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Vanilla Almond Half-Moons or Vanillekipferl, Austrian Cookies

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Vanilla Almond Half-Moons or Vanillekipferl, Austrian Cookies

You must make them! They are magical.
These melt-in-your mouth buttery cookies are simple to make and delicious for any occasion. Great for a mid-afternoon get-together or a light, after-dinner dessert.
It’s basically a crescent-shaped vanilla almond biscuit, dusted with lots and lots of vanilla icing sugar.
They are in fact made the same way you’d make a shortbread or shortcrust pastry. All the ingredients are mixed together, the dough formed into logs, wrapped in clingfilm and chilled in the fridge for an hour or so. Once the dough has firmed up, you cut slices off, and mould them into crescents. Once they’re baked, dust them with a generous helping of vanilla icing sugar so that they get their snow-dusted look.

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Servings: About 30
Prep Time: , plus one hour’s chilling
Cook Time:



Ingredients:
  • 300g flour
  • 150g ground almonds
  • 175g butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 100g sugar
  • 1 packet vanilla sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • confectioners' sugar and vanilla sugar for rolling and dusting

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Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Mix all the ingredients to a short-crust dough, wrap and refrigerate until firm for one hour. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Pinch off tablespoons of dough and roll into short ropes. Bend into crescent moon shapes on baking sheets, leaving about two inches between cookies.

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Bake for 10 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, until lightly browned. Mix confectioners' sugar and vanilla sugar together, then toss the hot cookies in the mix. Carefully roll warm cookies in the vanilla sugar.
You can store the cookies in a sealed tin for several days.

Happy New Year, my dear readers!

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5 Comments

Dill-Cured Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon (Gravlax)

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I am a very picky person when it comes to cafes, eating-out, and the people working in these places. In general, places that leave a customer with the desire to return are becoming fewer and fewer nowadays. There is, however, a Farmer’s Market in our town that I like to go to for lunch and buy seafood for my family.

Everything looks simple, but there is an incredible variety of fish and different kinds of seafood that you can buy there. Everything is so fresh and appetizing.  Joe, the man running this business, really cares about his customers and is always putting his love into every package he sells. You can always find new products in his market, because he is never afraid to try new things. I bought blowfish tails from this man—that is certainly not something you see in every store. You can buy cooked food for lunch—unadorned but delicious—for a very affordable price.

He is always attentive to his customers, and he’s a pleasant person to speak with. He does not just offer food on the plate he is serving you—he offers you his warmth and care with it, as well. I wish there was a Joe in every neighborhood. Here is a recipe of the Dill-Cured Salmon (Gravlax) made from the Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon I bought at Madara's Seafood.

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DILL To Avert the Evil Eye from THE SPICE COOKBOOK 1964

Dill beds must surely have been weeded and watered anxiously by medieval gardeners. Not only did this herb  bring an intriguing aroma to foods, but it was considered a powerful ingredient in magic potions, as well as in those that were antimagic! It could work either way. When sorcerers gathered together to stir up a pot of trouble for someone, they included dill to make their concoction more potent. If, however, the intended victim got an inkling that he was being hexed, he too hastened to his dill patch. ''Here holy Vervain and here Dill,'' says the old rhyme, ''Gainst witchcraft much availing.'' No record seems available as to whether dill magic or dill antimagic was stronger, so the partisans of both sides must have relied on ''getting there fustest with the mostest.''

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Even when there was no witchcraft afoot, there still might be the Evil Eye. To make oneself invulnerable against it, nothing was considered better than carrying a bag of dried dill over the heart. The Evil Eye - as encyclopedias explain - was, supposedly, the art of "fascination," which gave some people the power to bewitch, injure, or kill merely with a glance. Since the Evil Eye has always been most malevolent in the lands around the Mediterranean, it is fortunate, indeed, that dill grows wild (and abundantly) there and in parts of Asia Minor.

In modern times dill has been most famous for perking up pickles. Some 250 years ago, essayist Addison wrote: "I am always pleased with that particular time of year when it is proper for the pickling of dill and cucumbers."

Dill comes in whole only. It is a delicious addition to sour-cream sauces, green beans, cabbage, cucumbers, broccoli, cauliflower, potato salad, or a macaroni and cheese casserole.

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Gravlax is usually served as an appetizer, sliced thinly and accompanied by mustard sauce, either on bread of some kind, or with boiled potatoes.

Adapted from Sweet Paul

Serves 12

Ingredients:

  • 1 side of the best quality wild salmon, skin left on
  • 1 large bunch dill, chopped finely
  • 2 tablespoons pink peppercorns left whole
  • rind of one lemon
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup salt ( I used Pink Himalayan Salt)
  • 3 tablespoons cognac or vodka ( I used Scotch, and it brings more taste)
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Directions:

Mix dill, lemon rind, peppercorns, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Lay salmon out on a flat dish and press mixture onto the fish, patting it down firmly as you go. Slowly pour the liquor over the fish, then cover with plastic wrap.



Place in the fridge for 48 hours, turning every 12 hours. Slice thinly and serve with mustard.

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7 Comments

Creamy Mushroom Soup



Adapted from Williams-Sonoma

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 2 oz. dried chanterelle or porcini mushrooms
  • 4 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 5 Tbs. minced shallot
  • 1 1/2 lb. baby portabella  or white button mushrooms, brushed clean  and coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup cognac (optional)
  • 2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • rosemary leaves for garnish (optional)
  • black truffle oil for garnish (optional)
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Directions:
In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, warm 2 cups of the stock. Add the porcini, remove from the heat and let stand for about 20 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chanterelle or the porcini to a cutting board and coarsely chop. Line a fine-mesh sieve with a double layer of cheesecloth. Strain the soaking liquid and set aside.

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In a stockpot over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the shallot and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the porcini and button mushrooms and cook, stirring, until most of the liquid has evaporated, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the cognac and cook until the liquid has evaporated, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle with the flour and stir to coat. Stir in the mushroom soaking liquid and the remaining 4 cups stock. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes.
Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender until smooth, then return the soup to the pot. Stir in the 1/2 cup cream and season with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into warmed bowls. Garnish with rosemary leaves and drizzle with black truffle oil.


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5 Comments

Roasted Lamb in Herbs and Pomegranate Marinade



This wonderful recipe comes from my dear friend's Carina-Forum

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THYME Symbol of Activity from The Spice Cookbook, 1964
Among the attractive accomplishments of proper young ladies of the past was a knowledge of the language of flowers. From the book devoted to the lore, which appeared in 1836, they learned that thyme "is a symbol of activity".
"Beetles of all hues, light butterflies, and vigilant bees, for ever surround the flowery tufts of Thyme,"the author noted. "It may be that to these cheerful inhabitants of the air, whose life is a a long spring, these little tufts appear like an immense tree, old as the earth and covered with eternal verdure, begemmed with myriads of flowery vases, filled honey for their express enjoyment," the author continued.
It is true that bees have never able to resist the fragrance of thyme.The ancient Greeks relished the honey made by the bees buzzing over Mount Hymettus, near Athens, where thyme grew abundantly. So highly esteemed was the delicate fragrance of thyme that "to smell of thyme" was one of the most desirable compliments one Athenian could offer another.
Ladies of the Middle Ages also observed the attraction thyme held for bees. A favorite design that a lady embroidered on the scarf of her knight-errant was composed of a bee hovering over a spring of thyme-which mingled the sweet and amiable with high courage and martial action. To enhance their own charms these ladies included thyme springs in the "tussie-mussies" they fashioned. A tussie-mussie was a demure bouquet of very fragrant flowers and sweet-scented leaves. It was always held tightly by a lady so that the warmth of her hand could release the scent of the lovely bouquet.

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ROSEMARY For Remembrance from The Spice Cookbook, 1964
The small flower that is part of rosemary - an evergreen of the mint family - once was white. Legend recounts that one night the Virgin Mary - fleeing with the Christ Child from Herod's soldiers - hung her sky-blue cloak on the rosemary bush. From that day on the color of rosemary blossoms was transformed to blue.
The mention of rosemary will call to mind an ancient symbol of remembrance and fidelity. Shakespeare made this sentiment famous in Hamlet, when the tragic Ophelia speaks the immortal line: "There's rosemary, that's for remembrance."
One seventeenth-century preacher urged at a wedding: "Let this Rosemarinus, this flower of men, ensigne of your wisdom, love and loyaltie, be carried not only in your hands, but in your heads and hearts." It was the custom then for bridesmaids to present the bridegroom with "a bunch of Rosemary, bound with ribands" on the morning of the wedding.

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Ingredients:
  • 1/2 leg of lamb sirloin, 3-4 lb.
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 250 ml pomegranate juice, natural and unsweetened
  • 8 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1/3 cup very finely chopped shallots
  • 2 Tbs. fresh thyme leaves or 8 thyme sprigs, each 6 inches long
  • 4 Tbs. finely minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 Tbs. ground coriander
  • 2 Tbs. peppercorns, bruised
  • 1 1/2 tsp. sea salt
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Combine the minced rosemary, fresh thyme, ground coriander, garlic, finely chopped shallots, peppercorns, salt and olive oil to make a paste. Rub over all of the surfaces of the meat.

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Place the meat in a shallow glass dish and add pomegranate juice to cover.

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Marinate for 24 hours in the refrigerator, turning once. Bring the meat to room temperature before roasting.

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Directions:
Preheat an oven to 375°F.
Put the lamb into a large roasting pan and drizzle the lamb with the olive oil. Cook for 25 minutes per pound for medium plus an extra 25 minutes for well-done, spooning the meat juices over the lamb once or twice during cooking.
Transfer the lamb to a carving board or platter and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Let rest for 10 minutes.
To serve, cut the lamb across the grain into thin slices and arrange on a warmed platter. Serve immediately, spooning some of the accumulated juices over each portion.


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5 Comments

Candied Winter Citrus Cake



Ingredients for lemon cake:
  • 1/2 cup plain flour
  • 1 1/2 cup powdered meal
  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp. grated lemon zest
  • 6 egg whites
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter, melted
Ingredients for candied citrus:
  •  4 cup water
  •  2 cup sugar
  •  1 vanilla bean
  •  2 oranges
  •  2 tangerines
  •  2 lemons

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Direction for lemon cake:Preheat oven to 350F. Place flour, powdered sugar, almond meal, lemon juice and zest in a large bowl. Add egg whites and butter and mix well.
Pour into a well greased 9-inch cake pan. Bake for about 25-30 minutes until golden and firm. Cool on a wire rack.

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Direction for candied citrus:
Place the water and sugar and the vanilla pod leftover from making the vanilla custard in a large pan.  Stir together.
Bring to a boil over high heat. Slice the fruit into thin slices, 1/8 to ¼-inch thick. Place the fruit into the sugar syrup and lower the heat to medium low.  Simmer for about 50 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.  The fruit will be translucent when it is ready.
Transfer the slices to sheets of waxed paper or silicone mats and cool to room temperature. Decorate the cake with citrus slices and pour on the syrup just before serving.

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6 Comments

Chicken Liver Pâté with Mushrooms and Sage, served with Fig Preserves


Prepared ahead of time and chilled, this pâté makes an excellent luncheon or buffet dish sliced thick and served on bread of your choice or on lettuce leaves. Serve it with Fig Preserves.

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Ingredients:
  • 3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 small garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 lb chicken livers, trimmed of membranes and connective tissue
  • 1lb mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 carrots, cubed
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup red vine
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth, if needed
  • 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • sage for garnish
  • fig preserves for serving
  • bread of your taste
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Directions:
In a large fry pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion, carrots and mushrooms and sauté until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until lightly fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the chicken livers, season with salt and stir to coat with the oil. Then add the wine and let the alcohol bubble away for about 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and cook the livers gently, turning occasionally, until they are a deep, rich brown on the outside and no longer pink inside, 10 to 15 minutes.

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Using a food processor, process the mixture until it is a thick paste, adding a little chicken broth if it is too stiff and dry. Blend in the butter, stirring until it has melted into the pâté. Season with salt and pepper.
Garnish with sage.

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13 Comments

Molded Gingerbread Cookies with Clear Sugar Glaze



I love Springerle cookies, they are so beautiful and delicious, white or painted  they are perfect for holidays. But I like to try this year something different using Springerle molds.

Here is one very good recipe of Molded Gingerbread Cookies with Clear Sugar Glaze from House on the Hill.
They can be printed with Springerle molds. Be sure to choose a deeply and boldly carved design, one without really fine details.You’ll make the non springerle lovers very happy!
You can easily adjust the spices. For instance, if you are not a fan of cloves, leave them out. Crazy about ginger? Then add an extra ½ to 1 teaspoon.
If you use all molasses (instead of molasses and dark corn syrup) add the extra flour as the all molasses version is stickier.

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Ingredients for the flour mixture:
  •  3 cups plus 4 tablespoons unbleached flour
  •  3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  •  1/2 cup sugar
  •  1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  •  1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  •  2 teaspoons ground ginger
  •  1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  •  1/2 teaspoon salt

Ingredients for the liquid mixture:
  •  1/2 cup vegetable oil
  •  1/2 cup molasses (you may use 1 cup molasses and no dark corn syrup if you prefer)
  •  1/2 cup dark corn syrup
  •  2 tablespoons water

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Ingredients for the clear sugar glaze:
  • 2 1/2 cups powered sugar
  • 2 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla if desired
  • food coloring if desired 
Direction for the clear sugar glaze:
Combine sugar, water, butter corn syrup and vanilla in a small bowl and mix until powered sugar is moistened. Beat at medium speed until smooth, adding additional water if necessary. Tint with food color.

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Direction for the gingerbread cookies:
Combine the flour mixture and the liquid mixture together either by hand or in a heavy standard mixer using the flat blade (not the whisk). Mix until the dough holds together, adding 1 or 2 tablespoons of water only if necessary to bind the dough. Knead the dough into a solid mass and place into a tightly sealed zipper bag. Let the dough rest for 1 hour or refrigerate overnight.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough with a plain rolling pin about ½ to 5/8 inch thick, depending on the depth of your cookie mold. Using a pastry brush, flour the surface of your cookie mold. Press firmly onto the flat surface of the dough and then lift the mold straight up. Re-flour the mold for every pressing.

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Cut and place the cookies on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Let cookies dry for 8 — 12 hours.
Bake at 300 degrees for 12 minutes. Large cookies will need 14-15 minutes.
If desired, glaze the gingerbread cookies as soon as they come out of the oven and before you remove them to a cooling rack.
If needed, soften cookies with slices of apple on firm bread (rye) for a day or two. Keeps well.

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2 Comments

Lemon Ricotta Cookies with Lemon and Cranberry Glaze


Ingredients:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 (8-ounce) container whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 2 Tbs.lemon juice
  • 1 zest from one lemon
For glaze:
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbs.lemon juice
  • 2 Tbs. cranberry juice
  • sprinkles for decoration
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Directions:
Preheat the oven to 375F.
In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In the large bowl combine the butter and the sugar. Using an electric mixer beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating until incorporated. Add the ricotta cheese, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Beat to combine. Stir in the dry ingredients.
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Drop the dough by level tablespoons, about 2 inches apart, onto the baking sheets. Bake for 15 minutes, until slightly golden at the edges (cookies will be soft). Remove from the oven and let the cookies rest on the wire rack for 20 minutes.
When cookies are cool, prepare glaze. Combine the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and cranberry juice in a small bowl and stir until smooth. Spoon about 1/2-teaspoon onto each cookie and use the back of the spoon to gently spread. Sprinkle with sprinkles. Let the glaze harden for about 2 hours. Pack the cookies into a decorative container.

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3 Comments

Curried Turkey Stew with Mushrooms and Carrots and Green Bean Salad

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Ingredients for turkey stew:

  • 6 cups homemade turkey broth
  • 2 turkey legs, deboned, skinned and diced (about 4 cups meat)
  • 1 Tbs. peanut oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3/4 lb. fresh cremini mushrooms, halved if large
  • 2 cups carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. curry powder
  • 3 tsp. minced fresh dill  
  • Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

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Directions for turkey stew:
In a large, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, warm the peanut oil. Add the onion and carrots and sauté until almost tender, about 5 minutes. Add minced garlic and curry powder and cook, stirring, until the onion is brown, about 4 minutes. Add the broth and turkey. Cover, increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Uncover, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the turkey are almost tender, about 30 minutes.
Add the mushrooms to the pan and simmer more, about 12 minutes. Season the stew with salt and pepper. Stir in the minced fresh dill. Ladle the stew into warmed bowls and serve immediately.

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Ingredients for green bean salad: 
  • 1 lb. slender green beans, trimmed
  • 3 tbsp. hemp seeds
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh dill
  • 2 Tbs. avocado oil
  • 1 Tbs. lemon juice
  • 1 Tbs. lemon zest 
  • coarse kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Directions for green bean salad:
Bring a large pot three-fourths full of water to a boil. Add the green beans to the boiling water and cook until tender, 5 to 7 minutes; the timing will depend on their size. Drain.
In a large serving bowl, combine the hot beans, dill, avocado oil and salt and toss to mix. Set aside to cool to room temperature, about 20 minutes.
Use a peeler and make long broad strokes from pole to pole of the lemon. Avoid digging into the pith. Chop the zest into thin strips .
Just before serving, add the hemp seeds, lemon strips, lemon juice and a grind of pepper to the bean mixture and toss to mix. Serve the salad at room temperature. Serves 4.

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5 Comments

A Glimpse at Recipes of The Past: Lumberjack Cookies

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I have a small but very treasured collection of cooking books. I have Russian cooking books with recipes prepared for the Czarist family and recipes cooked for the French Aristocracy, as well as a collection of recipe books that I bought here in America, dating back to our American ancestors.
Why do I like these old books so much?
Firstly, the illustrations found in these books are a rare sight indeed nowadays, because each illustration is beautifully drawn in detail, giving insight to a modern-day person of the dedicated and personal atmosphere that emanated from that time period.
Secondly, each recipe in these books has its own story. It’s not just a list of ingredients thrown into a pot and boiled---it’s an entire experience beginning from the detailing of the recipe’s origination to its eventual passage from generation to generation. This is why I have decided to begin a column on this blog dedicated to posting and discussing recipes taken from these books. There’s something very sentimental about making history come back to life.
Feel free to add to our historical recipe collection.

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From "Favorite New England Recipes" 1972

Lumberjack Cookies
Lumbering is a unique occupation and projects a day-to-day life unlike any other. In the upper reaches of the rivers, when spring freshets deepen the water enough to float the logs, men of a particularly courageous breed shepherd the raw wood down the rivers, sometimes for hundreds of miles, to the sawmills. They spend many days on the logs and on a raft with a shanty on it that brings up the rear. In the shanty is a man at whom the others characteristically jeer but deeply value - the cook.

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One morning early in this century, such a log drive was moving along the Muskegon past a riverside farm, when a dignified little woman marched to the water's edge and waved to them. She wished to parley with the lumberjack cook. Just why is explained by Mrs.Paul V.Bretz of St.Paul, Minnesota. "The great lumbering industry of Michigan was beginning to wane, but there was still some lumbering along the Mu. When the logs where being floated down the river to the mills, there was always a cook shanty on a raft following the log drive. It was a great treat for children to have a meal with the lumberjacks on this river raft. They could look forward to fried salt pork, boiled potatoes, boiled beans, hot breads, cookies, and strong black coffee. Good hearty fare.
"These were molasses cookies and so good that my husband prevailed upon his mother to go to the river and learn the recipe from the cook. We always called them 'Lumberjack Cookies,' and here is the recipe:"


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Ingredients:
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 1 cup sour milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ginger, vanilla, and mace (or nutmeg) to taste
  • flour enough to make a soft dough
Directions:
Drop by tablespoons on a lightly greased cookie sheet and bake in a moderate oven (350F) until done, about 10 minutes.

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