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Traditional Holiday Recipes From the Heartland

Updated on November 1, 2013

Regional Favorites of the Heartland

When the aunts and uncles I knew were still living, they were far flung in the region, from the top of Michigan to the bottom of Ohio. They were also of numerous religions or of none, each with a culinary tradition of his/her own. Many were farmers, but some were also Native American. I tasted unique dishes in their homes and at wakes and weddings and marveled at the range of foods that were available in the world -- And this was all before I even tasted Chinese and Mexican cuisine for the first time in college!

The recipes in this offering are from the the upper parts of Michigan and from the Appalachian Mountains. I hope you enjoy them.

Add strawberries or other fruit to your Michigan Pancake.
Add strawberries or other fruit to your Michigan Pancake. | Source

Cook Time

  • Prep time: 5 min
  • Cook time: 15 min
  • Ready in: 20 min
  • Yields: 2 Servings

Rate our traditional pancake.

5 stars from 1 rating of Michigan Pancake

Michigan Pancake or Bismarks or Indian Pancake

Serves 2

Some Native Americans also made this dish over an open fire, using berries and honey instead of lemon and powdered sugar.


  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 Large eggs
  • Fresh squeezed lemon juice, to taste
  • Powdered sugar for dusting


  • Melt the butter in a heavy pan in the oven at 475 degrees F.
  • Meanwhile, mix milk, flour, and eggs all together to make a light batter.
  • Open the over and slide the shelf out so you can pour the batter into the melted butter.
  • Bake the pancake in the oven for about 12 minutes until golden brown.
  • Overturn the pancake onto a large plate and drizzle a little melted butter over the tip, followed by a little lemon juice.
  • Sprinkle some powdered sugar over the surface, roll it up and dust the outside with sugar as well.


Native Corn Soup for Holidays

This can use any of a variety of meats, is hearty and filling, and a nice touch at holidays. It’s different and attracts attention. Native Americans through the Great Lakes region enjoyed it in yesteryear and still do.


  • 2 Cups canned hominy or whole kernel corn (about 2 cans)
  • 4 Ounces of bacon, fresh side meat, salt pork, diced ham, or dark meat turkey
  • 1 Can red or dark kidney beans
  • 1 Gallon Spring Water
  • 1 Large white or Spanish onion, chopped coarse
  • 1 or 2 Large Michigan Potatoes, peeled and diced; or use several red or new potatoes with the skins on


  • Cook the meat briefly in the bottom of a soup pot over medium and sweat the onion in the juices just until soft, adding a little vegetable oil if the mixture is too dry.
  • Add all remaining ingredients except the water and mix well. Raise the heat to medium-high and stir and cook for 10 minutes.
  • Add the water slowly, stir, raise heat so soup boils and then reduce heat to simmer, covered, until potatoes are tender.  

White Fruit Cake

I prefer light fruit cakes to dark and this is light and delicious, from a recipe about 100 years old.

Makes 1 large loaf or 6 individual loaves.

  • 4 Sticks of butter, softened
  • 2 Cups sugar
  • 6 Whole eggs
  • 4 Cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons sale
  • 1 Tblsp pure vanilla
  • 1/4 Cup Light Rum or Cognac - or use Orange Juice
  • 1 Box of golden rasins
  • 2 Cups dried currants
  • 1/2 Cup of each, chopped - orange peel, lemon peel, citron (mixed peels)
  • 1/4 Cup red or green cherries, optional 
  • Powdered sugar for dusting, or light frosting.


  • Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F
  • Cream the butter and sugar together and beat in the eggs.
  • Add flour, baking powder, and salt until well mixed.
  • Add all the rest of the ingredients and mix well.
  • Pour batter into a pan(s) and bake 1.5 - 2 hours for the large loaf and abuot 30-40 minutes for the small loaves (check with a knife inserted in middle comig out clean).
  • Remove from oven, cool, remove from pans and dust with powdered sugar or use a light frosting on top and serve.


Swedish Hash for Breakfast

Serves 2-4, depending on how hungry.

This particular recipe comes from Upper Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. 

  • 6 large hard boiled eggs, peeled and chopped coarse
  • 3 Tblsp butter or margarine
  • 3 large onions, chopped
  • 12 anchovies, chopped and 1 teaspoon of liquid from the tin - look for "sprats" on the tin, indicating a sweet and spicy sauce
  • 1/4 Cup heavy cream
  • Toast -- Rye or Whole Wheat


  • Saute the onion in the butter until it is translucent and remove the pan from the fire immediately.
  • Quickly add in everything else, stir quickly and serve over toast. 

Holiday Oyster Pudding


  • 1 Cup oysters
  • 2/3 Cup bread crumbs, seasoned if you like
  • 2 Cups half and half or light cream
  • 6 Tblsp butter or margarine
  • 5 beaten whole eggs
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar or honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 4 more Tblsp butter or margarine
  • 1/2 extra-fine crumbled fresh bread crumbs (roll bread between your fingers)

Making the Pudding

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  • Cut the oysters to bite size.
  • Mixed everything except the last 2 ingredients together.
  • Spread the 4 Tblsp butter across the bottom of a baking dish and press the fresh bread crumbs into it. On top, pour the pudding mixture into it.
  • Bake 30 - 40 minutes or until done, and serve.


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New Orleans House
New Orleans House
New Orleans House | Source

New Orleans Eggnog

I have not tasted this recipe, but folks tell me it is good. It's pretty fancy.


  • 8 Large Eggs, separated whites from yolks
  • 3/4 Cup white sugar
  • 1 Cup Bourbon
  • 1/2 Cup heavy cream
  • Nutmeg for garnish


  • Beat egg yolks and sugar together until light and lemon color.
  • Add in the Bourbon a little at a time and beat.
  • Whip the cream until it is stiff and fold it into the yellow mixture.
  • In a new bowl, beat the egg whites stiff and then fold them into the eggnog.
  • Serve in silver goblets with a dash of nutmeg.

Some chefs use a brandy instead of the Bourbon, but any similar liquor or liqueur would be good.

Depression Era Stuffing

This recipe is easy and fast to put together and relatively inexpensive, especially if you have black olives on hand.

Makes 2 Cups of Stuffing


  • 1 small white onion, chopped
  • 2 Tblsp butter
  • 1 cup bread crumbs or cornbread, crumbled
  • 2 hard boiled eggs, peeled and chopped coarse
  • 1/ cup black olives, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon sage
  • 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Red pepper if desired, to taste


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Saute the onion in a pan with butter until translucent and add all the other ingredients, mixing well in the pan.
  • Bake in a cooking sprayed dish for about 30-40 minutes or until done. 


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    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 9 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Chirstoph - also wear a pancake on your head while you enjoy it and it will be triple good. lol

    • Christoph Reilly profile image

      Christoph Reilly 9 years ago from St. Louis

      I'm all up for the sprat hash. I would love it and my wife would hate it, so, like, it's twice as good!

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 9 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Hey thanks! - I hope you like them a lot. :)

    • fishskinfreak2008 profile image

      fishskinfreak2008 9 years ago from Fremont CA

      I can't wait to try some of these! Thumbs up

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 9 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      I hope you can try most of these recipes and enjoy them. The white fruit cake is a favorite, but I have a recipe for a chocolate one that I make for friends at Christmas. I'll have to post it as well.

    • Netters profile image

      Netters 9 years ago from Land of Enchantment - NM

      Mmmm....they all sound wonderful. Thank you so much for the recipes. I have never been in that part of the county.