Nov 28, 2007

A taste of vintage Christmas

I've always loved the extraordinary illustrations of America's living national treasure Tasha Tudor. Her artworks have graced children's books as well as numerous well-loved vintage cookbooks. One of those rare cookbooks that gives us a glimpse of New England kitchen life is Mary Mason Campbell's rare and charming book Butt'ry Shelf Cookbook: Receipts for Very Special Occasions. A butt'ry is a New England cottage pantry, the hub of cooking and baking and where all good things abound. In this book, Mary delights us with her prose as well as with time honoured family recipes passed from generation to generation. Anecdotes about New England country life and Tasha's delightful illustrations sprinkle each page, like nutmeg on apple pie.
One of the delightful recipes featured is this old fashioned Gingerbread recipe that has won many country fair awards. As a Christmas treat or tea party staple, this gingerbread is just perfect. Not too sweet and overwhelming, it comes out moist yet richly dense. The aroma of ginger, cinnamon and cloves brings in a heady rush of good for the soul kitchen aromatherapy. Serve a slice of this lovely gingerbread with either sweetened whipped cream, white frosting or maple cream.

½ cup sugar
½ cup butter
1 egg beaten
1 cup molasses
1 cup hot water
1 ½ cups raisins
2 ½ cups sifted flour
1 ½ tsp soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
½ tsp powdered cloves
½ tsp salt

Cream butter and sugar together, add beaten egg and the molasses. Then add dry ingredients sifted together. Add hot water and beat until smooth. Fold in the raisins. Bake in a well buttered gem pans or in a loaf or cake pan. Bake in a medium oven 350 until tests done with a toothpick.
Maple Cream
1 cup heavy sour cream
1/4 cup maple syrup with a pinch of salt
Grated nutmeg


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