My family has lived in West Pottawattamie County for over one hundred and fifty years, so it is fun to read over the recipes which were contributed by family members whom I've only heard about or seen in ancient black and white photographs. However, some of the names in the cookbook also belong to people that I knew in my childhood, people of the generation born in the late 1890s who had been considered elderly for a score of years before I came along. I'm sure that I would recognize even more of the names, except that in 1926 the women had the habit of calling themselves "Mrs. Geo. Galloway" or "Mrs. S. S. Wymore." What was Mrs. Galloway's first name? For that matter, what did Mr. Wymore's "S. S." stand for?
In addition to the challenges with the names, the recipes themselves are challenging at times. They assume quite a lot, and you definitely have to have been cooking a wide variety of foods for quite awhile before you can even begin to make sense of some of the directions. They are all also clearly written for people who were cooking on wood or coal-fired ranges. In fact, in our area of Iowa, most rural cooks (and many in small towns) did not part with their wood cookstoves until after World War II when, after so many years of scraping by, the push for upgrading and buying everything new was at its peak.
While Nancy and I have been home getting ready for Christmas, I decided to branch out a little this year and make a few things that weren't on our traditional lists. Mrs. S. S. Wymore's recipe for "Orange Squares" caught my eye (p. 274). These are certainly a different sort of candy than what is standard fare around here, but I like them. An additional benefit is that they are fat free, and they certainly would add a new dimension to a tray of homemade goodies. They are also a recipe that took advantage of the cookstove's features.
To make them, you first soften 2 Tbsp. granulated Knox gelatin (this worked out to be three envelopes) in 4 Tbsp. of cold water for 10 minutes.
|The gelatin dissolving in the cold water. Note the cookstove |
on the Rice Krispies vintage recipe tin. Mom ordered that for me
when I was about five years old. As you can see, my fascination
is an old one.
These need to be set aside overnight to congeal. Then the interesting and challenging part comes because you have to cut them and get them out of the dishes. Though Mrs. Wymore didn't say so, here is what you have to do: dip your sharp paring knife into cold water and dip the pans into the hot water of the reservoir in order to soften the candy around the edges and bottom.
|Holding the pan of candy in the hot water reservoir|
to free it from the edges of the pan.
|A picture of the candy with light behind it so that you can see|
how clear it is.
|The finished product.|
As homemade candies go, this one is light and refreshing. Give it a try!