon Pie. I thought, "Dad has to have this book I bet he'd like the pie." (The truth here is I love Lemon Pie and was looking out for my own interest.) I shelled out the $$$ bought the book and delivered it back here to Minnesota.

We had several discussions about 'the pie' - it took two whole lemons and Dad thought it might be a little tart. I had only smelled it baking at the Shaker Village so I couldn't attest to its tartness but suggested it couldn't been famous if it was all that bad.

Much to my surprise and delight one Sunday when I stopped by the Taylor house - I found dad in the kitchen. I checked to see if my favorite Ginger Snaps were about to be produced when he said nope - it's the lemon pie. I had to leave but they were given strict instructions to call me when it was ready for quality control. I spent the rest of the afternoon thinking lemony thoughts.
The call came and I went over for the tasting. I got to cut the pie and noticed it was a little, well shall we say different. Dad mentioned that the instructions called for slicing the whole lemon (yup the rind too) into paper thin slices before you did all the other stuff - so it was chunky with lemon rind. I thought - how clever of the Shakers to use all of the lemon and not waste anything.

I sat down with a hot cup of coffee and took a big bite. What a bite. My lips puckered up so bad that they darn near turned inside out. My eyes filled with tears and my sinus passages haven't been that clear in years. Yes it was tart! Very tart and the rind was very bitter.

After a brief discussion, we decided that it might be the Shaker version of Weight Watchers - if something is that bad you don't eat much. Then we got to thinking on how much produce has changed over the years. The lemons they used were likely smaller and thinner skinned. (You know they are bigger now and need the thick bright yellow skin/rind to get to market and look pretty) With the thinner skin, when you soaked the slices, they would've gotten much softer and chewier. (Did I mention that not only was the rind tart but as tough as shoe leather)? Of course it is altogether possible that whoever typed up the recipe for the cookbook forgot a step like - peel the darn thing. In any event - there are no more Shakers and I think that now, I know why!
Oh well - all I can say is that this pie was gone as quickly as any other pie that Arnon has ever made. Just went to the garbage instead of someone's stomach.
Picture One: Carol Ann, Arnon, Diana, Maria

Monday, January 19, 2009

Happy Birthday, Sylva!

For the first sixteen years of Sylva’s life, January 20th was her birthday, to be shared with no one, especially not ‘the nation’. But, as luck would have it, in 1937, January 20th was chosen for the inauguration of American Presidents.
So, much like Aunt Doris in the later years of her life shared her birthday of September 11th with ‘9/11’, Sylva began to share her birthday with another sort of history--the beginnings of Presidencies. And, so, while we on this blog remember our Sylva, we also remember and honor the new beginning of today in Washington, DC and wish our new President, Barack Obama, congratulations, and good luck.

Sylva Howland Emhof—Jan 20, 1921 By Aunt CB

Second daughter of Lil and Elmer Howland, Lil being sister to Ethel B. Taylor, she was always received with great joy by all the Taylors. Well-to be honest, ALL of the Howland girls were. They were a part of all the joy and mystique which emanated from Grandma Baker and Adin’s farm!

Sylva was closest in age to Esther and they both were piano and organ players. Both covered every minute of their adult lives with talk and playing music.

She married young and had three children, a son, Freddy D, and two daughters, Linda and Christine. Fred was a farmer for years, so they seldom could take a REAL vacation, but encouraged others to come to them, and come we did. The Lochners, particularly, came almost every summer for a few days, fishing, swimming in the creek, and just plain playing on the farm!

She had reunions there, at whichever farm she lived on at the time—and Freddy, who drove school bus to supplement his income, took us all for a ride—what a treat!

The Kinsella kids still remember their visits there—that’s where they met a lot of Gladys’ and Philly’s kids!

Picture One: Back, Esther, Sylva, Ethel Taylor Front, Lucille, Harold Picture Two: Freddie & Sylva
Picture Three: Five Generations-- Lil 91, Sylva 62, Linda Arnold 42, Kathy Arnold Miller 19, Melissa Kristen Miller-born 8/19/83 Picture Four: Sylva and Esther
Picture Five: Sylva and Esther

Friday, January 9, 2009

Ruth Emma Taylor Maney--Happy Birthday! By Aunt CB

Oldest of my siblings, was named after our paternal grandmother, Emma Carson, who died shortly after our parents married. When she graduated from high school in 1935, the country was still caught deep within the depression. There was no money available to go on to college, so she, an honor student, got a job as a saleswoman in Grant’s ten cent store in Geneva.

By this time in our lives she had graduated to a bedroom of her own, a place where we younger ones were never allowed to enter, for she kept her own supply of cookies, which she paid for herself, a raisin cookie, which of course we all loved–but were out of bounds to us!

The incident I remember so fondly occurred in 1937, Easter Sunday. It must have been an early Easter, for the weather was cold and we were still eating breakfast in the kitchen. For some reason, I only remember Doris, Harold and I, coming down to eat. A cardtable was set up near the cooking stove and it was warm and toasty in the room.

We never did anything special for Easter, but this year, as I slid into my seat, I noticed a small package on my plate. Opening it, I found a pink bunny holding a carrot! It was a pin to wear on my coat when we went to church and I was overjoyed. I didn’t remember what Harold or Doris received, just what I got. Ruth had bought them for us with her discount and it still warms my heart when I think of it. Money was very scarce those years and we had few frivolous gifts!

Ruth and I were always on the same page as we lived our lives. I miss her still.