Lemon Snaps Recipe from 1877

When my sister asked me to bring lots of cookies to her Super Bowl party, I took that as an invitation to try a few old-fashioned recipes. Mrs. E. L. C. of Springfield is the 1877 baker who shared this cookie recipe.

Though the original baker left out a few important details, I’m happy to say that I only had to make this recipe once—and the cookies were a hit! Or since this was for a Super Bowl party, maybe I should say they were a touchdown. 😊

Dissolve ½ teaspoon of baking soda into 2 teaspoons of hot water. Set aside.

Cream together 1 cup of sugar and 10 tablespoons of butter. Stir in the prepared baking soda.

Mrs. C. simply said to flavor with lemon. I added the zest of 2 lemons, the juice of 1 lemon, and ½ teaspoon of lemon extract to the batter.

Since this was for a Super Bowl party where one of the teams wore yellow, I added yellow food coloring to the batter.

Mrs. C. was another one who advised adding “flour enough to roll thin.” I used 1 ½ cups of flour, blending into the wet ingredients a little at a time.

Lightly flour the counter and rolling pin and then roll out the batter. Cut into desired shapes.

Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray or line with parchment paper. The cookies flatten while baking so allow room between them. Bake cookies at 350 degrees about 9 – 11 minutes.

Delicious! Wonderful lemony flavor really came through. Guests loved the texture and flavor. If you like lemony desserts, this is the cookie for you.

I’d definitely make these again.

I’d love to hear if you try it.

-Sandra Merville Hart

Sources

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

 

 

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Molasses Cookies Recipe from 1877

When my sister asked me to bring lots of cookies to her Super Bowl party, I took that as an invitation to try a few old-fashioned recipes. The 1877 baker who shared this cookie recipe is Miss J. O. DeForest of Norwalk.

Miss DeForest advised bakers to add “flour enough to roll out.” No measurements. One of the problems with following older recipes is that they leave out important details. In trying to figure out how much flour was needed, I had to make the batter twice. Perhaps I grumbled a little, as I dumped the first batch in the garbage, that the reason Miss DeForest left out the measurement is that she couldn’t figure it out either. But, since I was alone in my kitchen, only my stand mixer and I know that for sure. It’s more likely that this baker was like my grandmother—an excellent cook!—who never measured anything.

Add 1 teaspoon of baking soda to 3 cups of flour. Mix or sift together and set aside.

Mix 1 ¼ cups of sugar and ½ cup butter until blended. (I used a mixer.) Stir in ¼ cup of molasses.

Whisk 1 egg and then mix it into the batter.

Add the flour mixture, a little at a time, to the wet ingredients.

Lightly flour the counter and rolling pin and then roll out the batter. Cut into desired shapes.

Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray or line with parchment paper. Bake cookies at 350 degrees until lightly browned, about 11 – 14 minutes.

The cookies had a great texture. Even with only ¼ cup of molasses, that sweet tangy flavor really came through. If you don’t like molasses, you won’t like these cookies. This is not a common flavor these days, and most guests at the party flocked toward the other types. My husband liked them a lot.

Honey, molasses, and sugar were all used to sweeten foods in earlier centuries. As a little girl, I remember that my grandfather considered molasses a big treat.

I’d make these again—just not for another Super Bowl party.

I’d love to hear if you try it.

-Sandra Merville Hart

Sources

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

 

 

Sand Tarts Recipe from 1877

“Bring cookies to my Super Bowl party,” my sister told me. “Make a lot of them.”

She left it wide open for me to try old-fashioned recipes. I found this sand tarts recipe in an 1877 cookbook. I’d never eaten—or even heard of—this type of cookie so I compared it to a few recipes online. Modern recipes used confectioner’s sugar, with a few other changes as well. My purpose is to follow Miss Clara G. Phellis’s recipe as closely as possible.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?

I made this recipe once using confectioner’s sugar, but the mixture was too dry to roll out. I tried again with sugar and it worked fine.

Add 1 ½ teaspoons of cinnamon to ½ cup of sugar. Mix together and set aside.

I used a stand mixer to cream ½ cup of butter into 1 cup of sugar in a mixing bowl until blended well. Whisk 1 egg and add it to the mixture. Then add 1 1/2 cups of flour a little at a time, mixing until all the flour is incorporated into the mixture.

(My dough was too dry so I had to add another egg, which made it slightly wet. If this happens for you, add flour, a little at time, for a final mixing.)

Roll out the dough in a thin layer and then cut the cookies into squares.

Bake on a cookie sheet at 325 degrees for 9 minutes.

While the cookies bake, use your mixer to whip two egg whites until creamy—but not stiff.

Remove the cookies from the oven after about 9 minutes. Put a dollop of meringue on each cookie or pipe it on. Then sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar. Add slivered almonds on top and return to the oven for a couple of minutes to lightly brown the meringue. (Bake longer for a crisper cookie.)

I liked it very much. The cinnamon sugar was a nice touch. Guests liked the soft texture of the cookie and the light cinnamon flavor.

Modern cookie recipes don’t use the meringue. Instead they are rolled in confectioner’s sugar and dropped onto the cookie sheet.

I’d love to hear if you try it.

-Sandra Merville Hart

Sources

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

 

Rye Coffee

As the Civil War continued, food became scarce for folks in the South. Southerners also had a hard time obtaining coffee. They seemed to be just addicted to the beverage—especially soldiers—as people are today so they searched for substitutes. Rye was one of the substitutes.

In an early scene in my Civil War romance, A Musket in My Hands, the protagonist, Callie, does not have coffee beans to make her pa a cup of coffee. Instead she offers to fix him a cup from rye that she’d boiled and dried.

Though I am not a coffee drinker, I wanted to prepare rye for coffee. There is a recipe in Confederate Home Cooking.

Finding rye berries was the greatest challenge. A specialty food store near me sells them.

I’ve never seen or tasted rye coffee so this was a learning process. The recipe mentioned “parching” after drying, so I reached out to Southern cooks for help with this term. Parching means roasting, which makes sense. (Thanks, Charlotte and Debra!)

I boiled ¼ cup of rye on a medium high heat for 10 minutes. By experimenting, I discovered that longer than 10 minutes begins to split the grain, which the recipe advises against.

Boiling softened the grain, expanding it over double the original size. The water was a clear, brown broth.

The rye was drained and then set aside while I lined a cookie sheet with parchment paper. The oven was preheated to 275 degrees to dry the rye.

After spreading a thin layer of rye over the parchment paper, I set the cookie sheet into the oven, stirring the rye every five minutes. After 10 minutes, most of the grain was dry. After 15 minutes, it was removed from the oven.

While the oven preheated to 450 degrees, the rye was transferred onto a fresh piece of parchment paper on the cookie sheet.

Because the oven was so hot, I kept a close eye on the roasting process, checking the rye every 2 minutes. After 10 minutes, I removed them from the oven.

Many homes in the Civil War era had coffee grinders. I don’t own one so I ground the roasted rye with a rolling pin. Worked pretty well.

Then I experimented with how soldiers in camp might have made the coffee. Using 1 teaspoon of ground rye in each case, I tried the following:

1) Poured boiling water into a cup with the rye and let it steep about 5 minutes.  (left side of main photo)

2) Boiled water with rye—strongest coffee flavor. (middle)

3) NOT the way soldiers made coffee but applicable for folks today—a single-serving coffee maker. (right side of main photo)

All of these tasted like coffee to me. Granted, I am not a coffee drinker, but I agree that this probably worked well as a coffee substitute for soldiers. Though #2 made the strongest coffee, the others tasted almost as strong.

Tasting the beverage made me wonder if roasting it 2 minutes less would enhance the flavor. I will try roasting for only 8 minutes next time.

This was a fun experiment! I’d love to hear if you try it.

-Sandra Merville Hart

Sources

Mitchell, Patricia B. Confederate Home Cooking, 2014.

Corn Oysters Recipe

Around the time of the Civil War, corn fritters were commonly called corn oysters because the fritters resembled fried oysters.

Callie, my female protagonist in my Civil War romance A Musket in My Hands, made corn fritters several times while masquerading as a soldier in the Confederate Army of Tennessee. When I found this recipe shared by Mrs. H.B.S. in Buckeye Cookery and Practical Housekeeping, I looked forward to trying it.

I cut the corn off two ears of corn. It yielded 1 ½ cups of corn so I modified the recipe in the book for this amount of the vegetable.

Stir ¾ cup milk into 1 ½ cups of fresh corn. Add ¼ cup flour, 1 teaspoon butter, and 1 beaten egg. Salt and pepper to taste—I added ¼ teaspoon of each.

A cast iron skillet or griddle works well for frying the fritters. Heat the skillet over medium high heat and then lower to medium while cooking. Melt about 1 tablespoon of butter in the skillet.

Use a tablespoon to drop batter into the skillet. The batter is very runny and it flattens out like a small pancake. Watch carefully as it browns quickly. Then flip it over. This seems to be an acquired art as I tore several fritters while turning them.

But boy, are they tasty! I loved the fresh corn and lightly fried flavor.

This is a quick, easy recipe. The longest part of the preparation is slicing corn off the cob—and that does not take long. I will make them again.

I’d love to hear if you try it.

-Sandra Merville Hart

Sources

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

 

Spoon Biscuit Recipe

There is a scene my Civil War romance, A Musket in My Hands, where spoon bread is a great treat for Confederate soldiers in the Army of Tennessee. A spoon bread recipe from Confederate Home Cooking uses cornmeal, not flour as this biscuit recipe from Buckeye Cookery and Practical Housekeeping cookbook does. The bread recipe also begins with scalding the milk, which the Buckeye Cookery cook (Mrs. A.B. Morey) does not mention for making the biscuits.

Flour was pretty scarce in most of the South after the Civil War started. By 1864—when my story begins—corn meal was a staple for most of the breads for Southerners.

Pour 2 cups of buttermilk into a medium-sized mixing bowl. Stir in one teaspoon of baking soda and one teaspoon of salt.

Melt 2 tablespoons of shortening and stir into the mixture.

Then Mrs. Morey advises adding enough flour to achieve a stiff batter. This was 2 ½ cups of flour for me.

These were dropped by spoon into a gem pan. These pans resemble modern muffin pans. I sprayed my mini muffin pan with cooking spray and dropped the thick batter into the small slots.

Bake the biscuits at 400 degrees until lightly browned, about twenty minutes—longer if using larger muffin pans.

The biscuits were good but somewhat bland. It seemed that this type of bread was probably spread with jellies, jams, and fruit butters such as apple butter. I tried it with apple butter and liked it much better. Though my husband liked them plain, I’m thinking of making sausage gravy to go with the leftover biscuits from this batch. Yum!

I had extra batter so I baked the spoon biscuit dough in a small loaf pan. This made a thick, hearty loaf of bread.

I’d love to hear if you try it.

-Sandra Merville Hart

Sources

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

Mitchell, Patricia B. Confederate Home Cooking, 1991.

 

 

 

Rice Pudding Recipe

There is a scene my Civil War romance A Musket in My Hands  where rice pudding is a great treat for sisters who have disguised themselves as Confederate soldiers in the Army of Tennessee. This recipe from Buckeye Cookery and Practical Housekeeping cookbook published in 1877 would have been similar to the pudding served to Callie and Louisa.

Add a teaspoon of salt to two cups of water in medium-sized kettle. When water boils, add one cup of rice (not instant) and simmer until dry. (This took about a half hour for long grain brown rice.)

Stir a teaspoon of corn starch into 2 cups of milk. Pour this into the cooked rice. Return to a boil.

Separate two eggs.

Beat ½ cup of sugar into the egg yolks and stir into the rice mixture. Remove from heat.

Grate the rind of 1 lemon. Stir this into the rice along with the juice of 1 lemon.

Spoon the mixture into custard cups, leaving room at the top for meringue topping.

Pour an inch or two of water into a large baking dish and arrange the custard cups inside.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.

Toward the end of that time, add 2 tablespoons of sugar to the reserved egg whites and beat with a mixer until white and stiff. Remove the pudding from the oven and spread the meringue over the top. Return the pudding to the over to lightly brown the topping.

I allowed these to cool before eating. I like rice dishes and I liked this dessert. The tangy taste of the lemon is there but did not overpower the dish. The sweet taste was not overly sweet. My husband also enjoyed the pudding.

I’d love to hear if you try it.

-Sandra Merville Hart

Sources

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

Corn Cakes Recipe

Since Callie, my female protagonist in my third Civil War romance A Musket in My Hands , made corn cakes so often while disguising herself as a Confederate soldier, I could not wait to make them. This recipe from Buckeye Cookery and Practical Housekeeping cookbook published in 1877 would have been similar to Callie’s—except as a soldier in the Confederate army, she lacked some of the ingredients.

The recipe calls for equal amounts of corn meal and buttermilk. I quickly saw that this mixture would not be thick enough to make into a patty for frying so I doubled the corn meal to two cups.

Combine two cups of cornmeal with one teaspoon of baking soda and one teaspoon of salt. Beat one egg and add to the cornmeal mixture. Stir in one cup of buttermilk.

Melt a tablespoon of shortening in a skillet on a medium high heat. Take a portion of the cornmeal batter and form it into a cake. Carefully place it in the hot skillet. You can fry about 3 at a time, depending on the size of the cakes.

Lower the heat to medium. These cook quickly so flip them over after a minute or two to brown on the other side.

My batter made 6 corn cakes. Yum! They are filling but not enough to feed a soldier hungry from a long march, like the characters from my novel.

I’d love to hear if you try it.

-Sandra Merville Hart

Sources

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

 

 

 

Buckeye Cake Recipe

Since my novella, Surprised by Love , recently released in the “From the Lake to the River” collection of Ohio locations written by Ohio writers, I couldn’t resist trying this 1877 recipe for Buckeye Cake. The recipe was submitted by Mrs. W. W. W. for the Buckeye Cookery and Practical Housekeeping cookbook published in 1877.

This makes an 8×8 cake. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Stir 1 teaspoon of baking soda into 2 cups of flour. Set aside.

Give 1 cup of raisins a rough chop then dredge into a little flour. (I used the flour mixture above and then removed the raisins and kept them separate until ready to add to the batter.)

Separate the yolks and egg whites of 3 eggs into 2 bowls. Beat the yolks and set aside.

Beat the egg whites into a stiff froth and set aside.

Cream ½ cup butter with 1 cup of sugar. Add the egg yolks and ½ cup of buttermilk.

Hint: The recipe calls for sour milk, which was another name for buttermilk 150 years ago. If you don’t have buttermilk, add a teaspoon of vinegar to regular milk. Let this set about 15 minutes and then it’s ready to use in the recipe.

Stir in the flour mixture. Then fold in the beaten egg whites. Lastly, fold in the raisins. I loved the fluffy and creamy texture of the batter!

Bake 25 – 30 minutes or until lightly browned.

Since buckeye candies are made of peanut butter and chocolate, it seemed fitting to use Chocolate Peanut Butter Frosting. Delicious frosting!

I loved the cake with this icing. However, I didn’t enjoy the raisins in the cake. Next time, I may substitute chocolate chips for the raisins or omit completely.

I’d love to hear if you try it.

-Sandra Merville Hart

Sources

“Chocolate Peanut Butter Frosting,” Taste of Home, 2018/09/26 https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/chocolate-peanut-butter-frosting/.

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

“Soured Milk,” Wikipedia.com, 2018/09/26 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soured_milk.

 

Southern Tomato Pie Recipe from 1877

I had six tomatoes in my fridge that I needed to use. I found a recipe for tomato pie that called for green tomatoes. These were ripe, but I’ve never been a big fan of green tomatoes anyway. I decided to make the pie, substituting red for green tomatoes.

Wash and slice tomatoes without peeling them. Put the tomatoes in a medium-sized saucepan with about a cup to a cup and a half of water. Cook over medium low heat until they start to become tender, about 15 minutes.

Remove from burner. Stir in 1 tablespoon butter and 2 tablespoons sugar. The 1877 cook then says “flavor with nutmeg.”

I cringed a little, unsure how this spice would taste with tomatoes. I added ½ teaspoon nutmeg.

Prepare double-crust pie dough.

Hint: I learned a little trick from another 1877 cook when baking liquidy pie fillings: Mix 3 tablespoons of flour with 2 tablespoons of sugar. Sprinkle this over the crust. You may only use 1/3 to ½ of this mixture. It keeps the bottom crust from getting soggy.

Using a slotted spoon, add stewed tomatoes to bottom crust. Then arrange the top crust over the tomatoes and add holes with a knife.

Bake at 375 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes.

I tasted the pie warm from the oven (not hot) and also cold. I liked them both.

The small amount of sugar in the pie didn’t make it too sweet. There was just a hint of nutmeg. If you’d like more, add 1 teaspoon of nutmeg instead of ½ teaspoon to the stewed tomatoes before baking.

Tomatoes are one of my favorite foods but I don’t like them roasted. I was surprised how much I liked this pie.

I’d love to hear if you try it.

-Sandra Merville Hart

Sources

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