- Food and Cooking
5 Treasured Old Timey Sweet Recipes from My Grandma's Food Journal
My mother would have loved the research that has gone into this post when discovering these old timey sweet recipes from the past. That is because she truly enjoyed her desserts. She certainly baked enough of them for our family of five!
Not only did she bake cookies, cakes and pies but all the while we lived in Wisconsin she also made homemade breads. We were definitely spoiled. I had just turned 13 years of age when we moved to Texas and prior to that had never eaten store bought bread.
Upon going through some of her things recently I discovered a box of recipes. Some of them were simply old yellowed newspaper clippings with a variety of what must have sounded like tempting recipes to try. Others were scraps of paper with handwritten recipes.
An old journal caught my attention and I was delighted to find that it had belonged to my maternal grandmother.
It had obviously been well used and is in fragile condition with some of the cover crumbling away. A few of the pages are loose and every recipe in this book is hand written, mostly in my grandmother's penmanship.
Many of the recipes are attributed to the people who would have shared them with her. Her mother is listed as the author of several as well as her sister, some aunts and some friends of theirs.
My great-grandmother died when my grandmother was a young child. Therefore these recipes from her mother were undoubtedly cherished. At the convent school where my grandmother and her sisters were schooled, cooking would have been included in what they had been taught. But these recipes from her dear mother provided a personal culinary link to her past.
Some recipes are crossed out and obviously when tested were not to her liking.
My grandmother was an excellent cook and baker which were only some of her many wonderful attributes. She was like a second mother to me when I was growing up.
This old journal was obviously used in the kitchen often when she was cooking and baking because some of the pages are heavily marked up with years of accidental food spatter. It is fairly easy to determine which of the many recipes were the favorites judging by just how marked up the pages had become!
Deciding to try some of the recipes in my grandmother's journal made for some happy neighbors of ours. My husband and I are not huge sweet eaters but know people who savor desserts.
In reading many of these recipes only the ingredients were noted. Obviously it was taken for granted that no other instructions would be needed to complete the recipe. Cooks back then would have known how to proceed.
Measurements are also hard to decipher as packaging has changed greatly over the years and some ingredients could not be located. So for many of the recipes in this old journal, they will be read for entertainment purposes only and will probably never again be enjoyed.
We did taste the results of the ones that I could decipher, and if you are curious to see what was entered so many years ago into this journal...let's begin with some of the selected and sampled recipes.
Soft as Silk Cake
A notation was made that this recipe originated from listening to the radio. Television was a rather new thing when I was a youngster and I still remember my parents listening to the radio for broadcasts.
2 cups flour
2 Tablespoons Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup milk
1 Tablespoons melted butter
2 ounces chocolate melted
Sift flour with Baking Powder. Beat eggs until very light. Beat in the salt, sugar and vanilla. Heat milk with butter, when scalding hot beat into egg mixture. Beat in flour and Baking Powder. Pour 1/3 of batter in well greased 8 inch pan. Blend melted chocolate into remaining 2/3 batter. Put into pan and bake in 350 degree's oven about 25 to 30 minutes. (Work fast with cake.)
My impressions: This is a very light and airy chocolate cake. The name does it justice. Check with a toothpick to make sure the cake is done. It took a little longer than the time stated in this recipe with our oven.
Date Bread from Mrs. Kraase
What drew my attention to this page was the notation at the bottom of the page stating that it "Takes 5 fruit cans to bake this amount." Oh the good old days! Naturally I would not have known what size, nor do I ordinarily bake in fruit cans, so I used my mini-loaf pans to make this date nut bread recipe.
In case you cannot read the handwriting on this spattered page above, here are the ingredients and directions:
1 cup sugar, 1 cup dates, 2 heaping Tablespoons shortening. Pour 1 cup of boiling water over this and let stand until cooled.
Then add 1 beaten egg and 1 teaspoon vanilla.
Sift 2 1/4 cups flour together with 1 rounded teaspoon baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon salt adding to liquid mixture.
Stir in 1 cup of chopped nuts.
Bake about 1 hour in a moderate oven. I took this to mean a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven which seemed to work well. Start checking the bread after about 45 to 50 minutes to see if it is completely baked. This could be made into a larger loaf as well.
This recipe passed muster with us and I now have several small loaves frozen which will be used when we have the right occasion to give a little gift or have some company that might wish to enjoy some slices with some fresh made coffee.
This recipe is by my Great Aunt Lona who was one of my grandmother's sisters.
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 cups flour
1/2 cup lard (lard was more commonly used back then and shortening can be substituted)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
Mix the above ingredients "like pie-crust" and take out 1 cup of mixture reserving it for the topping.
Add 1 egg
1 cup of buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
and 1 teaspoon salt.
Beat well. Put in greased tin and sprinkle with the 1 cup of topping. Add dates and nuts if desired. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes or until done.
Note: I added about 1 cup of chopped pecans and the baking time took a little longer in our oven. This reminded my husband and myself of some coffee cakes we have had in the past. So a little more of this stayed in the house instead of all being passed out to the neighbors.
Oh the research and sacrifices that were done for this post! (Smile)
Crunchy Chocolate Cookies by Mrs. Rathmann
This particular recipe was hand written on a slip of paper by Mrs. Rathmann and was dated March 19, 1959, McAllen. My grandparents vacationed in McAllen, Texas and had a large group of friends that did the same each year at the same prearranged time in the Winter. They had regular reservations at the Royal Palms Motel.
At the time my grandparents lived in Wisconsin, and the Rathmanns resided in Minnesota for the balance of the year. Fond friendships were formed and many of them ended up moving down to McAllen permanently. I am guessing that Mrs. Rathmann is in this picture along with my grandmother and other friends.
Ingredients and Directions for the Chocolate Cookies
Melt over hot water ( not boiling ) one 12-ounce package of chocolate bits; one 6-ounce package of cherry bits and one 6-ounce package of butterscotch or caramel bits. When thoroughly melted, add one 6-ounce can of Chow Mein noodles. Coat thoroughly. Turn off fire and drop by teaspoon onto wax paper. Stir often while dropping them. Let harden.
Note: We could not find cherry bits so simply used the chocolate and butterscotch. One could also use other combinations of bits like peanut butter and chocolate.
This reminded us more of tasting a crunchy candy bar than eating a cookie. It is rich. Crunchy candy bar lovers will like this! Our neighbors were once again made very happy with the gift of this completed recipe.
Cherry Torte by Alma
Alma (standing on the left in the picture) was my great grandparent's daughter. My great grandmother is seated on the right. My grandmother is standing next to Alma, the author of this mouth watering recipe.
Ingredients for the Cherry Torte
1 can cherries drained until dry, or press dry with a large spoon (save juice)
Note: I used two 14 1/2 ounce cans (411 grams) of pitted red tart cherries to get the correct amount for this recipe.
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup chopped nuts ( I used pecans )
1 beaten egg
2 cups of the drained cherries
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Sift the dry ingredients together and then add the nuts, egg, butter and cherries. Stir together well and pour into a buttered 8 inch by 11 inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry.
Hint: When a cake or baked bread starts pulling away from the side of the pan this is an indication that the baked goods are getting close to being done.
Ingredients and directions for the topping
Combine the reserved cherry juice in a pan with the following ingredients:
1 level tablespoon corn starch
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter
Boil the ingredients until thickened and pour over cake. This makes a nice cherry colored glaze.
Suggestion: Serve with whipped cream.
Back to the Journal
This numbered 236 page journal could have been utilized for a number of things. My grandparents kept logs of their vacation trips writing notes in smaller booklets and often jotting down notations onto the back of postcards of places where they stayed.
It was obviously decided to make this blank paged beautifully bound journal into a cookbook of tried and true recipes gathered from relatives and friends. I am so happy to have come across this treasure.
While the overall condition of the journal is not in the best condition, the endleaves are particularly beautiful. After all of these pictures of family members and the desserts that they shared with my grandmother (and tried and tested by me these many years later) I decided to show you the dazzling colors of this journal's marbleized endleaves as a final photo.
Which of these old timey sweet recipes from the past do you think that you might wish to try making?
© 2010 Peggy Woods