I love to read old recipes and imagine the pioneer women cooking up a batch of Hopping John, Son-of-a-Biscuit Stew or Molasses Cookies on their wood stove. I can just see them gathering their ingredients and setting to work building a fire. But getting it the right temperature was a problem all its own.
**A side note: Pioneer women gauged the heat of an oven by holding their hand inside and counting. If she could hold her hand inside for a count of 40, it was right for baking bread. A count of twenty would be sufficient for baking cakes and pies.**
Good heavens! Can you imagine?
Old-time recipes called for a smidgen of seasoning, a pinch of this, a dab of that, or a dollop (usually butter) the size of a walnut. And sometimes the recipe called for a dash of something or “enough flour to make a stiff dough.” I’m guessing that housewives pretty much cooked by trial and error and adjusted things to suit them because it would be extremely difficult to know what some of these measurements meant.
Is a smidgen more than a dash or a dab? And how much is scant of something?
My mother rarely used a recipe. She’d get out her ingredients and start mixing things together until it looked, tasted, or felt right. I used to love watching her cook. It was an amazing sight. And boy, did her dishes taste wonderful! She must’ve had the pioneer spirit instilled in her.
For the record, that talent was not passed down to me!!
To demonstrate the measurement difficulty, here’s an old recipe for Gingerbread:
½ cup sugar
2 dollops of butter
1 cup syrup
Enough flour for a soft dough
1 ½ small spoon soda
Smidgen of cinnamon, ginger, cloves
Pinch of salt
1 cup hot water
Mix all ingredients together and bake in a medium oven
A medium oven? Precisely how hot is that? Good grief!
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Releasing May 5th!! TWICE A TEXAS BRIDE -- the heroine Callie Quinn hires on to cook for Rand Sinclair, the middle brother if my Bachelors of Battle Creek series. She soon learns that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach.
So, I’m wondering...how many of you could cook using a smidgen, dab, dash, dollop, or pinch of ingredients? Aren’t you glad our recipes today speak our language?
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