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Friday 28 February 2014

Jim Jams

Seeing a package of date cookies at the grocery store recently reminded us of a recipe that we used many times during our early years of marriage. Hunting it down, we discovered that the hand written recipe we got initially from Rick's mother, was in fact a recipe from his great grandmother, Clarinda (Moulton) Mercer.

Clarinda was born in English Harbour West, Newfoundland, in 1880. She grew up in Burgeo. Her father was Thomas Moulton, a fish merchant there. This fact always amused me because my mother's family was always indebted to the fish merchant, as were many fisher families in Newfoundland. Some people in Rick's family tree were on the other side of that dynamic.

Clarinda Moulton married Rev. Richard Frederick (R.F.) Mercer. Their wedding was a big social occasion in Burgeo. As a clerical family, they were posted in various towns of the province, including two postings in Catalina, Trinity Bay. Clarinda was organist in Church everywhere R.F. served. She eventually lost part of her left leg due to cancer which made it difficult to play the old organs with their foot pedals. She could walk around easily enough however.

After R.F. died, Clarinda lived for two winters with her son Dick's family in Corner Brook. Clarinda loved opera and listened to it on the radio all the time. Her granddaughter, Sylvia, had a record player that played forty-fives. She got the player and records from her boyfriend Melvin, who worked on the Corner Brook, a ship which delivered paper made in Corner Brook to markets in the United States. Sylvia thought she had the world when she got the player. One of the songs which was popular and which Sylvia played all the time, was Ghost Riders in the Sky, written by Stan Jones, sung by Burl Ives. Her grandmother hated the song!

Eventually Clarinda moved to St. John's where she bought a house on Gower Street and lived with two of her daughters, Maud and Faith. R.F. is buried in Catalina while Clarinda is buried in St. John's.
Clarinda's recipe goes like this:

Jim Jams

2 cups flour
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup brown sugar
1cup shortening 
1/2 cup milk
3 tsp baking powder 
1 tsp salt

Mix flour, oats, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in shortening as for pastry. Add milk. Roll thin and cut into circles of desired size. Place filling in center of circle and fold circle in half. Pinch semi-circle together.


12 oz dates

Cook until tender.

Bake Jim's Jams in moderate oven until golden.
This past week two generations of Clarinda's descendents made Jim Jams, her great grandson, Rick and her great great great granddaughter, Sylvie. Descendents from two other generations, Sylvia and Claire, enjoyed them too. They were crispy on the outside, tender inside. 

          Rick and Sylvie making Jim Jams

The grandmother in me thinks that Clarinda is smiling!

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