Tag Archives: Baking powder

Pumpkin Bread

This recipe for pumpkin bread is from our church cookbook, contributed by my sister in law and adapted by me.   It’s a family favorite.  Enjoy!

Ingredients:  ½ cup shortening or oil (I use coconut oil), 1 cup sugar, 2 large eggs, 1 cup pureed or canned pumpkin, ¼ cup dark molasses

1 2/3 cup flour, ¼ tsp baking powder, 1 tsp. baking soda, ¼ tsp cloves, 3/4 tsp salt, ½ tsp cinnamon

Mix wet ingredients together.  In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients then add these to the wet mixture.   If needed, blend in 1/3 cup of water.  Normally I don’t need to add the extra liquid.  It depends on how moist your pumpkin is.  I sometimes substitute butternut squash or sweet potatoes for the pumpkin and that can make the mixture more or less moist.

Bake at 350 for one hour in greased and floured bread pan.  Makes one loaf.  A sweet, spicy bread, excellent plain or with butter and jam or honey.

*Pic Some of this years Cinderella Pumpkins from our garden

Old Time Mennonite Apple Dumplings

Autumn is the season of apples, all kinds, colors, sweet, tangy, mild, or full of flavor, and it’s the perfect time of year to make apple dumplings.  This is an old recipe from The Mennonite Community Cookbook.

6 Medium Sized Baking Apples, 2 cups of flour, 2 1/2 tsps. baking powder, 1/2 tsp. salt, 2/3 cup shortening,  1/2 cup milk.

Sauce:  2 cups brown sugar, 2 cups water, 1/4 cup butter, 1/4 tsp. cinnamon or nutmeg

Pare and core apples.  Leave whole. To make pastry sift flour, baking powder and salt together. Cut in shortening until particles are the size of small peas. Sprinkle milk over mixture and press together lightly, working dough only enough to hold together. Roll dough as for pastry and cut into six squares and place an apple on each. Fill cavity in apple with sugar and cinnamon. Pat dough around apple to cover completely. Fasten edges together securely on top of apple.  Place dumplings 1 inch apart in a greased baking pan.

Pour the sauce over them made as follows:  Combine brown sugar, water and spices in stove top pan.  Cook for five minutes.  Remove from heat and add butter.

Bake at 350 for 35 to 40 minutes. Baste occasionally during baking. Serve hot with rich milk or cream.  Savor.

Ties to the Past~Succotash and Sage

During my vast research for historicals set in early America I came across a wealth of plant lore and recipes.  An avid gardener, I love to grow herbs, heirloom flowers and vegetables. To see, smell, touch and taste the same plants known to my ancestors is a rich connection to those who’ve gone before me.  A common thread in my work, whether writing straight historical or paranormal romance is my passion for the past.

The following early American recipes are lifted from a slim volume I picked up at the nearby Museum of Frontier Culture located outside of historic Staunton Virginia in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley where my family has lived for several hundred years.  By ‘frontier’ they mean colonial.  At one time, the valley and mountains were the colonial frontier, the setting for my new release colonial Native American Romance Novel Red Bird’s Song.

From The Good Land: Native American and Early Colonial Food by Patricia B. Mitchell


“To make your own Indian style succotash, combine equal parts cooked red or kidney beans and cooked whole kernel corn. Season to taste with salt and pepper, butter or margarine (or bacon drippings)  and  heat.

Historically speaking, succotash is the forerunner of the popular Southern ‘Big-pot’ combination of vegetables and meats known as Brunswick stew. (Incidentally, boiled soup was typical Indian fare.  The Iroquois served soup at almost every meal. Each person had his own spoon and wooden bowl, and when invited to eat with a friend, he took along his own utensil and bowl.)

Sage is indigenous to the North shore of the Mediterranean, but when the Europeans brought it and other herbs here, the Indians were quick to investigate the new plants. They found sage useful as a curative for ‘a host of ills.'”

*The colonists were equally eager for the plants/herbal knowledge shared with them by the Native Americans.

Recipe for Old Sage Cornmeal Scones:

2 cups yellow cornmeal, 2 cups whole wheat flour,  Tab. baking powder, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. baking soda, 3/4 tsp. sage, 3 Tabs. vegetable oil, 3 tsp. honey, 1 1/2 cup buttermilk or sour milk

Combine the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl mix the liquids and then stir in the dry ingredients. Mix well. Using your hands, form two balls. On a level surface flatten these balls into discs about 3/4 inch thick. Cut each disk into eight wedges. Place on baking sheet and bake at 375 F. oven for about 10 minutes. Turn the scones over and bake another five minutes. Serve hot.

Down-Home Cornbread

This recipe is from The Good Land by Patricia B. Mitchell.  She tells of the strong influence Native Americans and the corn they grew had on the early colonists.  Corn became a vital staple in the colonial diet, and still is on us today.

11/2 c. cornmeal, 1 tsp. baking powder, 1/2 tsp. baking soda, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/8-1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

2 cups corn kernels, drained, 1 cup plain yogurt, 1/2 cup water, 1/4 cup vegetable oil, 1/2 cup chopped onion, 2 cloves minced garlic, 1 cup grated cheese

Mix together dry ingredients. In a separate large bowl combine the remaining ingredients, then stir in the dry mixture. When moistened throughout, spoon into a well greased 10 1/2-inch iron skillet. Bake at 350 F. for 45 minutes.  Makes eight large moist wedges rather like spoon bread.

Historical Research and Colonial American Recipes

During my VAST research for historicals set in early America I came across a wealth of plant info and recipes.  An avid gardener, I love to grow herbs, heirloom flowers and vegetables.  To see, smell, touch and taste the same plants known to my ancestors is as rich a connection to the past as I can have, and I’m fascinated with those who’ve gone before me—a common thread in all my work; whether writing straight historical or paranormal romance, the past looms large.

The following nuggets are lifted from a slim volume I picked up at the nearby Museum of Frontier Culture located outside of historic Staunton, Virginia in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley where my family has lived for several hundred years.  By ‘frontier’ they mean colonial.  At one time, the valley and mountains were the colonial frontier, the setting for my Historical Romance Novel Red Bird’s Song.

The Good Land: Native American and Early Colonial Food by Patricia B. Mitchell

Vegetable Fritters:

1 c. flour, 1 tsp. baking powder, 1/2 tsp. salt

1 egg, 1/2 cup milk, 1 tsp. melted butter, or margarine or oil

1 cup chopped and well drained cooked vegetables (such as carrots, corn, green beans, lima beans, mushrooms, peas, or a combination of).

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Beat egg and add milk and butter.  Add to flour mixture and beat until smooth.  Add vegetables. Drop by tablespoons into shallow hot fat (or oil) in skillet.  Fry for four minutes or until brown on all sides. Drain on absorbent paper.

“Pumpkin was one of the plentiful Indian crops for which the English soon ‘developed a necessary liking.’ The food has been described as the ‘fruit which the Lord fed his people with til corn and cattle increased.’

This old verse illustrates the early dependence of settlers in the New World upon pumpkins: “For pottage, and puddings, and custards, and pies. Our pumpkins and parsnips are common supplies. We have pumpkins at morning and pumpkins at noon; If it were not for pumpkins, we should be undoon.”

They cooked the fruit into a ‘gruel’ flavored it with butter, vinegar, and ginger. I would open the pumpkin and remove the seeds, then cut the flesh into pieces before cooking, but that direction isn’t included as it’s assumed you know that. Peeling is easier after it’s cooked.

An early recipe for ‘Pompkin Pie.’

“One quart milk, 1 pint pompkin, 4 eggs, molasses, allspice, and ginger in a crust, bake for 1 hour.”

If that recipe isn’t clear enough, here’s an old Mennonite pumpkin pie recipe. It assumes you grew your own pumpkins, of course, but you can substitute canned.

Pumpkin Pie:

1 1/2 cups cooked pumpkin, 1 cup brown sugar, 1 1/2 cups scalded milk, 3 eggs, separated

1/2 tsp. salt, 1 Tab. cornstarch, 1/4 tsp. ginger, 1/4 tsp cloves, 1 tsp cloves

Pastry for one 9 inch pie crust.


Cook pumpkin and rub through a sieve. Add beaten egg yolks, sugar, salt, cornstarch, and mix well. Fold in stiffly beaten egg whites.

Pour mixture into unbaked crust. Bake at 425 for 10 minutes then reduce heat to 350 and continue baking for 30 minutes.

*I reduced the milk by 1/2 cup.*I use good sized eggs

For more on the Virginia Frontier Culture Museum:

A fascinating and highly educational ‘living history’ site ideal for families, school field trips, and anyone with a passion for history .  To quote from their website:

” A Journey to the past…The Frontier Culture Museum tells the story of the thousands of people who migrated to colonial America, and of the life they created here for themselves and their descendants. These first pioneers came to America during the 1600s and 1700s from communities in the hinterlands of England, Germany, Ireland, and West Africa. Many were farmers and rural craftsmen set in motion by changing conditions in their homelands, and drawn to the American colonies by opportunities for a better life. Others came as unwilling captives to work on farms and plantations. Regardless of how they arrived, all became Americans, and all contributed to the success of the  colonies, and of the United States.

To tell the story of these early immigrants and their American descendants, the Museum has moved or reproduced examples of traditional rural buildings from England, Germany, Ireland, West Africa, and America. The Museum engages the public at these exhibits with a combination of interpretive signage and living history demonstrations. The outdoor exhibits are located in two separate areas: the Old World and America. The Old World exhibits show rural life and culture in four homelands of early migrants to the American colonies. The American exhibits show the life these colonists and their descendants created in the colonial backcountry, how this life changed over more than a century, and how life in the United States today is shaped by its frontier past.”

Southern Spicy Gingerbread


We got hit by cold, lashing winds and rain here in the valley this week. The sun is struggling to emerge from behind a veil of gray clouds and the air still nippy this morning.  Which puts me in the mood for comfort food.  With the holidays fast approaching,  gingerbread comes to mind.  This recipe is from an old fashioned cookbook called Charleston Receipts that my mom bought eons ago on a family outing to Charleston.  I love  old Southern recipes, probably because I’m from the South, although I make some modifications to reduce the fat.

Southern Spicy Gingerbread:

2 eggs

3/4 cup dark brown sugar

3/4 cup dark molasses

3/4 cup shortening or 1/2 cup butter (I have used 1/2 cup oil)

2 1/2 cups flour

1 cup boiling water

2 tsps baking soda

2 tsps ginger

1 1/2 tsps cinnamon

1/2 tsp cloves

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp baking powder

Add beaten egg to sugar, molasses and melted shortening (or butter, or oil) and beat well.

Add dry ingredients which have been mixed, then the boiling water.  Stir well and pour into shallow

greased pan, (sheet cake size or a smaller depending on how tall you want the gingerbread).

Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes.

Serve with lemon sauce or whipped cream.  We use the canned lemon pie filling.

I often make this for my husband’s birthday, but was remiss this year so I owe him one. 🙂

While I’m on the subject of food, I am one of the authors with a recipe in the cookbook put together by The Wild Rose Press.  For a FREE download of the cookbook, go to The Wild Rose Press and look at the upper right hand corner of the home page.  They’re also offering a spiral bound version for sale at:


It’s entitled: 2009 Garden Gourmet

A Good Southern Banana Bread Recipe

banana bread1 cup sugar

1/2 cup shortening

2 eggs

3 large mashed bananas

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 3/4 cups all-purpose  flour

3/4 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Cream sugar and shortening.  Add eggs and mashed bananas.

Combine dry ingredients and add to creamed mixture.  Bake in loaf pan at 350 degrees for 50 minutes.

Makes one large or two small loaves.

This original recipe is one my sister in law uses and is in our church cookbook.

*My variation of this recipe.

I substituted 1/2 cup of dark brown sugar for the cup of white and used half soft whole wheat flour in with the all-purpose.  Rather than the shortening, I used 1/2 cup of Smart Balance Omega oil. I also added 1/4 cup milled flax seed and a generous dash of nutmeg.   I never add nuts so that wasn’t an option.  Too much nut intolerance in the family.  This made a more nutritious and good, moist loaf.  My picky little four yr old grandson asked for more.  🙂

Old Southern Recipe for Huckleberry Muffins

HuckleberriesFrom the Charleston Receipts Book published in 1950:

2 cups flour

1/4 cup shortening *(I imagine you can substitute oil)

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup milk

1 cup huckleberries or blueberries

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 teaspoons baking powder

1-2 eggs

Sprinkle some of the flour over the berries.  Sift the rest of the flour with other dry ingredients.

Melt shortening and combine with milk and beaten egg yolks.

Mix dry and liquid mixtures quickly and fold in stiffly beaten egg whites.  *(I’m assuming the berries go in last)

Bake 30 minutes in 400 degree oven.

*I remember my late uncle, Augusta County, VA native, RW Moffett, describe his annual treks into the mountains to pick huckleberries while keeping a sharp eye out for bears and rattlesnakes.  I suppose it made the berries that much sweeter.  He knew where the best patches were and had good friends among the mountain people.

Scotch Oatcakes

Contributed by Barbara Monajem.  For more on her work please visit:http://www.barbaramonajem.com/


No, I’m not of Scottish heritage (or only a fraction), and I don’t write historicals about Scotland. My oatcakes are probably a far cry from the real thing. Nevertheless, I adore them, and every child I’ve made them for (or with–they’re a great recipe to do with kids) loves them, too.

The recipe follows, but since I don’t follow recipes–can’t resist altering them–please bear with me. I’m the same way with directions. This is partly to do with living in the Atlanta area (it’s snowing here!!), where the roads are winding and a sense of direction is often more of a hindrance than a help. I always give visitors several alternate routes to wherever I’m directing them, because one wrong turn may send you… Oh, anywhere else but where you thought you were headed. This drives some people crazy and into the sunset anyway, especially when they try to decipher one of my scrawled maps, so be warned: This recipe may not be for you.

2 cups oatmeal

The original recipe, which came by way of the mother of a childhood friend, called for finely-ground oatmeal. I didn’t know where to find that, so I just used what I had (or what my mother had–this was long ago). Quick-cooking or whole rolled oats work just fine, or a combination of the two. I like the texture of whole rolled oats, but the oatcakes look smoother if you use the quick-cooking kind.

1 cup flour

If I have it, I use whole wheat pastry flour. If not, I use half regular whole wheat and half white. Plain white flour works fine, too.

3 teaspoons baking powder

Astonishingly, I haven’t messed with this.

1/2 teaspoon salt

The original recipe called for 1 teaspoon, but I didn’t see the need for extra salt, especially since I like eating oatcakes with cheese.

1/4 cup brown sugar

I think the original recipe called for 1/3 cup, although my memory may be faulty. 1/4 cup is plenty. Imagine, a treat for kids that’s fun to make and not sweet!

1/2 cup butter

The original recipe called for shortening or bacon fat. Shortening works fine, but I don’t buy it any more. Bacon fat makes the oatcakes VERY bacony. (I was the only one who enjoyed that particular batch.) Butter is WONDERFUL, especially if it’s clarified (aka ghee). I always make my oatcakes with butter.

Cold water

Mix the oats, flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Rub in the butter with your fingers. Add just enough cold water (usually less than 1/2 cup) to make a stiff dough. Add the water gradually, or suddenly you will find you used way too much, in which case you may have to add another set of dry ingredients and butter and maybe (very carefully) some more water. (Fortunately, this recipe doubles well, and more oatcakes is always better.)

Roll or pat to about 1/4 inch thick. (I always pat. They’re not as smooth this way, but it’s quicker, and I don’t have to find and wash my neglected rolling pin.) Cut in shapes (e.g. triangles, squares, wonky quadrilaterals) or use a cookie cutter. I use a small drinking glass (just under 2.75 inches in diameter) to cut mine.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes. There’s no need to grease the cookie sheet. Eat as is or with jam or cheese. Yum!