Monday, November 17, 2014

recipe archaeologist (west virginia: polly's pumpkin cookies)

I mentioned on Facebook last weekend that I hit the ultimate jackpot when I went to our weekend Flea Market here in Page County. For a whole quarter, I got a recipe tin with a few handwritten recipe castoffs, some clipped recipes from women's magazines, and a couple snippings from a local newspaper.

I was hooked. Not only did I love the loopy, scratched handwritten recipes on the stained and worn recipe cards, I loved the ephemera I found with them. Thank you notes. Newspaper articles.

It was too much for my nosy, former reporter self not to dig deeper.

I started with the newspaper clippings from The Moorefield Examiner.

Moorfield is about an hour and 45 minutes away (a huge flood happened in 1982. A civil war battle happened in 1864. Union troops defeated Brig. Gen. John McCausland thanks in large part to McCasland foolishly splitting his troops' camp into two across the south branch of the Potomac River. Oops...)

The piece I found (complete with an Apple Cake recipe) gave me a couple clues once I fired up the Googles.

Wasn't too hard to find McCoy's Grand Theater (now a museum). Next step was the Bruce Dern film "Smile," which I've never heard of.

Thanks to the movie reference and an incomplete event announcement right below, that puts us at about 1975 in our kitchen archeology dig so far.

Oh, I forgot to add this thank-you note given to our mystery chef that actually gives her a name. Bear with me...

So....we have a name. A town. A time frame. And thanks to another thank-you note, we had a church reference.

Google did the rest of the work for me.

Turns out Polly is alive and well in Moorefield.

A sprightly 78-year old bridge master, she's still winning local tournaments as of last year and celebrating each Sunday at the local Presbyterian church with her husband George. I'm leaving her last name out on purpose, of course.

If the math is correct, much of the collecting she did in the recipe box I found happened in the mid-to late 70s...when Polly would have been about, oh say, 37-ish? (I can relate.) In the tin recipe box I found, it's all pumpkin and oatmeal and peanut butter cookie recipes. There's one for a peach pie, too.

I like her style, ya'll. Sugar and carbs and carbs and sugar. I imagine Polly's a sweet thing at heart...

I figured, given the season and our proximity to Thanksgiving, I'd include Polly's recipe for pumpkin cookies. It was a little incomplete, so I had to guess the oven temperature and the time. And the actual steps to the cookie making, but, you know... it worked out fine in the end.

Thanks for the head start, Miss Polly.

Polly's Pumpkin Cookies

1 and 1/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. shortening
2 eggs
1 and 1/2 c. canned pumpkin
2 and 1/2 c. flour
1/2 t. salt
4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. cinnamon and nutmeg
1 c. nuts
1/2 c. raisins

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine sugar with shortening and eggs.

Add pumpkin and mix well.

In separate bowl, sift flour with baking powder, salt and spices.

Fold into pumpkin mixture and combine. Add in nuts and raisins if desired.

Drop by spoonful onto ungreased baking sheet. Bake 12-15 minutes and send out some good vibes to our new friend Polly while you wait.

...happy eating...

 photo megansiggy1_zps3f5c4e16.png

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