According to research, the average time families talk face to face in a week is less than five hours. We spend more time doing versus being in the moment. For this reason, I love Thanksgiving. It's carved out time to enjoy the moment. Despite the problematic historical background of Thanksgiving, my family and I still gather around this time of year. We use this time to enjoy each other, create new memories, and EAT!
My family involves food with any and every celebration. It’s what I look forward to the most. I am responsible for making the Mac and cheese every year. But I may switch it up one year and cook something smothered in flavor and history. I did a little digging and came across some historical recipes.
Let’s dive in,
Rosa Parks Pancakes
A house in Detroit believed to be one of Ms. Parks’s first stops after fleeing the South held a collection of personal papers, photographs, and memorabilia. A New York auction house called Guernsey’s was selected to represent the archive and find the collection a permanent home. Among her papers, a recipe was found, scribbled on the back of an envelope, for “Featherlite Pancakes.” We can’t be 100% sure that Rosa used this recipe. However, it seems probable that she did, given that it was found within her items and written in her handwriting.
Here is the recipe as it appears on the envelope:
1 cup flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
½ teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/4 cup milk
1/3 cup peanut butter
1 tablespoon shortening, melted, or oil
Combine with dry ingredients
Cook at 275 degrees F on griddle
Joe Froggers Cookies
Tavern-keepers Joseph and Lucretia Thomas Brown are known for a gingerbread-like cookie with a hint of rum. “Lucretia Thomas was born in 1772 in Marblehead, Massachusetts, a rough-and-tumble seaport just south of Salem. She was most likely born free, but Continental Navy Captain Samuel Tucker had previously enslaved her parents.
When Lucretia was a young woman, she met Joseph Brown, who’d been born into slavery as the son of an African-American mother and a Wampanoag Nation father. Brown had fought in the Marblehead militia as part of the Revolutionary army, which likely led to his emancipation from slavery and his reputation, according to one local memorial, as a “respected citizen” of the seaside town. Together, the couple operated a tavern from the small saltbox-style house they purchased in 1795, perched near a frog pond on Marblehead’s Gingerbread Hill.
As the story goes, Lucretia Thomas Brown invented Joe Froggers as tavern fare for the hungry neighbors that frequented the couple’s establishment. She allegedly named the cookie after her husband and the nearby pond’s lily pads that the wide, flat rounds resembled.”
More on Joe Frogger.
Here’s a recipe for the cookies:
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup molasses
1/3 cup hot water
2 tablespoons rum or 1 teaspoon rum extract
3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1-1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- In a large bowl, cream shortening and brown sugar until light and fluffy, 5-7 minutes. In a small bowl, whisk molasses, hot water and rum. In another bowl, whisk the flour, salt, ginger, baking soda, cloves, nutmeg and allspice; add to creamed mixture alternately with molasses mixture, beating after each addition. Refrigerate, covered, 4 hours or until easy to handle.
- Preheat oven to 375°. Shape dough into 1-1/2-in. balls and place 3 in. apart on greased baking sheets. Flatten to 1/2-in. thickness with bottom of a glass dipped in sugar.
- Bake 12-14 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on pans 2 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool completely. Store in airtight containers.
More Historic Recipes,
I came across a great website that listed recipes dating to the colonial times and further. Check them out here.
- The Jemima Code, by Toni Tipton-Martin
- Jubilee, by Toni Tipton-Martin
- The Taste of Country Cooking, by Edna Lewis
- A Taste of Heritage, by Toni Tipton-Martin
- Sweet Home Café Cookbook: A Celebration of African American Cooking, by NMAAHC et al.
- Carla Hall’s Soul Food, by Carla Hall
- Black Girl Baking, by Jerrelle Guy
- Sweetie Pie’s Recipes, by Robbie Montgomery
Food History, Memoirs, and Nonfiction
- The Cooking Gene, by Michael Twitty
- Bound to the Fire: How Virginia’s Enslaved Cooks Helped Invent American Cuisine, by Kelley Deetz
- High on the Hog: A Culinary Journey from Africa to America, by Jessica B. Harris
- Iron Pots and Wooden Spoons, by Jessica B. Harris
- Notes From a Young Black Chef, by Kwame Onwuache
- Yes, Chef: A Memoir, by Marcus Samuelsson
- How Enslaved Chefs Helped Shape American Cuisine, Smithsonian Magazine
- African American Culinary Chefs You Should Know, NMAAHC
- The Forgotten History of Black Chefs, Michael Twitty for Eater
- 6 Black Chefs (and 1 Inventor) Who Changed the History of Food, New York Times
- A Jury of My Peers, Kwame Onwuache
- Black-Owned Businesses to Support, Now and Always, Food52
- How to Support Black-Owned Restaurants in Your Community, Food+Wine
- Aunt Jemima Has a New Name After 131 Years: The Pearl Milling Company, New York Times
“Portrait of George Washington’s Cook” by Gilbert Stuart
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