Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Belton Texas, Circa 1908

Sometimes when I need a zen moment, I turn to one of the old books in my collection. The smell, the words, the information, it's a view of history and personal lives of the past. A pie crust recipe scribbled on paper that says "Take This Prescription To J. C. Rodgers' Drug Store, Nolanville, Texas", or this from a newspaper clipping that fell out of my 1908 "The Reliable Cook Book" (by the Woman's Home Mission Society of the First Methodist Church, Belton, Texas, 1908):

Directions for Preparing "Little Pigs In the Blankets" Drain a dozen large oysters. Take strips of very thin bacon, and wrap each oyster in a strip, fastening with a skewer. Grill before an open fire or on a skillet until bacon is done and oysters tender. Have rounds of bread ready and saute in skillet until brown on broth sides. Serve the "little pig" on a round of toast at once.
On the back of this newspaper clipping:
"Temple Tex. Oct 21 - A kindergarten school has been established at the Sunday school room of the First Baptist Church at Temple under the patronage of Belton-Baylor Baptist Female College. Miss Mattie Crumpton Hardy, a well-known kindergarten expert, has been placed in charge and is organizing classes. The school will be in session five days of each week."
Miss Mattie Hardy was an educational pioneer and authored (1917's) "The Derivation of the Montessori Didactic Apparatus", and "The Effect of Distribution of Practice on Learning a Stylus Maze". Baylor Female College then located in Belton and founded by the Republic of Texas in 1845 was the sister school to Baylor College in Waco, and is now known as the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor.

Canned oysters were heavily in use at this place and in this time, I counted no less than 8 recipes that used them. In the Sandwich section, a recipe for "Pimento Sandwich", which today is commonly called Pimento Cheese. A collegiate theme among recipes too, with "Harvard Salad" and "Vassar Fudge". And ethnic food had infiltrated the culture, with "Eggs Foo Yung" and an antique recipe for Tamale Pie, submitted by Mrs. W. S. Hunter:
"Take 1 pint corn meal and make good stiff mush. Take out about 1 cup of the mush, then add to the rest 1 cup or more of ground meat (either fresh or cold roasted meat) flavor with plenty of chili powder and salt. Put in a baking dish with the white mush bread spread on top as meringue. Bake 1/2 hour."

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