I’m not ready to be done with summer.
In the days before air conditioning in every home and car – if anyone remembers that era – there was “summer cake”. Layers of Hot Milk Sponge Cake filled with jam and topped with powdered sugar. A few years ago, I learned that this old recipe was called Washington Pie. Rather like Boston Cream Pie – they are cake and not pie.
While the jam and powdered sugar are traditional, a simple chocolate ganache was better suited for an August birthday. My hubby was glad for that change!
The recipe apparently dates from the mid to late 1800’s. Mom’s note at the top attributes it to her mom and grandmother. Her grandmother lived from 1850 – 1929, a time when many letters were written and recipes shared among friends and family.
I use vanilla in mine, but do choose whatever flavor will compliment your topping and filling.
And, as an old letter with a recipe enclosed ended, “I hope you have good luck with this!”
I come from a Christmas Cookie baking family – on my mother’s side.
I can never remember a year of Mom’s life when there were not crisp, thin, cut out sugar cookies – “plain” and with variations of flavor: coconut, black walnut or anise. It was her mother’s recipe, passed around that large family.
I do remember my Grandmother Amelia with plates of cookies. Hers were thicker and cut with very old fashioned cutters but the lovely taste was the same. One Christmas, her platter included brown cut out cookies. I expected a treat – perhaps chocolate… Oh my. So bitter. So very nasty.
Whenever I find the leaves of the Chestnut oak with their rounded lobes, so like that cookie cutter, I remember those brown leaf-shaped Ginger cookies! A survey of my siblings revealed we all remember them, and we all thought they were terrible!
My husband’s Aunt Dolly once returned from a visit to a cousin’s and brought this ginger cookie recipe to our home for a baking session. I’ve made this recipe for many years now; these cookies are delicious with fruit and I make them year round.
When I make them, I use Grandma’s® Original Molasses. Their Gingerbread is another favorite with family and guests. One Christmas, my niece made these cute little houses for dessert. We were inspired by some at King Arthur Flour, another pantry staple for me.
It is fun to have memories of a distant time and place triggered by something as simple as a pile of leaves from the park! I’m sure you have some small memory triggers too.
Loud, disturbing storms rolled slowly through my long restless night. After dawn, the sun came slowly through the lingering clouds and there was the lovely lush green glow of this rainy summer.
Fortunately the power held and I could proceed with the days work of pickling. A kind neighbor had called with an offer of cucumbers and zucchini. Since we did not plant a vegetable garden this year, this was a real gift.
First, I made the Zucchini into soup from a recipe given to me a number of years ago. It is very similar to this one. We love the curry seasoning and usually have it warm. I’m so pleased to have several containers in the freezer.
It has been quite a few years since I had enough cucumbers growing to make pickles or relish and I had to gather some fresh spices for them. The process is slow and I feel the connection with the long history of women in summer kitchens “putting up” from the bounty of the land when I get to do these things. It was a shock for me to look at the old cookbook and realize the first time I made Million-Dollar Pickles was July, 1975! Yes, I write in my cookbooks, leaving the date and a comment trail through my years in the kitchen.
Jars of pickles, jelly or jam cooling on the counter always bring a feeling of satisfaction, of blessing.
There were three wonders to absorb my play time at the park.
1. Three oak trees clustered along the bank where we chose to sit. I have not yet identified them, but perhaps a reader knows. There seem to be a dozen species native to this state.
2. Sweet gum trees. I had learned that the color of these leaves is dependent on cool nights and sunny days. The range of color on a single tree is amazing.
Even the stems are colorful!
3. Black Walnuts – so many trees! You will notice them first by the fruit.
The thick green husk gives way to thick shell. Only persistence will yield the nut meats. Lacking my own trees and having heard the tales of blackened hands – from the husks – and the challenge of wresting the meat from the shell, I’ve never opened one, preferring to buy the delicious morsels by the bag. The taste is not at all like that of English walnuts. If you are not familiar with the taste of them a great way to start is with Black Walnut Jiffy Cake which is one of the easiest cakes to make. I highly recommend it! Follow the link to the recipe. It freezes well so it can be made ahead of the holidays. No frosting is needed. And, as my Great Aunt would say, I hope you have good luck with this!
I so agree with Anne –
“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers”
Anne Shirley – Anne of Green Gables
There were always apples in the house. Dad took one every day with his lunch and there were apples for ours, if we wanted them. Come fall, there would be bushels of fresh picked from country orchards and sometimes pie for Sunday suppers. But my favorite memory of comfort food is always hot applesauce on buttered toast for breakfast.
These Gala apples cooked into a lovely sauce which has provided rich desserts of applesauce on split buttered biscuits. Simple fare, perfect comfort for darkening autumn evenings.
I like to use sweet apples so no additional sweetener is needed, just cinnamon or apple pie spice to suit my fancy.
As the sweet fragrance of apple filled the house, I remembered the grace sung at many a Girl Scout camp meal – The Johnny Appleseed Prayer.
Oh the Lord is good to me,
and so I thank the Lord,
for giving me the things I need,
the sun, the rain and the appleseed,
the Lord is good to me.
Her real name is Marigold. Youngish and still a bit skittish with strangers, our new Gran-pup came to visit with her mom and dad. Marigold was rescued a few months ago and then adopted into the family a few weeks ago. This is her first visit and we found her to be a lovely houseguest, quiet and polite. Isn’t she lovely? The sound of her nails on the floors brought back so many memories of our Ada and the silence when she had gone was loud.
August days bring parties and birthdays and here in the “land of pleasant living”, steamed blue crabs covered in seasoning are on the table. Smiles are on faces and warm memories are being made. I hope you are enjoying these last warm days of summer!
He left his shovel. There is a great deal of work to be done before the rain comes again. Many inches of rain have followed the snow and lush growth overwhelms some spaces while seeds are still packaged. And, there are rabbits. Very large rabbits.
Rabbits have been rare visitors to the hilltop. For years we only saw them down near the driveway. And I envisioned them living in the bank of the hill under tree roots. I believed Beatrix Potter.
Actually, I believed Mr & Mrs Fox had everything under control and were serving rabbit pie to their young. I think they must have moved since I now watch the bold, joyous antics of celebration as rabbits roam the garden area taking bites here and there.
On the last sunny note – gold in the garden –
While the rains came, I decided to purge my cookbook and recipe collection. It went badly. There were piles everywhere and I thought I might just put everything back, but that never seems to work either.
So, procrastination led me to play on-line where beautiful inspiration draws me to Botanic Blue. Oh my, Judith wrote on Organizing Keepsakes in Baskets and my problem was solved – for today.
Ta-Da! Now they are all in a basket with a vintage hand towel, recipe cards, a pen and a notebook! The book sale items have moved to their box, the counter is clean, and I am smiling! I love creative solutions! Even temporary ones.
But, those shelves are still full! How did that happen?
I don’t really collect stats on weather or seasons in my life. I do remember cold winters and snow and ice winters but this one does seem relentless. Heavy rain in the night turned to rain and snow and sleet and left a coat of the heaviest kind to be pushed and shoveled.
But it was very beautiful and perhaps it was that beauty and the slightly perceptible lengthening of daylight that was energizing. I enjoyed creative time in the kitchen and we were delighted to share our muffins with the man who plowed and then helped to shovel, too! God bless Joe!
I can’t think that I will ever be a food blogger but I want to share the recipe that Mom used for her coffee cake. I like it anytime but especially in fall and winter when the cinnamon scents the house with warmth. Her recipe came from an old Spry Shortening cookbook. Spry is no longer made and Crisco shortening is what I use. It is fun to make these two cakes and give one away.
I found this link to the original recipe for “Queen Cake”. I have no memory of mom making it as a layer cake with the filling mentioned. By the time I came along, she had perfected it as single layer coffee cakes with this cinnamon topping:
4 Tablespoons granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
Then work in 2 Tablespoons room temperature butter with a fork till crumbly and spread over batter before baking.
I’ve increased the measurements a bit (Multiplied by 2!)
If I’m not giving one of the cakes away, I bake all of the batter in a 9 x 13 inch pan for 20 minutes and find it done. Be sure to test your cake!
And, as an older generation of cooks wrote, “I hope you have good luck with this!”