Category: Aroma of Bread

The Ice House is Ready!

This is an archived post from “The Aroma of Bread,” and was first published 8 Feb 2013.

On November 21, 1905 Henry John Fassbender took the plunge, and purchased the White Clover Dairy Company in Hollandtown, Brown Co., Wisconsin. Not a young man, as he would soon turn 26-years-old, he knew what it would take to keep a factory of this size running. He would have help, as on January 17, 1906, he would marry the love of his life, Ida Emma Schultz.

Henry had been working in cheese factories all of his life, as in 1887 his father had built one of the first cheese factories in Outagamie County, Wisconsin, not far from the family farm in Ellington. One factory grew to two, and these family factories were now being run by his elder brother, Hubert; their parents, Peter and Elizabeth, had retired to Appleton, Outagamie Co., Wisconsin, in 1901.

One of the tasks of a cheesemaker was to harvest enough ice to last the summer. Harvesting began as soon as the ice was thick enough, usually by mid January, and continued until the house was full. That first year it was reported in the Kaukauna Times on February 9, 1906 that: “Our hustling cheesemaker Henry Faustbender [sic] is harvesting his next summer’s ice.” A couple of years later on January 31, 1908, the entry in the Kaukauna Times reported: “The ice harvest has begun in earnest and our cheesemaker and others who store ice are busy putting up next summer’s supply.”

Reporting on January 13, 1913, the Kaukauna Times stated: “Mrs. E. Van Abel, H. J. Fassbender and Matt Becker were harvesting their ice supply.” Matt Becker was a friend, and business associate of Henry’s, and Mrs. E. Van Abel is the former Ellen Wassenberg, the 71-year-old widow of Martin Van Abel, and grandmother of Wilfred and Don Van Abel. She was harvesting ice for her “Hotel.”

As we move further into the 20th Century, gasoline motors become more readily available, making harvesting ice a much quicker and easier process.

Why am I writing this post about ice? What does it have to do with food? Many years ago I had the good fortune to sit down with Henry’s daughter Mildred (Hunce), and she told me many wonderful stories about growing up in Hollandtown. Two centered around Henry’s ice house. 

Always the humanitarian looking out for the people of his community, each year Henry would open up his ice house to the people of Hollandtown. Anyone who had a need for cold storage larger than what would fit into their household ice box, could carve out a niche in the ice house as their own. As Hunce remembered it, many people took advantage of this offer, coming and going throughout the summer. 

The second story occurred on Monday, May 22, 1922, when at approximately 10:30 p.m. a boiler exploded at the factory. Hunce remembered hearing her father fly out of his bedroom on the first floor, and out the side door of the house. This door led straight to the factory. Eighty years later she could still hear the shower of sparks and debris hitting the tin roof of the house. An article published in the Appleton Post-Crescent on May 23rd states: “…the farmers were powerless to do much more than prevent flying sparks from communicating with nearby dwelling houses. At one time the sparks had started a blaze on the roof of a stucco house [Henry’s] about 200 yards away, but it was quickly extinguished…” There was nothing that could be done to save the factory, the papers reported the loss at $20,000, only “partly recovered by insurance.” One can only imagine Ida’s fear as she stood helplessly by watching the factory burn to the ground, and as she tried to comfort and protect her children. At the time of the fire Harold (Fat) was 14, Laurine (Ena) was 12, Red 11, Butch 9, Hunce 7, Cub 4, and Ann (Hank) was just eight months old.

Hunce also told me that day of her memory of the ice that was left after the ice house burned to the ground. She had a clear and distinct memory of how tall the remaining ice was, and how long it took for it to melt. Her memory, again corroborated by the newspaper article: “The ice house adjoining the factory also burned to the ground leaving a tower of ice about 35 feet high.”

Work began to rebuild White Clover Dairy began that very summer. 

St. Mary’s Hilbert Cookbook, 1970s, p. 163 – This

It Wasn’t About the Food, But the Fellowship

This is an archived post from “The Aroma of Bread,” and was first published 22 Jan 2013.

Christmas 1951

As we mark the year anniversary of my mother-in-law’s death on  the 15th, and as we pack the rest of the Christmas decorations away for another year, our thoughts turn to ham.

That’s right, ham. Ham that was put in the oven to slow roast around 4:00 p.m. Christmas Eve, and to be eaten on Marie’s freshly made buns following Midnight Mass. Midnight Mass that really was held at midnight. The aroma of the ham filled the air, and created such a sense of anticipation for ten year old Gary, that he was as excited about eating the ham sandwiches as he was about attending his first Midnight Mass.

The year that Gary was in 5th grade he announced that he intended to go to Midnight Mass with his dad and his brother’s Dick and Dennis. He remembers his mother’s disappointment that he would not be attending morning Mass with her and five year old Dan, but he was determined to go. His big brother Dennis had been going for years, as he was only in first grade the first time that he attended Midnight Mass as the carrier of the baby Jesus. 

Christmas 1956

Christmas Eve in the Fassbender household was not the big event in those days as it was in later years. There was just too much to do. The tree was up and decorated, but there was still last minute cleaning and preparation that needed to be taken care of as Butch and Marie planned for all the guests (sometimes as many as 100), that would stop by on Christmas day. Presents also needed to be retrieved from their hiding places and placed around the tree. Midnight Mass and those much anticipated sandwiches were still hours in the future. 

So shortly before midnight, the Fassbender men headed to Mass where the St. Francis Men’s Choir made the evening magical. Nothing said Christmas more than waiting in anticipation, a little chilly in the darkened church, for those first notes to come floating out of the choir loft. Arriving home around 1:00 a.m., Marie was waiting for them with the kitchen table set for the much anticipated snack. The family sat down to their ham sandwiches, a few pieces of homemade candy, and then it was off to bed.

Christmas morning started early, as people would begin arriving as early as 10:00 a.m. The neighborhood kids and their dads, most likely booted out of the house so the women could prepare dinner, would start floating in to see what the family had received for Christmas. Marie would be busy getting Christmas dinner ready, which in those days was turkey, dressing, and all the rest of the side dishes, but Butch would be ready to greet their friends and neighbors and share a little cheer. As people floated in and out of the house, Marie with the help of her parents, Walter and Belle Campbell, would work to hold the dinner until there was a break in the ringing doorbell. It was not uncommon for dinner, once planned on being eaten at 12:30, to not be eaten until 3:00 p.m. or later.

Christmas more than any other time of the year exemplified Marie’s desire to welcome, serve, and enjoy the company of her family and friends. Ham sandwich anyone?

Marie with her boys, Mother’s Day, 1963
St. Francis Catholic Church Our Favorite Recipes, 1988, p. 71 (very good)

The Kitchen was the Heart of the Home

This is an archived post from “The Aroma of Bread,” and was first published 15 Jul 2012.

The kitchen. It was the room where most things happened. In the early days the baby’s were changed here, slept here, clothes were ironed here, and most importantly, food was prepared and shared here.

I love this picture, not because it has great composition because it doesn’t, but because I can just FEEL my father-in-law’s happiness at having his granddaughters in the kitchen, and his hurry in wanting to capture the moment. It is also a snapshot of the kitchen on a “normal” day. A day when my mother-in-law had spent some time ironing and had yet to put away her days work, and at this moment when my nieces stopped in for a visit, she was most likely at the stove making apple sauce, or rhubarb sauce. It was a summer day after all!

This is a placeholder screenshot image of the original, as I have not yet found the digital copy in my files.

This recipe is a favorite of my nieces. I am not sure that I have eaten this particular meatloaf recipe, so I would love it if they would share their memories about this dish, and the time spent with grandma when she served it.

It’s All About the Sauce

This is an archived post from “The Aroma of Bread,” and was first published 29 May 2012.

Kate’s Post. 
When mom and I were trying to think of what to post next, I went through all of the foods that grandma made that I miss. Rhubarb was the first to pop in my head. I don’t think I have had Rhubarb Sauce since the last time she made it. Her rhubarb was like her apple sauce and strawberry jam, if it was not canned right away, it was devoured faster than it was made. 

The rhubarb was not just any rhubarb, but picked from a garden that sat almost on the property line between Grandma and Poppa’s house and Frank’s house. It was planted and cared for by Frank up until he died. It is my understanding that he planted it for grandma. Frank in the eyes of a young child was an interesting man, who would show up at the door off of the patio, and from time to time Grandma Marie would bring him baked goods. I remember the time he showed me the “famous” train set after I had gone over there with grandma to deliver some of the latest sweets that come from the oven. Well, back to the rhubarb. Picking the rhubarb was one of the jobs that Grandma allowed the grandchildren to do. We would go out with her and pick what we would need, go back into the house, and she would bake a pie with it, or make what I remember most, the sauce. 

It was never too sweet or too bitter and I looked forward to it. I would always watch her, trying to take it all in, how she would move through each step of the process. I wanted to be able to cook just like Grandma Marie. 

While we don’t have the recipe that Grandma Marie used (Grandma! Where is your recipe box?), we found this one in the cookbook that she must have received as a wedding present: The Settlement Cook Book. The way to a man’s heart, published in 1944. On pages 333-334 is this method:


RHUBARB

No. 1. Sauce

Wash, cut off leaves and stem ends of rhubarb. If tender, do not peel. Cut in 1/2 inch pieces. To 4 cups of rhubarb, take 2 cups of sugar; or pour boiling water over the rhubarb, let stand 5 minutes, drain, and use only 1 1/2 cups sugar. Place in saucepan with just enough water to keep from burning; cook until soft. Flavor with grated yellow rind of orange. Or, boil 2 cups sugar and 1 cup water to a syrup, add rhubarb, let boil a few minutes until tender, but not broken.

Bread Revisited

This is an archived post from “The Aroma of Bread,” and was first published 27 May 2012.

Looking through recipes for the perfect one to match Kate’s upcoming post, I ran across two pieces of paper. I had to laugh out loud. They were both recipes for bread, and reading through them I could just see Hank also finding them, and cursing Marie in Hank fashion for writing them in “code.”

I just had to share. 

And don’t tell Hank but here’s the secret: “…12-14 cups of flour in sponge then not quite so much, you can tell – guessing 10-12.”  

The Holiday Table

This is an archived post from “The Aroma of Bread,” and was first published 25 May 2012.

Many memories were made in Butch and Marie’s dining room  sitting around the table. This table that groaned with food at every holiday and many days in between was one of the first purchases that they made for their new home. The table with its six chairs was purchased on May 20, 1947, shortly after celebrating their first anniversary. What a lot of memories were made that included this $252.00 purchase!

This is where it all happened. Photos with birthday cakes, homework, a dumping place between the kitchen and the family room, plus a special place under the pads for things that needed to be quickly and easily saved. Checking under the pads this past week (I had taken a tip from Marie and tucked any found cash under a pad so that we wouldn’t lose it in all of the shuffle and bustle of taking the household inventory), I found the last items that she had tucked away. Included among the expected receipts, was a large photograph of herself with Mike that someone had printed for her from their computer, a thank you note from Bryan, and the thank you note from Jillian’s wedding, along with a photograph of Jillian’s parents from that day. Special things that needed to be treasured and remembered. 

I love this 1963 picture of Butch, Marie and Duff. What makes it so unusual is that there are so few pictures of BOTH Butch and Marie sitting at table. I wonder what the occasion was, but it must have been something special as Marie was using her good china, and the table is laden with food. (Notice the doilies in the corner cabinets, just like they are today).

The recipe that I have chosen for this post is a later addition to our holiday menu. A recipe that was chosen with her grandchildren in mind. Along with the bird, ham, the stuffing, potatoes, homemade cloverleaf roles, cranberry nut bread, and we can’t forget the bowl of black olives – filled to the brim so that Kimberly could have one for every finger, she had added “Mandarin Orange Salad.” It soon became an expected part of the holiday table.

These pictures were taken December 24, 1991, and Butch is taking the photos. As they did in the picture with Duff, Butch and Marie always shared the head of the table, Marie always on the side nearest the kitchen so she could get up and out as needed. 

The amount of food that could be produced and most importantly served hot, in that small, but for Marie, efficient kitchen. We will spend a lot of time in the kitchen as we move forward, but one holiday memory from me. It was Thanksgiving 1987, my first Thanksgiving at the Fassbenders. One way she had of making the magic happen was cooking the turkey in a Nesco placed in the utility room. As Marie finished the final prep in the kitchen it was Butch’s job to start carving in the utility room. They set up a card table and pulled the bird out. Trying to be helpful, I joined him at the carving station. As he pulled the perfectly beautiful, amazing crisp skin off the bird and set it aside to throw away, I snatched a piece. Looking at me in amazement, he realized he had a partner in crime, and helped himself to some. We continued with our task of carving the bird, but with a newfound shared secret. Now if I had only taken him up on his challenge to get me into the driver’s seat of one of the White Clover trucks…

The Dining Room today. Quiet. Just the ghost of laughter, and the smell of favorite food.
St. Francis Catholic Church Our Favorite Recipes, 1988, p. 19