A few months ago I was browsing through an antique shop with a good friend of mine when I came across several baking manuals that dated to the beginning of the 20th century. These were the kind published by a company to demonstrate the many ways to use their product in recipes. This particular book was the Ryzon Baking Baking Book (1918) by Marion Harris Neil which was described as “a practical manual for the preparation of food requiring baking powder.” The other book was Borden’s Prize Recipe Album (1925) which featured recipes using the Borden’s Evaporated Milk.
Not only were these books absolutely fascinating because it’s a glimpse at how baking was approached over 100 years ago, but these books were filled with handwritten recipes! So of course these had to come home with me!
After going through the handwritten recipes, I came to the conclusion that both of these books were owned by the same woman due to a good handful of recipes having the same name on them: Louise.
Who was Louise?
There was no other information given … only her first name. No last name or initial initial, no address or general location … nothing but these recipes. The only clue I may have to which era these came from is that one recipe is written on the back of a sheet of a calendar note pad with the date Wednesday, December 17, 1930. Most were written in English, but a few appeared to be in German. Once I went through the piles of recipes, I decided to tryout the Baking Powder Coffee Cake recipe that bore Louise’s name on it.
Below you can find a copy of the recipe and my thoughts on the resulting coffee cake. 🥰
The home-maker will then have time to devote to the other side of life, to the things that bring inspiration and joy and peace into this little circle of love which we are proud to call “our home.”
Georgie Boynton Child on the science of homemaking in “The Efficient Kitchen”
As a stay-at-home mom and a homemaker, I find that a good portion of my time is spent in the kitchen, be it cooking, cleaning, or planning. It is not lost on me how important it is to have a warm and welcoming kitchen as well as one that is well managed. Several months ago I was introduced to the book The Efficient Kitchen by Georgie Boynton Child (1914) after watching this video from Paige at the Farmhouse Vernacular YouTube channel. This manual was intended “as a book of practical directions showing how to so build new kitchens or transform old ones that the work of the home may be accomplished with a sense of master, instead of remaining the hopeless problem it has become” in the early 20th century.
Georgie Boynton Child was an American efficiency expert who took great care in assisting the homemaker, be it a man or a woman, to run an efficient and economical home , no matter what their household income level may be, so they could spend time away from the “villain kitchen vassalage,” and devote their time to the things that bring inspiration and joy to them and their family. It amazes me that the domestic issues we face today were very much in the forefront of the issues homemakers well over a century ago.
My dear reader, it would be an understatement to say that 2020 has been a dumpster fire of a year (plague, murder hornets, political and social unrest, and fire everywhere… need I say more?). I’m sure that I had high hopes for the start of a new decade like many others have. Perhaps 2020 would be reminiscent of the Roaring 1920’s, the Jazz Age, a Golden Age? But alas, this decade has a mind of its own and refuses to bow to the expectation of mankind.
Even with the pandemic looming over our everyday lives’, I still feel the need to revel in this time of year. For as long as I can remember, New Year’s has been one of my favorite holidays to celebrate. The appeal for me was the ritual of wrapping up the year in a neat little bow and beginning the next with a clean slate. It’s also a conclusion to the busyness of the the past few months with their respective holidays; with the promise that soon I can take a deep breath and relax into the coziness of winter’s embrace and just be for a moment, without social obligations hovering overhead.
With 2020 being such an unusual year, we can’t expect it to end in our usual way. Perhaps, this year we can look to the past at how previous generations have celebrated the start of a new year. And just maybe, we can try out a new-to-us tradition this year.
I have been at this point in my life before, on the edge of beginning a new blog, ready to publish the first post, terrified I won’t succeed (again), and worried this blog will have a short life like the 5+ill-fated blogs before it. And yet I make the attempt once more, sure of my tenacity to succeed and stick to it this time.
So here I go on this journey, and I hope with all my being that you, dear reader and friend, will join me along the way.
The intention of this blog is to delve into the domestic side of history and see how the ordinary person went about their day. As a stay-at-home mom and a homemaker, I feel compelled to research the lives of the women who came before me in this honorable, yet under appreciated, profession.
So, my dear reader, let us walk this path together, hands clasped tight, as we bring a part of the past into our home and daily life.