Tag Archives: burton Coon

Vintage Recipes: From the Country Doctor

Burton Coon references” “old Dr. MacClure of Drumtochty” in Recognition of the Country Doctor below.

Vintage Recipes: from the Country Doctor

Auntie (Esther Coon Rider 1905-1993) was a natural cook known for her generosity of spirit and her love of cooking- frequently with ingredients grown in the kitchen garden. She thrived on providing pleasure and sustenance through her soul food- that heart and stomach warming fare needed after a day on the farm or a walk in the fresh country air. I treasure the time I spent in her kitchen and her recipes – those she created, those she collected and those she acquired from previous generations.

What I did not realize until this extended time of contemplating and organizing (Covid-19) was that her collection of recipes included those from several doctors. For many centuries, the kitchen garden was functional; the plants and herbs grown had specific purposes whether nutritional, medicinal, and/or ornamental. From Chaucer’s knowledge of medicinal remedies in “The Canterbury Tales” (1392) to Shakespeare’s Friar Laurence describing the healing powers of plants and herbs in “Romeo and Juliet” (1594) to the journals and notations of Auntie and her ancestors, cure for ailments was as close as the kitchen garden to be administered by a monk, the cook, the country doctor, or perhaps the local medicine man or woman (to be shared and developed in another post).

Mustard Plaster (Dr. Cookingham)

1 teaspoonful of dry mustard
1 teaspoonful of flour
Stir to a medium paste with vinegar. 
Spread between two pieces of muslin cloth and warm before it is applied.
If a larger one is needed take larger equal portions of mustard and flour.
White of egg prevents blistering.

In his article “Recollections of Red Hook: The Country Doctor”, Burton Coon (1869-1942) recalls “The first doctor I remember was Dr. Cookingham to whom I was taken for treatment when about five years old. He was then unmarried, and boarding with the widow Benedict, and I believe had his office there” (Memories of Old Red Hook From the Burton Coon Collection).

Cool Drinks for Fever (Dr. Morrison)

Cool Drinks for Fever

Juice of 2 oranges and 1 lemon and 1 quart of water
1 tablespoon cream of tartar
2 tablespoons of sugar

Tomato Cocktail
Large can of tomatoes with 1 cup of water
Put through colander.
Juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon of horseradish
1 teaspoon of worcestershire sauce
Pepper and salt

With or without fever, these recipes are familiar to those who desire a cool drink today. I suspect Diane Lapis, local researcher and President of the Board of Trustees at the Beacon Historical Society, has included a version of the Tomato Cocktail in her book Cocktails Across America: A Postcard View of Cocktail Culture in the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s. I look forward to acquiring an autographed copy this Summer!

Imperial Drink for Illness (Dr. Cotter)

1 quart of water
Juice of 2 lemons
1 small teaspoon cream of tartar
Use as you would water.

View the two page obituary of this renowned physician, owner of a farm in Jackson Corners.

Included in Burton Coon’s scrapbook in Report of the Botanist.
Included in Burton Coon’s scrapbook in Report of the Botanist.

In Recognition of the Country Doctor

At any time in history, recognition of those in the medical profession is appropriate. Today as we experience Covid-19 history in the making, it is apropos to include Burton Coon’s recognition of physicians in his newspaper article “Recollections of Red Hook: The Country Doctor” written in the early 20th century. Coon concludes with these words, “The country doctor is fast passing out of our civilization. Time was when no storms were too heavy, no snow banks too high, no roads too bad to travel when he heard the call; and like old Dr. MacClure of Drumtochty, he rode or waded as the case required. If the case was a serious one he would stay on the job, watching the progress of the disease, while the lamp of life burned low and the watchers stood about with anxious faces. And there are other risks besides the weather and the roads. The doctor always stands a chance of contracting certain diseases himself. One doctor died of erysipelas which he got while treating a patient with the same disease. When there is an epidemic the doctor is exposed to its contagion more than anyone else. Yet no one thinks of the doctor except to get his help. All honor to the worthy sons [and daughters (2020 update)] of this profession who literally take their lives in their hands to minister to their fellow human beings” (Memories of Old Red Hook From the Burton Coon Collection).

Stray Thoughts: Nature Beckons~ A Life Well-Lived

A Life Well-Lived

Shook’s Pond; Series “Closing Up the Cottage for the Winter 2014”;
Photo by Dave Shook
Robert Shook at Shook’s Pond; Series “Closing Up the Cottage for the Winter 2014”;
Photo by Dave Shook

How do we live a life well-lived? 

Reflecting on our own lives seems to naturally follow attendance at a memorial service, yet it can be overlooked in the daily living of life. Whether sitting in a rooftop garden in Manhattan, walking in the local park bursting with color in all seasons, or escaping to a summer cottage at the lake, the need to commune with nature is ingrained within us. 

After attending a service in the Hudson Valley this weekend, I recognized the beauty of the day- misty and overcast while listening to the minister’s words and the treasured memories of family and neighbors. Set in a grassy rise overlooking the pond on his ancestor’s farm and imagining his daily swim, we could appreciate a life well-lived while hearing the sounds of Nature. By living a life driven by his passion for music and the natural world, Robert Shook discovered his life well-lived. 

On the drive home, I questioned myself:

How do I live a life well-lived?

While reflecting on the importance of nature in my life, I re-read an inspiring passage entitled “The Approach of Day” originally scribbled on a faded scrap of brown wrapping paper by my great-grandfather Burton Coon in 1888.

The Approach of Day

All is dark. Night has long settled o’er hill and vale; the birds have ceased their timeful melody; the whir of the partridge, the chirp of the cricket, the chatter of the squirrel are no more heard; the insect world is lost in slumber. The beasts of the field and the fowls of the air are alike resting their weary frames in sweet repose; all Man, the lord of creation, is fast locked in the embrace of sleep, and all the sounds of nature have passed into temporary oblivion. Silence reigns supreme.

With Robert Shook ; Series “Closing Up the Cottage for the Winter 2014”;
Photo by Dave Shook

The night advances. Still all is dark, but the silence is at last broken by the sweet heralds of the dawn- the birds. They are the first to disturb the hitherto unbroken solitude of the night by singing praises to their creator. The melodious strains catch the ear of the almighty, and he is glad. The fowls of the farmyard too have spoken; “Nature hath found a voice”, and silence reigns no more.

Series “Closing Up the Cottage for the Winter 2014”;
Photo by Dave Shook

While this wonderful change is progressing, another and equally great one is taking place in the atmosphere. At first, all was silent and dark; now the silence has been broken, and the gray mists of the morning like silent spectres begin to rise from the rivers and lakes, imparting a damp smell and chilly feeling to the air. The mists are as yet invisible, for all is dark. But wait a moment, now look toward the eastern skies; a faint gray streak is plainly visible; this lengthens and broadens until it finally extends along the whole eastern horizon. The morn advances as the stars in the east begin to pale and shed a softer light; those in the west still shine with their brightness. Wait another moment, the oriental skies are tinged with purple and scarlet and gold, at first darkly, then brighter and brighter until the whole eastern heavens are aglow with beauty and loveliness. The grandeur of the night is fast fading into the glories of the morning. The stars in the west have paled and faded and are seen no more while the western hills glow with the beauty reflected from the eastern skies. 

Time for a Swim at Shook’s Pond; Series “Closing Up the Cottage for the Winter 2014”;
Photo by Dave Shook

Glorious scene! What majestic changes have taken place. Silence has been broken; the close thick atmosphere of the night has been dampened by the mists of the morning; darkness has fled away; and last of all the lord of day arises from behind the hills, and with a brightness too severe for the gaze of man, begins his daily course, as “Bright aurora’s rosy fingers open wide the gates of day”.

The night has gone; the morning has dawned; Nature’s glorious resurrection is at last completed: it is day.

Coon, Burton Barker. “The Approach of Day”. Shookville, New York. June 24, 1888.

How will you make this day a part of your life well-lived?

“Meditation Swing”; Series “Closing Up the Cottage for the Winter 2014”;
Photo by Dave Shook

Vintage Recipes: All About Fruit 8/31/19

Inspiration sometimes derives from the most commonplace thought. When I was captivated with two thick volumes entitled The Cherries of New York and The Peaches of New York dated 1914 and 1915 respectively, I realized how many of my most precious moments included fruit.

Simple idea yet I can plot my growth from child to woman with such experiences. As a child, I recited Eugene Fields’ children’s poem, “The Little Peach”

"A little peach in the garden grew,
A little peach of emerald hue;
Warmed by the sun and wet by the dew, it grew.
One day, passing that orchard through
That little peach dawned on the view...",

learned the Biblical account of Eve eating the forbidden fruit, and viewed many artists’ depictions of fruit arrangements. Despite my appreciation for the arts, it was another role that impacted me even more.

I selected apple drops from beneath the trees in Grandpa’s orchard. The story I learned as a child was that Grandpa, a dairy farmer, had researched which apples would grow best in Dutchess County before purchasing a few additional acres that were set at a higher elevation overlooking rolling hills. In an orchard that already included some old apple trees, he planted Red Delicious, Yellow Delicious, McIntosh, and (I believe) Cortland. His research proved insightful as the trees bore delicious and well-formed apples for many years.

This childhood adventure began when our car climbed up the bumpy pathway. When we arrived, we jumped out and ran to select “our” tree. My brother and I were not allowed to climb the ladders; we were in charge of clearing the area beneath each tree. The drops were generally only slightly bruised but could not be sold at full price and were sometimes fed to the farm animals.

After descending from the orchard, we would go to visit Grandma who owned the local general store. She would arise early to bake apple pies and bread at home for her customers. Sometimes she would ask me to help her in the store. Using the old cash register, putting candy bars in the ice cream freezer to prevent melting in the summer, and going down to the crick beneath the bridge were memorable times.

On another farm in Milan, NY where my Grandma grew up, my great-grandfather Burton Coon wrote in his journal entry for Thursday July 18, 1907:

"75 degrees- 5am; foggy, quiet
74 degrees- 9:30pm; partly cloudy
Humid in am-
Showers in pm
picked pail cherries
cut weeds along fence in upper garden
and found wood chuck hole
used trap-got him alright
pulled weeds from sweet corn
and planted a little
pm-raked up
cleaned rifle
42 eggs"

My Auntie was only two when her father wrote that journal entry, but she continued to live at Trail’s End and harvest the fruits and vegetables her whole life. The following recipes were preserved in her recipe box.

Auntie’s Vintage Recipes

Strawberry Cocktails

Slice long, fine berries.
Cover them with orange juice and stand on ice.
Add a teaspoon of powdered sugar.
Serve in sherbet glasses.
Mrs. Horace Dutcher
Peach Melba

Into sherbet glasses, put small squares or slices of plain cake or lady fingers,
half a preserved peach,
2 tablespoons of plain ice-cream,
juice of cooked fruit,
2 tablespoons of whipped cream,
and garnish with Maraschino cherry.
Serve cold.
Mrs. F. S. Rogers
Strawberry Shortcake

2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
4 teaspoons Royal Baking Powder
3 tablespoons shortening
1 egg
1/2 cup milk

Sift dry ingredients,
mix in shortening;
add beaten egg to milk and
add to dry ingredients to make soft dough.
Smooth one half of dough out lightly.
Put into greased deep layer tin;
spread with butter;
cover with other half of dough which has
also been smoothed out to fit pan.
Bake in hot over 20 to 25 minutes.
Split while hot and
spread crushed and sweetened berries
and whipped cream between layers;
cover top with whipped cream and
whole berries.
Dust with powdered sugar and serve.
Peach Marmalade

10 pounds peaches when peeled and cut small;
7 pounds granulated sugar;
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon;
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger;
1/2 scant teaspoon ground allspice;
1/2 scant teaspoon ground cloves.

Put all in preserving kettle on back of stove and melt down slowly. Bring to front of fire and cook until quite thick, stirring constantly. Remove any scum which may arise. If peaches seem tart, add a little more sugar.
Mrs. Anna B. S.

Strawberry shortcake at a small-town church
Hot apple cider with an old-fashioned donut
Caramel or candied apples?
What are your favorite fruit recipes?

Stay tuned for more of Auntie’s Vintage Recipes next time.