Category One: BREADS
The first section on my grandmother’s cookbook, “Recipes-My Friends and My Own,” is BREADS. Saying I’m not much of a baker is an understatement. When I was a hippie on the commune, we ground our own flour and baked all our breads. That’s where I learned substituting all rye flour for white did not make the bread healthy- it made a loaf heavy enough to be a doorstop.
My grandmother, however, took a different approach. Instead of plain bread (healthy or not), the recipes that greet me on the first page are Orange Coffee Cake, Banana Tea Bread, Jam Fritters, and Orange Loaf (headlined as “A Tested Recipe” in the magazine it was clipped from).
On the next page, prefaced “Boston 1913,” is a handwritten recipe for Maple Sugar and Nut Biscuits, Cornmeal Scones, Nut Bread, and Crisp Waffles. These are all written with a fountain pen, some blue and some black. The black ink has faded to brown.
Finally on page five, we have a recipe for an actual bread, Brown Bread, baked in a coffee can:
“Put one cupful and a half of small pieces of stale bead into a basin, add one pint cold water and soak over night. Rub through a sieve, add three-quarters of a cupful of molasses and one cupful and a half each of Graham flour, cornmeal and rye meal, one teaspoonful and a half of salt, three teaspoonfuls of soda and one cupful and a quarter of cold water. Steam for two hours.”
Paging through this book is like treasure-hunting.
Even better, because there is treasure on every page! The next has a folded article from 1926. I can only read the last half of the headline: …Fire Hazards in the Home. What does that have to do with bread?
When I unfold the article, I find inserts from a “Thermax” and a “Gem” waffle iron. Did my grandmother buy a new waffle iron? Is it the one we used for Sunday morning waffles made at the dining table when I was a kid?
In the end, the article folds out to a full page from Better Housekeeping: Summer Desserts Via the Waffle Iron. Strawberry, chocolate, gingerbread, and coffee, plus sponge cake waffles. Yum!
NOTE: But look closer at the illustration on the original 100-year-old article about fire safety!
I still haven’t tried making any of the recipes, but you can. If you want a photo of any of these recipes, email me at email@example.com with “Recipe” in the subject line. All I ask is that you send back pictures of your cooking journey as well as the finished item along with your thoughts on the recipe to be posted on this blog.
I love old cookbooks as much for the recipes as for the information about society, ingredients we don’t use anymore, ones we do that were expensive and hard to get in those days, and what types of meals and events foods were made for.
Yes, a real look into different times.
All breads smell wonderful when they are baking.
Yes, they do.
Those Jam Fritters are certainly different! I’ve never seen a recipe like that before.
I wonder if she tried making them.
Frying things in smoking hot fat can be hazardous.
Sometimes I wonder how people survived in the olden days before all the safety concerns. (A bit of sarcasm there as well.)
This was such a delightful read!! Thank you for sharing. Made me feel warm inside. I very much enjoyed it.
Thanks so much!