I’ve been hard at work on my next project! The working title is OHIO 1910, and the concept combines food history and true crime. I wanted to share with you how it’s going so far, and if you’re interested, you can help support my work by donating (and get yourself some perks in the process.) If you’re interested, there’s more info about what your donation funds here. (Donations will be open until April 19, 2017.)
I’ll be telling the story of a handwritten recipe journal created by a husband and wife from 1880-1910. The journal starts with recipes for the perfect lemon pie, homemade yeast, and chocolate cake. Then, there are chapters on medicine (like cholera cures and PMS aids), beer and wine (root beer, rhubarb wine, blackberry brandy), and finally mushroom foraging. The recipes in the book abruptly stop being recorded in 1910, because the man writing it was brutally murdered by his son-in-law in a crime so scandalous, it made national news headlines.
As the author, I’ll take you along with me as I experiment with these recipes and use them to reveal how a loving, food-focused Midwestern family unraveled–and ended up the focus of a tragic crime.
Here are a few images from the original recipe book:
You can find the original New York Times article about the murder here. In it, the murderer claims the victims “exercised a mysterious influence over him.”
I’ve already begun recipe testing the dozen of baking recipes recorded in the book, dating to the 1880s. Here’s a little video of my mom and I working together. We tested 18 recipes together over four days, and went through more than three dozen eggs, nearly 2 gallons of milk, and three jars of molasses!
So far we’ve made yeasted rolls and cakes: Sally Lunn rolls, eggy-sweet coffee puffets, hearty-health food Graham bread, a few fruit cakes. We also test three puddings (custards and a bread pudding) and three lemon meringue pies, as well as biscuits and quick breads. Every day, there was a “winner”–a recipe that clearly stood out as interesting, delicious, and easy enough for anyone to make.
This coffee puffet is very light and slightly sweet. Meringue is folded in at the end to give the fluffy texture.