Brown-Butter Macaroni

Sunday, April 23, 1911: Missing entry (Diary resumes on April 28.)

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Since Grandma didn’t write a diary entry again today I’m continuing to share other relatives’ memories of Grandma. My cousin Stu told me to ask his mother (and Grandma’s daughter) about the macaroni story.  This is what Aunt Eleanor told me:

When we lived in suburban Philadelphia in the ’60s, the kids and I would visit upstate, first with my parents – until my father died and after that with my mother.  We chose mid-August because that way we could catch the Swartz family reunion (on the third Saturday) and also because the tomatoes and sweet corn were at their absolute peak.

Helen(a) and Raymond Swartz and their descendents at the Swartz Reunion, White Deer Park, 1963 (Click on photo to see a larger version of it.)

On one visit after my father died, I offered to make brown-butter macaroni as a contribution for one of the meals. That’s just plain macaroni cooked al dente, drained, and then dressed with a small amount of browned butter.  My hand must have slipped or something, and way more macaroni went into the pot of boiling water than I intended.   By the time it was boiled and dressed, it was a LOT of macaroni.

My mother, never one to keep silent on such matters, complained that I’d cooked too much macaroni.   And I, never able to accept her criticism passively, said no, that was about the right amount, the kids really liked their macaroni.  Then dishing up as the kids were gathering round, I took advantage of my mother’s hearing deficit to whisper to them (rather forcefully), “You kids better help me out here and eat all of this!”  And I’ve always been so proud of those little soldiers.  My mother and I ate normal portions, but the kids ate all the rest.

Eleanor Kurtz

I had never heard of brown-butter macaroni so asked Aunt Eleanor several questions about how to make it. As with many old recipes there aren’t precise instructions, but she gave me some general directions.

I cooked 2 cups of macaroni in salted boiling water until it was al dente (follow package directions); drain. Meanwhile melt and lightly brown (using care not to burn) 2 tablespoons of butter in a frying pan. Stir the macaroni into the browned butter; put in a dish and serve immediately. Other types of pasta could easily be substituted for the macaroni.

My husband Bill and I really liked the brown-butter macaroni—and finished the entire bowl of it. Brown-butter macaroni has a delicate taste and tastes similar to some excellent pastas that I’ve eaten in upscale restaurants.

Butchering, Sausage, and the Light Plant

Saturday, April 22, 1911: Missing entry (Diary resumes on April 28.)

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Since Grandma didn’t write a diary entry today I’m going to share a couple of my Uncle Carl’s favorite memories of his mother:

After we had butchered a couple of hogs for our meat supply to last about 6 months in the future, a large amount of sausage needed to be canned in glass jars.  The sausage was fully cooked before it was put into the jars.  How do you think that a sandwich made of fresh home-made bread and that sausage tasted after walking home from school 2 miles away?  She was a good cook in addition to being a good Mother!

Building that once housed the McEwensville School. It was a 1-8 school when Carl attended it. (When Grandma was a student, the building housed both elementary and high school grades.)

Recent photo of Main Street, McEwensville. When Carl was a child he would have walked past these houses on his way home from school.

When I was a child there were no freezers (or bathrooms) at this time.  NO PPL electric either, although we had a 32 volt light plant with storage batteries. This gave us light which was good while light plant was running.  As the lights got dimmer at night, you just went to bed. Mom had an electric clothes washer, but it drew so much electric that the light plant had to be running while washing.  When PPL came there was electric stove, a good washer, refrigerator, running water, and soon a bathroom. Life was better!

Carl Swartz

“Whispering to Myself”

Friday, April 21, 1911: Missing entry (Diary resumes on April 28.)

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Since Grandma didn’t write any diary entries for the next several days I’m going to share other relatives’ memories of her.

Today my father Harold Swartz is going to tell you his favorite memory of his mother:

Her sincerity and concern when one of her children was hurt. I could tell by her face and expressions that it hurt her more than it hurt me, even though I was the one who was hurt.

When I was about 10 years old a barbed fence was put across a path that went across a field to keep the cows in. I forgot about the fence and was running. I ran into it and cut my face from my mouth to my ear. When my mother saw me, I knew it hurt her more than it hurt me. My parents took me to the doctor. The doctor said I could whisper to myself because it was open between my mouth and my ear. He stitched it up. I don’t have any scars.

Harold Swartz

The barbed wire fences (as well as the electric ones) are long gone, but there are still small remnants from fences. If you look carefully at this stump, you can see a white insulator where a fence was once attached.Back when there were fences, it probably was a tree rather than a stump. (To better see the insulator, click on the photo for a larger view.)

Genealogy–The Maternal Side

Thursday, April 20, 1911: Missing entry (Diary resumes on April 28.)

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Since Grandma didn’t write anything in her diary again today, I’d like to tell you a little more about her family.

Grandma’s parents were Albert Muffly and Phoebe (Derr) Muffly. Yesterday’s post followed the paternal line back to Switzerland.

Today I’d like to give some information about the maternal line.

My cousin (and one of Helena’s grandchildren) Alice Chepiga compiled this information for her son. Like me, she really enjoys digging into our family history:

 I had so much fun last summer putting these documents together. My Mom had a box with lots of papers. It was a challenge separating the documents to see how our family was related to our ancestors.

Alice Chepiga

Here’s what Alice found:

John Wilson (1726) married Phoebe Dawson, daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth Dawson from Karsborough, Yorkshire, England.

John and Phoebe had eight children including Hannah was born in England in 1763.

John and Phoebe immigrated to America in August 1764.

Philip Opp (1759 born in Germany) marries Hannah Wilson in 1787.

In 1786, John and Mary Opp sold land to their son Philip 250 acres near Muncy, PA.

They had five children including one daughter, Mary (1796) and Philip Opp – father of Colonel Milton Opp – Civil War.

Mary Opp marries Christopher Derr in 1818. Christopher’s father emigrated from Germany in 1771.

They have ten children including John Derr (1823). John Derr married Sarah Houseknecht. They have a daughter Phoebe who marries Albert Muffly.

One of Phoebe’s children is a daughter, Helen(a) Muffly.

(See a photo of John and Sarah Derr’s family in the posting titled Grandma’s Parents.)

A note regarding yesterday’s post on the genealogy of Muffly side of the family: Bill Dietrich sent me additional information from the 1850 census about  the 4th generation. I’ve updated yesterday’s post, and added several children to the list for Samual Muffly (April 21, 1797-July 1, 1873) and Anna Maria Kleppinger.


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