Victorian Autumn Celebrations

Our Dearest Friends,

I hope you will enjoy reading about a few of the wonderful autumn activities that our family here on the farm hosts every year. As the cool winds of winter set their course, it's time to reflect on the wonderful bounty of the past summer. We gather our loved ones around and celebrate the beauty and color of Minnesota, much as our ancestors once did. So cozy up to piping hot cup of spiced cider and share with us the true meaning of autumn. With Warmest Regards;

Richard E. Tostenson

From Victorian Entertaining by John Crosby Freeman:

The Autumn Hunt Brunch

Horse transport was still essential for short distances, but by the late 1880s railroads had made the old coaches or four-in-hand obsolete. The new money society of the late Victorian period transformed the four-in-hand into venerable symbols of the golden age they called "The Olden Time."

From the first flowers to the first snows, they rode and drove to Hounds and had Hunt Balls, Hunt Suppers, and Hunt Breakfasts. The high point was indeed the Ball. Today at the farm we celebrate the Hunt Breakfast after a short carriage ride to the fields for a small feathered hunt of quail and pheasant.

After the hunt, we return to the stables, then into the house for a delicious Autumn Brunch. The breakfast table is set more casually, with placemats instead of lace table cloth. Beautiful china however will mark the first meal of the day.

Pulled fowl
Salmon Steaks and stuffed tomatoes
Berkshire Ham and Brown Beans
Fruit Pie
Stone Cold Toast
Apricot Marmalade, Strawberry Jam, and Current Jelly
Champagne Cocktails, Bloody Marys, and Hot Tea are served on the front porch to reminisce of the days hunt and of those to come

The Colorful Autumn Shunpiker’s Picnic

Shunpiking is an old term for "Getting off the beaten path." The major byways in our country were called pikes. To make contact with local differences one has to shun the pike. We here at the farm turn this into a pleasant celebration by "Shunpiking" a taking of an autumn picnic to one of the neighboring towns in our area.

Harper's Weekly, June 5, 1858:
The autumn picnic season is at hand, and will stir up those who, "Sick of home and luxuries, Do want a new sensation." What visions of unbridged creeks to be crossed etc. And then-to come to more material things-what a singular turn your appetite for barn sandwiches and other picnic fare!

The Picnic Hamper
Chicken Noodle Soup
Celery & Olives
Sandwiches a'la Motor
Shape very thin slices of sandwich bread with a cookie cutter into round wheels.
Cut spokes into the upper portion of the sandwich.
Spread with minced ham or chicken.
Red current Jelly
Sliced bread
Cold sliced Ham & Turkey
Brandy Peaches
Canned pickles
Basket salad
Remove seeds and center of green pepper to form baskets.
Fill with chopped wax beans, chopped red beets, chopped walnuts and French dressing.
Speed-a-way* Sponge cake or angle food.

*Before the automobile became a necessity, it was a toy used by the wealthy city folks for rides in the country.

Guy Fawkes Day Autumnal Supper

Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The gunpowder, treason and plot,
I know of no reason why the gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.

The Pumpkin Effigy
November 23, 1867
Oh!-fruit loved of boyhood-the old days recalling,
When wood grapes were purpling and brown nuts were falling!
When wild, ugly faces we carved in its skin,
Glaring out in the dark with a candle within.

Guy Fawkes Day is named for a British folk hero and his failed gunpowder plot of 1605 to blow up the Old House of Parliament, which later burned shortly before Queen Victoria's Coronation and was rebuilt in its present Gothic Revival form.

Guy Fawkes Day here on the farm is celebrated by fireworks, bonfires and children begging for "a penny for the Guy," with his effigy made from a carved pumpkin for the head and a long stick for the body clothed with an old coat for the body.

Because Guy Fawkes Day is celebrated on November 5th pumpkins are cheap, if not free.

Pumpkin Squash Soup
To be served in a large hollowed out pumpkin.
Hot Corn Bread
Pear and Pecan Salad
Sweet Cider
Mince Meat Pie

That nip in the air, those glorious colors, the piles of natures bounty-autumn is a delightful season best celebrated with food of nuts, fruits, and vegetables would be a blessing for any festive meal.

Falling Leaves Tea Dance

A Tea Dance allows you to finesse the expense and bother of a Victorian ball while enjoying the pleasures of social dancing in the grand Victorian style. "Tea" was often used imprecisely by Victorians for an entertainment. For example, while sitting on a veranda on a summer Sunday afternoon one might be offered an impromptu invitation to "Sunday Tea," which turned out to be the family's Sunday Dinner or Sunday Supper. With tea one can either serve only tea and cakes, making it into a desert party, or serve more substantial food and alcoholic beverages to make it a supper. If you decide to make your Tea Dance into a costume party, present the proposition to your guests as more vaguely then specifically Victorian.

Here on the farm our focus is on the Victorian Waltz which is sometimes mixed in with the less famous mazurka and Schottische. Many are surprised to learn that the polka is a 19th centaury dance that arrived in America in 1844.

So clear the Front Parlor, and bedeck the Dining Room with luscious Hors D'Oeuvres and Canapes, deserts, spiced tea, and fine china and let the Dance begin.

Dance as if no one were watching,
Sing as if no one were listening,
And live every day as though it were your last.

Hot Spiced Tea, served in silver, Sparkling champagne served in flutes
Molded Salmon Spread, Thin Baguettes
Chicken Liver Terrine, Water Crackers
Brandy Cheese Ball, Crackers
Deviled Ham Dip, Whole Wheat Crackers
Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes, Open Face Ruben Sandwiches, Prunes in Bacon
Party Sandwiches and Chocolate-Marshmallow Ribbon Cake

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Text and photographs copyright © Tostenson Brothers Farm 2004-2008. All rights reserved.