I have been looking for an interesting recipe to share with you this month. Since I happen to live on a farm that has been in our family since 1856, I have several historic assets in which to look. I spent time yesterday looking at a bunch of recipe books I inherited from our parents and, perhaps, our grandparents. They range from how to cure bacon to making liver cakes, gingerbread, canned strawberries, Grandma’s Dried Apple Cake, green tomato pickles, and of course, candies.
As I perused this wealth of culinary memorabilia, I found it pleasing to look back and consider how a homemaker over 100 years ago might have spent time in her kitchen. I uncovered a magazine article with several recipes listed. The author of this article, Mary Lewis, submitted her article entitled, “THE CHRISTMAS DINNER THIS WAR YEAR – Patriotic Christmas Candies – Using no White Sugar, But Plenty of Nuts.” It was published in The Ladies’ Home Journal for December 1918. I hope you enjoy this little look back into our history.
“This Yuletide let us express our patriotism by the kinds of candy we make and eat. The more nuts and coconut we can use the more patriotic we shall be, as nut meats do not require a large amount of sweetening; and if we save the shells and dispose of them according to the local arrangements made by the Red Cross, we shall be extending our aid to the Gas Defense Service of the Army. Seven pounds of shells, they tell us, will supply enough carbon for one gas mask.
By purchasing materials to make several pounds of these candies calling for a varied use of the same ingredients, the average cost will range from seventeen to thirty cents a pound. Let the Christmas Candy making provide an evening’s entertainment instead of being regarded as a task; and if you should wish to entertain two soldiers or sailors just before Christmas, you will find that this is one of the forms of entertainment they will enjoy most, especially if boxes of the good homemade candy may be sent to the home folks — and, of course, you will not forget to let a box go back to be shared in camp or on ship.”
Mary Lewis set forth several recipes. I tried one of them called Walnut Crisps. I am sharing it with you just as she wrote it. (Hints: Using a candy thermometer would be a great help to cooks nowadays to reach the hard crack stage. I used a 9 x 13 inch cake pan. Using a 10 x 15 inch jelly roll pan would make a thinner candy and make it easier to remove from the pan.)