Great-Grandmother Tenery's Oatmeal Cookies 1880

In 1988, the Daughters of the Republic of Texas gathered hundreds of old recipes from the early days of Texas and published them as A Pinch of This and a Handful of That. I have loved browsing through this  collection of pioneer recipes and household tips ("Clothes which have a bad odor may be wrapped up and buried for a day or two in the ground to remove the odor" and, "To heal chapped hands, rub them with buffalo tallow").

When I spotted this recipe, I knew I had to try it. These are definitely Great-Grandmother-worthy cookies...buttery and crisp around the edges, rich and chewy in the middle, and a perfect balance of raisins, pecans, and dough. They really are some of the best cookies I've ever eaten.

I used old-fashioned oats in my cookies because that's probably what Great-Grandmother Tenery used: quick cooking oats were not developed until the 1920s.

Great-Grandmother Tenery's Oatmeal Cookies
Navarro County, Texas, 1880


1 cup butter, room temperature

2 cups sugar (I used 1 cup granulated sugar and 1 cup light brown sugar)
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt (I added this- it was not in the original recipe)
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 large eggs
2 cups oatmeal
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup raisins

Here are the exact instructions, as written: "Cream butter and sugar, add eggs, one at a time and beat thoroughly. Sift dry ingredients three times and add to creamed mixture with oatmeal, pecans, and raisins. Drop on greased tins, and bake in moderate oven for 15 minutes".

I added: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Although the directions did not specify, I stirred the vanilla in right after the eggs. Bake on a parchment paper covered cookie sheet for 13 to 14 minutes or until just starting to brown (the longer they bake, the crispier they get). I dropped dough by rounded tablespoon-fulls. This made about 42 large (3.5"), delicious cookies.

Recipe from: Seconds of A Pinch of This and a Handful of That, 1830-1900 by The Daughters of the Republic of Texas.

These cookies may have been taken to some of these fun parties!

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Mexican Chocolate Buttermilk Poundcake

My mom and I love pound cakes. Since Cinco de Mayo is right around the corner, I shared this one with her  at one of our recent visits. We loved it. It's rich and dense and moist like a pound cake should be, with just the right amounts of chocolate and warm cinnamon. My mom and I had ours with fresh sliced strawberries and whipping cream (so pretty!), but to tell you the truth, I prefer it plain. The flavor and texture of this cake doesn't need a bit of help.

Mexican Chocolate Buttermilk Pound Cake


1 (8-oz.) package semisweet chocolate baking squares, chopped
1 cup butter, softened at room temperature
1 and 1/2 cups sugar 
4 large eggs
1/2 cup chocolate syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk

1.  Microwave chocolate baking squares in a small bowl, stirring every 15 seconds, until chocolate is melted and smooth. This should take about 1 minute.

2. Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer 2 minutes or until creamy. Gradually add sugar, then  beat until light and fluffy, about 5 to 7 minutes.  Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until yellow disappears after each addition. Stir in melted chocolate, chocolate syrup, and vanilla until smooth.

3. Combine the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Add to butter mixture, alternating with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition. Pour batter into a greased and floured 10-inch tube pan or a 12-cup Bundt pan.

4. Bake at 325° for about 1 hour and 10 minutes (start checking at about an hour; be careful not to over-bake) or until a long wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack 10 to 15 minutes; remove from pan to a wire rack, and let cool completely.

Cook’s note: You may substitute Mexican chocolate for the baking chocolate and cinnamon in this recipe.

Recipe from Southern Living

This cake may have been taken to some of these great parties!

Streamliner Cake

The Cake Slice Bakers' cake for this month is a wonderful little lemon and almond cake that our cookbook author calls "Streamliner Cake." She notes that while it's not exactly clear where the name Streamliner came from, it might have been named for the streamlined, art deco-design trains and cars of the 1930s.

Whatever the origin of its name, this luscious buttermilk cake is especially moist, light, and topped with a sunny lemon custard. The cake is delicious, but it's the thick, rich, sweet and tangy lemon custard that elevates this dessert to the next level. I loved the custard so much that I doubled the amount called for, then sliced the cake horizontally to make a layer cake: twice the custard in every bite.

Lemon and Almond Streamliner Cake

Zest of 2 lemons
3/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
4 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into small cubes


1 and 1/4 cups sifted cake flour
1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (6 oz.) almond paste, at room temperature
10 tablespoons (5 oz.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 eggs, at room temperature
2/3 cup buttermilk, at room temperature

For the custard:

Combine the zest, milk, and 1/4 cup sugar in a medium saucepan and heat over medium-low heat until just hot. Meanwhile, in a medium sized bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, and the salt until well-combined, then whisk in the cornstarch and lemon juice. Slowly whisk about 1/3 of the hot mixture into the yolk mixture. Pour the yolk mixture back into the saucepan of hot milk, whisking steadily, until the custard begins to thicken and bubble for one minute.

Strain the custard through a fine mesh into a clean bowl, and whisk in the butter until melted. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the custard and refrigerate for two hours.

Luscious lemon custard

For the cake:

Center an oven rack, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 inch round cake pan and line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl, then whisk to combine well.

Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, combine the almond paste, butter, sugar, canola oil, and vanilla on low speed until blended. Increase the speed to high, and cream until very light and fluffy, about 5 to 7 minutes. Stop the mixer frequently to scrape the paddle and sides of the bowl.

Blend in the eggs one at a time, adding the next one as soon as the previous one has disappeared into the batter. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour in three parts, alternating with the buttermilk in two parts, beginning and ending with flour. After each addition, mix until just barely blended, and scrape the sides of the bowl.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread it evenly. Rap the pan firmly on the counter to release any air bubbles. Place the pan in the center of the oven and bake until the cake is a deep golden color and a wooden pick comes out barely clean, about 42 to 45 minutes.

Cool the cake in pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, flip the cake out onto the wire rack, remove the parchment paper, and flip the cake back to right side up. Cool to room temperature.

Place cake on a serving plate and frost the sides of the cake lightly with the lemon custard. Frost the top of the cake with remaining custard, then let the cake set in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. Any leftover cake keeps in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days.

This recipe is from Vintage Cakes by Julie Richardson.

Streamliner Cake may have been taken to some of these great parties!

Caramelized Onions

Cooking onions very slowly brings out their natural sugars, and then those sugars caramelize. The caramelization process results in richly-flavored, slightly sweet, mellow onions that are delicious in many different dishes. 

Caramelized onions are not difficult to make, but they do take a little while- anywhere from about 45 minutes to an hour. They are worth the wait. 

My favorite way to enjoy caramelized onions is piled on top of a grilled-outside-on-the-grill  hamburger or tucked inside a melty quesadilla. My husband likes his caramelized onions with a steak or on a baked potato. They're also great in soups, sandwiches and wraps, and on pizzas or hotdogs. 

Caramelized Onions
Makes about 2 cups


2 lbs. onions (about 4 medium-large)
4 tablespoons butter or olive oil


Slice off both ends of the onions, then peel the onions. Cut them in half from top to bottom. Place the onions cut side down and slice into half-rings, no thicker than about 1/4". Separate all the half-rings into individual pieces.

Over medium heat, melt butter in a large skillet. Watch it closely so that the butter doesn't burn. Add the onions and stir to coat. Add a pinch of salt unless you used salted butter. A pinch of sugar will help the caramelization process, but is optional.

Over low heat, and stirring frequently, continue to cook the onions until they are a rich, dark, golden-brown color.

After 5 minutes

After 25 minutes

After 45 minutes

One hour

Caramelized Onions may have been taken to some of these fun parties! 

Easy Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Here's a fun little classic cake you can put together in no time. Just start with a mix and add a few additional ingredients. This sunny yellow cake topped with pineapples baked in buttery, brown sugar topping is delicious!

I baked mine in 
a deep 10" iron skillet. You could use a 13 X 9" pan, or two 9" cake pans. You'll need to adjust the number of pineapple rings if you use a different pan.

Easy Pineapple Upside Down Cake

2/3 cup brown sugar
7 tablespoons butter
1 can (15 to 20 oz.) pineapple rings
Small jar whole maraschino cherries 
Moist yellow cake mix, 16 to 18 oz. size, plus eggs and oil called for on package

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in skillet over low to medium heat. Add brown sugar and stir until sugar is melted. Remove from heat.

Drain pineapple rings, reserving juice. In a single layer, arrange as many rings as will fit in the bottom of skillet- I used six. Save remaining rings for another use. Place a cherry in the center of each ring. 

Prepare cake mix according to directions, except use reserved pineapple juice instead of water called for in recipe. If you don't have enough pineapple juice, make up the difference with water. Carefully pour batter over pineapple rings. Bake according to directions on cake mix.

When done, let cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Place cake plate over top of skillet and flip cake out onto serving plate.

This cake may have been taken to some of these great parties!