Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Britain's Love of Curry + Super Easy Coconut Curry Recipe

Curry is a complex dish that can trace it's origins to Eastern and Southern Asia.  And using spices, herbs, and chilies, curry is a very robust and flavorful dish, one that is extremely popular all over Britain.  Featured as either dry or wet, curry is cooked utilizing a variety of techniques depending upon who is making the dish. But where did Britain's love of curry come from?

Curry can, in some form, trace it's roots back in ancient history, "Archaeological evidence dating to 2600 BCE from Mohenjo-daro suggests the use of mortar and pestle to pound spices including mustard, fennel, cumin, and tamarind pods with which they flavoured food. Such dishes are also recorded during the Vedic Period of Indian history, roughly 1700 to 500 BCE" (Wikipedia).  So, when and how did curry become so intertwined in the British landscape?  

Coat of Arms of The East India Trading Company (Wiki Picture)

According to 'Go For An English, website' "When the British first established trading posts in India in the mid 17th century they were simply trading partners. The food eaten by the employees of the East India Company would have been largely the same as the food eaten by the local Indian population. And there appears to have been plenty of choice; one East India Company employee wrote in 1759 "The currees are infinitely various". By the time the British had become the colonial rulers of India in the mid 1800's there had been a huge influx of British nationals into India to administer British affairs. The British colonials were by now eating predominantly British-style food although they found that they had to adapt to local conditions and use local produce. Numerous books were written to help newly arrived young British wives advising them how and what to cook and how to manage a household in India" (goforanenglish). 

Due to large demand for the new dish, back home in the British empire, but the lack of ingredients needed to reproduce the curries found within the colony of India, a curry powder, which could be transported easily, became the 'go-to' staple for much of the British curries in the late colonial and up into the Victorian era.  Mrs. Beeton's Victorian book of Household Management, which wiggled it's way into many a households and kitchens had a prized recipe for curry beef using the powder (MrsBeetonHousehold):

CURRIED BEEF (Cold Meat Cookery).
620. INGREDIENTS – A few slices of tolerably lean cold roast or boiled beef, 3 oz. of butter, 2 onions, 1 wineglassful of beer, 1 dessertspoonful of curry powder.

Mode.—Cut up the beef into pieces about 1 inch square, put the butter into a stewpan with the onions sliced, and fry them of a lightly-brown colour. Add all the other ingredients, and stir gently over a brisk fire for about 10 minutes. Should this be thought too dry, more beer, or a spoonful or two of gravy or water, may be added; but a good curry should not be very thin. Place it in a deep dish, with an edging of dry boiled rice, in the same manner as for other curries.

Time.—10 minutes. Average cost, exclusive of the meat, 4d.

Seasonable in winter.

Curry was just about everywhere in Britain, including at the table of Queen Victoria, "Kitchen archives at the Queen’s favourite residence, Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, reveal that curries featured on the menu every Sunday during lunchtime. “Had some excellent curry, prepared by one of my Indian servants,” the Queen remarked in her diary later that summer" (Revealed).  

Queen Victoria with Family (note the Indian servants behind)

With the influx of Britain's going to and from India, as well as the influx of Indian's arriving in Britain and soon opening restaurants and becoming chefs and cooks, it is no large surprise that curry became an integral dish of Britain. 

Wiki Picture

Sake Dean Mahomed by Thomas Mann Baynes (c. 1810) Wiki Picture

And it has remained an integral part of the British food scene ever since, "Almost 200 years before the Indian restaurant became a fixture on the British high street, [Sake Dean] Mahomed, a Muslim soldier, founded the first curry establishment in Britain, the Hindoostane Coffee House in Portman Square, London. It gave the gentry of Georgian England their first taste of spicy dishes. Two centuries later, the British are still in love with dishes flavoured with cumin, coriander, ginger, fenugreek, cayenne pepper and caraway. We spend an extraordinary £2.5bn in Indian restaurants every year. Around 80 per cent of "Indian" restaurants are actually owned by Bangladeshis, and their cuisine derives not just from India but Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka. And curry describes not just one dish, but a meal and the cooking of an entire subcontinent" (Independent).  

In keeping with our curry theme, I present an easy (and I mean EASY) coconut curry recipe.  All ingredients are from Trader Joe's.

1 Can Coconut Cream (you'll only need 1/2)
1 Jar Thai Red Curry Sauce
1 Package of Rice (the box comes with 3, just use 1 packet)
1/2 an onion, chopped
Salt and pepper, optional
1 package of garlic naan bread
1 package of chicken, 2 lbs or thereabouts, cubed
Pat of butter or olive oil for frying

Preheat oven to 400 (or whatever your naan bread directions say).  Shake a little pepper over the cubed chicken.  Fry the chicken in butter or olive oil, when nearly cooked, toss in onions and cook until translucent. Cook rice per package directions. Toss rice, 1/2 can of coconut cream, and 1 jar of Thai Red Curry Sauce in the pan.  Mix well and bring the curry sauce to boiling. Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer for a few minutes, seasoning with salt and pepper as needed.  Put naan bread in the preheated oven for 3 to 5 minutes. Once done, serve and enjoy.  Super easy and feeds 3-4 (ingredients can be doubled as needed).

Curry simmering away.

Curry always smells so delicious and it is truly one of my favorite dishes to make.  Of course, I always plan to make an elaborate curry but, like everyone else, time slips away from me and in the end I use Trader Joe's ingredients and to be honest, it's just as tasty! Plus, knowing that Queen Victoria had her own love of curry makes me smile even more.
It warms my little Anglophile heart...

(And many more than are linked within the blog post). 

Friday, November 7, 2014

Charles Luther Scates

Sorry it has been so long since my last post but life gets in the way sometimes and a blog has to take a backseat! Well, I'm back and today I am doing a very special, incredibly personal blog about a particular family member named Charles Luther Scates.  He wasn't famous and you won't find his name in any history textbooks but I thought I'd make this blog post dedicated to him.  He was, after all, my third great grandfather!

Charles Luther Scates

Charles Luther Scates

Charles Luther Scates was born in Batavia, Genesee, New York** on May 4th of 1844 (Please see end note).  

Batavia, Genesee County, New York 

He was born to Charles M Scates and Elizabeth Betsy Cowden.  The Scates lived and worked the land near Dryden, Lapeer, Michigan.  Charles Luther helped his father as a laborer on the family farm. 

Dryden, Michigan at the turn of the century.

Charles M. and Elizabeth Betsy Scates's Family consisted of 6 sons and 5 daughters: Samuel born 1832 and died 1870, Mary S. born 1834, Charles W. born in 1836 and died in infancy (approx. 1836), Elizabeth Caroline born 1838 and died 1913, Mary Ann born 1842, Charles Luther born 1844 and died in 1899, Elnora (or Eliza) born 1846 and died 1890, James W. born 1848 and died in 1870, George Wallace born in 1850 and died in 1934, Frank H. born in 1852 and died in 1920, Alice L. born in 1854.  (Names and dates are approximate). 

Charles Luther Scates was 18 when he volunteered for Company C 20th Michigan Infantry at the outbreak of the American Civil War. Company C 20th Michigan Infantry was organized in Jackson, Michigan on August 15th through August 19th.  Charles Scates was one of those who enlisted during this time and began his official service on August 16th of 1862.  While in service with the 20th Michigan Infantry, Charles Scates advanced on Culpepper November 2-15th of 1862 and Falmouth, Virginia in November from the 16th through the 19th.  The 20th Michigan Infantry was also in the battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia.  
Battle of Fredericksburg: The Army of the Potomac crossing the Rappahannock: in the morning of December 13, 1862, under the command of Generals Burnside, Sumner, Hooker & Franklin. Wiki Picture
According to Wikipedia, "The Battle of Fredericksburg was fought December 11–15, 1862, in and around Fredericksburg, Virginia, between General Robert E. Lee's Confederate Army of Northern Virginia and the Union Army of the Potomac, commanded by Major General Ambrose Burnside. The Union Army's futile frontal attacks on December 13 against entrenched Confederate defenders on the heights behind the city is remembered as one of the most one-sided battles of the American Civil War, with Union casualties more than twice as heavy as those suffered by the Confederates. Burnside's plan was to cross the Rappahannock River at Fredericksburg in mid-November and race to the Confederate capital of Richmond before Lee's army could stop him. Bureaucratic delays prevented Burnside from receiving the necessary pontoon bridges in time and Lee moved his army to block the crossings. When the Union army was finally able to build its bridges and cross under fire, urban combat in the city resulted on December 11–12. Union troops prepared to assault Confederate defensive positions south of the city and on a strongly fortified ridge just west of the city known as Marye's Heights. On December 13, the "grand division" of Maj. Gen. William B. Franklin was able to pierce the first defensive line of Confederate Lieutenant General Stonewall Jackson to the south, but was finally repulsed. Burnside ordered the grand divisions of Maj. Gens. Edwin V. Sumner and Joseph Hooker to make multiple frontal assaults against Lt. Gen. James Longstreet's position on Marye's Heights, all of which were repulsed with heavy losses. On December 15, Burnside withdrew his army, ending another failed Union campaign in the Eastern Theater" (Wikipedia ).

The confederacy won that particular battle.  And not soon after that battle Charles Luther Scates was mustered out at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas on December 31st of 1862 as disabled.  He had dropsy and asthma. Both very hard and strenuous conditions to have during a war. Dropsy is defined as, "An old term for the swelling of soft tissues due to the accumulation of excess water. In years gone by, a person might have been said to have dropsy. Today one would be more descriptive and specify the cause. Thus, the person might have edema due to congestive heart failure. Edema is often more prominent in the lower legs and feet toward the end of the day as a result of pooling of fluid from the upright position usually maintained during the day. Upon awakening from sleeping, people can have swelling around the eyes referred to as periorbital edema. The Middle English dropesie came through the Old French hydropsie from the Greek hydrops which in turn came from the Greek hydor meaning water" (MedicineNet ). 

Update: from Cara Duley Shelton "For the Scates side cousins this morning (I started tagging, but I'm on my phone...Please tag your siblings & others!): I may be late to the party (as I'm late to the family, so please forgive me if you all know this) but I just found out that Charles L. Scates was a survivor of the Sultana disaster. Did you guys know this?  A Union soldier out of Michigan, captured in Virginia and imprisoned at Andersonville, GA., he managed to survive that notorious prison until the end of the war.  Then, all the POWs were put on the steamboat Sultana and sent back up the Mississippi towards home on April 27, 1865. This picture was taken in Arkansas. The boat had a legal capacity of 376 passengers, but it held nearly 2,500 prisoners - the U.S. gov't was paying $5 per soldier and $10 per officer to get them home. Just south of Memphis, TN, a boiler burst, the fire ignited other boilers and the steamboat exploded, looking like a volcano in the middle of the river. 1800 of these men, in weakened and frail condition as POWS, died either in the explosion or of drowning before they could be rescued.  Of the 700 survivors, 200 more died of burns in Memphis area hospitals.  Somehow through all that, your gg-grandfather survived.  It was the worst American maritime disaster in history, but it was totally overshadowed ..coming the day after Lincoln's assassination.   Ok. So if I've bored you to tears, that's enough. There are books and books, and many documentaries, made on the disaster. I have the papers that prove Charles L. Scates was a Sultana survivor. Let me know if you want copies.The papers are on ancestry, or I can email them."

Pretty incredible.

The best summation of life after the war for Charles Luther Scates comes from his daughter Alice Elizabeth Allen (née Scates) in her short memors, "My father was a soldier throughout the war, but at the close of the war he was mustered out at "Fort Leavenworth."  From there he joined a wagon train to cross the plains - from Leveanworth to Fort Laramie, Wyoming.  I think he made two trips and on returning settled near Topeka where he met my mother, where later they married."  
 Fort Leavenworth Artillery Barracks (Wiki )
Fort Laramie 1874 Calvary Barracks (Wiki )

Alice Elizabeth Scates (née Lampson)
Alice Elizabeth Lampson was made a widow when her husband Elijah Hatch James died on Septmber 15th of 1864.  She had, had three children with Mr. James: Charles, Emma and Flora.  Alice Elizabeth was born September 9th of 1833 in Athens, Ohio making her eleven years older than Charles Luther Scates.  The Kansas farm, located in "Kaw Valley" upon which Elizabeth lived first as the wife of Elijah and then as a widow with her three children was paid off, although she had no money herself.  As Alice Elizabeth Allen (née Scates) states about her mother, "She worked, skimped, and economized until she paid the bills and finished her house."  The house that she and Elijah had shared was a small structure built on the back of their pioneering wagon.

Charles and Elizabeth married September 9th of 1867 in Jefferson County, Kansas.  In the 1870 census, Charles Luther Scates is listed as a 26 year old farmer with a farm valued at approximately $1,600.00.  The agriculture census in July of 1870 gives a further image of the family farm:
Acres: Land Improved: 30; Woodland: 10; Other (unimproved): 40
Cash Value: Farm: $1600; Farming Equipment and Machinery: $460
Livestock: Horses: 6; Milk Cows: 2; Swine: Unidentifiable number
Value of all Livestock: $600
Wheat in Bushels: Spring: 86
Indian Corn in Bushels: 50
Oats in Bushels: 500

Even though the farm was in good standing the family moved in 1874.  According to Alice Elizabeth Allen (née Scates), " 1874 we went to the new part of the state and again meant living on the "frontier." But to me they were happy days where one learns to think for himself, meet emergencies in an instant and fear nothing.  From 9 years old I rode half-broken ponies and do anything else that came up.  I did not know the meaning of the world can't."  However, not all times were easy living in the frontier of Kansas.  In 1874, grasshoppers literally engulfed the region and covered everything, eating anything they landed on including the crops from the Scates Farm.  They ate all of the cabbage, trees, and corn down to the stalk.  "Times were so hard we could not stay there.  This was on the west side of the "Flint Hills," which was along a line of hills which was called the "foothills" of the Wichita Mountains.  So we went east over the hills and strange to say the hoppers did not go over to any great extent and there was great orchards of fruit and wheat so we had bread even if we did not have much else at the time.  My father was able to get work for the wheat and take it to the little water mill and get it ground for a "toll" (Alice Elizabeth Allen née Scates).
Flint Hills in Southeast Kansas (Wiki )

After the great grasshopper disaster, the family once again moved to the eastern area of Kansas and rented a small farm.  However, due to the low amount of work on the farm, Charles Luther Scates ventured to Joplin, Missouri where a lead mining boom was taking place.  Charles worked hauling ore from Galina to Joplin.  The family made yet another move when Charles Luther Scates's team of horses was stolen, prompting the family to head a little further west in Kansas (although not really western Kansas).  The government reserved land in certain areas of Kansas for settlers who demonstrated that they were authentic in their desire to be prosperous.  The settlers could obtain land if they built a house, plowed and planted acres of crops and dug wells.  Determined to do just that, the Scates family settled in Elk County, Kansas near the towns of Howard and Union Center.  Once in Elk County, Charles and Alice Elizabeth, " a meeting to organize a school district as the only schools up until that time was a subscription school where each one paid so much for each child and hire a teacher who held school in an old log house that was vacant.  After the organization of the district that voted a tax levy and proceed to build a school house, hauling the lumber 50 miles and the men built it gratis.  There was no money for a teacher, neither could they see any public money until school had been established, so again a subscription school.  Each parent furnishing his quota of wood also boarding a teacher.  I believe one week for each child attending"  (Alice Elizabeth Allen née Scates).  

Charles Scates and his family rented their farm near Union Center, Elk County, Kansas and in June of 1880 the farm was surveyed. This Federal Selected Census of the Population in Kansas  provides an interesting picture of what type of farm the Scates held and what kind of work they must have done.  Here is a summery of the farm they rented and worked:
Acres of land imroved: 28 (including tilled land) and acres of land unimproved: 160 (including woodland and "old fields").
Farm Value: Land $1000, Machinery and Equipment: $100, Livestock: $200
Value of Production: $135
Acres of Mowed Grassland: 6
Acres of Hay: 10
Horses: 3
Milk Cows: 4
Other Cattle: 3
Calves Delivered: 4
Sold Living: 2
Died: 1
Butter Churned: 300 Pounds (holy arm power!)
Swine: 2
Poultry: 51
Eggs Produced: 100 dozen
Indian Corn: Acres 27; Bushels: 600
Molasses: 5 gallons
Potatoes: 25 bushels

While living and working around the Elk County area, Charles Luther Scates was also enrolled in the Grand Army of the Republic, which served the "veterans of the Union Army, US Navy, Marines and Revenue Cutter Service who served in the American Civil War. Founded in 1866 in Decatur, Illinois, it was dissolved in 1956 when its last member died. Linking men through their experience of the war, the GAR became among the first organized advocacy groups in American politics, supporting voting rights for black veterans, lobbying the US Congress to establish veterans' pensions, and supporting Republican political candidates. Its peak membership, at more than 490,000, was in 1890, a high point of Civil War commemorative ceremonies. It was succeeded by the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW), composed of male descendants of Union veterans" (The Grand Army of the Republic ).
Enrollment of Ex-Soldiers and Sailors of the Late Armies of the United States, Residing in the State of Kansas.

Muster Roll of Members of E.M. Stanton Post 23 located at Howard, County of Elk, Department of Kansas Grand Army of the Republic, mustered or admitted by transfer during the quarter ending the 30 day of June 1884. 

Charles Luther Scates passed away at the young age of 55 on November 3rd or 22nd of 1899.  He was buried in Farmington Cemetery in Fredonia, Wilson County, Kansas.  Alice Elizabeth Scates, now a widow, requested a pension shortly after his death.
Pension Application for Charles Scates, Feb 16, 1900.  Filed by Alice Elizabeth Scates.  It does list another service of A 5 Michigan Calvary but because I do not have any documents proving this service as of yet, that part of his service is still being investigated on my part and therefore, I didn't include it in my bio.
And because Charles Luther Scates served in the American Civil War in the Union Army his daughter, who has provided an amazing snapshot of her family life, applied to the War Department for a headstone recognizing his service.  It was granted. 
Application for Headstone to the War Department, applied May 26th of 1930 by Alice Elizabeth Allen (nee Scates)

Charles Luther Scates, Co. C 20th Michigan Infantry, Headstone located in Farmington Cemetery in Fredonia, Wilson County, Kansas
I was touched by the stories from Alice Elizabeth Allen (nee Scates) about her parents and I thought it only fitting that I include a picture of Alice, her brother (my 2nd great grandfather) Luther and his wife Emma Pitzer. 
Alice "Allie" Elizabeth Allen (nee Scates), Luther Bertcell Scates, and his wife Emma Catherine Scates (nee Pitzer)

I love investigating my family and learning all kinds of new and interesting stories.  And, like all genealogy it is an ongoing and never ending process.  I tried to have the most accurate information that is available by cross checking and cross referencing many sources and many sites.  But, it will never be perfect and perhaps someone else has conflicting or different information.  It happens.  Census records are notoriously shaky when it comes to exact dates and names but they are an invaluable tool.  And I love that I have Allie Allen's (Alice Elizabeth Allen) personal stories but those too can have some discrepancies. At any rate, Charles Luther Scates was pretty amazing.  In fact, so was his whole family (I deeply admire Alice Elizabeth Scates, his wife. Talk about a strong woman!).  These folks were just a drop in the bucket of the steadfastness and determined folks that make up the pioneers and I couldn't be more proud to have them in the family line.  


**A little note about his birth: Although on a few census records he lists his birthplace as having been Vermont as well as Canada, on a map, these locations are all extremely close together and since we are still dealing with very early days of carving up the American states, he might have thought he was born there or the census taker may have just wrote what he felt was correct.  Who knows?!