Creole Beauty Cake

2/3 c shortening
1 t salt
1 t almond extract
1 1/2 c sugar
pink coloring
1 c chopped almonds
3 c cake flour
3 1/2 t baking powder
1 c fresh milk
4 egg whites, beaten fluffy

Combine shortening, salt, and flavoring.  Add sugar and cream well.  Sift four and baking powder 3 times, add to creamed mixture alternately with milk.  Add pink coloring to only 2/3 of this mixture and pour into 2 greased 8" layer pans.  In the remaining batter, add cherries and pour into the third 8"layer pan.  Bake 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Let cool and cover with your choice of icing.

Three Things Cake

baked tube cakePioneer women often had lots of eggs but treasured their flour and sugar. Here is a cake women loved to bake because the eggs carry the cake.

9 eggs
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder (sift this into the flour)

Beat egg whites until stiff. Beat in sugar, slowly. Fold in beaten egg yolks and vanilla. Now fold in the flour with the baking powder mixed in with it. Bake in a tube pan for 50 minutes or so at 350 degrees.

Pennsylvania Dutch Scrapple

Here's what you'll need:

About a 3 lb. pork butt or shoulder with bone in, 3 quarts of water, 2 cups yellow corn meal, 2 teaspoons salt, 2 teaspoons sage, and 1 teaspoon pepper.

Cook pork in water over a low heat for about 3 hours or until the meat falls right off the bone. Strain broth into a 4 quart pan. Add enough water to broth to make 2 quarts. Stir corn meal into the broth and bring to a boil. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring often. Set aside from fire.

Meat should be cooled enough by now for you to pick the meat off the bone and chop it up fine. Stir into the broth mixture the chopped meat, salt, sage, and pepper. Mix it up good.

Spoon this mixture into 2 loaf pans and refrigerate overnight. For breakfast the next morning, slice the chilled scrapple 1/2 thick and brown well on both sides in lightly oiled skillet. Serve hot with syrup or catsup. (Makes 4 1/2 pounds of scrapple)

NOTE: I found this recipe on an old Safeway grocery store ad from the 1950s.

Spicy Ozark Stewed Tomatoes

Mix together 2 cups sugar and half cup water in large saucepan. Cook until sugar is dissolved. Add a cinnamon stick and lemon peel then bring to a boil.

To this syrup, add peeled tomatoes and cook about 20 minutes. Dip out the cinnamon stick and lemon peel and boil another 25 minutes, stirring often.

Remove from heat and let cool. Spoon into canning jars and seal.

Fried Turtle

If you were shopping in a grocery store in China, you'd see packages of turtle meat (left) for sale at the meat counter and would love finding it.

Here is an old Ozark recipe for fried turtle meat:

After cleaning the turtle (see previous entry), before frying, parboil the meat until it is tender, easy to stick with fork. When desired tenderness is reached, remove and let cool a bit. Now roll in flour or cornmeal, add favorite seasonings then fry in deep fat.

Caraway Herb Pleasant and Useful

Caraway is an herb used by cooks in nearly all parts of the world, most often used in rye bread and cheeses. Traditional folklore attributes caraway with powers of retaining things -- it was mixed in love potions or fed to homing pigeons for that reason.

Also, it is widely believed that to protect an object from being stolen, sprinkle it with caraway.

As you can see, the caraway plant has fern-like leaves, almost feathery like coriander and fennel. Be aware that although they resemble each other, caraway will not grow well next to fennel.

Traditional 1800s Herb Gardens

Depending on the region the pioneer families lived in, watering a garden was seldom an option.

For some reason, women, apparently on their own or with mother's advice, planted small circular herb gardens outside the kitchen door.

Obviously, gathering herbs for cooking is easier when so close to the kitchen, but another reason might have been the ease with tossing out used water into the herb garden to keep it alive.

A circle of various sizes was divided into eight areas or pieces, like a fruit pie. Skinny narrow paths, just enough to step a foot into, separated each piece. She then planted catnip, thyme, marigolds, chamomile, dandelion, more thyme, more etc. -- whatever his or her favorite herbs happened to be.

I think it is interesting that dandelion was planted. I might have to experiment with dandelion next spring when they are young and tender. Maybe it will be delicious, nutritious, and free for the picking.

Snapping Turtle Preparation

Preparation of snapping turtle meat is essential to enjoying the wonderful taste of the turtle meat. The first thing to do is clean all mud and dirt from dead turtle.  After the turtle as clean as possible, it is now time to cut off the head and toes.
Next step is to place the turtle breast side up on a slab of wood. Pound a spike nail into the breast bone of the turtle.  Make sure the turtle is secure before going to next step.
To skin the turtle, using a sharp knife, start near a front leg and then go to next leg, separating the two pieces at the neck.  Pull skin off each leg, easier if two people work one at each end and pulling against one another.
Use same procedure on hind legs and tail.  Then remove the spike and entrails from the breast bone.
With a hatchet or clever, chop along tenderloin on each side and trim the shell loose.  Trim water fat and discard.
Rinse.  Meat is now ready to cook.

Outdoor Kitchens

Most Americans can schedule a whole day around what is called a barbecue (i.e. cooking outside).

That is because our ancestors cooked outside during much of their lives  -- crossing the prairie in covered wagons, putting up grass and mud homes in Kansas (no trees), camping outdoors due to extreme heat, even building the kitchens separate from the rest of the home. 

Then as time passed and our ancestors grew into our grandparents, women started getting better kitchens and cooking got just a little easy to do.   

This old jello print advertisement (I scanned it into the computer from an old cookbook I have), is trying to convince our grandmothers that jello is good for their children and will help them study better.

Homemade Apple Cider Vinegar

Mix sweet apples, tart apples and even crab apples (peelings, core, and all) -- this gives apple cider vinegar a full bodied flavor. Use more sweet apples than the other two for a stronger vinegar.

Cut up enough apples to fill your stone crock nearly full. When they turn golden brown crush them in a cider press. Put the cider in a crock jug.

Cap off the cider jug with a balloon. As the sugar changes to alcohol a gas is released that fills the balloon and eventually the mixture turns to hard cider. This process varies from 2 to 6 weeks depending on how many sweet apples you use.

Pour in enough warm water to cover all the apple pieces. Vinegar is best if you can keep the temperature at 80 degrees. If the temperature get much higher the bacteria needed for fermenting dies and if the temperature gets much cooler than 80 degrees, the spores go dormant.

The best apple cider has at least a ten percent sugar content. You don't add sugar. The sugar is in the apples.

After your hard cider is ready, pour it into a wide mouth crock and put the cheesecloth over the top to keep stuff out and let air in. Tie cheesecloth over the top and set in a warm place for six months. Strain off the vinegar. Speed up this process by a few months by placing a clump of raw bread dough in the crock when you start.