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North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources

Apples & the Old Time Apple Paring Bee: Last minute dessert from North Carolina on National Dessert Day

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Autumn conjures up fantasies of warm, cinnamon-spiced desserts made from crisp apples!  And it just happens to be National Dessert Day.

Contemplating something tasty to share, I went to my standard go-to for historical inspiration:  the collections of the North Carolina Museum of History.  They are a true harvest of images to lend context and imagination to studying the many apples groves of North Carolina history.

Photograph of an Apple Paring Bee, ca. 1900-1915 in North Carolina. From the collection of the N.C. Museum of History. Used courtesy of the N.C. Dept. of Natural and Cultural Resources.

Photograph of an Apple Paring Bee, ca. 1900-1915 in North Carolina. From the collection of the N.C. Museum of History. Used courtesy of the N.C. Dept. of Natural and Cultural Resources.

And today I happened upon a photograph of an “Apple Paring Bee”, circa 1900-1915.  A little searching back in time brought me to the American Agriculturalist, Volume 8, published in 1849.  In a section near the back of the volume titled “Ladies Department” was printed a full-length entry on the “Apple-Paring Bee.”  The anonymous author, nostalgic about the annual event, described it as social “frolics”, the “great apple-paring bee”.  She noted that she wished to be “useful, as well as amusing” in her description.  And although she had a lighthearted touch, I was immediately reminded of other “bees” — husking, threshing, quilting, among them — that centered around crowd-sourcing important and functional tasks that would otherwise be daunting for a single family. In this case, a critical step in the harvest and “putting up” process. Ladies assembled for an evening blitz effort to core and pare apples for the next day’s apple butter boiling.  The writer —  E. S. — also alluded an aspect of social class equalization in the effort, all were equals.  She added: “While all are engaged in contributing to the happiness of others, the cheerful conversation, the merry laugh, and the comic song are unrepressed by chilling rebuke or morose looks.”

Recipe for Honey Apple Crisp, from "Favorite Recipes of North Carolina," 1950, N.C. Dept of Agriculture; in NC Digital Collections.

Recipe for Honey Apple Crisp, from “Favorite Recipes of North Carolina,” 1950, N.C. Dept of Agriculture; in NC Digital Collections.

And, in 1849, she mentioned her preference for paring by hand instead of using the mechanical “patent” parer. If you’ve ever pared any number of apples by hand, you know how hard it can be on our modern, not-so-strong hands! It’s difficult enough to fill one pie dish, let alone paring for an entire evening!

And if you’re searching for a last minute dessert recipe to celebrate National Dessert Day, have a mini-paring bee and try your hand at this recipe for “Honey Apple Crisp.”  It comes to us from Favorite Recipes of North Carolina, published in 1950 by the N.C. Department of Agriculture (available online at NC Digital Collections).

Kelly Agan, N.C. Government & Heritage Library

 

 

 

NC County of the Week: Graham County

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This week’s NC County of the Week is Graham County, North Carolina! Named for U.S. senator and governor, William A. Graham. It was formed in 1872 from Cherokee County County.

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This week (August 10 – 16) we’ll highlight the people, history, geography, and natural heritage of this county located in the Mountains of North Carolina.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter and join in the conversation by using the hashtag #nccotw. Also, visit our Pinterest board about Graham County!

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ncghl
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/ncghl/graham-county-nc/
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/ncpedia

 

North Carolina County of the Week: Swain County

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Swain County, NC

North Carolina County of the Week for June 29 – July 5, 2014

This week’s North Carolina County of the Week is Swain County, NC!  This week we’ll highlight the people, history, geography, and natural heritage of this county in the mountains.

We’ll showcase the documentary history and collections of the Government and Heritage Library and our sister agencies in the Department of Cultural Resources and other heritage institutions throughout the state.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter and join in the conversation by using the hashtag #nccotw.  And don’t forget to visit us on Pinterest for our Swain County board where we’ll showcase a range of historic images  of Swain County.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ncghl
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/ncghl/swain-county-nc
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/ncpedia

Historical Publications on Sale at the Government and Heritage Library

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Historical Publications Now On Sale

at the Government and Heritage Library

histpubsale

Favorite titles that you’ve browsed at the Government and Heritage Library of the State Library of North Carolina are now being sold there. “North Carolina and the Two World Wars,” “Pirates of Colonial North Carolina,” and “Tar Heels: How North Carolinians Got their Nickname,” are among books published by the Historical Publications Section that can be purchased at the first floor reference desk.

Other favorites including the “North Carolina Troops” volumes of Civil War rosters and “The Governors of North Carolina” also can be purchased. During the month of June many Historical Publications titles are on sale for 50 to 90 per cent off. Make your summer reading both entertaining and enlightening.

The Government and Heritage Library is located in the Cultural Resources Building at 109 E. Jones St., Raleigh. It is a division of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources.

 

This blog is a service of the State Library of North Carolina, part of the NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. Blog comments and posts may be subject to Public Records Law and may be disclosed to third parties.