Friday, January 27, 2012

The General's Bouwerij

According to the record of baptisms at the Reformed Dutch Church of New Amsterdam, Wyntie, daughter of Pieter Stoutenburg and Aefje van Tienhonven, was baptized at the General's Bouwerij (farm) in 1662. The General was Peter Stuyvesant who was the Director-General in New Amsterdam on behalf of the Dutch West India Company. Stuyvesant had a house at the very end of lower Manhattan. Because I assumed that he had a bouwerij (bowery) attached to his home, I couldn't reconcile that fact the Wyntie was baptized at the General's Bouwerij and not at the church in the fort. The church in the fort was within walking distance of Peter Stuyvesant's home.

Fortunately I came across a magazine on the Internet, Americana. As I read it, I realized that Stuyvesant's Bouwerij was outside of the city wall. I also knew that Pieter Stoutenburg had a house and lot outside the city wall. Families that lived outside the wall were subject to attacks by aborigines. New Amsterdam afforded protection to its inhabitants against these attacks but not for those who lived outside the wall.

There apparently was some pressure by Thomas Hall and Wolfert Webber to provide protection to those who lived outside the wall. On May 3, 1660, the New Amsterdam council allowed a village to be established near Augustyn Heermans’ bouwerij and that of the Director-General. The village was established to provide a place in which the sparsely spaced inhabitants could go for protection from attack.

The village was established in the triangle formed by present day 3rd Avenue, 4th Avenue and St. Mark’s Place. The village included a blacksmith shop, a tavern and a schoolhouse. Stuyvesant erected a chapel on his bouwerij in which he solicited Domine Selyns to preach to the inhabitants on Sunday afternoons.

In addition to preaching on Sunday afternoons, Domine Selyns performed marriages and baptisms at Stuyveant’s bouwerij. He returned to the Netherlands in 1664 after the British took control. Although he returned to New York City in 1682 to be minister of the Reformed Dutch congregation, when he departed in 1664 his records were transferred to the church at the fort and copied into its baptismal record book.

The magazine also indicated that Pieter was an elder at the Stuyvesant Bouwerij congregation and that he and others joined the church at the fort after Selyns returned to Europe.

The Hamlet at the Bouwerij Part I by Hopper Striker Mott. Americana Volume 10, July 1915. Pages 660-676
New York City:The National Americana Society

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Microwave Popcorn

My sister added a post on her Facebook wall that mentioned microwave popcorn. She bought microwave popcorn before she had a microwave oven. Her post made me recall my own microwave popcorn initiation.

I was working in the BioMathematics Department at UCLA. One of the employees came with a bag of microwave popcorn that he/she had bought in a vending machine and popped in the microwave oven. The bag looked like a standard brown lunch bag.

We had a microwave oven in our apartment and I really like popcorn. So, I told my husband Charley about this microwaveable popcorn. If I had more common sense, I would have found out more about this microwave popcorn in a bag before I told him about it. We had a microwave adventure shortly after we married.

The instruction booklet that came with the Litton microwave oven included warnings about cooking with metal as well as not cooking eggs in the shells. The booklet implied that you could not tell when the egg was cooked.

My engineering husband didn't understand why this would be a problem. So he decided to conduct an experiment. He cooked the egg in the shell for a few seconds more, then cracked the shell to release some steam. He cooked the egg for a bit longer. The egg exploded and made a huge mess!

The door to the oven was only a metal plate with tiny holes. Egg penetrated every hole in the door. I had to use a toothpick to clean egg out of each hole.

I had no idea that my popcorn adventure would be anything like the egg explosion! Charley decided not to use a paper bag. I don't know if that was a good or bad decision. He instead decided to use one of my Corningware pots in which to pop the popcorn.

After a few minutes in the microwave oven, only a few kernels had popped. He added more time and still very few kernels had popped. Several more attempts yielded very little popped kernels. At this point, Charley decided to remove the lid to the Corningware pot to look at the kernels. Fortunately he used a potholder to remove the lid as it burst into flames when he touched the glass lid.

He let the lid cool before attempting to touch it again. When he lifted the lid, we saw stalactites of glass hanging from the underside of the lid. The lid had become so hot that the glass began to melt.

Popcorn kernels and ceramic pots contain very little liquid. Glass, on the other hand, has a liquid state. The glass lid absorbed the microwave energy becoming hot. Charley shortly thereafter learned that the paperbag contained oil, an essential ingredient to make the popcorn pop.