Farm Fresh

… Fresh on to the farm. Here is an occassional chronicle of a new family in a small town.

butter & sugar

I spent my free time today starting to transcribe my grandmothers recipe cards.  I feel as though I’m evoking her, and the many meals she has cooked for our family, for strangers, for family friends over the years.  Only a few of them I have actually had myself.  Most are handwritten in her perfect cursive. Many are cut out from magazines or the result of trading recipes.  Apparently, before the internet or the use of copy machines and scanners, women would hand write or type multiple copies of recipes and share them. Sometimes the spelling is incorrect. I’m leaving some of those words to evoke the typed pages that couldn’t be corrected unless the entire recipe was retyped (ex: test is left where it was obviously meant to be taste). Similarly, there are different ways of noting a tablespoon and other measurements and often sentences are incomplete. Actually some recipes are incomplete, but to me that lends charm to these cards. And some of the ingredients I have never heard of, like nucoa. (Of all the types of margarine that are commonly available at a supermarket, Nucoa is the only type that is “true margarine”, that is, it contains absolutely no dairy products, such as minute qualities of whey or milk solids.)

Yesterday I went to a talk given by local artist Keith Lewis.  The President of the college asked him if, while making art, he learned more about the topic.  I see how this process of transcribing my grandmothers recipes is bringing me closer to my grandmother. I can only imagine what actually making them would be like. Not sure what I”ll do with these recipes, maybe a chapbook or a blog of them all. Below is one of my favorite recipes, which is also the cake my great-grandmother made my grandmother for her birthday.

Burnt-sugar Cake

½ cup shortening
1 1/2cups sugar
1 teasp. Vanilla
2 eggs
2 ½ cups sifted cake flour
3 teasp. Baking powder
½ teasp. Salt
¾ cup cold water
Burnt-sugar syrup

Cream shortening and sugar till light. Add vanilla, then eggs, one at a time, beating 1 min. after each. Sift together dry ingredients and add to creamed mixture alternately with water, beating smooth after each addition. Add 3 tablespoons Burnt-sugar Syrup. Beat thoroughly 4 minutes a t medium speed on electric mixer.

Bake in 2 greased and lightly floured 9 x 1 ½” round pans for about 20 minutes. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans. Cool. Fill with Date filling and frost with Burnt-sugar Frosting. See other side of this card.

Burnt-sugar Syrup
In heavy skillet melt (caramelize) 2/3 cup granulated sugar, stirring constantly. When a deep golden brown syrup, remove from heat. Slowly add 2/3 cup boiling water. Cook and stir until all caramelized sugar dissolves. Syrup for both cake and frosting.

Date-Nut Filling
Combine 1 ½ cups pitted dates, cut up, 1 cup water, 1/3 cup sugar, and ¼ teasp. Salt in a saucepan; bring to boiling. Cook and stir over low heat about 4 minutes or till thick. Remove from heat; cool to room temperature. Fold in ¼ cup chopped walnuts. If desired, fold in ¼ c. Seven-Minute Frosting. Makes about 1 ½ cups.

Burnt-sugar Frosting
Prepare Seven-Minute Frosting decreasing granulated sugar to 1 ½ cups and water to ¼ cup. Substitute 3-4 tablespoons Burnt-sugar Syrup for corn syrup.

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