Treasure trove

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During the year, a spare bedroom serves as the catchall for things to do in the winter. I didn’t realize how much I had put aside until I caught a cleaning bug in January. It was time to purge all the things we didn’t need. That is when I discovered a treasure buried beneath a pile of books.
When we were cleaning out my sister’s things, I grabbed some of her cookbooks and recipe notebooks. Little did I know what I brought back to Minnesota. There in a pile of church cookbooks was an old book with no cover or identification. I didn’t recognize the names of the ladies who had submitted recipes, but I did know the handwritten notes in the margins. This was our grandmother’s cookbook. I didn’t think Grandma had a cookbook. It seemed she could just whip things up off the top of her head.
It was fun to see how recipes have changed over the years. Shortening was only butter and/or lard. Due to rationing in the war, many creative cooks discovered ways to make family sweets without eggs and reduced sugar. It looks like it is going to take me awhile to work through Grandma’s book, but here are a few recipes to share for now.

Orange prune cake
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup butter, softened
3 eggs
4 tablespoons sour milk
1 cup stewed prunes, cut up
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups flour
Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, beating well. Mix dry ingredients together. Add to butter mixture alternating with sour milk. Fold in prunes. Pour into greased 9-by-13 pan. Bake 35 to 40 minutes at 350 degrees.
Topping
1/2 cup orange juice
1 cup sugar
Grated rind of one orange
Mix rind in with sugar. Let stand 5 minutes. Add orange juice and cook over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. While cake is still warm, prick holes in the cake with a fork. Pour hot top-ping over cake.

Eggless applesauce spice cake dessert
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening
4 cups applesauce
4 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking soda
3 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 cup dates, chopped
Whipped cream
Cream butter and shortening until very light. Gradually add sugar and continue beating. Add spices then add applesauce and lastly, flour. Beat well for several minutes. Pour into greased cake pan. Bake at 300 degrees for 45 to 60 minutes. Serve with whipped cream.

Great-Aunt Helen’s sneaky oatmeal bars
2 sticks butter
2 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs
3/4 cup molasses
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
4 cups rolled oats
2 cups raisins
1 cup chopped walnuts
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, molasses, vanilla and mix until fluffy again. In separate bowl, whisk together flour, soda, salt and cinnamon. Add flour mixture to butter mixture until blended. Mix in oats, raisins and walnuts on low speed. Spread mixture in jelly roll pan lined with parchment paper. Pat smooth. Bake at 350 degrees until sides are set but center is not firm, about 30 minutes. Cool on rack. Cut into bars. Store in sealed container or freeze.

Impossible quiche by Nancy Dowell and Jill Singer
3 eggs
1 cup grated cheese
1 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon oil
1/2 cup self-rising flour
2 strips cooked bacon, chopped
1 1/2 cups milk
Pepper and salt
Put all ingredients, except bacon, in a bowl with lid. Shake 1 minute. Pour into pie pan. Add bacon and other toppings (asparagus, mushrooms, zucchini, tomatoes, spinach or other leftovers to equal 2 cups). Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.
As their four children pursue dairy careers off the family farm, Natalie and Mark are starting a new adventure of milking registered Holsteins just because they like good cows on their farm north of Rice, Minnesota.

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