Celebrate the harvest season with a traditional Harvest Home celebration, including a traditional recipe for Cattern Cakes made from wholesome, homestead ingredients.
The Rhythm of the Seasons
Something that comes with living close to the land is a natural tendency to fall into the rhythms of the seasons. It’s a gift the land gives back to you in return for your love and labor. Once you start to notice these rhythms, creating family cycles around them becomes a simple matter.
For example, by September the fall harvest has begun in earnest. In some warmer regions it’s been coming in like gangbusters, and you’re already drowning in fruits and veggies. All this abundance means you have the best ingredients for nourishing recipes, as well as food waiting to be preserved to serve future needs.
No doubt you’re busy, each family member with some task or another to perform—usefulness is in the air in autumn.
Even if your homestead is one tomato plant and a rabbit, as the evenings cool and wood smoke starts to scent the air, your body begins to gather into itself, preparing for the hibernation of winter. It’s natural to eat and seek warmth this time of year; normal to come in and roost together. We comfort ourselves by being grateful for every blessing surrounding us. Our very souls are crying out for Harvest Home.
If homemade gifts, holiday traditions and fun things to do with your family are on your To-Do list this season, please sign up to be the first to know about our newest book, Homestead Holidays! This soon-to-be-released book will take you all around the calendar year on the homestead with traditions from around the world, recipes, crafts and so much more. Presented on three different levels of holiday commitment, you can choose to just try our suggestions, or follow the instructions for an all-out celebration! Subscribers will get special coupons, freebies and offers as we near release of the book. Join us today!
What is Harvest Home?
Have you ever heard of Harvest Home? You certainly have if you’re British, as this is a decidedly English holiday. But all cultures, across the globe, have harvest celebrations. Americans and Canadians call theirs Thanksgiving. The idea of Harvest Home is the same and it’s completely tied to this special season of the year.
At Harvest Home celebrations, it was traditional for the lord of the manor to host a great feast for all his tenants. Long tables were set up at the village green or in a great hall, and enormous amounts of foods were prepared. Fall is the traditional time to harvest animals for meat and lard, so roasts and other joints of meat were in abundance. So, too, were the grains of the season—breads and meads and sweets were prepared. Fruits and vegetables were also presented, in all their glory.
This feast was not just for the wealthy, though; Harvest Home was a time of community. Of gathering. Just like the season itself.
Why Celebrate Harvest Home?
Why was this an important event in the year? Because at the heart of any community is the people.
People of all stations would come together at Harvest Home to sympathize and to help; to gossip and to boast; to share and to learn. Winter rapidly approaches after the harvest and is such an insular time, especially if you live where the weather can be harsh.
This fall season of thanksgiving is an important time of strengthening and nourishing needed even, and especially, in our modern times.
Celebrating with your Family
It doesn’t have to be an elaborate affair in your home, but with these simple steps, set aside a day to observe Harvest Home with your family and friends.
- Using the recipe below, prepare a simple treat.
- Gather the children together and crown a King or Queen of the Harvest – be sure to crown her in a wreath of flowers. Be sure to have the children take turns every year.
- Provide the makings of a simple craft – like these Mason jar lanterns. Have a parade around the yard afterwards.
- Do a service project for the wild birds and make a peanut butter bird feeder from natural materials.
- For more ideas, check out The Do It Yourself Homestead Unit Study.
To learn a little bit more about Harvest Home, click here. For a far more thorough read, try Mrs. Sharp’s Traditions, wherein a cozy, family Harvest Home is described. This is one of my favorite seasonal, family resources and I included it in the recommended resources of my book, The Do It Yourself Homestead. Several other quality selections are also listed there.
Get the Book!
If celebrating the harvest season is your thing, be sure to check out our book, Five Kernels of Corn.
Harvest Home Recipe from the Homestead
If you’re going to have a celebration, you’re going to need a tasty treat. Try these simple Cattern Cakes brought to us by our British Isles friends. Cattern Cakes were traditionally made on the lace-maker’s holiday, St. Catherine’s Day. This feast day happens to fall on my birthday, so I’m particularly fond of making Cattern Cakes. Something like a scone crossed with a biscuit, these a simple to make and well-suited to breakfast or dessert.
This recipe is adapted from one my favorite traditional recipe books, The Festive Table, by Jane Pettigrew.
- 3/4 Cup butter softened
- 1 Cup sugar - rapadura sucanat, raw
- 2 Cups flour - I usually use Bob's Red Mill Organic flour so that I can get it unenriched and unbleached
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. allspice
- 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
- 1 Cup almond meal
- 1 egg beaten
- 2/3 Cup currants or raisins - if you don't use currants try to make your own raisins - I'm not sure why homemade tastes better in this recipe, they just do
Preheat oven to 400 F/200 C.
Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy in your stand mixer (or by hand).
In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, spices and almond meal.
Add the dry mixture to the creamed butter and begin to mix slowly.
Add enough egg (usually one will do the trick) to form a stiff dough.
On a floured surface, roll out the dough to about 3/8 inch thick.
Sprinkle currants over the dough and roll up the dough, pinching the ends. If you've ever made cinnamon rolls, this part is similar.
Cut into slices about 1/2 inch thick and lay them flat on a buttered baking pan.
Bake for 15 minutes until golden.
Let the tray of cakes cool for a few minutes before you move them too cooling racks. This allows the almond meal to set up and you'll get less breakage.
Butter and serve warm; though, they're equally good cold!