Monday, November 10, 2008

Fannie's Recipes part 1

When I first started this blog, I mentioned that 0nce in a while I would post some interesting material from the Annapolis Heritage Society's archives. Today seems like a good time to get started.

About two months ago, a member of the O'Dell family brought me a recipe book from 1880s to donate to the AHS archives. The purpose of an archive is to preserve manuscripts, photographs or other forms of documentation so that researchers or other interested people can find original source information in the future. The book is fairly small with a black paper cover and was handwritten by Fannie O'Dell. Since the AHS offices are located in the O'Dell House Museum, the former O'Dell family residence, I am always excited when artifacts and archival material related to the family are donated.

The recipe book in question mainly contains recipes for cakes although there are a few other desserts. By reading the book, you can easily learn some things about the author and her times. You can immediately tell that Fannie was an experienced cook as she has not included any instructions for mixing or baking the cakes. From the titles of the recipes you can see some of the ongoing influence of New England in lives of Nova Scotians. In the 1880s a great number of local residents were heading to find work in the mills around Lynn, Massachusetts. There also would have been an ongoing trade in the fisheries between Nova Scotia and "the Boston States". Some of Fannie's recipes have titles like Boston Sheet Cake and Boston Ginger Snaps. You will also see that these are very simple recipes. The most exotic ingredient in any of the recipes is lemon which, in the 1880s, would have been imported fresh on one of the sailing vessels arriving on the Annapolis Royal waterfront. Most of the ingredients were simple and readily available.

As I mentioned, Fannie does not include directions. While I will not presume to invent those details, I would feel fairly safe in recommending that dry and wet ingredients are mixed separately and the cake is baked in a 350 degree oven. Let me know if someone tries this cake.

Tea Cake
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
3 eggs
4 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon soda
currants

By the way, there is no connection between the image of the Annapolis Royal lighthouse and the rest of this post. This entry just seemed a bit dry without a photograph.

All for now,
RGS

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