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in Montana in the mid 1920s - 1930s

written by Lillian Hein Remmick

Copyrighted Aug.2001

 All rights are reserved. This story, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission. Published by Remmick-Hubert Corp.221 Main Street, Suite 1300, San Francisco, California, 94105

Tis the time of the year when one sees beautiful golden pumpkins every-where which brings back wonderful memories of long ago.

Days when it was blustery weather in Montana and walking home from school left us numb from the cold.

Oh what a joy it was to open the door and have the heavenly aroma of platchinti greet us.  Mother made then rather large and would cut them in half and hand them to us very savory. warm, and peppery which would warm us with the greatest of pleasure.

Sometimes we made a meal of them with lots of whole sweet milk to drink as our parents had coffee..

We could gather around the big kitchen table lit with the soft flow of a kerosene lamp as Montana gets dark early in the late fall and winter.  This was before farmers had electricity.

Mother would probably tell us a story as she was a great story teller. One of my favorites was about Aunt Isabella returning as a ghost.

In Russia when the days work was done and evening set, friends would father around the kitchen table in the winter, or, under a tree out of doors where the cool breeze of the evening would be refreshing in summer.  The host and hostess would serve wine, nuts to crack and bright red apples to pare.

So it was one evening when aunt Isabella and her husband were entertaining friends and the women pondered the question as to what kind of women their husbands would marry if they should pass on first.

Aunt Isabella always was the one to come up with the unusual laughter and would then said if she were to die first she planned to return and see what kind of a housekeeper her husband married.

Not long after this statement,  aunt Isabella became very ill and passed on.

After a time her husband remarried and  soon after to the astonishment of the whole village loud rattling of chains were heard coming down the village road and when the villagers ran out to see what the commotion was all about they beheld aunt Isabella marching down the middle of the road dragging heavy chains.

Isabella marched right to her old home, opened the door, and went in.

The site of Isabella was dreadfully shocking to the new wife who came out of the house running and screaming with her apron over her head.

Aunt Isabella examined the whole house from stem to stern then came out of the house and marched back down the road from wince she had come dragging those heavy chains behind her.

Funny how these rattling chains on the dusty road raised no dust. 

The chains length became shorter and shorter with each step of aunt Isabella's.

About where Isabella had appeared near the edge of the village,  she began to fade along with the terrible noise of what was left of the  shorten chains.

A  lot of people in the village speechless after seeing such an apparition.

Aunt Isabella 's ghost never never returned but the story of her appearance was often told by the elders of the village and if you ask them if it really happened they would have sworn it really did and that they had seen her with their own eyes.

The sweet and nutty Hubbard Squash was the one we used on the farm.  It is an excellent keeper and keep well while stored in the earth cellar during the early winter months.  There were two kinds of Hubbard Squash. The Lakota is an heirloom and was highly prized by the Sioux Indians. They grow  about eight or nine inches in size, are a deep orange  with some deep green running from stem to base, and they are heavy of flesh.  The Blue Hubbard Squash is larger in size and their thick skin is a deep greenish blue. Otherwise the Lakota and the Blue Hubbard are much alike.

If your lucky enough to have a place and the room to grow the Hubbard Squash please do so as they really are an excellent squash.

With a very heavy large sharp knife Mother would cut the squash in half, remove the seeds, pare away the heavy outer skin, cut the remain squash into one inch pieces, place the cut up squash onto the bottom of a heavy steel roaster and add just enough water to steam the squash until very soft.

The last time I tried cutting a Hubbard Squash is half with a heavy butcher knife I managed to slip and cut a deep ash between my left thumb and index finger and had to have stitches done to put things back together again.  Now, I do things different as I find it safer.  I take a squash or pumpkin , if not Hubbard squash is available, and wash and dry the outside. I poke holes  [I use an ice pick] in where the top will be in the oven so the steam can escape and wrap it in heavy duty aluminum foil. Place in pan which should have sides in case the  moisture escapes and place in a 350 degree oven for about 1 1/2 hours.  This of course depends on the size of the squash or pumpkin you using. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Unwrap from foil and cut in half, remove seeds, and scrap out the flesh which would be very soft.

For the platchinti you will need 4 coups squash or pumpkin. If you have more squash or pumpkin then you need to place the extra in freezer.  If you have special recipes be sure to measure amount needed her recipe and place in individual containers for convenience. Mark the amount on each container.

This squash (pumpkin) makes excellent pie, bread and just recently I came across a luscious scone recipe.

Please don't throw away the seeds. Wash them, dry them and roast them for a nutritious snack.


Platchinti Filling

4 cups  cooked soft squash or pumpkin

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon pepper [or less because I find 3/4 teaspoon to our taste]]

Place all ingredients in a deep bowl and mix well and set aside.
Platchinti Dough

4 cups all purpose flour

4 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup butter

2/3 cup milk [more if needed]

2 large eggs

Mother mixed the dough by hand, however, I used my processor which works great.

Into the processor I put 4 cups flour, 4 tablespoons sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons baking power, 1 cup butter cut into small chunks. Mix dry ingredients using high speed using the on off button with short spurts until blended.  Slightly beat the 2 eggs with the 2/3 cup milk and add to dry ingredients and blend. Remove to floured board and knead gently.  Dough should be nice and soft. Take 1/2 of the dough at a time and cool into a thin sheet. I use a two pound coffee can to cut 5 inch circles.  Put a rounded tablespoon of squash (pumpkin) mixture on 1/2 circle and bring other half of circle over the top then pinch the dough closed.

I like to used an  egg white beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water  into which  I dip my pastry brush  into the egg white mixture and slightly brush this mixture onto the edge of each half circle and with a fork I press down and seal the edges.  With a sharp knife or scissor I cut two tiny slits on top of each half circle which will release stem.  Place them on a slightly greased cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees until light golden brown which is about 20 minutes.  This makes 26 platchinti with the 5 inch size circles.

You can make the circles smaller and adjust everything according to the size you make.

Again, I lean back in my chair and the memories flow and I'm a kind again walking home from school on a crisp cold day.

My galoshes are giving off a crisp slushing sound. I've going to do many things on my way home today.

I stop in to visit Grandpa and Grandma Kippenham, who are not my real grandparents but they were old and loving so I like to think of them as my grandparents because my real grandparents lived far far away.

I have English tea and biscuits with them.  Mrs. Kippenham always used such lovely china which gave me the feeling of elegance.

Their vast garden of flowers, now, lay frozen and silent for it had tone to sleep for the winter.

Grandpa Kippenham's bees are being kept warm in the barn and asleep so I couldn't see them today either.

I walk along the snow fence by the railroad track and visit the gypsy caravan parked there. I love their gay colored wagons and clothes. They are very nice and sometimes they play their guitars which I loved but not today.

Further down the railroad tracks I cross into the neighbors meadow on the north side of Lone Tree Creek and trudge slowly along.

On the south side of the creek and up on a rise is a small graveyard which someone fenced in with heavy posts and lots of barbed wire. I wonder who was buried there. The graveyard is frozen and silent, now, so I won't visit it today. In the spring it will become a wondrous place full of beautiful blue iris and then I'll go and sit among the flowers in the sun and feel the beauty engulf me.

The sun is setting in the est and the clouds are a brilliant fiery red. The cold is becoming more intense and I'm glad to see the smoke from the kitchen chimney.

I open the door and a rush of warm air and the aroma of platchinti baking greets me.  Wow!

The End