Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Today’s post is by Alice J. Wisler, author of Under the Silk Hibiscus. Alice explains how a yummy recipe for Oatmeal Raisin Cookies fits into her novel’s story set during WWII and then shares it with us. Thanks for the recipe, Alice, and the book sounds intriguing!   

In the Heart Mountain internment camp in Wyoming during WWII, food choices were not in abundance, but even so, Nathan’s aunt Kazuko seemed to find cookies for her sweet tooth. She claimed that a cookie helped her feel better and gave her a pep in her step. She hoarded any cookie or sweet morsel that she could. Often Nathan would see her standing by the large coal-burning stove that heated the scant unit they lived in, munching on a treat that she kept in her apron pockets.

Later, after the war ended, and Nathan, Aunt Kazuko, and the others returned to their home state of California, Aunt Kazuko had a proper kitchen with an oven that baked cookies for the family. She was given a copy of The Modern Family Cookbook, first printed in 1942, and by following the recipes in those pages, improved as a cook.

-Alice J. Wisler

Recipe for Aunt Kazuko’s Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (1946) from the novel, Under the Silk Hibiscus by Alice J. Wisler (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 ½ cups rolled oats
2/3 cup buttermilk
½ cup chopped nuts
1 cup seedless raisins

Cream shortening, blend in sugar and add egg. Beat until smooth and light. Sift flour with salt, soda and cinnamon. Stir half the flour in with egg mixture; add milk, the rest of flour, and then oats, nuts and raisins. Stir till well mixed. Drop from a teaspoon onto a buttered baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees F. for 10 minutes or until nicely browned. Yields about 36 cookies.

Book blurb for Under the Silk Hibiscus
During World War Two, fifteen-year-old Nathan and his family are sent to Heart Mountain, an internment camp in Wyoming for Japanese-Americans. Nathan desires to protect the family’s gold pocket watch, a family heirloom brought over from Japan. He fails; the watch is stolen. Struggling to make sense of his life in “the land of freedom” as the only responsible man of the household, Nathan discovers truths about his family, God, and the girl he loves.

Get a copy of Under the Silk Hibiscus: Amazon


Alice J. Wisler is the author of six novels, three cookbooks of memory, and a devotional on grief and loss.  She and her husband have their own wood-crafting business in Durham, NC.


Baking Contests and Snickerdoodles

Today’s post was written by fellow author, Kathleen Rouser. She is providing the Snickerdoodle recipe from her novel, Secrets and Wishes. Welcome to Historical Nibbles, Kathleen!

Increasing the vanilla in her favorite snickerdoodle recipe while adding toasted chopped pecans to the dough and the cinnamon sugar made for the delightful crunch and a nutty taste, which had won her second place in the recipe contest. (From Maggie’s musings in Secrets and Wishes.)

There’s nothing more all-American than baking competitions. So many old-fashioned books and movies portray a baking contest at a county fair or a church picnic. The real-life Pillsbury Bake-Off began in 1949. Cookbook collections for charity go back farther than that. I was also inspired by the mention of a story contest sponsored by the fictional Rollings Reliable Baking Powder in the Anne of Green Gables book series by Lucy M. Montgomery.

So why not combine some great traditions to come up with the Silver Leaf Flour Company’s “Don’t Rest on Your Laurels” baking contest in 1901? Maggie Galloway wins second-place for her pecan snickerdoodles, earning her a pin to be presented by the Midwest Regional Director, Giles Prescott and her original recipe would be published in their national cookbook. Maggie seems born to bake.

Just the name ‘snickerdoodles’ is fun! It conjures up images of sitting by a warm oven while scents of cinnamon sugar waft through the air in a cozy kitchen. Some of the earliest documented mentions of snickerdoodles were found in cookbooks from late 1800s.

There’s some debate as to where the name ‘snickerdoodle’ originated. Some think that it’s derived from a Dutch or German word meaning ‘snail-shaped’ while others believe the name came from New England where it’s inhabitants liked whimsical names for cookies. Either way, Maggie is quite sure God gave her the spark of creativity to add vanilla and nuts to a beloved treat enabling her to place in the contest.

Maggie Galloway’s Pecan Snickerdoodles

½ cup butter, softened

1 cup sugar

¼ teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 egg

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 ¼ cup flour

½ cup chopped toasted pecans

Cinnamon sugar mixture:

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon finely chopped toasted pecans

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and lightly grease cookie sheet.

Beat butter until creamy. Add 1 cup sugar, baking soda, and cream of tartar, mixing well.

Beat egg and vanilla into the mixture. Slowly add flour and chopped pecans to the mixture.

Set dough in the refrigerator (or the icebox in Maggie’s day) for at least a half an hour to make it easier to handle.

While you’re waiting, mix the cinnamon sugar ingredients together with the 1 tablespoon finely chopped pecans.

When the dough is ready, roll into small balls and roll in cinnamon sugar/nut mixture.

Place a couple of inches apart on the cookie sheet and bake for 9-11 minutes, only until slightly golden brown along the edges. Yield is approximately two dozen cookies.

-Kathleen Rouser

About Secrets and Wishes:

More than fists fly after a fight between Philip and Zeke. When their widowed parents, Maggie Galloway and Thomas Harper meet, they begin a prickly acquaintance. Independent Maggie has placed in a national baking contest and wants to open a bakery to provide a future for her and Philip. Grieving and disorganized Thomas seeks to bring up his unruly brood in Stone Creek, and grow his pharmacy business in peace. After he becomes gravely ill, Maggie is enlisted to nurse him back to health, and takes his children in hand. She eventually helps Thomas organize his shop. As friendship blossoms so does love. They team up to defeat a charlatan who’s dangerous elixir brings tragedy to Stone Creek. Humiliating circumstances, brought about by the former beau who brings Maggie’s baking prize from the flour company, force Maggie to consider leaving town. Thomas wants to offer her an alternative, but is he too late to declare his love to the angel of mercy who has captured his heart?

Where to find Secrets and Wishes on Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/y757a5b2


Kathleen Rouser is the award-winning author of Rumors and Promises, her first novel about the people of fictional Stone Creek, Michigan, and the novella, The Pocket Watch. She is a longtime member of American Christian Fiction Writers. Kathleen has loved making up stories since she was a little girl and wanted to be a writer before she could even read. She longs to create characters who resonate with readers and realize the need for a transforming Savior in their everyday lives. She lives in Michigan with her hero and husband of nearly 36 years, and the sassy tail-less cat who found a home in their empty nest. Connect with Kathleen on her website, on Facebook, and on Twitter @KathleenRouser.

New Mexican Culture Cuisine

Today’s post is written by fellow author, Norma Gail. Her novel, Land of My Dreams, is set mainly in Scotland, but also in New Mexico—two locations dear to her heart. She lives in New Mexico and shares two yummy recipes with us from her home state. I can’t wait to try these. Welcome back to Historical Nibbles, Norma!

For those who live there, New Mexico is a bit of heaven. Admitted as the 47th state in 1912, it is a high-altitude land of arid, sun-kissed deserts and spectacular, forested mountain peaks under crystalline, azure skies.

Unique in culture, the Navajo, Apache, and Pueblo peoples of Native American origin were its only inhabitants prior to the early 1540’s. Subsequently claimed by Spain, Mexico, and partially by the Republic of Texas, portions became a US territory in 1848 through the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo with the rest acquired by the Gadsden Purchase of 1853.

This conglomeration of cultures created a culture and cuisine unique in the world. Beans and corn are staples, with the locals fiercely defending the state’s largest agricultural crop of red and green chiles as the best in the world. True New Mexicans are notorious chile snobs.

Below, you will find two of my personal favorite recipes, primarily from Native American influence.

-Norma Gail



(A traditional stew of hominy, meat, and chile)

1-2 lb. pkg posolé (hominy)

4 dried chile peppers (red)

4 cans (12-16 oz.) of green chilies (frozen can be substituted)

Juice of one lime

2 lbs. of lean pork, cut in ¾” cubes

1 lb. lean beef (optional)

1 medium onion, diced

3 cloves of garlic

2 tbsp of salt

1 tsp of black pepper

1-16 oz. can of stewed tomatoes, diced

½ tsp celery salt

2 tsp cumin

Rinse posolé in cold water. Place in a large stockpot and cover with at least 2 quarts of water. Simmer 1-2 hours, until posolé kernels pop.

Brown meat and onions until onions are tender. Place all ingredients in a large crockpot or stockpot on stove, cover with water, and simmer 6-8 hours, covered, adding water as necessary. Flavor is enhanced by cooking a day early, refrigerating overnight, and reheating.

Serves 8-10. This will freeze well, though chili tends to become hotter over time.



1 ¼ cup scalded milk

4 cups of flour

1 ½ tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

1 tbsp sugar

1 tbsp shortening

1 pkg dry yeast

¼ cup warm water

Scald milk and cool to room temperature.

Combine dry ingredients and cut in shortening. Dissolve yeast in warm water and add to the cooled milk.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, add liquids and work into a dough.

Knead dough 15-20 times and set aside approximately 10 minutes.

Roll dough to ¼ inch thickness or thinner. Cut in squares or triangles.

Deep fry in melted shortening at 420° until golden-brown. Fry only a few at a time so oil stays hot. If the oil is hot enough, they will puff almost immediately. Puffing is enhanced by bouncing gently in oil during frying. Turn to brown both sides evenly.


Author bio:

Norma Gail’s contemporary Christian romance, Land of My Dreams, set in Scotland and her home state of New Mexico, won of the 2016 Bookvana Religious Fiction Award.

A Bible study leader for over 21 years, you can connect through her blog, or on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Goodreads, or Amazon.




Creole Soup

I recently ran across The Fannie Farmer Cookbook in an antique store. This book was originally published in 1896.

Stock, water enriched by the food cooked in it, is an important ingredient in numerous soups. Homemade stock brings full-bodied flavor to recipes. The recipe for the beef stock used in this recipe is found here.

This recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of bacon fat. My husband sacrificed (😊) and fried some bacon to provide this for my soup.

To make this soup, chop enough onion for 2 tablespoons. Finely chop a green pepper to provide 2 tablespoons. Peel and chop tomatoes for 1 cup required for the soup.

Melt 2 tablespoons of bacon fat in a large saucepan. Stir in onion and green pepper. Cook on a medium low heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in 2 tablespoons of flour and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and 3 cups of beef stock or beef broth. (I used beef stock.) Heat this to gently bubbling. Then lower heat to simmer for 15 minutes.

Strain soup and then return the broth to the saucepan. Add ½ teaspoon of ground pepper, 1 tablespoon of prepared horseradish, and ½ teaspoon of vinegar. Add 1 teaspoon of salt or salt to taste.

I’ve never tasted Creole Soup before—I loved it! This is a delicious, tangy soup.

Serve hot. This recipe makes 3 one-cup servings.

-Sandra Merville Hart


Revised by Cunningham, Marion and Laber, Jeri. The Fannie Farmer Cookbook, Alfred A Knopf Inc., 1983.



Cornmeal Gruel Recipe

This is Dr. Davenport’s recipe, found in an 1877 cookbook under “Food for the Sick.”

Dr. Davenport, Milford Center, Ohio, used this recipe thirty years earlier. He shared this “old and very valuable recipe” with 1877 cooks. Gruels were often given to sick or wounded Civil War soldiers.

Boil 3 pints of water.

Stir 2 tablespoons of cold water into 2 tablespoons of cornmeal. Add to the boiling water with a pinch of salt.

Reduce to medium heat and cook for 20 minutes.

Remove from heat. Let it settle. If the patient is very sick, pour off the water on top and serve this way. The broth is grainy and a bit thicker than might be expected.

It tasted okay.

If this broth will be given to a convalescing patient, toast a piece of bread. They ate hearty breads 150 years ago, so buy a dense bread such as Italian bread. I made my own. I baked some delicious  Bran bread  and toasted two slices for this gruel.

Pour the broth into a bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of light or heavy cream, 2 teaspoons of sugar, ½ teaspoon of cinnamon, and 1/8 teaspoon of ginger. Nutmeg can be substituted for the ginger. Stir well.

Break the toast into pieces and add to the gruel.

Eat immediately.

The broth has a pleasant, sweet taste. I’m not a cereal lover, but broths with bread added have a little in common with cereals.

Dr. Davenport found these to be a nourishing meal for those on a laxative diet. Hmm. Maybe just eat this in moderation.

I’d love to hear if you try this. Enjoy!

-Sandra Merville Hart


Compiled from Original Recipes. Buckeye Cookery and Practical Housekeeping, Applewood Books, 1877.




Here Comes the Bridal Cake

Today’s post is written by my dear friend and fellow author, Catherine Castle. Her newest novel, A Groom for Mama, just released. She has a fun, witty style of writing that captivates readers. I can’t wait to read this novel. Welcome, Catherine!

If there’s one thing we know about wedding cakes today, it’s that they come in a wide variety of style, flavors and sizes. If you look on the internet you can find wedding cakes ranging from simple two or three layers to towering monstrosities or multi-flavored cakes connected with plastic bridges and even individual cupcakes. But nowhere have I seen a wedding cake that resembles the one the groom broke over his bride’s head in Roman times. In ancient history, and even up to Victorian times, the wedding cake bore little resemblance to the sweet confections of today.

In ancient Rome, the bridal cake was a simple, unsweetened barley loaf. The groom would eat part of the loaf and break the remainder over the bride’s head. This was a symbolic act thought to bring prosperity and good fortune to the couple. Wedding guests would try to eat the crumbs from the cake so they could also share in the good fortune showered down on the bride’s head.

In medieval England, the bridal cake was composed of buns or small cakes. Stories remain from accounts telling of stacking the cakes as high as they would go. If the bride and groom were able to kiss over the tall stack it was thought they would have a life of prosperity.

By the 1660s the story is told of a French chef who was traveling through England and saw the stacked pile of cakes at a wedding. After returning home he devised a method of constructing rounded cakes or buns into a tower form called a Croquembouch. This tiered pile of cakes became the traditional French wedding cake. Today it’s common to place a Croquembouch on top of a more modern layer cake.

From the mid-1700s a Bride’s Pie was introduced at wedding meals.  The pie, which was a meat pie, not a sweetened concoction, was filled with sweetbread, mincemeat, or mutton. Bride’s cakes, which were more like fruitcake than the typical white batter cakes we associate with today’s weddings, might also be eaten.

Groom’s cakes appeared in the 1880s and were typically darker-colored fruitcakes that were much smaller than the bride’s cake. Bride’s cakes, in Colonial times, were very rich creations, often reserved for the wealthy who could afford the ingredients. Because they were so labor intensive to make, the cakes were made weeks ahead of the wedding and soaked in alcohol to preserve them for the wedding date.

In the 1800s bride fruitcakes were still the norm.  Below is a typical recipe for a wedding cake from an 1833 recipe book, courtesy of http://www.foodtimeline.org/foodcakes.html#weddingcake

“Wedding Cake

Good common wedding cake may be made thus: Four pounds of flour, three pounds of butter, three pounds of sugar, four pounds of currants, two pounds of raisins, twenty-four eggs, half a pint of brandy, or lemon-brandy, one ounce of mace, and three nutmegs. A little molasses makes it dark colored, which is desirable. Half a pound of citron improves it; but it is not necessary. To be baked two hours and a half, or three hours. After the oven is cleared, it is well to shut the door for eight or ten minutes, to let the violence of the heat subside, before cake or bread is put in. To make icing for your wedding cake, beat the whites of eggs to an entire froth, and to each egg add five teaspoonfuls of sifted loaf sugar, gradually; beat it a great while. Put it on when your cake is hot, or cold, as is most convenient. It will dry in a warm room, as short distance from a gentle fire, or in a warm oven.”
The American Frugal Housewife, Mrs. Child, Boston [1833] (p. 72)

In 1840, Queen Victoria introduced the white-icing tiered cake that we know today as a “wedding cake.”  The cake was iced in ‘royal icing’, which had been invented specifically for the royal wedding cake. Although the cake looked different on the outside, the batter was still the traditional fruitcake of the bride’s cake. The first tiered cakes, including Queen Victoria’s cake, had layers that were not edible. It wasn’t until 1882 when the first tiered cake with all-edible layers appeared at the wedding of Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany. Even today, our English friends choose the traditional fruitcake batter for their wedding cakes. Prince William and Kate’s wedding cake was made with a fruitcake batter, as was his mother’s and his grandmother’s.

Wedding toppers appeared in the 1940s, and by the 1950s, American brides began moving away from the traditional fruitcake of Colonial America. Today, you’ll find wedding cakes in many styles, themes, and flavors. If you can dream it, there will be someone who can make it.

Until I started working on this blog I hadn’t thought much about what kind of cake my characters would have, but I think it would look a lot like the one on my book cover. And Mama would have been sitting on a layer just as she is in the cover. After all, she was Cupid’s helper.

-Catherine Castle

A Groom for Mama –a sweet, romantic comedy by Catherine Castle, from Soul Mate Publishing

 A Groom for Mama Blurb: Beverly Walters is dying, and before she goes she has one wish—to find a groom for her daughter. To get the deed done, Mama enlists the dating service of Jack Somerset, Allison’s former boyfriend.

The last thing corporate-climbing Allison wants is a husband. Furious with Mama’s meddling, and a bit more interested in Jack than she wants to admit, Allison agrees to the scheme as long as Mama promises to search for a cure for her terminal illness.

A cross-country trip from Nevada to Ohio ensues, with a string of disastrous dates along the way, as the trio hunts for treatment and A Groom For Mama.

Buy link: Amazon

 About the Author:

Multi-award-winning author Catherine Castle has been writing all her life. Before beginning her career as a romance writer she worked part-time as a freelance writer. She has over 600 articles and photographs to her credit, under her real name, in the Christian and secular market. Besides writing, Catherine loves traveling with her husband, singing, and attending theatre. In the winter she loves to quilt and has a lot of UFOs (unfinished objects) in her sewing case. In the summer her favorite place to be is in her garden. She’s passionate about gardening and even won a “Best Hillside Garden” award from the local gardening club.

Her debut inspiration romantic suspense, The Nun and the Narc, from Soul Mate Publishing was an ACFW Genesis Finalist, a 2014 EPIC finalist, and the winner of the 2014 Beverly Hills Book Award and the 2014 RONE Award. Her most recent release, A Groom for Mama, is a sweet romantic comedy from Soul Mate Publishing.  Both books are available on Amazon.

Contact links:

Catherine’s website

Catherine’s blog

Catherine’s Amazon author page

Catherine’s Goodreads

Twitter    @AuthorCCastle


Stitches Thru Time

SMP authors blog site


Cream of Cucumber Soup Recipe

I found The Fannie Farmer Cookbook, originally published in 1896, in an antique store. Fannie Farmer’s name is still well-known today.

Stock, water enriched by the food cooked in it, is an important ingredient in numerous soups. Homemade stock brings full-bodied flavor to recipes. The recipe for the chicken stock used in this recipe is found  here.

To make this soup, finely chop enough onion to give 3 tablespoons and set aside.

Peel 3 large cucumbers. Remove the seeds and then slice them.

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Stir in onion and cucumber. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

Stir in 3 tablespoons of flour. Cook about 1 ½ minutes.

Add 3 cups of chicken stock or chicken broth. (I had run out of stock so I used broth instead.) Stir in 1 cup of milk. Turn burner to a medium high heat until soup boils.

Remove from heat. Puree the soup in a blender or food processor. Strain the broth. Rinse the saucepan before returning the strained soup to it.

Beat 2 egg yolks. Stir these into the soup. Add ½ cup light or heavy cream (I used heavy cream) and ½ teaspoon salt or salt to taste. Reheat the soup until hot, stirring frequently. Do not boil.

This is the first time I’ve made this type of soup. There is a light, refreshing taste of cucumber. I thought it tasted delicious and will make it again.

This recipe makes 7 one-cup servings.

-Sandra Merville Hart


Revised by Cunningham, Marion and Laber, Jeri. The Fannie Farmer Cookbook, Alfred A Knopf Inc., 1983.


Mulled Buttermilk

“Excellent for convalescing patients” was the way a recipe in an 1877 cookbook described mulled buttermilk.

Given the date of the cookbook, wounded soldiers during Civil War probably received this drink in hospitals. As a historical novelist, I’m always interested in learning tidbits from our history. It’s fun to add authentic details such as this one when a story requires it.

Boil a cup of buttermilk over a medium high heat. The consistency of the milk completely changes. The thick, creamy liquid thins to a grainy consistency of water.

Beat one egg yolk. Temper the yolk by stirring in a couple of tablespoons of the hot buttermilk. Add the tempered yolk to the boiling buttermilk. Stir and allow the mixture to return to a boil. I stirred the mixture while cooking.

Pour into a glass and drink. I allowed it to cool slightly before trying it. One sip was enough. I did not like this.

There is a second recipe for mulled buttermilk.

Forgetting the egg yolk, put a heaping tablespoon of flour into a glass. Pour in 1/3 cup of cold buttermilk and stir well. If this is not enough liquid for the flour to assimilate into the liquid after a brisk stir, add more buttermilk—a tablespoon at a time—until it is combined into a thick,  pourable liquid. Set this aside.

When the cup of buttermilk initially boils, add the buttermilk thickening to the saucepan. Return to a boil, cooking an additional minute to make sure the flour is done.

I really liked this second alternative. The thicker beverage tasted better to me.

And it is good for patients. If you lived one hundred fifty years ago, you would have drunk mulled buttermilk when you were sick.

Good luck! I’d love to hear if you try this recipe.

-Sandra Merville Hart


Compiled from Original Recipes. Buckeye Cookery and Practical Housekeeping, Applewood Books, 1877.


Bran Biscuit Recipe

This is Mrs. L.S. Williston’s yummy recipe for Bran Biscuits. It was found in an 1877 cookbook under “Food for the Sick.”

Mrs. Williston lived in Jamestown, New York. She recommended buying Davis & Taylor’s wheat bran and even provided their street address in Boston. She served these biscuits for breakfast. If any remained, they were toasted to serve for tea or “split for dinner.”

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Measure 5 cups of flour in a large mixing bowl and scoop a well in the center.

Scald one cup of wheat bran with one cup of boiling water. When the bran cools, spoon it into the well at the center of the flour.

A “half cup of good yeast” was Mrs. Williston’s next ingredient. As I’ve discovered by making other historical recipes, yeast was a little different 150 years ago. I added 1 tablespoon of yeast on top of the wheat bran, but 2 teaspoons would also be fine.

Add 2 tablespoons of sugar and 1 teaspoon of salt. Add 1 ¾ milk. You may need a little more—just enough to make a soft dough. It will be thicker than batter.

Cover. Place in a warm place and allow it to rise. Mrs. Williston allowed her dough to rise overnight; mine had almost doubled in 1 ½ hours.

Mrs. Williston baked her biscuits in a patty pan or a gem pan—similar to a cupcake/muffin pan. Heat an empty cupcake pan. Then spoon dough into the cupcake holders. (I found it much easier to do this by hand. Tip—rinse your hands in warm water frequently when working with this type of dough.)

Bake at 425 for 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Mine baked perfectly at 23 minutes.

I baked a dozen biscuits and put the rest of the dough in a bread pan. The bread dough continued to rise while the biscuits baked.

Bake bread at 425 for about 25 minutes.

The delicious aroma had me eating a biscuit while still pretty warm. Yummy! These were a big hit at my house. I’ll have to make them again.

I’d love to hear if you try this. Enjoy!

-Sandra Merville Hart


Compiled from Original Recipes. Buckeye Cookery and Practical Housekeeping, Applewood Books, 1877.



Fever Drink Recipe

This recipe for Fever Drink doesn’t say if it treats a fever or if it soothes patients who are running a temperature. It was found in an 1877 cookbook under “Food for the Sick.”

Flax seed is one of the ingredients in this beverage. I don’t know if this was readily available 150 years ago. However, the recipe doesn’t give any ingredient measurements. This makes me believe that cooks knew how to prepare it.

Given the date of the cookbook, I’m guessing Civil War soldiers drank this for fevers whenever it was available. Its use seems to have died out because I couldn’t find anything else about it. I love to bring historical practices to light.

Figuring out the ingredient measurements the first time was a complete guess. The recipe said to add boiling water to flax seeds, so I used ¼ cup of flax seeds with 1 cup of water and set it aside. The seeds were supposed to become “ropy.”

It also said to “pour cold water over wheat bran.” I chose to try ¼ cup of wheat bran and added ¾ cup of cold water to a small saucepan. (Some of you are probably already laughing.)

I brought this to a gentle boil and lowered to a medium heat. It was supposed to boil for 30 minutes. The wheat bran boiled dry in 10 minutes. I added more water, but quickly realized I had used too much wheat bran.

To make matters worse, there was no change in the flax seeds—definitely not ropy.

I started over. This time I tried to figure out the right ratio for only 1 glass of Fever Drink.

I added a cup of boiling water to 1 teaspoon of flax seeds and set aside.

I put 1 tablespoon of wheat bran into a small saucepan with 2 cups of water. I stirred it occasionally and it reduced quite a bit. After 30 minutes, I strained it twice. It made ½ cup of wheat bran broth.

The recipe also called for lemon juice and sugar—lemonade. I added 1 tablespoon of sugar to the juice of 1 lemon. It was the perfect amount.

I stirred the lemonade into the wheat bran broth. Though it was probably traditionally served hot, I decided to drink it cold. I added ice to the glass.

The flax seeds softened but never became ropy. I added these to the drink. The bran flavor was equally as strong as the lemon flavor. Lemonade improved the beverage though I can’t say I liked it.

A friend told me that flax seed powder is available. This might be a good alternative for regular flax seeds in this beverage.

The measurements used in the second try—1 tablespoon wheat bran to 1 teaspoon flax seeds—seemed to work well. I don’t know if this is the correct combination they used to ease a feverish patient. Since the 1877 cook didn’t divulge that secret, it remains a guess.

And I didn’t have a fever when I drank the Fever Drink so I can’t say how well it works.

I’d love to hear if you try this. Enjoy!

-Sandra Merville Hart


Compiled from Original Recipes. Buckeye Cookery and Practical Housekeeping, Applewood Books, 1877.