Friday, January 10, 2014

We Said They Were Good, Not Good for You!

[editor's note: The Clarke Historical Library has returned from the winter recess. We are open Monday to Friday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. We will be open Saturdays from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm beginning Saturday, January 18.]

by Frank Boles

In the spirit of the winter season, here are a few recipes for historic treats from the Maureen Hathaway cookbook collection. Please note, the use of these recipes is the sole responsibility of the reader – don’t complain to us if after eating too many of these goodies you put on a few pounds. We all know anything with this much sugar and butter in it is not health food!

Gingerbread is among the most enduring of winter treats. The sweet traces it’s origins back to the Crusades, although gingerbread as we think of it is more the creation of Victorian England. This recipe dates to that time, coming from the Alma College Cookbook of 1948, and submitted by Mrs. Charles Zellermayer, class of 1910.

Our Favorite Soft Gingerbread


    • ½ cup sugar
    • 1 cup shortening
    • 1 cup molasses
    • 1 tsp. soda dissolved in 1 cup hot water
Sift together and add

    • 2 cups flour (level after being sifted)
    • 1 tsp. salt
    • ¾ or ½ tsp. cloves
    • 1 tsp. cinnamon
    • 1 tsp. nutmeg
    • 1 tsp. ginger
    • 1 tsp. vanilla
Add last 4 eggs, well beaten

Bake in moderate oven [time and temperature are not specified, most likely because this recipe was first used with a wood-fired stove that lacked a modern temperature control dial – something invented in the early twentieth century for use with contemporary gas-fired or electric ovens.]

Sugar cookies as we enjoy them today trace their origins to Nazareth, Pennsylvania, where in the mid-1700s German Protestant settlers created the round, crumbly, buttery sensations. Diane Buttrell offered the following updated recipe for sugar cookies in the United Methodist Women of Port Huron, First United Methodist Church cookbook, published in 1988.

Sugar Cookies
    • 1 cup margarine [really, she meant butter]
    • 1 cup oil
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 cup powdered sugar
    • 1 cup granulated sugar
    • 1 tsp. cream of tartar
    • 1 tsp. salt
    • 1 tsp. baking soda
    • 4.5 cups flour
    • 1 tsp. vanilla
Cream margarine and sugars together; add eggs, oil and vanilla. Fold in dry ingredients. Bake at 350° for 10 to 12 minutes.

Whether you had your share of goodies during the holidays or not, with a little butter and sugar or a nip of sherry to keep out the chill, we think these recipes will help you keep the winter blues away.