If you are a regular visitor to Mostly Food and Travel Journal (and why wouldn’t you be?) then you will be familiar with the series of Farmer’s Wife cookbooks. They are compiled from original recipes found in the magazine of the same name, published between 1893 and 1939 in Minnesota.
Cookie baking is an ideal introduction to kitchen pursuits. The virgin cook has no fear with regard to baking biscuits (British term for cookies). One might worry that a pastry case is a bit too crunchy. One could have second thoughts about launching into soufflé production lest they not rise. Well, with cookies the worst has already happened. For the most part, you want the aforementioned crunch and something flattish.
The Farmer’s Wife Cookie Cookbook concerns itself with sweet confections, some of which might be considered as cake or dessert. Bars and Squares have long been popular in the US and have taken hold world-wide. Lemon Bars are my favourite from this chapter. It’s a rather curious recipe demanding a first baking and then the addition of beaten eggs, sugar, lemon juice and baking powder. The end result is a tangy bar with a soft top. Just right with a nice cuppa tea.
Crullers are included in this book. It’s not a word commonly heard in Britain. Although a cruller sounds like it should be a wild seabird it is in fact a variety of doughnut: a deep-fried sweet pastry dusted with sugar. These are usually made in strips or braids rather than rounds. Funnel Cakes are also a glimpse of pure Americana. These comprise a cake batter run through a funnel directly into hot oil. Think of a thin delicate version of churros. A favourite at State fairs and such gatherings.
Maple Syrup Cookies have my vote as a must-try. When it comes to that rich liquid Maple syrup, to know it is to love it. It has, unlike most sweet syrups, a real flavour. Don’t substitute corn syrup or Golden Syrup or the end result of your labours will be entirely different from that intended. Delicious perhaps, but a shadow of a real Maple Syrup Cookie.
The Farmer’s Wife Cookie Cookbook is a book to be used. The measurements are by volume as one would expect from an American cookbook. This should hold no terrors for the European cook. It’s a practical method and simple. The recipes have probably been tested by generations of cooks who would not have had the luxury of modern kitchen equipment. This is a charming book offering delicious goodies.
Cookbook review: The Farmer’s Wife Cookie Cookbook
Edited by: Lela Nargi
Published by: Voyager Press
Price: $15.99US, £10.99 UK
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018