Friday, February 17, 2012

Spice Cake, Oat Cookies - from Gramma's Webster's Spelling Recipe Book - Family Recipe Friday

Gramma Emma Bickerstaff Meinzen wrote these recipes in pencil. The paper may have originally been a light off-white color and the handwriting may have been darker, but time has muted the pencil and deepened the paper's color so that the handwriting nearly disappears. On the image you see below the color has been altered so that the handwriting is visible.

There aren't any surprises in these recipes. We rarely use lard these days but it was common in the early 1900s. There are no mixing or baking directions, also common for the time. In the Spice cake recipe she used one large bracket to indicate that the soda and baking powder should be mixed into the flour. When I bake this cake I will omit the nut meats and bake in a 350-degree oven. When I try the cookies I will substitute Crisco for the lard. Gramma may or may not have used Quaker Quick Oats which were introduced in 1922. There's no date on the spelling tablet or on any of the recipes.

I was talking with a friend today about food and cooking. She said someone had come to her home and couldn't figure out what there was to eat because there were no boxes of mixes or other prepared foods; no microwave meals in the freezer; no pre-prepared food at all. My friend makes real food, from scratch. These recipes from Gramma were written when prepared food probably included things like saltine crackers, rolled oats, canned soup, and pre-ground coffee. I still like real food from scratch best.

Spice cake
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 " butter
2 eggs
1 cup sour milk
2 1/2 " [cups] flour
1 teaspoon soda }
1 [teaspoon] B. P. [baking powder] } in flour
1 [teaspoon] cinnamon
1/2 [teaspoon] nutmeg & cloves
1/2 cup nut meats

Oats cookies
2 cups flour
2 [cups] oats
1 [cup] lard
1 [cup] sugar
2 eggs
pinch of salt
1 cup raisens [sic]
1/2 [cup] milk
1 teaspoon soda in milk
1 teaspoon cinnamon


  1. I love it. I would have baked everything at 350F and watched the progress too.

    I found a little note book at an Antique store and it has a lot of recipes. It was the same, ingredients and no instructions.

    Although the woman was not my ancestor, perhaps I should scan and post it too.

  2. What a treasure that you have your grandmother's Spelling Recipe Book!! I have also noticed that on the some of the recipes that my sister has shared from our grandmother that there were no mixing or baking instructions. From what you have passed along, that was common. Here I just thought that my sister forgot to write them down. But I won't tell her she didn't goof! Enjoying your posts discussing these recipes a lot.

    1. Hi, Nancy. I still have some recipes from my mom with just a list of ingredients. My grandmother rarely used a recipe. And I imagine trying to bake in an oven without a thermostat and heat regulator (of that's what they're called) like our modern ovens have. I'm sure I would have learned because I would have had to, but I'm glad I don't!

      Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment.


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