Cook Historic
authentic American Food and History
I started cooking with old recipes by chance, when an ingredient list in an 1860 hand-written household journal peaked my curiosity.  I wondered if I could figure out how to make a “jumble” and what it would taste like.  Now, thousands of dishes later, I have a continually growing list of favorite foods that transport me in time and place. I’ve prepared a 1905 thresher’s table, had a festive Civil War dinner and camp rations, too. I’ve cooked World War I food conservation recipes, trendy atomic-age dishes from the 1950s and many more “time travel” meals.
These journeys of discovery in flavor, texture and context enrich sometimes in unexpected ways. After one meal I made for a charitable foundation, a donor wrote a note thanking the host for a “million dollar meal” enclosing a check to back up his assertion.
Foods bring history alive. For example, eating a World War II “Defense Lunch Box Victory Sandwich” filled with ground carrots, olives, raisins and nuts mixed with mayonnaise makes a stronger impression of conditions on the home front than simply reading about ration books.
As my list of favorite evocative foods continues to grow, so will this site. Please come back often to find new recipes and historic perspectives.
What started for me with a simple, delicious cookie has led to a rich discovery of history. I hope the thoughts, resources and recipes on these pages will lead you to explore history of your family, the Midwest, or the nation.
1860 Jumbles
Makes about 3 dozen 1-inch cookies
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
2 cups sifted flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon mace
Sugar for coating cookies
Preheat the oven to 3500 F.
Cream the butter and sugar.  Add the eggs and mix well.  Sift the flour, measure out 2 cups and then resift with the baking soda and mace and mix well.   You want a dough the consistency of children’s clay. You may add a bit of water if it seems too stiff – one tablespoon at a time.  Traditionally, these cookies are a flat "doughnut" shape.  You can either roll them out and cut with cookie cutters, or form them by hand, as I prefer to do.
To make the cookies by hand, break off a piece of dough the size of a tennis ball and place it on a large flat surface.  Gently roll the dough under your palms, forming a long sausage shape.  Continue rolling, gradually making this tube longer and thinner.  When it is about 12 inches long, break it in half.  Roll this half until it is the diameter of a pencil.  Break the dough into sections about 3 inches in length.  Gently taper the ends and join them into a ring, pressing together firmly.  Flatten the dough slightly, dip the top side into the granulated sugar and place on a lightly greased cookie sheet, leaving one inch or so between the cookies. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until just lightly browned.   Remove immediately from baking sheet and cool on a rack.
Copyright 2008 Rae Katherine Eighmey  All rights reserved