Friday, February 15, 2013

Homestead Living: Cutting Ice

When temperatures hovered near zero degrees and the ice on the lake and on the Iowa river was thick, it was time to cut ice. Block ice, of course, was a necessity, and cutting a large quantity of ice and storing it properly were matters of great concern to the men of the community. On a day determined by the Okonomiebaas (agriculture boss) and the men in charge of the icehouse, the ice making would begin and continue for several days. Nearly every man in the village joined the effort. The teamsters were up early harnessing the horses and preparing the wagons outfitted with special sleighlike runners. A second group of men spent the morning straightening up the icehouse and readying it for the first load. The majority of men were taken by sleigh to the Lily Lake or the Iowa River. Generally, East Amana, Amana, and Middle Amana men cut ice on the Lily Lake. Homestead made ice on the Iowa River, but later the men of Homestead built a small pond near Homestead where ice could be cut closer to home. High Amana and South Amana crews cut their ice on the Iowa River, and West Amana men traveled upstream to a deep oxbow known as Watt's Pond.

It must have been a long day out on the flat with the wind blowing in your face and the ice underfoot and a lot of hard work to be done. As Carl Schuerer of East Amana put it, "That lake, in winter that was a pretty nippy place, I tell you. If we would have a wind like we had a couple of days ago, boy, you couldn't stand it up there. No, it was a cold place."

Seasons of Plenty, by Emilie Hoppe

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Valentine's Day Holiday Menu 3

What is Valentine's Day without a sweet treat at the end? Here are some great recipes to get your mouth watering!

Strawberry Short Cake (Mrs. Marie Vawter) from the P.E.O. Cook Book

Take two cups sifted flour and two teaspoons baking power, sift and mix two tablespoons heaping full of cold butter through the flour and mix into a soft dough with sweet milk. Roll out and cover a large pie plate, spread with butter and roll another thick crust and butter well the inside of both layers. If strawberries are gritty, wash carefully and sprinkle with plenty of sugar and let them stand half an hour to drain the juice out before the short cake is baked. Fill immediately and serve hot or cold.

Lebkuchen, Honey Cookies (makes about 5 dozen) from the book Seasons of Plenty

1 tablespoon baking soda                                         2 eggs
3 tablespoons whiskey                                             1 1/2 pounds flour
2 cups honey                                                            Vanilla frosting
1/2 pound (1 cup and 1 tablespoon) sugar

Preheat over to 350 degrees.

Dissolve soda in whiskey. In a very large mixing bowl, stir together dissolved baking soda and whiskey, honey, and sugar. Stir until foamy. Add eggs, beating well after each. Then slowly add flour. A soft dough will form. Cover and set bowl in a cool place or refrigerate overnight.

Turn out a portion of the dough on a floured board. Kneading the dough is very important to the quality of the finished product, so take your time and knead until the dough feels springy and light, but not dry. Roll into 1- to 2-inch-thick ropes. Cut ropes into 2- or 3-inch-long pieces and place on a greased baking sheet.

Bake 10 minutes. Cookies should be golden brown, oval shaped, and about 1/3 to 1/2 inch thick. When cool, frost with vanilla frosting.

P.E.O. Cook Book (Souvenir Edition), edited by David E. Schoonover

Seasons of Plenty, by Emilie Hoppe

Monday, February 11, 2013

Valentine's Day Holiday Menu 2

Make your special someone a delicious meal with these recipes from the University of Iowa Press's P.E.O Cook Book, originally published in 1908:

Baked Ham (Mrs. Erma Geist, Joliet, IL) 

Select a thick ham weighing fourteen pounds, scrape trim, cover with fresh, cold water, let soak over night. In the morning, drain and dry; prepare a thick dough by mixing flour and water together, roll out to one-half inch thickness and enclose ham in it, wet the edges and press them firmly together; place ham in a large dripping pan and bake slowly in a moderate oven from four to five hours, remove from oven and break off shell and skin, trim off any ragged portions, stick fat side with whole cloves in diagonal rows an inch apart, grate the crumbs of white bread thickly over this surface and return ham to oven until a golden brown. Slip a paper frill on the knuckle and serve hot. Ham cooked in this way is cooked in its own juices and is very delicious and no waste.

Perfection Salad (Mrs. G. W. Baxter)

One-half package gelatin, one-half cup cold water, one-half cup vinegar, juice of one lemon, one pint boiling water, one-half cup sugar, one teaspoon salt, two cups celery in small pieces, one cup shredded cabbage, fine, one-fourth can sweet red peppers cut fine. Soak gelatin in cold water two minutes, add vinegar, lemon, water, sugar and salt; strain and add other ingredients. Mold and chill. Serve on lettuce leaves with mayonnaise dressing or dice and serve in peppers.

P.E.O. Cook Book, edited by David E. Schoonover