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The Saginaw Woman’s Club, Garden Department: Flower Shows with a Mission

This week we celebrate a centennial. On April 2, 1924, Saginaw’s City Council designated the peony Saginaw’s Official City Flower.

 

“Whereas, the Garden Department of the Saginaw Woman’s Club has requested the City Council to name the Peony as the official Flower of Saginaw, because this plant seems adapted to our soil and is grown very easily here, and for the further reason that the Sagianw Woman’s Club has annually distributed large numbers of peonies until now there is scarcely a Saginaw yard without them.

 

Therefore, Be it Resolved, that the Peony be designated as Saginaw official flower.”

-Saginaw News Courier, April 2, 1924.

 

Founded in 1893, the Saginaw Woman’s Club, started as the Home Study Club. Although the original name might suggest a mission of inwardly directed self-education, by the early twentieth century the organization and its members had become a strong, visible force in the community. And the Garden Department  - the garden committee - was one of the most effective groups within the club. This link will take you to more information about the club and a program about Saginaw gardens prepared by members of the club.

 

The organization’s annual flower shows – they included tulips, iris, gladiola, and peonies - of course, were much more than simple vanity events. They were held to engage the public in civic beautification.

 

“Flower shows should make an appeal to those interested in city beautification. Possibly from the standpoint of aiding in its commercial growth, they may not seem to add directly to civic advancement, except as they may influence some to enter the field of growing plants and shrubs for profit, but who can deny that fine shade trees and glimpses of home gardens attract the chance visitor to city, and may even prove an inducement to such a one to make his home among surroundings where owners show pride in have their own gardens?”  (Saginaw Board of Commerce Bulletin, August 1923.)

 

1923 Peony Show - held in Garber buick on North Washington

Beyond flower shows and advocacy, the Saginaw Woman’s Club, was pragmatic in its efforts. With the hope of having peonies planted in private yards throughout Saginaw, at various times, they sold collections of peony plants – a collection of four different cultivars for $1.50.

 

The 1922 Peony Show and Recipe

 

“Surpassing the peony shows of former years, both in the number of blooms shown and the number of exhibitions the 1922 peony show given the auspices of the garden department of the Woman’s club Wednesday and Thursday in the M.W. Tanner store, was a tremendous success. That the people of Saginaw are greatly interested in these flower shows was demonstrated by the hundreds of people who attended the exhibit from Saginaw and nearby cities.

 

Winner of ribbon prizes were Will McClelland, Arnold Boutell, both winning first; Mrs. William Wickham, Mrs. C. B. Allen ….Mrs. George H. Boyd . . .” (The Saginaw News Courier, June 9, 1922.)

 

1923 Peony Show

For this week’s recipe, we are focusing on one of the award winners from the 1922 peony show, Mrs. George H. Boyd. The grounds of her home at 1617 S. Washington Avenue attested to her love of gardening. Her obituary noted:

 

“Long active in affairs of Saginaw Branch, Woman’s National Farm and Garden Association, she had been its president. The staid old Boyd home’s spacious yard in the Grove, across from Hoyt Park, was a verdant showplace. It attested her love for gardening. She was a member of the state board of Federated Garden Clubs of Michigan. (The Saginaw News, July 13, 1961.)

 

This link will take you to an earlier post about Lettia Morley Boyd.

 

The Recipe: Mrs. George Boyd’s Consommé

 

Today’s recipe is the second course in a seven-course luncheon menu featured in Twelve Menus: A Cook Book published by The Young Woman’s Auxiliary to The Woman’s Hospital Association in 1900. We featured three courses last year. To learn more about the luncheon and Mrs. Boyd, please check the sources below *

 


The consume recipe as it appears in Twelve Menus: A Cook Book:

 

Cut the breasts from two large fowls and put them away in a cool place, and then cut the fowls into joints. Wash these and put them into a soup pot with four quarts of cold water; when the broth has heated to the degree at which it boils, skim it carefully and set back where it will boil gently, for six hours. During the last hour and a half, one of the breasts should be cooked with the soup, and it should then be taken out and put away to cool. The soup, after being strained through a colander, should also be put away. When it has become cold and all the fat has been skimmed off, turn it back into the soup pot and add a small piece of mace and of cinnamon, a large onion, two stalks of celery two teaspoonfuls of salt, three dozen pepper corns, the whites of two eggs, well beaten, and the uncooked breast of one of the fowls chopped very fine. Let the soup heat slowly to the boiling point and set back where it will retain that degree of heat for one hour. It should then be perfectly clear; the whites of the egg and other sediment having settled to the bottom of the pot. Taste the soup to find out whether it requires more seasoning. Dip an old napkin** into hot water and place in a strainer, and after consommé has been poured through this it will be ready for use. Serve in Cups.

  


CTK INTERPRETATION:


After careful consideration, we decided to forgo a “CTK” interpretation and simply present the recipe as given. It is well-written and straightforward.

 

Health Note: Be aware that this recipe requires care, you are mixing raw and cooked ingredients together. Make certain you adequately cook the soup after the addition of the raw chicken. And be careful not to contaminate work areas and utensils with uncooked fowl.

 

Remember that this recipe was written prior to the advent of readily available refrigeration.

 

 

NOTES:


A perfect consommé is clear – almost like crystal. While the CTK version was fine for a photo op and we came closer to our goal than we expected, we still had more than a little fat and the flavor was not perfectly balanced.

 

If you decide to prepare a perfect consommé and have never done so before, we suggest watching this video by Jaques Pépin.

 

Also, we suggest consulting Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. There are numerous recipes of varying degrees of help online. However, Pépin and Child provided the most insight into the process. Note: In Mrs. Boyd’s recipe, the sediment – called a raft – will settle at the bottom of the pan.

 

Only wishing to  deal with one fowl – chicken, the CTK staff prepared what we believe to be a half batch of this recipe. Before we continue, we need to be honest, we didn’t boil the broth for the full 6 hours. We simply weren’t that patient. We underestimated the amount of time needed to properly prepare this recipe, it takes well-over 10 hours and the CTK only had about 7. (An estimate of active time, which does not include washing chicken fat-covered kettles, bowls, colanders, strainers, and spoons – a lot of spoons, is about two hours of that time. And then there is the matter of cleaning the sunken “raft” from the bottom of the stockpot.

 

Also, the CTK kitchen only had powdered mace. Our trips to several markets failed to yield blades of mace – the spice in its unground form. And that was a disappointment. One of many.

 

That said, the slightly spiced flavor of this consommé would be perfect after the first course, a maraschino-laced fruit salad. We imagine it would be  especially wonderful if one were able to locate blades of mace. So wonderful, that one is almost tempted to recreate the entire menu for Mrs. Boyd’ luncheon.

 

And then we remembered an advertisement we included in an earlier post:

 

“Wanted – A cook and waitress; must be experienced. Apply Mrs. George H. Boyd, 1617 S. Washington.” 

-The Saginaw Evening News, June 10, 1907.

 

*Recipes for additional courses from Mrs. George Boyd’s luncheon:

 

**We lined our strainer with five layers of washed, damp cheese cloth.

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