Artist and Higman Intern Madison Lowrey designed SBTHP’s entry in conjunction with Education Director Melissa Chatfield. This week Lowrey and fellow Higman Intern Dana Hughes worked on a test run before the big day on Saturday.
We hope you will come out to support our team and all the great entries at I Madonnari this year. Admission is free, and the festival runs from 10am – 6pm on May 23, 24 and 25.
Charles Johnson, Director of the Research Library at the Museum of Ventura County, joined us at Casa de la Guerra on Thursday evening, March 12, to share the intriguing tale of an historic bookstore in Santa Barbara that, despite boasting a collection of some of the finest rare books, remains unknown to most: George M. Millard Books. Johnson offered a glimpse into the past, recounting the story of Alice Parsons Millard, a woman whose passion for books, fierce attention to aesthetics, and shrewd business sense gave birth to a collection of some of the world’s most finely crafted books. He came across her while conducting research on what he thought was a different business, the Tecolote Bookshop, formerly housed in El Paseo de la Guerra (currently located in Montecito).
Mrs. Millard was a woman of exquisite taste, and her marriage to revered book dealer George Madison Millard afforded her the ability to interact directly with prominent artists and citizen collectors. The couple worked with renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright to build two custom homes, one in Oak Park, Illinois and the other in Pasadena, California. After her husband died in 1918, Alice continued to work in the world of rare books and became respected as a book dealer, travelling across the United States and Europe to assemble her inventory. As a woman book dealer, her mark in historical records is somewhat circumstantial, so Johnson walked audiences through the steps of his detective work, backtracking through rare book catalogues and cross-referencing listings in phone books. In so doing, he managed to trace the origin of the Tecolote Bookshop to the Mrs. Millard’s inventory through that of her late husband’s business partner.
Throughout the lecture, Johnson engaged the audience with historic maps, showing the location of Mrs. George M. Millard Books and the shops of prominent Santa Barbarans who worked in what is now El Paseo. Guests were pleased to learn that they were sitting very close to the one of the locations of the bookshop, as they made their way through the patios of El Paseo to the wine reception, hosted by Margerum Winery. Special thanks go out to Rani McLean of Margerum Winery and our guest speaker, Charles Johnson, for creating an exceptional evening of intellectual curiosity.
Madison Lowery was awarded SBTHP’s Sue Higman Internship and is working in SBTHP’s education department this spring.
Last month I had the honor of partaking at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation’s annual “Presidio Pastimes by Candlelight” event, where the birthplace of Santa Barbara is brought to life solely by candlelight for an evening full of historical demonstrations of Presidio life. I had the honor of running La Cocina, naturally, where SBTHP Receptionist Brittany Sundberg and I prepared pozole by candlelight. This was not an easy feat, but the hearty and warm recipe from California Rancho Cooking was a welcome treat at the end of the cold night. The next time you’ve got a little chill, this is the perfect dish to warm your body and soul.
2 cups canned hominy
2 lbs of pork (butt end of the loin, chopped)
6 cups chicken broth
2 cups onion (chopped)
1 tbsp. oregano
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. garlic (minced)
2 cups red chile sauce
2 bay leaves
1 cup water
4 poblano chiles (charred, peeled and chopped)
1 tsp black pepper
To begin, I thought I would give you a glimpse of our lighting conditions in La Cocina when Brittany S. and I prepared the pozole. As you can see, this picture showcases our “stovetop” which is a counter of ladrillo with a small cut-out for a fire, and copper pot on top. Settlers of El Presidio de Santa Barbara would have been in the same conditions if not worse to prepare their night time meals–based on first hand experience, it’s a challenge!
Begin by chopping the pork loin into bite-size chunks. As you can see by my chopped pork pieces, I like my stew “chunky.” Bring the chicken broth to a boil in a large pot and add pork.
Different types of meat can be used in pozole, leaving hominy as the signature ingredient in the recipe. Hominy comes from maize, which was originally grown by the Aztecs in chinampas, or raised gardens.
This is our pile of hominy for the stew straight from the can. Settlers in Early California wouldn’t have simply had to open a can to get this ingredient, but instead would’ve have to soak maize kernels in mineral lime to get them to the nixtamal or hominy texture.
Allow pork to simmer for one and one half hours. Meanwhile, begin preparing the poblano peppers and other chopped ingredients.
Chili peppers are native to the New World, and were commonly used as spices by Native Americans.
Cook the poblano peppers on skillet until charred. Then, peel the charred skin off of the pepper. We used a comal, or iron skillet over a fire on our ladrillo stove top to char the peppers. This took about 5-10 minutes on each side.
Chili peppers have five different forms, with the three most popular being bell pepper, jalapeno, and cayenne.
Chop the pepper, onion, and garlic into fine pieces. My sous chef ever so carefully chopped ingredients as close to a candle as she can get in our dim lighting! Add hominy and all other ingredients, and stir continuously for 30 minutes or until the broth has thickened.
When Europeans first settled in Mexico, maize was considered to be any grain grown in a particular region, including other grains such as wheat and barley. Later, it was exclusively referred to as the corn we now consider maize today, which is soaked in an alkali treatment of lime mineral to create what we today call hominy, or formerly nixtamal. It was this treatment of maize that prevented the spread of pellagra, a disease of the skin caused by maize consumption, because it brought more nutrients within maize to the surface.
Here is the final product, which received rave reviews from our cold and hungry volunteers at the end of the evening. It was perfectly described as hearty with a kick! And just like that, you have a hearty, traditional stew! Serve hot, and prepare for some spice!
The Brittanys, seen here in traditional Early California dress, had a blast setting off smoke alarms and creating delicious aromas in La Cocina.
Foster, Nelson, and Linda S. Cordell. Chilies to Chocolate: Food the Americas Gave the World. Tucson: U of Arizona, 1992. 3-4+.
Johnson, Sylvia A. Tomatoes, Potatoes, Corn, and Beans: How the Foods of the Americas Changed Eating around the World. New York: Atheneum for Young Readers, 1997.
McMahan, Jacqueline Higuera. California Rancho Cooking: Mexican and Califorian Recipes. Seattle: Sasquatch, 2001.
Brittany Avila is Volunteer Maestra de Cocina for the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation
Many members of the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation and the larger Santa Barbara community make use of our excellent reference library at the Presidio Research Center. In case you have not paid a visit, the Research Center is open to the public by appointment. We have placed many research tools online to give patrons detailed information about our holdings, which you can find here. In addition to our vertical files, photographs, periodicals and manuscript collections, we maintain a diverse collection of books covering the fields of Spanish Colonial history, California history, Native American studies, Asian American studies, genealogy, public history, museum studies and archaeology, among others! We are proud members of the Central Coast Museum Consortium, which hosts a website where our book catalog is listed, along with those of our local partners. You can search the catalog for titles here.
Gratefully, we are able to keep our holdings updated in our key collecting fields. Every once in a while, however, a wonderful and unexpected donation comes in that fills a gap in one of our specialty areas and really helps set our collection apart. Last month we received one of those donations from Dr. Robert L. Hoover, Professor Emeritus in Archaeology from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Dr. Hoover’s donation includes several invaluable reference books for historical archaeologists, many of which are aids for identifying artifacts uncovered during excavations. These volumes include guides to ceramics, bottles and coins, among others.
The donation is especially timely as SBTHP is preparing to host an Archaeology Field School on site at El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park this summer. Students in the field school will be excavating the rear area of the north wing of the fort. For more information about this summer’s field school click here. For more information about SBTHP’s ongoing commitment to archaeological field work and collections, click here.
To make an appointment to visit the Presidio Research Center contact Anne Petersen, Associate Director for Historical Resources, at (805) 966-5073 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On the dark winter evening of February 5, 2015, El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park emitted a candlelight glow which beckoned visitors into the adobe rooms. Inside, guests participated in cooking and spinning demonstrations, early California dancing, a meeting with the comandante, and more. Others stayed warm by firesides in the parade ground, sharing stories and music. This magical night has become an anticipated annual education program for the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation. It is also a great opportunity to collaborate with one of our important partners, the Santa Barbara Downtown Organization, on their signature event series, First Thursday. For all of the beautiful photos from the evening, taken by Michael Imwalle, please see our Flickr album here.
On January 24, 2015 the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation held its 2015 Annual Meeting of the Membership and Community Awards Presentation. Please see our Flickr album from the event here, and share the photos with your family and friends! We are pleased to debut our annual group photo taken at the meeting here on Dispatches. This has become a favorite annual tradition for the organization. Thanks to all our members for their support, and we’ll see you soon at our next program!
On Wednesday January 28th, 2015 Cate School teachers Marnie Woehr and Oscar Urizar arrived at El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park with eighteen students to volunteer for the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation. Archaeologist Michael Imwalle and Associate Director for Historical Resources Anne Petersen provided the group with a brief introduction to the history of the Presidio and adobe construction. Students Henry Dawson, Elizabeth Douglas, Elli Park, Zac Towbes, Diara Pouye, Elliot Rosenthal, Andre Pincot, Katherine Scott, Valeria Ghersi, Darling Garcia, Gabby Teodoro, Isaac Lee, Yori Haller, Julia McCaw, Yvette, Vega, Cordelia Pryor, Summer Matthews, and Kiyomi Ran Dylan went to the Northwest Corner to meet with Maintenance Supervisor Eduardo Garcia.
After we had a brief safety meeting Eduardo gave them an introduction to “Whitewashing 101.” By the end of the day the teachers and students finished whitewashing the interior of the reconstructed western outer defense wall at the Presidio Northwest Corner. A second set of students helped Eduardo whitewash some patched areas of the defense wall at the Northeast Corner. A third group of volunteers helped knock down weeds behind the comandancia, tilled the soil beneath the trees in the Cañedo orchard, and fertilized all the roses around the site.
Thanks for your hard work and we look forward to working with you again next year! Mike Imwalle is the archaeologist at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation
Happy New Year! What better way to start off 2015 than baking up a delicious recipe from our Hispanic California predecessors. And hopefully you haven’t started your 2015 resolutions of eating healthier, because this one is another sweet treat!
I have adapted this recipe from California Mission Cookery by Mark Preston and David DeWitt. It is a more savory twist on your average chocolate cake. And if you’re used to cake box mixes, don’t be intimidated by baking from scratch. Like past recipes, this one is just as simple as it is delightful.
2 cakes Ybarra or Abuelita chocolate (this can be found at Hispanic supermarkets)
½ Cup butter
1 Cup piloncillo sugar (Brown or cane sugar could be a substitute if you have difficulty finding piloncillo)
1 Cup milk
3 Cups flour (as always, I used whole wheat flour to remain as similar as possible to flour used in Early CA)
2 Tablespoons baking powder
1 Teaspoons vanilla extract
1 Cake Ybarra or Abuelita chocolate
¾ Cup butter
½ Cup piloncillo
Begin by preheating your oven to 300 degrees. Start preparing the cake batter by melting the two chocolate cakes in a saucepan over the stovetop for no more than 5 minutes. Do not try melting in the microwave, they will burn and/or could start a fire.
The Spanish did not even recognize chocolate as a food until the 17th century, nearly a hundred years after they founded New Spain. But once they pronounced it edible, it made waves in Europe and become Spain’s largest export from their new-found territory.
Ignore the French mustard unless you want to add an unusual spice taste to your cake. Photo by Brittany Avila.
You must continuously mix the chocolate to keep it from burning. Photo by Brittany Avila.
Next, add the butter and piloncillo to the chocolate. While the butter melts in with the chocolate, beat the eggs together. Mix your stovetop concoction in a bowl with the eggs. Then gradually add flour, baking powder and vanilla.
Spanish royalty were known to add a variety of unique ingredients to their new favorite import. They would consume chocolate with anything from vanilla, anise, chili peppers, hazelnut, and even powdered white roses mixed in.
Once this is well mixed, place in a 15” baking dish that is lined either with butter, PAM, or some form of non-stick spray. If you want your cake a little bit thicker, you can place it in a smaller baking dish, but you will have to cook it for a bit longer at a lower temperature.
During California’s rancho period, sweet cakes would have been baked for “la merienda,” or the meal eaten following the afternoon siesta. This “light luncheon” usually consisted of pastries, cakes, sweet cured cheese, olives and wafers. Doesn’t sound that light to me!
Place the baking dish in the oven and allow it to bake for 35-40 minutes. To be sure your cake is cooked all the way through, use the “toothpick method” by sticking a toothpick in the middle of the cake. If there is no cake batter on the toothpick when you pull it out, it’s ready. If there is, then allow it bake longer and check on it every 3-5 minutes.
While your cake is baking, you can begin working on the icing. Simply melt the appropriate amount of chocolate, butter and piloncillo for the icing together over the stove for no more than 5 minutes over low heat. Mix this with a spoon the entire time. Allow this to cool. Once cool, you can ice your cake. You can also use this mixture as a filling for your cake if you want to make multiple layers.
Piloncillo was a type of sugar formed into a cone shape also imported to El Presidio de Santa Barbara and other establishments in Early California. Even the Spanish settlers maintained their sweet tooth!
I brought this cake to my coworkers in the midst of other delectable Christmas treats and this was not overshadowed by any means! Definitely worth breaking your healthy eating resolutions just once for this!
Foster, Nelson, and Linda S. Cordell. Chilies to Chocolate: Food the Americas Gave the World. Tucson: University of Arizona, 1992. 3-4
Packman, Ana Bégué. Early California Hospitality; the Cookery Customs of Spanish California, with Authentic Recipes and Menus of the Period. Glendale, CA: Arthur H. Clark, 1938. 30. Print.
Preston, Mark, and Dave DeWitt. California Mission Cookery: A Vanished Cuisine, Rediscovered. Albuquerque, New Mexico: Border, 1994. 194.
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