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Who Were the First Immigrants? British Now Known as Americans!


Immigrant Cookbok

The Immigrant Cookbook

Squanto, of the Pautuxet tribe, was a part of my childhood Thanksgivings. Squanto (Tisquantum) was captured by English explorers in 1605 and spent a number of years in England and learned to speak English. He also found his way back to the Plymouth Bay area in 1619 and learned that his own tribe had all died from disease.

Massasoit, the sachem of the Wampanoags, and Samoset who had learned a bit of English from fishermen, decided that they needed Squanto to meet with the Pilgrims who had landed. This was a good thing for the Pilgrims who were grateful for this interpreter, who, among other things, could teach them about using fish as fertilizer in the poor soil. and about unfamiliar crops like corn, beans and squash.

There must have been a feeling of great satisfaction at the success of their first harvest. The Pilgrims gave thanks and praise to God, and joined the Wampanogs and Squanto in a feast in the fall of 1621.This gathering is what we now consider the first Thanksgiving.

There were wild turkeys in New England and that first Thanksgiving meal may have included turkey. Certainly by the time Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863 turkey was well-established as the celebratory bird.

The Pilgrims were the first successful immigrants to New England. Over time other immigrants arrived bringing delicious foods and recipes with them.

Think of those who came to the colonies in the 1700s – Germans, Scotch-Irish, French, and prisoners from England who were transported for their crimes. In the 1800s the Potato Famine brought millions of Irish, as well as Eastern Europeans, especially Poles, Jews fleeing massacres taking place, and Italians. Those immigrants brought their skills and energy to build and expand our country. That changed in 1924.

Although the Chinese had been immigrating to the U.S. since the California gold rush the Asian Exclusion Act and National Origins Act of 1924 prevented them from immigrating as well as greatly limiting Greeks, Jews, Italians, Poles and Slavs. It was not until President Johnson signed the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act into law that limits on nationality were ended.

Our country has benefited in many ways. I am the granddaughter of Italian and Swedish immigrants. They came and prospered, as did their children and grandchildren.

As we approach Thanksgiving I give thanks to those immigrants who came here sharing their skills and knowledge to make our country what it is today.

Petroula Balis, co-owner of the Village Pizza in Greenfield, MA

Petroula Balis, co-owner of the Village Pizza

In 1971 when I came to Greenfield the Village Pizza was the only restaurant owned by immigrants. The Balis brothers from Greece began their business more than 50 years ago. Now Chris, Betty and Petroula Balis are still in business on Bank Row making stunning Greek pizzas, and other delicious items on their menu.

The Korean restaurant Manna House is right across the street from Village Pizza, but Hyun Soon Lee has only owned this restaurant for 16 years. I have had wonderful soups there, as well as other dishes including a gratifying squash pancake.

Korean specialties, Noodle Soup and Squash Pancake

Noodle Soup and a Squash Pancake at Manna House – Korean specialties

Nowadays there are several other restaurants in Greenfield that were started by immigrants. Hattapon and Thai Blue Ginger have great Thai food, Namaste has spicy Indian food, and the China Gourmet has delicious Chinese food.

Without immigrants we wouldn’t have paella, kung pao chicken, perogis, enchiladas or hot dogs.

In addition to international restaurants we have to thank other immigrants for creating successful food businesses in the U.S. David Tran was born in Vietnam and was one of the over 3,000 refugees on the Taiwanese freighter Huey Fong leaving Vietnam in 1978. His family food business was named after that freighter. Siracha is the hot sauce  he created to please his own palate as well as that of other south Asian refugees. Now it is a staple for us all.

Baskin and Robbins ice cream was started by a Polish and Russian family; the owners of Goya, the largest Hispanic-owned company in the United States, emigrated from Spain, and Chobani yogurt was started by a Greek.

I found a cookbook on my doorstep the other day, The Immigrant Cookbook: Recipes that Make America Great. In this beautiful book professional cooks who were immigrants themselves or children of immigrants are sharing their recipes from soups to pickles and desserts.

Hari Nayak was born in India and is now a chef, a cookbook author and restaurant consultant. I was quite taken with his recipe for Lentil and Spinach soup.

Didem Hosgel grew up in Turkey but found her way to Boston in 2001 where she went to work at the Oleana Restaurant, but is now the chef de cuisine at the Sofra Bakery. She has a satisfying recipe for Kurus (a combination of potato and bulgur patties) with Spoon Salad. Beautiful.

This Thanksgiving I am giving special thanks for all those from every corner of the world who have given us the most delicious foods every day.###

Between the Rows   November 23, 2019

Half-Hour Allotments and The Artist’s Garden – Book Reviews

Half-Hour Allotment

The Half-Hour Allotment by Lia Leendertz

With the gift giving season drawing near I want to spread the word about new books that would please gardeners of every sort. In my house books are the one gift we know will delight.

The Half-Hour Allotment by Lia Leendertz

When The Half-Hour Allotment book showed up in my mailbox I was delighted to think of a system that would teach me to work an allotted half-hour at a time. How understanding such a system would be for those gardeners among us who might not be in our first youth any longer.

But then, as I sat down to read the book with its beautiful photographs of vegetables and gardens that included flowers for bouquets, and ways to prepare the  soil, I realized the book had a British publisher and the allotments being talked about were the garden spaces away from the house. After the original shock of wondering how this would translate for American gardeners, I knew that was not an issue. We can allot a part of our own yard for use as a vegetable garden. And like the author of this book we can also think of allotting ourselves a half hour schedule so that we do not overtax ourselves.

The British have ever more popular allotment gardens and here in the United States we have ever more popular community gardens, both sharing the same principles. Our climates may be different, and the gardening schedule more extended in England, but the basics of gardening thoughtfully and efficiently are the same. The Half-Hour Allotment by Lia Leendertz (Francis Lincoln Limited $20) is useful to young, and not-so-young gardeners in the US and Britain.

Gardeners begin wisely when they begin by choosing their favorite vegetables and calculating how much space can be given to each. A small garden needs to make use of space on the ground, and space in the air for beans, peas and other crops that are happy to climb. There is a section that suggests the sufficient number of plants for each vegetable. For example, four courgette (squash) plants might be all you need, but 20 broccoli plants might be more sensible for the family. I thought this was wonderful advice.

Individual sheds are very common on British allotments. Leendertz gives suggestions on what necessities to put in your shed including a folding camping chair, a pair of old shoes, and an old hat and jacket as well as basic planting tools. I suspect American community gardeners also stop to chat and visit between the rows.

This engaging book provides excellent gardening instructions, but it also gives a delightful view of gardeners in a different clime and slightly different culture. Read, enjoy and learn.

The Artist’s Garden by Jackie Bennett

Artist's Garden

The Artist’s Garden by Jackie Bennett

The Artist’s Garden: How Gardens Inspired Our Greatest Painters by Jackie Bennett (White Lion Publishing $40.00) is also a British book. It is lushly illustrated with paintings of gardens and people in their gardens, with photographs of acclaimed artists’ houses and their gardens. The first section of the book is titled The Artist at Home and at Work with a list of artists beginning with Leonardo daVinci and moving on to Peter Paul Rubens, Paul Cezanne, Henri Le Sidanier and others concluding with Salvador Dali. The stories of their careers are fascinating. Cezanne’s father bankrolled him for many years. Every year he was turned down by the jury of the Paris Salon. Though other artists admired his work, he never had his own one man show until he was 56. In 1938 eighteen of Max Liebermann’s paintings were sent to London for an exhibit supporting Germany’s so-called ‘degenerate art.’

I confess I was not familiar with every artist. Fortunately, generous biographical information is included with every display of artist, gardens, and paintings.

The second section is given over to The Artist’s Community, about the work and lives of artists like Monet with his friends from Berthe Morrisot and the Seine artists; William Morris and his circle; the Skagen painters of Denmark; the New England Impressionists; the German Expressionists; and the Charlston artists that included Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant and the rest of the Bloomsbury Group.

The color illustrations give us examples of many painting styles. Renoir’s Impressionist paintings included the exciting streets of Paris and the leisures of the countryside. Kahlo blended the styles of Mexico and Europe with her own symbolisms. William Morris found designs in nature. Each artist found a unique way of seeing the world.

Sketched maps of each garden help the reader get a better understanding of the layout of the gardens. Some are very carefully and neatly laid out, while others take a more riotous approach. If the artist is lucky there can be wild, flowery spaces, as well as carefully designed layouts of trees, water and architectural elements. There is also a timeline for each artist, or group of artists, biographical information, and information about the gardens today. It does not seem that any of the artists captured in this book led solitary lives in a north-facing atelier.

I felt the richness of the book which gave such expansive views of the artists’ work, their lives and friendships. Many of the painters inspired each other. Readers like me will feel inspired when we look at our own gardens, finding some detail we can copy or play with, just like the painters did. ###

Between the Rows   November 16, 2019

Create a Habitat Garden for the Birds and the Bees

My habitat garden encourages me to leave the leaves under the roses and other shrubs

In the olden days we gardeners would take a deep breath and go out to clean up the fall garden. There were dead annuals, and dead perennials gone to seed. There were dead leaves everywhere. The garden is a mess in the fall.

That view of the fall garden has changed. Last month I attended Lorri Cochran’s talk, courtesy of Greening Greenfield, about how to create a habitat garden that will support birds, and bees and during the winter. Cochran is a Master Gardener, vice-president of the Western Massachusetts Master Gardener Association, and a member of the core team of Western Mass Pollinator Networks. Listening to her I realized I had not paid enough attention to the creatures that might live in my garden through the dark winter.

I was very surprised when Cochrane said was that we should not clean up our gardens in the fall. Birds, bees and even butterflies may need protection and help in our garden through the winter. Different creatures need different habitats.

Habitat for Birds

Not all birds fly south in the winter. Our gardens can help supply shelter and food. And I mean food beyond bird feeders. Some of the berry-bearing native shrubs that can provide food are the pretty winterberries (Ilex verticillata) red or gold; hollies with red berries; elderberries (Sambucus); golden Sumac ‘Tiger Eyes”; cranberrybush (Viburnum trilobum); and the chokeberries (Aronia) small trees with red or black berries.

These are just a few of the shrubs that provide food, but you need to remember that the winterberries and other hollies need male and female plants, one male to five females. You also need to know how big certain plants will get. Chokeberries will be about six feet tall, but they will spread into large clumps. These plants also tolerate wet sites. Winterberries are actually swamp plants. As I have said before, I have learned a lot about water loving plants now that I live in Greenfield.

If your garden is big enough you might be able to have larger trees, including conifers. Blue spruce will get very tall. Its thick foliage provides good shelter for birds and the cones provide edible seeds. The attractive hawthorn trees provide lots of red berries for food. Crusader is a thornless hawthorn that will grow about 25 feet tall. Check these out at the Energy Park.

Many birds like woodpeckers, bluebirds, wrens, phoebes, chickadees and others eat insects, larvae and grubs on plants, or those that have burrowed into trees. Happily old trees mark the end of my backyard.

Brush Pile for Habitat garden

There is also a substantial brush/compost pile in my back corner. The brush pile provides protection for some birds. In addition the interior of the brush pile is where compost is being made.

Finally, many birds eat seeds of trees, grasses, and flowers like native coneflowers, asters, coreopsis, Joe Pye weed, sedums. All of these plants and many more should be left standing at the end of fall. Do not spray the garden with insect killer in any season. If we do not have insects we will not have birds and bees.

Don’t forget, if we are going to feed the birds, we should also provide them with daily water.

All Kinds of Bees

Honeybees live in a hive and spend the winter feeding on their stored nectar and pollen. When it is cold they keep the queen and her brood warm.

The bumblee bee queen with just a few other bees will hibernate underground, or even in a compost pile.

Solitary bees will spend the winter as adults, or as pupae. Garden centers sell wild bee houses with a variety of nesting holes, or they may find reeds or plant stems for winter protection. Don’t get rid of those places where solitary bees might find winter shelter.

Cold compost bin

Cold compost bin made with wire and stakes

Valuable Leaves

When we bought our Greenfield house we inherited a giant sycamore on our tree strip and a lilac tree. And yes, the lilac is a real tree in the syringa family, not an overgrown lilac bush. The spring flowers have a delicious lilac-like fragrance.  We planted two river birches, two arborvitaes, and just added a redbud. Our neighbors share their oak and maple leaves with us. We have a lot of leaves in the fall and put them to good use.

When we lived in Heath the winds blew all our leaves away. There is no way to avoid raking leaves here in the city. My son just gave our lawn paths, with leaves, a final mowing, but no raking. My husband does most of the raking in front of the house. His leaves go into tall wire bins behind our hugel to break down and make cold compost. Two black compost bins take kitchen refuse and leaves.

Our brush pile does include some dead annuals and perennials from right in front of the house, and leaves. Every couple of years that pile gets turned so we can collect compost deep in its heart. Then we start a new brush and dead plant pile.

I rake here and there but not in the planting beds. Leaves will happily live and die under shrubs and other plants turning into compost. And mulch.

There is a time to clean and weed the garden. There is also a time to remember what the habitat garden needs. ###

Between the Rows  November 9, 2019

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day – November 15, 2019

Yellow twig dogwood

Yellow Twig Dogwood – doesn’t need to bloom

On this Bloom Day I don’t have any blooms, but I do have color. For the past week we have looked out at a hard frost. Beautiful in its own way. However we do have color. Somehow the yellow twig dogwood never photographs as accurately as my eyes when I look out my kitchen window and see the sun shining on what is a more chartreuse dogwood than its name suggests. It is because of its brilliant color that I planted it where I could  admire it all winter long.

Golden winterberry

Golden winterberry

The golden winterberry, a native ilex (holly) does not photograph well either. Why doesn’t my camera see what I see?

Red winterberry

Red winterberry

The red winterberry is willing to be quite a showoff when the camera comes out.  I have a second red winterberry as well. The single male winterberry in the garden very quietly goes about his business making sure  the ladies of every color look their best at this time of the year. The birds are happy as well.

English holly

English holly

The English holly in front of the house was bequeathed to us by the former residents. She produces plenty of foliage and color to harvest for Christmas decorations. The male quietly sits on the other side of the porch. He is small and very shy.

Perhaps I will have blooms in December, but I doubt it. The Christmas cacti do not look promising.

I thank Carol over at May Dreams Garden for giving us a chance to share the blooms and color in our gardens, no matter where we live in  this great country

Pumpkins of History – Pumpkins of Today


Pumpkins at Butynski Farm

Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater

Had a wife but couldn’t keep her

Put her in a pumpkin shell

And there he kept her very well.

Children have learned this little rhyme for generations. Hard to know what we all made of it when we were small, but the rhythms are fun and so is the image of a little housewife in her pumpkin shell.

Boston can take some credit for this rhyme. It first appeared in 1825 in a little illustrated book titled “Mother Goose’s Quarto: or Melodies Complete.” Many nursery rhymes originated in England, but the Pumpkin Eater is strictly American; pumpkins are native to our part of the world. Pumpkins were growing in Mexico for about 7000 years before they made their way to Europe.

A terrifying pumpkin figures in the 1820 New England Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving. Superstitious Ichabod Crane leaves a party where he had hoped to woo his sweetheart. On the way home he is frightened by the headless horseman carrying a flaming pumpkin in his arms. In the morning Ichabod is missing and a smashed pumpkin is found in the road.

The most beautiful pumpkin in literature is Cinderella’s amazing carriage thanks to the magic of her fairy godmother. It was French Charles Perrault who added the pumpkin to the story in 1697. However, Tuan Cheng-shi wrote and published the first version, with most of the familiar elements, around 856 A.D.

At this time of the year in New England we are surrounded by pumpkins, at farmstands, and in front of all the supermarkets. But how did we come to make jack-o-lanterns on Halloween?

I found that in the sixth century Pope Boniface IV declared May 13 All Martyrs Day. Later Pope Gregory III moved the celebration and declared November 1 as All Saint’s Day. The celebration spread to Ireland where people still celebrated the ancient Irish festival Samhain which marked the end of summer and the creeping dark of winter. Traditionally bonfires were built in the fields, and costumes worn to ward off ghosts.

When the Irish potato famine struck in the middle of the 19th century and millions of Irish emigrated to the U.S. they brought their autumnal celebration with them. Halloween was already celebrated the night before in parts of our country. but it was the Irish who made this a holiday for all. It is quite fascinating to see how traditions are created and change over time. No more field bonfires. Now we carve the pumpkins that were a staple food of the first colonists to settle in our country and set fiery pumpkin faces on our porches.

By the time you read this the Halloween celebration will be over. Bowls of candy will still be on the counter, and scary costumes will be put away for next year. However pumpkins will remain on the scene. We celebrate Thanksgiving with pumpkin pie!

Not too many pumpkins are left in the fields, but pumpkins are on sale for decoration, and for eating.  Pumpkins and other squash were crucial to the survival of the first settlers in Massachusetts. It was the Wampanoags who would have taught them about pumpkins because this nutritious vegetable was unknown in Europe.

Paul Butynski

Paul Butynski

We are fortunate to live surrounded by small farms. We can get the very freshest vegetables and fruits. I often shop at the Butynski Farm Stand where there is always a big choice of fresh vegetables. Right now the farm stand is bright with rows of pumpkins in front and around the building.

This is a family farm that has been operating since the 1930s, first as a dairy farm, when Grandfather Butynski bought it. Even in the beginning vegetables were grown and a little tobacco. I got to talk to Michael and Paul Butynski about the history of the farm.

Both men grew up working on the farm. Michael said, “We sold the cows about 20 years ago. We couldn’t make money with cows any more. We already had a vegetable stand but it was more limited.  Now we have all kinds of vegetables, greens, cukes, squash, beets, tomatoes, melons, just about everything. We grow everything, but not berries or potatoes.  And we still sell hay.”

Paul acknowledged that the farm was a lot of work. “But it is a way of life. People don’t always understand that. It’s nice to have more leisure during the winter, but if you are just sitting around a lot that’s no fun. In December we start ordering our seeds. Lots of book work to do at the end of the year.”

Michael Butynski

Michael agreed that after working every day during vegetable season he was ready and glad to have some down time. Even so, “In the winter we have to start getting ready for summer. There is work to do. Planning. And always maintenance on the equipment, and the buildings.”

When I looked at the different pumpkins, both Michael and Paul agreed that small sugar pumpkins are the most edible pumpkins. I am going to experiment. I walked away with sugar pumpkins to use as a vegetable and in a pie. I also took home a larger pumpkin to cook. There are dozens of pumpkin soup recipes online. I’m wondering if Peter, the pumpkin eater, was fussy about which pumpkins he ate.

Between the Rows   November 2, 2019


Franklin County CiderDays – November 1-3, 2019

CiderDays 2019

Franklin County CiderDays photo courtesy of Eric Lewandowski

Franklin County CiderDays will celebrate its 25th Anniversary with three days of cider tastings, apple recipes, apple history, holistic orchard management, and more as well as the crowning of Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruiting trees and orchards. The party will begin on Friday, November 1 and end on Sunday, November 3 at 5 p.m. It is important to order tickets for some of the special talks as they always sell out, but there are many free events. Talks and tastings will be held at the apple orchards as well as at venues in Greenfield, Shelburne Falls, Ashfield, Deerfield, Northfield, Colrain, Hawley and Turners Falls.

There was no plan to organize an annual cider festival back in 1994. I spoke to Charlie Olchowski, one of the founders of CiderDays who said it all began when Paul Correnty’s book,

, with Olchowski’s photographs, was published.

Olchowski and Correnty decided that a regular book-signing launch would be too ordinary. They approached Terry and Judith Maloney of West County Cider and voilá, CiderDay began with Clarkdale Fruit Farms, Greenwood Farm, Pine Hill Orchards, and West County Cider as the venues for the day. The event culminated with a bring-your-own tasting at the Maloney’s sampling room in Colrain. CiderDay is now celebrated the first weekend every November.

Cider Days

Franklin County CiderDays photo courtesy of Eric Lewandowski

I’ve always thought of cider as a very New England sort of drink. Early apples under harsh growing conditions were not very palatable but were used to make cider. In the early days of our country clean water was not always available and cider was an important thirst quencher. We in Massachusetts still sing of John Chapman, better known as Johnny Appleseed, who was born in Leominster in 1774.

Johnny Appleseed was an old man when William Harrison ran for president in 1841 and hard cider was still an important drink. Harrison sold himself as a candidate by saying he was a “log cabin and hard cider’ man. Unfortunately Harrison died of pneumonia a month after his inauguration. It was not the cider’s fault.

It was the Temperance movement followed by Prohibition that dealt a hard blow to cider makers and drinkers. By the time prohibition ended in 1933 German immigrants had started making beer which became the most popular drink. Not until a few decades ago has hard cider been making a slow resurgence.


Franklin County CiderDays photo courtesy of Eric Lewandowski

“Hard cider is much more popular than it was 25 years ago,” Olchowski said. “The fashion for cider has spread around the world. Ciders stylistically vary from country to country. That difference does not usually come from the various species of apples, but more so from various microorganisms that produce complex compounds and acetic and lactic acids giving the styles their distinctive character. There will be ciders from other regions in our country as well as foreign countries for tasting during the three cider days.”

Olchowski also said there are now other big cider events. CiderCon is a nine year old trade conference for the United States Association of Cider Makers with vendors from 44 states and from ten countries. It speaks to the growing popularity of cider, but it is nothing like Franklin County’s celebration for the community. “We want our CiderDays to remain local, to further the culture of cider, but also to educate what foods go well with cider.

“Every hall was filled last year and ticketed events completely sold out. There is no question that attendance has grown each year. This year there are 16 more talks and more diversity of topics,” Olchowski said.

Two of the talks, one about cyser and the other about ice cider, were particularly interesting to me. As a former beekeeper I knew about mead which is an alcoholic drink made of fermented honey and water. And yeast. Cyser is a combination of mead and apple cider.

There will also be a talk about ice cider. My cousin used to make ice wine, from frozen grapes. Olchowski said “Ice cider works the same way with apples, concentrating the aromas, flavors, and sugars, thereby making an enticing complex drink with intense apple personality and a higher alchohol content.”

CiderDays was created to celebrate Paul Correnty’s book The Art of Cider Making. This year the program will include information about a new book. John Bunker, an expert orchardist of old heirloom apples in Maine will be interviewing Andy Brennan about his new book, Uncultivated: Wild Apples, Real Cider and the Complicated Art of Making a Living. Andy Brennan describes uncultivation as a process. “It involves exploring the wild; recognizing that much of nature is omitted from our conventional ways of seeing and doing things.”

Olchowski said that one of the final events will be Sunday morning at Apex Orchards with Bring Your Own; Tasting Homemade Ciders. The panel consisting of Paul Correnty, Steve Patt, Charlie Olchowski and Nathaniel Williams will assess and critique ciders that audience members made. Laughter and information are sure to ensue.

Lots to learn and lots to enjoy at this year’s CiderDays.

Between the Rows   October 26, 2019