A few months ago a friend Aaryne sent me a little booklet she ran across somewhere in her travels. It made her think of me, she said, which shows she knows me pretty well. It’s called Successful Baking for Flavor and Texture. The name alone is a giveaway that it wasn’t written recently. It was published in 1936 by the company that made Arm & Hammer baking soda.
I’ve marked out several recipes to try and today I decided to make the Applesauce Cake. I’m still working my way through bushels of apples so I’m always looking for ways to use my apple abundance.
While I was making the cake, I went to the pantry for raisins and realized I was completely out of them. However, I did find 3 bags of dates, so I probably should have made the fruit cupcakes (that called for dates) on the facing page. Another day. I was also short on walnuts but I thought the cake was just fine with the ½ cup I used. It would have been a much more rich, heavy cake with the extra nuts and the raisins.
I frosted it with a simple icing of 3 T. honey and 4 oz. cream cheese with a little splash of vanilla. I thought it was delicious for a 95 year old cake (recipe)! (And now I’ve joined the masses of women who have baked “for flavor and texture!”)
Sift, then measure the flour. Sift three times with the baking soda, salt, and spices. (I sifted once, just for that authentic flair.)
Cream the butter well. Gradually add sugar, beating after each addition.
Add the egg, beating well, then the raisins and nuts.
Alternately add the dry ingredients and applesauce, beating until smooth after each addition. Turn into a greased loaf pan or 9x9 pan. Bake at 350 until done.
Old cookbooks are just packed with pie recipes! I found this particular recipe in my old Searchlight, a Depression-era cookbook. I’ll be working my way through all the interesting recipes for the rest of my life.
Mastering the pie crust skill isn’t easy. But once you can turn them out reliably, they’re a quick, cheap dessert. And they make an even better breakfast.
It just so happened that I had some slightly over-cooked (extra thick) homemade blackberry jam in my pantry. But I’ve made this recipe many times with different jams and they’ve all been delicious. I love the sour cream mixed with the fruit.
Beat egg yolks until thick. Add cream, butter, and jam. Combine 1/2 c. sugar, salt and cornstarch. Add to first mixture. Mix thoroughly. Pour into pastry-lined pie pan. Bake in hot oven (425 degrees) about 25 minutes. Cover with meringue made of egg whites and 3 T. sugar. Brown in slow oven (325 degrees) 20 minutes.
I recently read an article in a 1924 issue of the Farmer’s Wife magazine on using wild fruits. At first glance, I didn’t think I had access to any of the wild fruits mentioned, like red haws, pin cherries, and chokecherries. But then I had a chance conversation with a fellow camper over the Memorial Day weekend…
I learned from the chat with my campground neighbor that Saskatoon berries are also known as Juneberries and Serviceberries. I’ve had a couple of Saskatoon berry bushes for years. The bushes have been slow to take off, but I finally got my first harvest last year. I picked all the berries and put them into the freezer, where they have remained because I had no idea what to do with them. Our conversation reminded me that the article included a couple of recipes for Juneberries.
So, I had an opportunity to try out one of the recipes. I didn’t have enough berries for a full recipe, so I just followed the ratio in the recipe of 3 parts berries to 1 part rhubarb.
I began to drain the fruit as directed, but then decided that I prefer jam instead of jelly, so I strained it through my jam cone instead. I really like the idea of jam that doesn’t use store-bought pectin but I struggle with the jelly test on the back of a spoon. I’m always afraid of overcooking it so my jam often winds up more like an ice cream topping, which isn’t all bad, but a little drippy for toast.
I concentrated on counting drips–”1, 2, 3….13, 14, 15, drip” then “1, 2, 3….20, 21, 22, drip” over and over, gradually working my way closer to 60. I found myself counting faster and faster to reach my goal before it dripped. Even while pouring it into the jars, I knew it was thicker than I’d wanted. I think my problem was that by the time I counted all the way up to 60, the jam had cooked nearly a minute longer.
In spite of the thickness, the taste is absolutely delicious, like blueberry with a little tang. All in all, I consider my first attempt at Juneberry jam a success. I’m anxious for this summer’s crop to ripen, so I can make another batch.
Have you ever tried Juneberries? (or Saskatoon berries? or Serviceberries?)
Wash and pick over berries and dice rhubarb. Put fruit in kettle with pinch of soda and just enough water to cover. Cook slowly until the fruit is soft and tender and then strain through a cotton flannel bag. Add an equal amount of sugar to the strained juice, bring the boiling point and simmer gently until it jells. A good plan is to see if the last drop on the spoon can be held while counting sixty, as then it will surely jell. Pour into hot sterilized glasses, cool and seal.
I prefer using old cookbooks in my kitchen. One of the reasons is that the recipes use common ingredients, many of which I grow in my garden, just like the cookbooks’ readers would have. Another reason is that the recipes use those common ingredients in creative ways. During World War I, U.S. residents were encouraged to limit their use of wheat, meat, and sugar, and increase their use of fruits and vegetables. A century later, we’re playing the same tune…
Peanut Macaroons is a recipe from a wheatless cookbook published in 1918, 100 years ago. I’ve made it several times and enjoy this variation of a regular peanut butter cookie. They are unmistakably peanutty, but light and crispy.
Normally, peanuts (or nuts in general) aren’t considered a frugal ingredient, but for the housewives in 1918, peanuts would have been a crop most could grow in a home garden, unlike other wheat-free flours. In my case, Wal-mart put all their baking nuts on clearance after Christmas. I paid less than $1 a pound, which is cheaper than most wheat-free flours.
Incidentally, that’s one reason why it’s so hard to label foods as frugal or expensive. A bargain for one person is a luxury for another. Depending on where I’ve lived throughout the U.S., shrimp, pecans, and raspberries have been so abundant that they’ve become staples and taken for granted.
a 1918 recipe, created during WWI as an alternative to wheat-based cookies
Chop or blend the peanuts into finely ground. Beat egg white until stiff, slowly add sugar, salt, peanuts, and vanilla. Drop by tablespoon on a greased pan and bake in a slow oven (300-325 degrees) for about 30 minutes or until brown.