Thursday, November 22, 2012

Anadama Bread

Anadama bread should be dark and sweet tasting
As I sit waiting for my vegan wife’s Tofurkey to bake in order to bring it to my parent’s home for our contribution to Thanksgiving, I am researching a much more traditional recipe for this year’s holiday recipe post. New England does have a ton of traditionally Yankee recipes, most including either a good deal of molasses or cornmeal. So, in honor of this somewhat peculiar taste preference, I present Anadama bread

Like many things New England, the origins of Anadama bread extend too far into our past to completely understand where and when it first appeared. Most articles seem to give credit to the Cape Ann area, and its fishing tradition, as the impetus for the creation of this sweet type of bread.

As the legend goes, there was once a Gloucester fisherman who worked long and hard, only to return to his wife named Anna, who could not cook to save her life. Now she must have been particularly horrible, because all she ever made for him was a cornmeal porridge, sweetened with molasses. Finally, after eating this slop every day, he grew frustrated and angry enough that he simply tossed some flour and yeast into the porridge mix and threw the whole thing into the oven, obviously hoping anything that resulted from the concoction would be better than what he already had. As he sat waiting for his creation to bake, he continually muttered, "Anna, damn her. Anna, damn her." Thus, the name was born.

I have about the same ability poor Anna had when it comes to my baking, but I found this recipe for Anadama bread from Yankee Magazine.

- Two packages of dried yeast
- ½ cup of lukewarm water
- 2/3 cup of molasses
- 2 cups of water or milk, or 1 cup of each
- 1 ½ tsp. of salt
- 2 Tbsp. of shortening
- 1 cup of cornmeal
- 7 – 8 cups of flour

- Dissolve the yeast into lukewarm water and set aside
- In a large bowl combine the molasses, water or milk, shortening, cornmeal, salt, and 3 cups of flour.
- Add the yeast and mix until you have a smooth dough.
- Continue to add the flour until the dough is stiff and no longer sticky.
- Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic. Estimated time is 10 minutes.
- place the dough in a greased bowl, turning it once to grease the top, then cover it and allow it to rise until double the bulk. Estimated time 1 ½ hours.
- Gently punch he dough down, then let it rest for 10 minutes.
- Shape the dough into 3 loaves, then place then into 3 greased 9x5 loaf pans.
- Let the rise until just about doubled, then bake at 350 degrees for 35 – 45 minutes.
- Invert loaves to cool onto a wire rack.

Although I have had Anadama bread and liked it, I have never actually attempted to bake it. If you try, I hope you enjoy it. Just typing this makes me hungry for the upcoming meal. Plus, the Tofurkey is done. Have a great Thanksgiving!!!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

New Evidence of a Canadian Viking Outpost

Map of possible Norse exploration routes
 Historians and archaeologists have long since believed Nose explorers visited the east coast of North America around 1000 AD. Certainly this blog has focused on several pieces of New England history in which this has been one of the working theories. However, for fifty years the only evidence of the presence of the Northmen has been the discovery of the temporary camp called L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland.
Recreated norse longhouse at L'Anse aux Meadows
Still, as I discovered when researching the theory behind Ericson’s supposed camp on Follins Pond, the Norse had described at least three lands during heir journeys west of Greenland. First Ericson described Helluland, or the land of stones. Second, he described Markland, so named because it was covered in forestland. The last land he described, he named Vinland, which could mean either "Wineland" or "Meadowland."

Although following the course of Ericson’s exploration on modern maps has not been really useful, many people have posed the theory that Helluland could actually be Baffin Island, which is immediately west of Greenland. Yet, until this year no proof had been discovered to support this hypothesis.

Earlier this fall, a professor of archaeology associated with Newfoundland’s Memorial University named Patricia Sutherland made significant new discoveries while excavating a centuries old building on Baffin Islands. According to National Geographic, Sutherland’s team uncovered several whetstones. What made these stones significant is that they contained traces of metal alloys like bronze, brass, and smelted iron. Each of these metals were unknown to the natives of Baffin Island, but were well known the Scandinavians of Greenland.
Patricia Sutherland (orange jacket) excavating Baffin Island
from National Geographic
Although she knew of the Viking Sagas relating Ericson’s discovery of Vinland, Sutherland first became interested in further examining Baffin Island when she encountered two pieces of odd looking cord at the Canadian Museum of Civilization. What made the cord unusual was that it appeared to be less like the animal sinew native tribes would have used, and more like the yarn Scandinavians would have created.

After uncovering additional unexplained artifacts from Baffin Island being stored in the museum, Sutherland decided to begin a reinvestigation on 2001. She began on the southeast coast, at an area called Tanfield Valley, near a site where a stone and sod house had been excavated in the 1960’s.

In addition to the whetstones, Sutherland’s team has discovered pelt fragments from Old World rats, a whalebone shovel similar to some used by Greenlanders, stones which appear to have been cut using European techniques, and stone ruins similar to those found in Greenland. Although some archaeologists have argued that radiocarbon dating has shown that the Tanfield Valley area was populated well before the supposed Norse visit, Sutherland believes the area shows evidence of several occupations well into the Viking Age.

As Baffin Island is far north of Newfoundland, it appears the original theory connecting Baffin Island to Helluland may be correct. In addition, most researchers believe that Newfoundland may have been the area described by Ericson as Vinland. Still, others believe the Scandinavian explorers of 1000 AD came as far south as New England. These theorists point to stone structures like Mystery Hill in Salem New Hampshire, and to mysterious characters found inscribed in large stones all across New England.

Of course, these discoveries in Baffin Island do not help to prove a medieval Norse presence in my area. Those unexplained New England curiosities today remain unexplained. Still, after hundreds of years of theory and speculation, we have finally begun to retrace a route of New World exploration first followed by Europeans over a thousand years ago.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Barnstable Village Ghost Hunter's Tour

True, Halloween has once again passed us by. However, I still needed to create a seasonally appropriate post, as All Hallows Eve has always been one of my favorite holidays. That being said, the wife and I were happy to take a Friday night to explore the haunted history of Barnstable, Ma in the name of Yankee research.

Our adventure was provided by the Cape and Islands Paranormal Research Society (CAIPRS), which conducts nightly walking tours in Barnstable Village, as well as Ghost Hunting walking tours on Mondays and Fridays. These tours take place between April 16 and November 15. All tours begin at 7PM in the small parking lot of the Old Jail and the US Coast Guard Heritage Museum on 3353 Main Street (rt. 6a).

Our tour guide, who led our small group of six, was very knowledgeable about Cape Cod history, focusing obviously on the supernatural stories of the area. Although we began our tour at the Old Jail, we actually started by walking on Old King’s Highway (6a), headed toward Barnstable Village.

Our first stop was a property on the corner of Hyannis-Barnstable rd, at which a man was allegedly hanged sometime in the late 1700’s. Although no one knows exactly when the man was executed or where on the property he lost his life, witnesses have claimed to see a tall dark figure walking the property or along 6a itself. However, he did not make an appearance for our tour that night.

Our next stop was at another eighteenth century property along Main Street. Although this property was once part of a large farm, it is now a law office. Our tour guide explained that the previous lawyer who had rented this property was surprised when one day the apparition of a woman materialized from the closet of his office. Not only was the woman wearing clothing reminiscent of the 1700’s, but she was also carrying an axe or hatchet.
The spirit of a hatchet bearing woman was seen in the lower office
Our CAIPRS guide informed us that this could have been an example of a residual haunt, which is something like a recording of an event or a person. She said that this woman may never materialize again or it could happen at random, no one is sure what might trigger it. However, she said that the current lawyer renting this space has his desk facing away from the closet just in case.

Our group next walked only a short distance to the Barnstable County Court House. Here, our guide shared several stories about the variety of specters who visit. Two of the most frequently seen are the figures of two unknown men. At times these men appear as dark clouds of smoke, which move about the inside of the building. Employees have sometimes mistaken these men for intruders and have attempted to follow them. However, as ghosts tend to do, they both disappeared without a trace.
Barnstable County Court House
The second spirit attached to the Barnstable court haunts the outside of the building. This spirit is sometimes seen as a shadow or a man walking the grounds. It is often reported that he will disappear from one spot only to appear in another.

Our tour continued a little way down 6a to the Barnstable Comedy Club, where we were again treated to several ghost stories related to the building. On the stage of the comedy club a woman in a gown is known to appear and disappear. Our tour guide again labeled this as a residual haunt. However, our guide informed the group that the spirit of an unknown man who appears in the small kitchenette to neatly pull out the silverware and plates is an example of an intelligent haunt. Unlike the previous ghost, this spirit is said to interact with objects in the physical world.
The Haunted Comedy Club
I thought a ghost like this, who constantly leaves dishes, cups, and silverware littering the counter, would be a real pain to have in the house. However, my wife suggested that if he could be trained to empty the dishwasher he might not be so bad.

Our next stop on the ghost hunting tour was the Crocker Tavern House. This house has several ghost stories attributed to it. Perhaps the most often repeated story was that of Aunt Lydia, who haunts the upstairs bedroom. Several people have reported waking in the middle of the night only to see the spirit of Lydia leaning over them in bed.
The Crocker Tavern House
Lydia appears in the upper left bedroom
From the Crocker House we retraced our steps to the Barnstable Restaurant and Tavern. Our guide explained that the current tavern had been rebuilt on the spot where the previous building had burned down. Inside, the ghost of a young girl in a blue dress is supposed to haunt the second floor. Sometimes she is seen running up the stairs and may even grab the hand of a visitor. When asked, I volunteered to walk up the stairs and down the hallway. My wife declined to accompany me.
I didn't see the spirit of the girl, but this poster of
this video seemed to have experience something
Although I took many pictures, I did not see any sign of the young girl. I did hear a lot of banging and thumping however. When I returned to the tour the guide asked me if I had heard any strange noises above me. I recalled all the thumping and banging. The tour guide then informed us that a recluse woman had died in the tavern attic. In all honesty the tavern was very busy that night and it was hard to tell where the noise was coming from. Still, it was fun to volunteer.

From the Barnstable tavern, the group walked back to Cobbs Hill Cemetery, where we really began our ghost hunting. Our guide pointed out the areas of the cemetery with the most reported activity. She described an entity called the Shadow that appears near a monolith-like grave stone. She also described the sounds of young girls laughing and talking. The guide then instructed us on the use of digital recorders, which we were to use while attempting to record disembodied electronic voices often called EVPs.
Cobb's Hill Cemetery
a beautiful Cape cemetery
In pairs, the group took 30 minutes to walk around the cemetery asking questions and hoping for spectral answers from beyond. To the horror of the wife, I hastily claimed the area where the Shadow sometimes makes an appearance. Although I saw many great examples of Puritan gravestones, we did not record a single anomalous sound.

Our last stop was back at the Old Jail, which we now entered. The guide asked for volunteers to sit on two stools in one of the old jail cells. Again, I stepped up, to the wife’s dismay. As I and another tour member sat, the guide explained how awful conditions were in these old prisons. Each prison cell was filled with many prisoners, who could only eat if they could afford it. Of course many prisoners starved or froze to death during New England winters.
The tour guide explained that strange noises are often heard in the Old Jail. Sometimes the spirits knock on the walls or drop objects to get attention. Occasionally the spirits even touch people on tour. The guide then warned that she was going to turn off all the lights and ask the spirits to let us know they were there.

Instantly it became very dark. Our CAIPRS guide explained that dark shadows of two unknown doomed prisoners have been seen walking between the two stools now occupied by myself and a young mother. In complete darkness one looses all sense of spatial dimension, so for an instant I could have been convinced that spectral shadows were closing in around me. However, our tour of the Old Jail ended without any unexplained noises or visions.
A cell in the Old Jail
The spirits of two prisoners appear in this cell
Although nothing unusual was seen on our tour of Barnstable Village, I, my wife, and my tour group did have a great time. I enjoyed hearing some of the historic ghost stories of the area and was happy to participate in exploring haunted hallways and jail cells. In addition, I would be happy to participate in another CAIPRS even in the future. The haunted tours unfortunately end next Friday, however they start again in the April. If anyone is interested in exploring the paranormal in an interesting and informative way, definitely check out one of the tours conducted by the Cape and Islands Paranormals Research Society. However, remember, just because I didn’t see anything doesn’t mean you won’t.