When looking at what holidays were happening today, I saw it was Schwenkfelder Thanksgiving and that naturally intrigued me. The Schwenkfelders are a small Protestant sect founded in Germany by Caspar Schwenkfelder, a reformist theologian. In 1733, a handful of his followers arrived in Philadelphia, and a second group emigrated from Germany on September 22, 1734. The next day they swore their allegiance to the British king, then they spent the following day, September 24, expressing their gratitude to God for having delivered them from persecution. In the Pennsylvania Dutch counties where Schwenkfelders still live, this day is observed as a special Thanksgiving Day. My vision to celebrate this was to invite the family over and have a traditional Schwenkfelder Thanksgiving (we would put the swank back in Schwenkfelder). Come to find out, their Thanksgiving tradition tends to be a little less lavish than a typical American thanksgiving. Their thanksgiving is celebrated with a simple meal of water, bread, butter, and apple butter as they give thanks to God.
For a minute I thought it would still be fun to invite the family over for a thanksgiving celebration and not give them the details. Explain to them we want to celebrate traditionally, so don’t bring anything – we’ve got it all covered. They’s come over ready for a feast. Then, when everyone was finally here and sitting down at the dinner table, bust out the water, bread and butter. That would have been cruel, and the number one rule of Mellows is never mess with their hunger. I’m sure apple butter is a pretty tasty treat, but it wouldn’t have satisfied the tribe, nor would the water. No, I think I had to pass on Schwenkfelder Thanksgiving.
Today was National Cherries Jubilee Day and that seemed more doable. Again, I’m not sure why it falls on this date because we are long past cherry season, but still it’s easy enough to celebrate. Did you know that this dessert is believed to have been created as part of one of Queen Victoria’s jubilee celebrations, hence the name? That Vicki sure knew how to throw a jubilee. I found an easy recipe from the folks at Food Network. While it called for a pound of fresh, pitted and stemmed cherries, there were no cherries at the supermarket, so I went with frozen cherries instead. Not ideal, but they will work in a pinch (plus they are already pitted). I let them thaw for about an hour before using them.
It’s kind of easy to make. You throw the cherries, some sugar and some lemon juice in a pan to heat up, then after a while you toss in some rum, then you light it on fire to flambé. Once the flame goes out, you are ready to serve and you just ladle it over some vanilla ice cream. It’s still nice and warm when it hits the ice cream.
Obviously this would have been better with fresh cherries, however it was still surprisingly fantastic. The combination of the ice cream and the sauce was delicious. They melted together and the taste was almost like a sherbet, but creamier. It was a good combo of cold and hot. I liked it way more than I thought I would. The cherries were good too. I used rum to flambé it, and that all cooked out – I was worried it would taste too boozy. Lola took the first bite (she wasn’t up for a whole portion) and she liked it too. She could taste the lemon, so maybe it could have used a bit more cooking time, but it could have been the bite she took. All in all a flaming success (get it?).
Lola was a bit off her game tonight (seasonal allergies kicking in), so she was kind of tired when I was making the jubilee. I wanted to capture the flambé part on video, so I asked her if she would film that part for me as a video. She’s a trooper, because when I asked her, she was wrapped up cozily in a blanket but still she popped up to help. The instructions said that if you are using an electric stove, which I was, to warm the rum in a small sauce pan on the side, light the rum, then carefully pour the flaming rum over the cherries. It was the money shot I was looking for, so I gave Lola my phone. I had opened it up to the camera but did not put it on video. We got ready and Lola even gave me a countdown to begin. The rum sparked up right on cue (all contained within the pan), and then I carefully poured it over the cherries, the flames traveling into the other pan in a dramatic bubbling of ingredients. I gave Lola the nod that it was done, and then, in classic Lola fashion, she dropped my phone on the floor. That was the big finish. So we laughed together – a jubilee of laughter which is what we do best. The phone was fine too. When we sat down to eat, I looked at the pictures to watch the video and that’s when I saw that Lola took a picture, not a video. In fact she took two pictures – one when I was about to light the rum and one moments before she dropped the phone. That made us laugh too. Even though it was neat to see the flambé, the story of how we didn’t record it will be much more meaningful in the grand scheme of events.
Cherries Jubilee was celebrated. And because it’s Schwenkfelder Thanksgiving, I want to thank God for giving me Lola, because through all the trials and tribulations of life, the good times and the bad, I have someone by my side who is going to make me laugh every day and to keep me going through it all. That’s what I’m grateful for today, and every day.
Next Up: National One Hit Wonder Day