Welcome to our Blog!!!!

Our family has two handwritten recipe books- one from my great grandmother and the other possibly from her mother.

This journal will document my kids (Emily and Suzanne) and my (Linda) efforts to figure out the handwriting, unfamiliar ingredients and measurements and make the recipes in these books.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Salaeratus and other Mysteries

Started puzzling through the cryptic Brown Bread recipe by researching other versions online. It became clear quite quickly that there was one more mystery- just how many loaves of bread does this recipe make? Many recipes called for half the liquid, or less, but made two loaves- yikes.

Many recipes also used more sweetener. Guess my ancestor(s) didn't have my sweet tooth, lol.

The instructions to bake for an hour following steaming is one more anomaly. If baking was mentioned it tended to be for ten minutes or less. Wonder if the long baking is related to all that liquid? Perhaps a low temp oven will be the key here.

Interested in some background on the evolution of some traditional New England recipes? This enotes.com article was interesting reading.


So, OK, salaeratus (more commonly spelled saleratus) turned out to be baking soda. And, of course, that made sense since there is no other leavening in the recipe.

And, no surprise, indian meal is corn meal. I'm thinking a regular or course ground version would be the equivalent of what was available then.

True sour milk apparently cannot be made with our modern sweet milk because of the pasteurization process. As a substitute, 1 tablespoon of an acidic (vinegar, lemon juice or lime juice are common) can be placed in a cup measure and fill the cup the rest of the way with 2% or whole milk. Stir and let stand for 5 to 15 minutes until it curdles and thickens a bit.

Now on to what to put the batter in. A one pound can seems to be the most common type of 'pan', though I've also seen mention of lidded molds and smaller cans. Cans'll be the simplest to get. Not sure how many this recipe will need so I'll have several on hand. Most instructions (example) call for filling the mold 2/3 full, covering with foil or parchment paper tied with string, placing on a rack in a large pot, filling half way up the mold with boiling water and simmering for hours.

Next we gather supplies, and the camera, and play in the kitchen.


Sunday, August 9, 2009

What we've done... (not much yet!! XD)

The preliminary doings:
  • Hole punched all those papers and slipped into a binder
  • Went through the whole process of making a blog ( yes, it is a whole process even though it's supposed to be easy...{mom is never satisfied})
  • ....that's it.....

What's next:
  • First recipe in the larger book is Brown Bread (Mrs Hayden's). We'll start with that but then jump around since the book was handwritten mostly all at once and in order by category.
  • Need to figure out: 'sour milk just turned', salaeratus, indian meal, pan type, oven temperature setting.