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Foods Of the Midwest - Michigan Good Eats: Pasties, Sweet Potatoes, Devo, and Clangers
Innovation With Vegetables
The Hubber B.T. Evilpants mentioned traditional Michigan pasties to me in another Sweet Potato recipe thread and I have come up with a recipe for Sweet Potato Pasties.
I like the traditional Michigan and Welsh pasties that I have tried on my visits all over Michigan. They include Michigan potatoes, beef, and rutabaga - and sometimes turnips (called "nips") in some lesser-known parts of the state. I am always ready for innovative uses of root vegetables, so sweet potatoes are a certainty for good eats.
For a good time, visit the Michigan Pasty Fest pages of Calumet, Michigan here at PHOTOS and FUN.
The pasty is indigenous to the Keweenaw Peninsula (see map below) and the "thumb" part of Michigan and well known throughout the state. It has been a character of its own in the Lilian Jackson Braun The Cat Who mystery series that is set in the Wolverine State.
"Where is my pasty?"
Millfield Mine Last Survivor - Sigmund Kozma
Devo - "Working In a Coal Mine"
SWEET POTATO PASTY
Coal Miners in Wales and later in Michigan carried a large pasty or two down into the coal mines with them every day for a meal in their lunch pails. Big and hearty and substantial as the men - and later the women joining them in the mines as engineers - that ate them, these meat and root vegetable pies kept them going all day long.
A friend of Welsh descent tells me that in Wales of old, the miners would meet on the roads of the countryside on foot together with their lunch pails in the early mornings and walk to the mines, singing as they went. When they walked back home at night, they sang again. Sometimes, they walked to the mines in the dark and home again in the dark, singing, depending on what time of year it was. Their lights or candles on their helmets showed the way back and forth.
The singing is what is missed most by people that have known such miners and the decline of mining in the UK and USA. If you read former NASA engineer Homer Hickam's series of novels based on his youth and early adulthood in West Virginia, you'll see something about the sining and cameraderie that miners exchanged as well. These stories begin with Rocket Boys, also called October Sky, and continue with books about Coalwood.
In Michigan, Ohio, and West Virginia, the miners had to climb down 1000s of feet of ladder through tall shaft houses or take rickety elevators down deep below the earth's surface in order to work.These were perilous journeys at best.
One of my uncles with Native American blood and looking much like the Pontiac logo for the automobile of the same name was 7 feet tall and worked bent over in the mines for 40 years in W. VA and Ohio. He escaped the Millfield Coal Mining Disaster of 1930. He took sandwiches down into the mine, but it's probable he and his fellows also took some sort of meat pie on some days, most likely a pasty. They were easy to carry and easy to eat.
After retiring from the mines, such folks still enjoyed pasties, meat pies, shepherd's pies, sweet potato pies, pot pies, and all their variations
The jagged black boundary is Canada to the far north.
The Recipe - Pasty ala Sweet Potato - Vegan or with Meat
Makes 4 Pasties for Lunch
8 oz short-crust:
- 4 oz margarine, white vegetable shortening, butter or vegan margarine
- 8 oz all purpose or unbleached flour
- Rub the fat into the flour in a bowl or on a wooden board. Add in a pinch of salt and just enough ice water (couple spoons) to hold it into a ball of dough.
- Let rest 20 minutes and roll it out into a circle or wide oval.
- 1 Large onion
- 2 Large sweet potatoes
- Olive Oil
- 4 oz French style green beans (cut diagonally) or frozen peas (or if you would like a meat pasty, add 6 to 8 oz cooked crumbled chopped ground chuck or cooked stew meat instead - with sweet potatoes, pork is good, too - just roll the dough a bit bigger if you add the meat)
- ½ tsp grated fresh ginger
- ½ tsp chili powder
- ¼ tsp ground turmeric
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- ¼ tsp ground mustard
- Kosher salt (it's tastier) and fresh ground black pepper to taste
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Clangers Reportedly Like Pasties
Clangers are a food like a pasty that becames a children's cartoon character. They come together in a family and were popular before the Teen Hunger cartoons of today.
Pre Heat oven 400 degrees F or 200 degrees C.
- Wash the potatoes and pare slightly.
- Cut up potatoes into medium-size chunks.
- Boil in salted water for 15 minutes until soft. Remove from heat, cool slightly, and dice. Set aside.
- Chop and saute onions in a little olive oil.
- Add ginger; chilli; turmeric; cumin; coriander; ground mustard, salt and pepper.
- Cook on simmer for 4-5 minutes and then remove from heat to cool.
- Roll the short-crust into 4 circles.
- Place cooled filling just off-center in each pasty circle and fold in half. Crimp edges.
- Brush with either soy milk, 2% milk, or an egg wash made of one whole beaten egg, and cut a few small vents in each pasty to allow steam to escape (be decorative).
- Bake for 25 minutes, or until done.
For a traditional pasty, use meat, Michigan potatoes, and rutabagas. Adjust your seasonings to your liking and prepare the same way.