Twelve Days of TAMIS and the power of gingerbread!

Mary Pom ClaiborneOur Town Readers

Glimpse into Christmas past in TAMIS’s presentation of holidays of yore. This Thursday, December 14, at 6:30 p.m. at Central Cinema (1205 N. Central Street), the Tennessee Archive of Moving Image and Sound (TAMIS) will show a mix of audio-visual artifacts – some old favorites, but most never screened before.

You won’t want to miss this free program that takes on the spirit of a white elephant exchange. TAMIS staff has swept through all the nooks and crannies to create this festive reel in the heart of Happy Holler.

The power of gingerbread – a story of freedom.

Researcher Danette Welch at the McClung Collection in the East Tennessee History Center has uncovered some recipes that will not only melt in your mouth but may also melt your heart.

My favorite is a 200-year-old gingerbread recipe that is more than just flavorful. A 1933 article in the Knoxville Journal recounts the story of Stella DeVault, an enslaved woman who used the proceeds from her popular holiday gingerbread to procure her freedom in 1825. I tried the recipe over the weekend. Despite my fumbling attempt at baking, it was, indeed, quite tasty. You can read the full story here.

If you want to try your hand at Stella DeVault’s gingerbread, here’s the recipe:

  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup butter and lard mixed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 2 ½ cup flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons soda
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon cloves
  • 1 cup hot water
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Soften the shortening without really melting it; add the sugar gradually, also the egg well beaten and cream all together. Stir in the molasses and add the flour, spices, salt and soda – which has been dissolved in water. Turn into a shallow pan, lined with greased paper and bake 30 minutes in a moderate oven.

Mary Pom Claiborne is assistant director for marketing, communications and development for Knox County Public Library


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