Monday, October 24, 2016

Sorghum cakes?

Sorghum Cakes (not Gladys' recipe),
background is a
Rag rug by Gladys Potter circa 1960

The previous two letters from Grandparents Gladys and George Potter mentioned sorghum production on the Sargent, MO farm and the desired end product, sorghum cakes.  That got me doing some research.  I don't have the Potters' recipe, but the following one is contemporary (from "A Taste of the Past" compiled by author Phyllis Connor in the 1990s from old-time cookbooks.)

The method is demented, but it produces a very good cake without milk or eggs.  The cinnamon also could be optional, since the sorghum flavor is rather strong.  If Betty the cow did not provide butter, I suppose any available shortening would work.

There are many more elaborate versions of Sorghum Cake with milk, eggs, additional spices, dried fruit and so on available from "Mr. Google," but this one is both minimalist and surprisingly good.

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sorghum syrup

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (Not self-rising)
2 teaspoons baking soda (Not baking powder)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup water, boiling(!)

Preheat oven to 325F
Grease 9x9 inch cake pan

Cream butter and sugar
Add Sorghum syrup to butter and sugar

Sift together the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, cinnamon)

Mix the dry ingredient mixture
into butter/sugar/sorghum cream...gently.

Add boiling water, stir until mixed well.  The batter will foam up somewhat.

Pour into pan, bake 45 minutes or until the top springs back and/or a toothpick comes out dry.

Let rest on a rack for 20 minutes then turn the cake out and let it cool completely.

Tech note:  The soda is reacting with acids in the sorghum syrup to provide leavening, the boiling water helps speed the reaction.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Mail Call: 23 October 1934 (George)

Letter from George Potter in Sargent, MO to Mary Potter in St. Louis, who was still working on a temporary basis and living with George's sister Dora and her husband Walt Bremerkamp in E. St. Louis.  The temp job is across the river in St. Louis itself and so carfare eats into her pay.

Johnny cake and fresh milk from Betty the cow for supper....with the promise of sorghum syrup for cakes.

Note: "Lucile and Em" are Emma Jane Potter Parker (1878-1953), George's sister,
and her daughter Lucille Parker Quested (1897-1968) back in Erie County, PA.

Note:  "Brooks" is neighbor Arch Brooks.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Mail Call: 14 October 1934 (Gladys)

Letter from Gladys Potter in Sargent, MO to her daughter Mary who is still working in St. Louis.

Late night bread baking..."Now can you smell it"...

Sorghum cane stripping on Oct 15 followed by syrup making (was there a cane mill in Texas Co.?)

David is "fixing flats for a pastime."

"Everybody has gone to bed but the cats & they are fighting"

"I have got to stop writing as the lamp is going out for the want of oil"

"If this letter isn't spelt correct, you fix it."

Note:  Brooks is neighbor Arch Brooks.  I cannot identify "Murdocks" or "Opal."
Mrs. Fieldens runs the grocery store which offers credit; there was at least one cash-only grocery in Cabool as well.

Note: Mrs  Brooks is Claudine Rivry Brooks, Arch Brook's wife.
I cannot identify "Paul Bird"
Dora is Dora Bremercamp, George's sister, in East St. Louis.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Mail Call: 4 October 1934 (Gladys)

Letter from Gladys Potter to her daughter Mary in St. Louis dated 4 October 1934.

Gladys has rescued an old red coat which George had given to the dogs and traded it to a neighbor for a bushel of wheat.  Grape picking by the creek then leads to poison oak and hands like a "horny toad."

Note:  Mrs. B is neighbor Arch Brooks' wife Celestine Claudia Brooks; the Mary who gets the dogs' coat is Arch Brook's daughter "Lizzie"

Note:  Dora is George's sister in E. St. Louis, married to Walt Bremerkamp