Book Break with "Briley of Crooked Creek" - Apple Jack Fritters
There are a few things going on with this post: the delicious treat, a look at mail-order brides in the old west, and a cookbook spotlight because somehow they all manage to go together.
I have followed Imen McDonnell's blog since the years when it was called 'I Married an Irish Farmer' (now 'Farmette') and she shared tales of what it was like for a citified American to pull up stakes and make a new home on an Irish farm. I freely admit that her blog wanted me to marry my own Irish farmer, even though she didn't gloss over the difficulties of making such a transition.
This mouthwatering recipe for Apple Jack Fritters comes from The Farmette Cookbook by none other than Imen, and it is filled with a variety of wonderful recipes, a few of which I have tried and enjoyed immensely. The food photography (in the cookbook) is also beautiful!
While it is doubtful that Irish lass Briley Donoghue was whipping up apple fritters in a tiny cabin in the middle of a Montana winter, she was a mail-order bride who didn't actually marry her intended. You'll have to read the story to get all the details, but below are a few tidbits about mail-order brides. Now, there is as much information on mail-order brides available as there is lacking, so I've only provided a few curated items.
Mail-Order Brides of the West
"According to an estimate in the October 6, 1859, edition of the Daily Alta California, in all the territory west of the Missouri River there was but one woman to every 200 men. At the close of the Civil War the lack of young men back East was just as pronounced. Capitalizing on that gender imbalance were the mail-order matchmakers. When potential couples met sight unseen through personal ads, sometimes things worked out, sometimes they didn’t—there were no money-back guarantees. Yet for many a lonely heart it was worth a roll of the dice." (Historynet.com)
From True West Magazine: As a California paper pleaded in 1851, “We want an emigration of respectable females to California: of rosy-checked ‘down east’ Yankee girls—of stout ‘hoosier’ and ‘badger’ lasses, who shall be wives to our farmers and mechanics, and mothers to a generation of ‘Yankee Californians.’”
"Between the 1900s and the 1920s newspaper reporters used the phrase “mail-order brides” to describe such women. Interestingly, neither the men nor the women who would come together in a mail-order marriage ever self-identified that way. Instead, they tended to write personal ads that closed with the statement “Object matrimony,” followed by a mailing address. Prior to the 20th century, newspapers referred to the same phenomenon as a “correspondence courtship,” and an “epistolary courtship.” (Postalmuseum.si.edu)
I don't touch base too much on the details of Briley's experience in her short story, but there will be more discussion of it in the first novel, which is also Clara's continuing story. Not all correspondence courtships turned out well, and some, like Briley, never made it to the alter . . . at least not with the man they expected. Briley got her happy ending because as luck would have it, the little town of Crooked Creek was blessed with a few good men.
Here's to hoping Briley makes her own version of Apple Jack Fritters for him on a cold winter day.
I hope you make time every now and then to escape into a good book and relax with a pot of tea, or your beverage of choice, and a tasty treat.
The Beverage: Gypsy Cold Care tea from Traditional Medicinals
The Treat: Apple Jack Fritters (The Farmette Cookbook)
The Book: "Briley of Crooked Creek," from the Crooked Creek series
The only thing I would have added to the recipe is a little extra spice—perhaps nutmeg or allspice—but I like an extra punch of spice in baked goods. As is, though, they are so, so good, and surprisingly light for a fried treat.
Another favorite recipe from the book are the patsy pies. Oh, my goodness they are good. I'm determined to make my way through many more of the recipes.
Thank you for visiting!
Be well, be kind, and stay safe!