The Ladies Page


It is one of those winter days when you say to yourself,
‘What could I cook up that would be different?’ and then
you find yourself going back into the past to revive what has at
one time been familiar and common. Perhaps it was so common that
you have forgotten how it was made. This happened to me recently.
Finally, when I found my mother’s old recipe for SOUR CREAM
CAKE I came to the awful realization that it had been in my
cookbook for over 35 years and never once had I tried to make

My mother had a recipe for boiled cake, too, but that I can not
find. So I had to settle for SOUR CREAM CAKE but there wasn’t
any sour cream in the house. It is either four or six miles to our
nearest towns and it is cold. So, I reasoned, sour milk and cooking
oil should work just fine. Then, says I to myself, put in a lot of
dates and some nutmeats and you will have next thing to a fruit
cake. So I did. And the results were most gratifying. Here is the
recipe as I found it.

DARK SOUR CREAM CAKE 1 cup sugar, cup butter, 2 eggs, cup of
cold coffee, cup molasses, 1 cup sour cream, 1 teaspoon soda in
sour cream, 2 and cups of flour, cup nutmeats, teaspoon cloves, 1
teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon allspice, salt as you prefer it, and
raisins if desired.

There was no method given but I started out creaming the butter,
adding the sugar etc., then the eggs, sour milk and a generous dash
of oil out of the bottle without measuring. I had poured quite warm
water over a good supply of dates and had let them stand. Now I
drained off this juice and made it the half cup of liquid needed
and dumped in a half tea spoon of Instant Coffee.

(Dear me! What we modern cooks do to an old recipe!)

I didn’t cut up the dates at all. There were even two pits
in the cake as we ate it. This I got scolded for and deserved it. I
baked the cake slowly in a loaf pan, and it is the most moist cake
that isn’t a true fruit cake that I have ever eaten. I felt the
measurements for spices were a little heavy so I didn’t put in
quite as much

as the original recipe called for. I increased the amount of
nuts. I think it is probably a disgrace, what I did to my
mother’s recipe, but it turned out to be really good.
Doesn’t each generation have to have their experiments? The
other night I decided we don’t all hear alike either. Let me
tell you about it.

It was a miserable, cold, rainy evening. It was one of those
nights when one would much rather sit by the fire. But our youngest
daughter, Mary, was in a concert. We had to travel 25 miles to hear
her but when your adored daughter plays first chair trumpet in a
University Concert Orchestra good parents can’t let her

We arrived and found two of her best friends waiting to sit with
us. Well you know when one is pushing sixty any attention from the
younger generation is sheer joy. So we sat down and waited for the
concert to begin. As the curtains rolled back it was a lovely
sight. All of the young ladies were in long black dresses and the
young men in formal suits with satin lapels.

One of the lady teachers came in wearing a long white Grecian
gown which covered only one of her shoulders. She seated herself at
the piano and began to play. The violins sang out their tones in
lovely agreement and we were entranced. The cellos, the oboes, the
clarinets, the flutes all the sweetly blending instruments added to
the all over effect of music at its best. Even the conductor’s
baton and his swinging swallow tails on his coat added to the
perfect picture. And then it happened. I could scarcely believe my
ears. My black-suited husband sitting next to my black-suited self
leaned his head toward me and said, ‘Honey, doesn’t it
remind you of the music of a good running steam engine when
everything is just clicking off right?’

Well I’ll tell you I almost swallowed my dentures right
there and then. This wasn’t what I was hearing at the moment,
but he was, apparently. So you see, it is how we see things, and
even how we hear things which makes all the difference in the
world. My good husband is very fond of violin music and was hearing
them also but through his consciousness were running these other
things, things that were also music to his ears. So, perhaps, we
ought to be attuned to life. The common sounds of labor might
become to us real music. Right now my typewriter is singing a song,
if I will listen. The ticking of the clock is companionable even in
an empty house. Before we know it spring will be just around the
corner again and there will be bird song and then frogs awaking.
Surely we shouldn’t miss one of these. And in the next world
surely sound will continue in even a more remarkable way.

And there is always something to look forward to, even in our
distressed world. We are awaiting the sound of the telephone these
days. Our oldest daughter is momentarily expecting a new baby and
when the phone rings we prepare to leave for Kansas City. There are
two little boys who need their Grandma and Grandpa there. So keep
your ears sharp. You might miss something.

Farm Collector Magazine
Farm Collector Magazine
Dedicated to the Preservation of Vintage Farm Equipment