Library hosts ‘gruel’-ing Dickens Day
Charles Dickens never used an electric crockpot, of course, but other than that, the gruel Deborah Faulkner, adult services librarian, made for Indian Valley Public Library’s Sept. 8 Dickens Day was the real deal and good enough to have Oliver Twist coming back for more.
In fact, that’s just what some of those in attendance did.
“Good stuff,” was Souderton resident Mary Mettin’s assessment.
It was the first time Faulkner ever made gruel. It was also the first time the attendees ever ate gruel.
“I thought, man, that can’t be any good,” Mettin said, “but this is my second bowl. This is so good.”
Denise Hallman, another Souderton resident, put it in the comfort food category.
“It makes me sleepy, the warm milk,” Hallman said.
Julianne Wilie, of North Wales, though, gave it a bit more of a mixed
“It was OK,” Wilie said. “It was better than I thought it would be, a little sweeter than I thought it would be, actually, but I didn’t like the texture of it.”
The recipe came from a 1915 cookbook, Faulkner said.
“My contemporary cookbooks didn’t have anything,” she said. “I went online and looked for old things.”
Gruel was made by mixing a paste of wheat, oatmeal, barley or buckwheat with water or milk, she said.
A simple recipe displayed at the library called for two teaVSRRQV RI flRuU DQG RQH WHDVSRRQ of salt to make the paste, which was then added to a cup of boiling water.
There were some more elaborate recipes, Faulkner said, but she preferred to stick with the type that would have been served to the Dickens characters.
Charles Dickens, born Feb. 7, 1812, wRuOG KDvH WuUQHG 200 this year.
Along with gruel, the Dickens Day included a viewing of WKH 1935 fiOP vHUVLRQ RI “DDvLG &RSSHUfiHOG,” IHDWuULQJ 0LFNHy Rooney, W. C. Fields and Lionel BDUUyPRUH, DQG WKH 2005 5Rman Polanski-directed “Oliver Twist.”
There was also a chance to share favorite passages from a DLFNHQV QRvHO DQG D UDIflH IRU D Byers’ Choice Dickens Ebenezer Scrooge Caroler.
The day also included presentations by several local authors. Those attending the author presentations had cards on their chairs describing Dickens characters; the cards were used for drawings for door prizes.
DLFNHQV NQHw DERuW fiQDQFLDO struggles, having come from a home where his father went bankrupt and spent time in a debtors’ prison, Faulkner said.
“They preferred being in debtors’ prison to being in a workhouse. The conditions in debtors’ prison were better,” she said.
Dickens, meanwhile, was put to work at a young age.
“HH wDV wRUNLQJ 12 KRuUV D GDy DW DJH 12 DQG HvHQ WKRuJK his upbringing was middle class, KLV HxSHULHQFH WKHUH LQfluHQFHG the rest of his life,” Faulkner said.
Just as Dickens’ experience LQfluHQFHG KLV wULWLQJ, PDQy RI the local authors also used their experiences in their writing, she said. The writers included: • -DFN AOWKRuVH, RI PHUNLRmenville, author of “Second Sight” and “Second Birth.” “Second Bath,” a sequel to “Second Sight,” will be released Jan. 1, 2013.
• 0LOOLH -DQzHQ BDOzHU, D UHVLdent of Foulkeways in Lower Gwynedd, author of “Heldin: Coming to Terms.”
• BHUQDUG F. BODQFKH, RI SRuGerton, author of “Iracema’s Footprint: a Brazilian Political 0yVWHUy” DQG “BRQHfiVK BRE: D Tribute.” He is currently working on “Black Dad/White Dad.”
• -DPHV 5. FRx, RI SRuGHUWRQ, author of “The Wake,” “Wisdom of Wishes,” “Christmas Eve” and “The Map of the Carpenter.”
• -RDQ HDUWHQVWLQH-/HPRQ, Duthor of “Night Shade,” a collection of 11 short stories.
• DDwQ 5uWK 1HOVRQ, RI HDUleysville, author of “Becoming like Christ: American Mennonite Spiritual Formation through the Lens of One Woman’s Life and One Seminary” and “A Mennonite Woman: Exploring Spiritual Life and Identity.”
• 9DOHULH OwHQV, RI HDUleysville, author of “America huh! I’m going home.”
• &DURO B. PROLV, RI 0RQWJRPery Township, author of “The Lady is a Champ.”
• &KULVWLQH SFKPLGW, RI BOuH Bell, author of “Death of a Drug.”
• DRURWKy SKHOOy, RI FUDQFRnia, author of the poetry books “Anybody See My Shoes? PoetLF 5HflHFWLRQV FURP A &KDSODLQ” and “Don’t Wait Too Long.”
• PDuO SWDQNuV, D 1990 JUDGuate of North Penn High School, author of “Hapless Papa” and “Dad Desperately in need of Training Wheels.”
• BUHWW :DOODFK, RI SHOOHUVville, author of “Jesse Garon.”
• PKRHEH :LOFRx, RI PHUNDVLH, author of “Angels Carry the Sun.”
“It’s clear that we have lots of talent in our community,” Faulkner said after each of the writers made a presentation including a description of and/or reading from their works.
Susan Miller speaks with author Phoebe Wilcox at the It’s a Dickens of a Day! event at the Indian Valley Public Library in Telford Saturday, Sept. 8.