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. 🥰
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Here in Central Illinois, we are beginning to see small signs of Spring peeking through the remnants of winter’s hold upon the land. Sporadic warm days (above 40 degrees Fahrenheit) and the melting away of snow have sent me into a tizzy for all things Spring related. Windows have been thrown open to air out the house, the garden is being planned, spring cleaning is on the brain, and I can feel the buzzing of renewed energy after a long Winter hibernation.
One of my favorite springtime activities is to make a batch of linen spray. This simple spray helps lift the mood and freshen up the house after a long winter being cooped up indoors. Below is the recipe I have been using for several years now.
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Here in Central Illinois, it feels like winter has finally settled in for the season. It was about a week ago that we had freezing rain coupled with our first blanketing of snow. With the change of seasons comes the seasonal affliction of dry, chapped hands, which has been exacerbated by the extra hand washing during the pandemic. To combat the chapping of my hands, I have turned to making a small batch of hand cream that will moisturize and heal them.
I took inspiration from Ruth Goodman, one of my absolute favorite domestic historians, when she was partaking in The Victorian Farm series. (If you haven’t seen any of the farm series’ that she is a part of, please take the time to do so. They are absolutely fascinating and filled with a wealth of knowledge of daily life in different eras.)
In the third episode of The Victorian Farm, Ruth makes a hand cream for her chapped hands and a lip balm (with a hint of color for some undercover cosmetics). Her recipe calls for lard, honey, oatmeal, egg yolks, and rose water to be mixed thoroughly and stored in a jar. Note that she did not give any measurements or her source for the recipe within that video.
At this moment, I do not have all of those listed ingredients to make a batch for myself, however, I was able to create a hand cream using ingredients that I do have in my small apothecary cabinet. Thus, I am able to abide by a Victorian moral code of economy by using what I already have!
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As we enter cold and flu season, dear reader, it is good to have a small batch of elderberry syrup in your refrigerator at the ready. This small addition to your home apothecary is an excellent supplement for boosting your immune system and can be used to help improve the symptoms of the cold and flu.
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Here, dear reader, is a simple and easy recipe for making a small batch of plantain salve, a staple in my home apothecary. This addition to your own home apothecary is great for healing minor burns, small cuts, stings, and bug bites. My family and I have used this salve for several years now and we absolutely love it!
Crafting a plantain salve is an easy way to dip your toes into herbalism because you are learning how to make an infused oil and a salve. This recipe is also a wonderful way to be a thrifty or economical homemaker because you are foraging for plantain in your own backyard and creating a healing salve instead of purchasing similar ointments from the drug store.
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I must confess, dear reader, that I am a complete and unabashed Jane-ite. Not only do I find great joy in reading her novels and watching the film adaptations, but I love learning about Jane’s everyday life and the people she surrounded herself with. One of those individuals was Martha Lloyd, a family friend that lived with Jane, Cassandra, and Mrs. Austen for a time; who later married Jane’s brother, Francis. Martha left behind an incredible artifact that gives us a glimpse into the domestic life of the Austens’ and their circle of friends, her handwritten household book.
Continue reading “Establishing a Household Book”