Wednesday, February 8, 2017

From a Clear Lake Kitchen--Simple Treats to Celebrate Abraham Lincoln's Birthday

Abraham Lincoln with his youngest son Tad 1864

I love cooking from old recipes. I started tinkering with them when I received my grandmother's wooden recipe box from the 1900s. It was filled with cards written by her hand and by several of her friends. The dishes carried the names of those who added to this collection for her bridal shower gift. Lerry's fruitcake. Mother's bread starter, Helen's cookies... you get the idea.

Over the past three decades I've continued my exploration into recipes of the past and have studied how those foods can help us understand the lives of people and the times in which they lived. I've written a two-book series exploring 100 years of midwestern farm cooking and life, another on WWI food conservation, the book on Prohibition has some super ice cream recipes, and explored changes in women's during the dynamic the 1950s Potluck Paradise. But I think my favorite may be my book about Lincoln.

In Abraham Lincoln in the Kitchen I wrote about Lincoln's life from his Kentucky birth, Indiana boyhood, beginnings of his political life in Illinois, and his service in the White House. By reading about and then replicating his favorite foods, I discovered his progress from a self-sufficient farming lad to the statesman who fought to save the nation.

This recipe is one of my favorites from that collection. I found the original recipe as I read the microfilmed issues of the Springfield newspaper he would have read while serving as postmaster in New Salem. He read everything he could get his hands on... even his neighbor's newspapers as he walked out to their cabins to deliver them. Or while he waited for them to come in and pick up the mail.

So on February 12, celebrate Abraham Lincoln's 208th birthday. Make up a quick batch of these tasty treats. You can serve them with a mild cheese, a bit of preserves, or even ham. Or just have them plain with a glass of wine or milk. 

Apees--a delightful crisp treat 
flavored with cinnamon, mace, nutmeg, and caraway seeds. 
Easy to make and a "good keeper" if you can keep people out of the cookie jar


2 cups unbleached flour, plus extra for dusting rolling surface
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon mace
1 1/2 tablespoons caraway seeds
1/2 cup (one stick) cold salted butter
1/3 cup white wine

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Combine the flour, sugar, spices, and caraway seeds in a mixing bowl. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients with a pastry cutter until the mixture looks like uncooked oatmeal. Stir in the white wine with a fork and then knead the dough with your hands. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to a 1/8-inch thickness. Cut into 1-inch squares, place on ungreased baking sheet and prick two or three times with a fork. Bake until lightly browned, about 20 to 25 minutes. 
Apees shrink as they bake.  
Makes about 7 dozen small cookies. 

Copyright 2017 Rae Katherine Eighmey. All rights reserved

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