The Suffrage Cookbook, 1886

It may seem slightly ironic to some today that there is a suffrage cookbook (in fact, there are multiple, but thats a story for another time). After all, weren’t these women trying to free themselves from their domestic duties and launch themselves into the public realm? Some perhaps, most no. Isn’t the kitchen a symbol of their oppression? I would argue not.

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First a moment of the cookbook, and its origin. The Suffrage Cookbook was published as a fundraiser for the Massachusetts Woman Suffrage Association (MWSA), which was associated with the more “conservative” national suffrage organization, the American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA) founded by Lucy Stone, Henry Blackwell, and Julia Ward Howe. The national organization came into existence when the American Equal Rights Associated split over the issue of the Fifteenth Amendment. To make a long and sordid tale short, some women opposed the Fifteenth Amendment unless women were included (such as Susan B. Anthony ,Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Matilda Joslyn Gage). Others believed they should support African American suffrage, even if women weren’t included (this latter group became the AWSA). The two organizations actually merged in 1890 for a number of reasons, though this cookbook precedes that by a few years (for the first edition, the second edition was printed in 1890).

What is interesting about the cookbook is the assortment of contributors. There are major suffrage activists who contribute recipes; a number of female physicians (no easy accomplishment in 1886), but the majority are women who use the title Mrs., sometimes even followed by their husband’s name, like this:

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By the late 1800s Suffrage was becoming a more mainstream cause (I will talk about this when I get to my post on Francis Willard in particular). There are many “regular” housewives , mother, grandmothers, etc., who were fighting for the vote. Cooking and other household activities were part of their lives. Even women who decided to never marry, such as Alice Stone Blackwell, needed to cook; in fact, she has numerous recipes in the book (included a somewhat suspect egg recipe to make when you have unexpected company over).

Not to mention, there was the negative opinion at the time that women who fought for the vote were neglecting their familial and household duties. Publishing a cookbook may have just seemed like a good way to combat view. A woman could not only spend her free time fighting for universal suffrage, but she could also make delicious cakes, clean her house, and take care of the ill (there is an entire section on taking care of invalids–its…odd).

The book ends with pages of quotes supporting Woman Suffrage by prominent people. Some of my personal favorites include:

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And this is where I will leave it for today. Next time I’ll have a recipe for you!

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Welcome Suffragists

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Lucy and I made Miss E. B. Plympton’s  (of Woborn, MA–a town nine miles north of Boston today, but probably farther in 1886) Welcome Cake for our first recipe from the Woman Suffrage Cookbook. The recipe goes like this:

Beat together one and one-half cups of sugar and one-half cupful of butter; add in three well beaten eggs and three small cupfuls of flour in which a teaspoon cream of tartar and a half teaspoon of soda have been sifted; beat in a half cupful of milk and a cupful of currants or seeded raisins. 

In order to be as true to the recipe as possible, I left my Kitchen Aid mixer sitting in the corner of the counter, and went at it with a bowl, a wooden spoon, and a fork. Some of the recipes in this book use standard measurements, some don’t. This one did–except for the “small cups” of flour–we’ll come back to this.

As for the ingredients, it took me a minute to try to figure out what type of flour and sugar to use. By the 1880s flour was being processed similar to today (thanks to Minneapolis milling!) but no one bleached flour yet. So I used unbleached white flour (I avoid bleached flour anyway). The sugar was a little tricker. The process of separating the sugar from molasses was invented in 1852, so presumably a somewhat affluent woman in Massachusetts would have probably used white sugar. Apparently brown sugar was unpopular at the time, but I also wasn’t sure how pure white the white sugar would have been. I am not a sugar historian. In the end I used one cup white sugar and half a cup of light brown sugar.

The eggs, soda, and cream of tartar were all self-explanatory. I then added the 1/2 cup whole milk.

Now to the “small cups” of flour. This certainly isn’t any sort of standard way to measure flour, so I wasn’t sure how much to add. So what I did was put three cups of flour in small bowl and added flour to the cake mixture until it looked like a normal cake batter. This ended up being about ten ounces of flour–which equals a little more than two cups of flour.

Then I stirred in a cup of dried currents that I had been soaking in hot water to plump up again. I had picked these up at the co-op, but I know you can find these at some grocery stores as well (but probably not places like Target).

I figured a metal cake pan would be the most historically accurate. So I poured the batter into a nine-inch metal cake pan which I had coated in melted butter then coated in flour.

There of course were no oven temps or baking time. I popped it in the oven at 350 for about an hour (I was checking it pretty consistently for the last twenty minutes). Also my oven tends to be a little cool, so it might cook faster for you.

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The cake was actually pretty good! It had a consistency similar to a coffee cake. I liked the currents. The kids loved the cake. It is a nice simple cake–good for serving with afternoon tea with visitors.

How the cake was rated:

Alec gave it 8/10

Lucy gave it 8/10

Jennie gave it a 7/10

Emory ate some and threw a bunch of the floor.

 

So here is my modernized cooking instructions:

Ingredients:

2 sticks butter–room temp.

1 cup white sugar

1/2 cup light brown sugar

3 eggs

1 t. cream of tartar

1/2 t. baking soda

2-1/4 cups unbleached white flour

1/2 cup whole milk

1 cup dried currents soaked in water

 

Method:

Preheat oven to 350.

Pour some boiling water over the dried currents, let soak while putting together the rest of the cake.

Mix together flour, soda, and cream of tartar. Set aside.

Cream together butter and sugar. Mix in the three beaten eggs. Add in both the flour mixture and the milk, alternating until both absorbed.

Mix in the drained currents.

Pour into a 9 inch metal cake pan which has been either sprayed with baking spray or coated in butter and flour.

Bake 50-60 minutes until golden brown.

Serve warm if you can–its really tasty right out of the oven.

 

Other ideas:

As I was eating it, I thought a little orange zest would compliment the flavor of the cake well.

Upcoming: 

My next post will be more historical in nature. So look forward to reading more about the nineteenth-century fight for suffrage and the people who put together this particular cookbook.

 

Upcoming Events

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I have always had varying commitment to my blog, though I have always kept it going to some degree. When I began my doctorate, my posts unsurprisingly declined. While preparing for comprehensive exams and trying to get my dissertation proposal approved, I was too overwhelmed to do anything. Those days are in the past though. I am indeed writing my dissertation, and its amazingly less stressful than those aforementioned activities (so far at least). All that to say, I have updated the blog, freshened the look, and am committing to being here more. Why? Why take on more writing? More commitments? Well, I was actually inspired while researching for my dissertation, believe it or not.

Without getting into too much detail, my dissertation is about Christian women in Minnesota (between the years 1880-1920) and their engagement in social reform. While trying to find an article on Scandinavian-American suffrage groups (I had read it before but was having trouble finding a copy online), I stumbled upon a Suffrage Cookbook from 1886. This is unusable in my actual dissertation, but I was thrilled to find a book filled with recipes by famous suffragists like Lucy Stone, Francis Willard, Matilda Joslyn Gage, among others. I once had a series of posts called Recipes from Yesteryear where a friend of mine and I made pretty atrocious recipes like Tomato Soup Cake, and I plan something similar but with the Suffrage cookbook (I also hope the recipes are a little tastier).

1886 is before cooking methods were standardized. There will be some trial and error–how many tablespoons are in an egg shape amount of butter? Cooking pans are a bit different–can I use a muffin tin for a Gem recipe? These are things I will be dealing with, but it is also the fun of it. I also plan to pair these recipes with a little history; how can I not?!?

In addition to perhaps edible recipes from famous suffragists, you will probably be seeing healthier recipes. I have been on a real food kick–to great results! Everyone seems a little happier, healthier, and thinner. AND I am obsessed with my Instant Pot–so there is that.

In the meantime, I posted a picture of some beautiful Christmas cookies Lucy decorated.

Chicago Pt. 2

I usually try to post every Tuesday. I missed last week because the kids have been sick. First Emory had Bronchiolitis, then Lucy got the flu, then Emory caught the flu from Lucy. Its been real fun, or not.

I have actually made some decent things, meals and baked goods, but didn’t take any pictures or anything, so here is some pictures from our trip to Chicago last month.

This was taken at the Chicago art museum. Alec and I were both yelled at by museum guards, and I was legitimately worried they were going to kick us out. Apparently taking a sip of water is completely unacceptable.

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Lucy with Uncle Peter and Kim. They swung her around a good share of Chicago like this.

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Kim took us to Chinatown. We had Dim Sum, got bubble tea, and went to an awesome candy store.

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AND most exciting, once we were back at Peter’s apartment, Emory rolled over for the first time. Here is a picture of the monumental event!

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Sewing and Wontons

In a constant attempt to procrastinate on my comprehensive exam readings, I have picked up my sewing hobby again. In all seriousness though, my friend Sashila asked me to make her a bag which was the real reason I got back to it.

I asked her what colors she would like and went shopping at my favorite fabric store, Crafty Planet. The fabric there isn’t cheap, but it is all beautiful and unique. She requested browns and greens, so this is the fabrics I found:

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Here is the bag coming together–the outside and the lining here:

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And finally here is my friend enjoying her new bag!

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I have also been making some hipster bibs, here is one I made for our new niece Wrenley. I plan on sending it out once this snowstorm ends…

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And here is Emory wearing one I made out of an old t-shirt. It ended up being a little big, so I made the next ones a bit smaller.

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On another topic, I made some pork wontons yesterday. While I was frying like my fifth batch of them I said I would never make them again, but boy they ended up being good.

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So this is how I made them:

1.5 pounds of ground pork

about 4-5 mushrooms chopped

1/4 onion chopped

Cook that until the meat is no longer pink. Add in:

about 1 teaspoon of grated ginger

2 cloves garlic chopped fine

2 teaspoons rice vinegar

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon oil

a handful of chopped cilantro

Add this to the pan until fragrant. Pull off the heat and wait until cool enough to handle. Fill the store bought wonton wrappers, fold them into the normal wonton shape, and fry them in oil. I used vegetable oil. Peanut oil would probably really good, but I didn’t have any. The oil temp should be about 350 degrees. I couldn’t find my thermometer so I just let the oil heat for a while at a little above medium heat and then tested to make sure the wonton started to fry (makes the sizzling sound) once I put it in. I know, real specific instructions.

Obviously this recipe is flexible. You could use shrimp, bamboo shoots, anything really, but this combo did taste REALLY good.

Girl & the Goat



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A few months ago we watched an episode of the Movable Feast on PBS about the restaurant Girl & the Goat. I forgot about it until I was looking for a place to eat in Chicago for a belated Valentine’s outing with Alec. I made reservations only a couple weeks in advance which is why the only time available was at 9pm on a Thursday night. After a long drive to Chicago, we weren’t terribly excited about heading out that night, but we went, and I am so glad we did.

The food was fantastic. The atmosphere was great. The service was phenomenal.

They serve small plates that are meant to be shared. We ordered 4 small plates and one bread. You are supposed to order everything at once, and your server will bring your dishes in the order that will most compliment each other.

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Don’t Curry, Be Happy bread
seared diver scallops , "hotpot" broth, bamboo shoots, braised peanuts
seared diver scallops , “hotpot” broth, bamboo shoots, braised peanuts
crispy beef short ribs with avocado and grapefruit.
crispy beef short ribs with avocado and grapefruit.

 

 

We also had some ham frites (Alec liked them, I thought they were okay) and wood grilled broccoli with blue cheese. I can safely say it was the best broccoli I have ever had.

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If you look close, there is a table of Mennonites sitting behind Alec.
If you look close, there is a table of Mennonites sitting behind Alec.

The meal was great. The price was reasonable for such good quality and creative dishes. If you find yourself in Chicago and want to go out for a nice meal, check it out. I highly recommend it.

I will have more on my trip to Chicago in future posts.

Valentine’s Day

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Valentine’s Day is substantially less exciting when you are married. In fact, the images above and below demonstrate this well (they are from the Valentine’s Card I bought Alec).

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We spent Valentine’s weekend taking Lucy to a birthday party, fixing a drain, and doing things around the house. Perhaps next year we should try to act like we are dating and actually do something! In all fairness to our ourselves, we are going to Chicago (with the kids), and have reservations for the restaurant the Girl and the Goat (without the kids), which is supposed to be fabulous. Its a bit of a belated Valentine’s Day outing.

However, in honor or Valentine’s Day, I would like to tell you about the new love in my life. No it isn’t a person; it’s coffee. A strange thing happened while I was pregnant. Well a lot of strange things happened; pregnancy is like a bizarre nightmare where you can’t believe things like this are happening to your body (unless you are planning on having a baby soon–pregnancy is great!). But this particular strange occurrence is how my tastes changed. It isn’t an unusual thing to happen to women; it is considered a normal symptom of pregnancy, but it is weird and unpleasant nonetheless. Foods tasted different to me, most notably was lettuce which tasted like dirt and tea which also tasted like dirt. Needless to say, I couldn’t stomach tea. It didn’t get better right after I had Emory either. And while I couldn’t stomach tea, I began to like coffee (don’t worry I drank half-caf or decaf). I always enjoyed a latte but for the first time, I liked coffee. We even bought a coffee maker:

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His name is  Monsieur Café.  He was $29. And this picture is a bit deceptive because I do not drink my coffee black. I prefer it with a little Splenda and half and half. If you notice, my kettle is there on the side. I can drink tea again. It took a couple months, but I was able to start enjoying tea again. Though strangely I still can’t drink my favorite kinds from before. They still taste off. AND maybe the strangest of all, I drink herbal tea in the evening now (which I never enjoyed herbal tea). Maybe I’m old now. I could have a glass of wine but prefer a hot cup of herbal tea before bed.

Belated Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

Re-launch

Many things have happened while I have been gone. I let my domain name expire and stopped Emory and Lucyblogging for a couple of years, but I missed it; so I am back. The biggest news is my new baby Emory, born September 25, 2014. He is a delight. I had no idea babies could be this easy. Lucy has grown a ton. She is in preschool and loving being the big sister around here.

After four years of living in South, we moved to Northeast last summer. We have a great 1950s house that happens to be an obnoxious shade of yellow—we swear we will get around to painting it someday!

I am in the third year of my doctoral program, which means comprehensive exams. I have tons of books I am supposed to be reading right now. I am also working on a journal as the editorial fellow. I have no free time. None.

oatmealI have had to spend less time baking and more time inventing healthy food Lucy might actually eat. Flax seed crepes, pumpkin pancakes, and purple oatmeal are just some examples of my breakfast attempts.

This blog has gotten a bit of a makeover.  I figured a re-launch needed to be exactly that.  I freshened it up, and the content will be slightly different this time around.  The strawberries on the header is a reminder it won’t always be the dead of winter here in good old Minnesota.

 

 

 

Healthy-ish Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

I love a good fruit crisp recipe.  Yesterday I sat down and tried to make a lower calorie version of the beloved classic.  The following recipe is about 1400 calories for a 8″ square pan.  So about 230 calories a serving (estimating 1/6 of a pan as a serving, and honestly that is a pretty big serving).  To make this healthier version I basically cut down on sugar, butter, and flour.  I increased oatmeal and added almonds, which added some nice crunch and worked well with the strawberry filling.  

Filling: 

A cup or so of rhubarb, cut up

About a cup of stawberries, sliced 

3 T. cornstarch 

1/2 c. sugar

Lemon zest 

About a half cup water, add more if needed

Bring to a boil on the stove until the fruit is soft and the liquid is thick.  Pour into a 8″ baking dish. 

 

Crisp Topping: 

1/4 c. brown sugar

1/4 c. flour

4 tablespoons butter (half a stick) 

1/2-3/4 cup oatmeal

2 tablespoons almonds 

Put the butter, sugar, and flour into a food processor and pulse until the butter is blended.  Add in the flour and almonds.  Pulse a few times until everything is combined, but don’t over do it.  You want the oatmeal and almonds to maintain their shape.  Evenly drop the topping over the fruit filling.  

Bake in a 400 degree oven until the top is crispy and brown.  Around a half an hour.  

Beet Tartar

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If you have seen me lately, you probably heard about how much I loved my dinner at the Bachelor Farmer.  My favorite dish was the appetizer, Beet Tartar.  No that is not a typo, it is made from beets, not beef.  Granted it is an all-around different experience from beef tartar, but for anyone who doesn’t love eating raw beef, that is probably a good thing.  I could have worked a little harder on the presentation in the above picture, but you get the idea.  This dish is actually really easy to do, but it is a little time consumer because there are quite a few steps.

The Beets:

I wanted the beets to resemble actual ground beef.  So first I boiled them, peeled them, then chopped them up.  (Note on the beets: you can boil them, bake them, microwave or steam them.  I boiled them because I think it is the easiest and yields good results.  Just put them in a pot of boiling water and leave them alone until they are tender–probably about 45 minutes)

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I then tossed them into the food processor and pulsed it a few times until the beets resembled ground beef.

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That is all there is to the beets–see easy.

The Extras: 

The beets are served in a Nordic fashion: surrounded by dill, horseradish, shallots, cheese, mustard, and capers.  The Bachelor Farmer served it all with toast, I served it with a thinly sliced baguette.  Both were good.

The Dill:  buy it fresh and chop it up.

The Horseradish:  I bought horseradish root and grated it.  I found the root at Whole Foods.  I am sure any coop or nicer grocery store would have it as well. It is reasonably priced, about $6/pound.

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Shallots: mince them.  I wouldn’t substitute onions here.

The Cheese:  The Bachelor Farmer served this dish with a watery cow’s milk cheese.  I chose to do goat cheese instead for a couple of reasons.  I like it better, and the other ingredients are all very strong flavors, and I felt they needed a stronger flavored cheese to accompany them.

Mustard: Use a brown mustard of some sorts.  One with course mustard seeds would be ideal, but just use what you like.

Capers: I rinsed them off so they were a little less salty.  Then I chopped them up just a little.

For the presentation at the Bachelor Farmer, everything was on one plate, with the beets in the middle.  Since I was hosting a dinner for six people I decided to put everything into its own little dish for ease of passing.

As for eating, just add bits of everything to your bread and enjoy.  The flavors work great together.