Sunday, March 18, 2012

in the "Good Old Days"

many years ago not too long after we moved into this farm house, I discovered a book tucked in to the basement ceiling.  it isn't in the best of shape, as I don't know how long it had been there before i found it, and a wood stove had been, and still was being, used in the basement.

it was very old, that much I know as for some reason I was sure it was from the 1800's.  I loaned it to a museum, and then later got it back, but put it away and forgot where.  it was sealed in a plastic bag, which of course also wasn't the best for it. The other day I found it. so thought that on occasion i will share some of the ancient wisdom to be found in the book.

here is what it would look like if it was in good shape
The cover of mine is so worn, that you can barely make out that there is some letters on it.  the above picture is from this webpage   So now I know that the book was published in 1886. I have discovered 2 different publisher versions, mine from Chicago and one from San Francisco,

if you are interested in the entire book, it can be downloaded here for the San Francisco version and from here for the Chicago version as mine is.

today I will share a several of the items from the book.

Gold and Silver cake
Gold Part.-- Yolks of eight eggs, scan cup butter, two of sugar, four of flour, one of sour milk, teaspoon soda, tablespoon corn-starch; flavor with lemon and vanilla.
Silver Part.-- Two cups sugar, one of butter, four (scant) of flour, one of sour milk, teaspoon soda, tablespoon corn-starch, whites of eight eggs; flavor with almond or peach.  Put in pan, alternately, one spoonful of gold and one of silver. 

there are no directions on size of pan or what temp or how long to bake it.

To Make Small Sponge-cakes
The weight of five eggs in flour, the weight of eight in pounded loaf sugar; flavoring to taste.  Let the flour be perfectly dry, and the sugar well pounded and sifted.  Separate the whites from the yolks of the eggs, and beat the  latter up with the sugar; then whisk the whites until they become rather stiff, and mix them with the yolks, but do not stir them more than is just necessary to mingle the ingredients well together.  Dredge in the flour by degrees, add the flavoring; butter the tins well, pour in the batter, sift a little sugar over the cakes, and bake them in rather a quick oven, but do not allow them to take too much color, as they should be rather pale.  Remove them from the tins before they get cold, and turn them on their faces, where let them remain until quite cold, when store them away in a closed tin canister or wide-mouthed glass bottle.
what temp is a " rather quick oven"?

and since we are coming into warm weather, here is their suggestion:

To Keep Off Mosquitoes
Rub exposed parts with kerosene.  The odor is not noticed after a few minutes, and children especially are much relieved by its use. 

On another blog I read, Little Grey Bungalow Shay posted a recipe for soap.  I thought I would post a soap recipe also.

An Excellent Hard Soap
Pour Twelve quarts soft boiling water on two and one half pounds of unslacked lime: dissolve five pounds sal soda in twelve quarts soft hot water; then mix and let them remain from twelve to twenty-four hours.  Pour off all the clear fluid, being careful not to allow any of the sediment to run off;  boil three and one half pounds clean grease and three or four ounces of rosin in the above lye till the grease disappears; pour into a box and let it stand a day to stiffen and then cut in bars.  It is as well to put the lime in all the water and then add the soda.  After pouring off the fluid, add two or three gallons of water and let it stand with the lime and soda dregs a day or two.  This makes an excellent washing fluid to boil or soak the clothes in, with one pint in a boiler of water. 

Hope your weekend has been a good one.  on to other things.


  1. How fascinating to find such a book! Could yours be restored?

    1. I doubt it Jane, too much exposure to smoke, damp and heat. and the last several years sealed in a ziplock plastic bag. but still to be around for the past 126 years is pretty good.

  2. That is a great find. I wanted to comment about 'losing' the book. I have so many times kept safely something precious and totally forgot where I had put it. Sometimes, I had to tore the room down to find it - but then when else would I keep the room tip top?

    1. I often move something, thinking "this is a better place, I will surely remember" and can't find it later, because I think it is in it's original place, not the new place. sigh......

  3. I have no idea why I haven't been to your blog before, since we both follow Little Grey Bungalow. Silly me. Anyway, according to my Food Science book (1970), sponge and angel food cakes bake best at about 400 degrees, and according to this link a "quick oven is 350 to 400 degrees: Hope that helps. So glad you were able to find your book.

    1. Hi Packrat, I recognize you from LGB thanks for stopping by. and thanks for the info. I have often thought about making one of these just to see if I could

  4. I love looking at antique things - including books. The thinking behind the recipes is so interesting - everybody should know what a "quick oven" is. Ha! Like the #5 can of such-and-such. Thanks for sharing - fun to see.

    Don't you think when you put things away so "safely" it's fun to find them again? :)

    1. and many of the recipes call for "an egg of .... or a tea cup of ..." that is not standardized, if you have banty chickens or big chickens, it would never be the same. and what size is a tea cup?? 6oz? or 8oz? hard to say.

  5. Amazing---I have a few old cookbooks and the "helpful tips" section is as fascinating as the actual recipes!


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