Corn Bread recipe more than 100 years old

Corn Bread Recipe

This original recipe is from an historic inn formerly located in Omena, Michigan that was called “The Oaks”.  This recipe is from the year 1915 or thereabouts. It was actually served at that inn!!

Corn Bread Recipe

The Corn Bread Recipe from the Oaks of Omena circa 1915.

This recipe is a classic example of they way recipes were written compared to how we do it today. Recipes often gave very little instruction because they assumed you knew the basics. This recipe is merely a list of ingredients. Including some abbreviations/words that might be a mystery to folks today. That is 3 tablespoons of sugar because an uppercase T means a tablespoon. And that is 2 teaspoons of baking powder because a lowercase T means a teaspoon. In this case that the b. In front of the word powder means baking powder. Late 19th and 20th century cornbread recipes typically call for inorganic/chemical leaveners such as baking powder or the mix of cream of tartar and baking soda. 

Sweet milk means fresh milk. The kitchen where this corn bread was baked most likely did not have pasteurized milk. So on most days they probably had some fresh milk and some milk that was going a bit sour. Fresh, unpasteurized milk goes sour fairly quickly. Of course sour does not mean spoiled but that is a whole other topic! I’m not sure why the recipe calls for yellow corn meal vs. white corn meal. That is something for me to learn about. I have used white and yellow corn meal in this recipe with good results from both. Below are some additional instructions for this recipe. This is how I put together the ingredients.. 

½ cup butter

3 tablespoons sugar

½ teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 cup all purpose flour

1 cup corn meal

3 eggs

1 cup milk


  • Read the entire recipe before beginning. Allow all ingredients to come to room temperature especially the milk and eggs which you will probably pull from your fridge. You might want to set those things out on the counter the night before. You can skip this step but it does make the final bread just a bit nicer. 
  • Butter the baking dish. I usually use 2 cast iron corn bread pans  which makes about 20 individual small servings. You could also bake this in a cast iron frying pan. Or you could bake it in a typical rectangular baking/casserole dish.
  • Melt the butter in a small pan and set aside and allow to cool to room temp.
  • Mix together the dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside. 
  • In another bowl beat the eggs till mixed well and then add milk and beat again until well mixed.
  • Pour the egg/milk combo into the dry ingredients and mix well. Do not use an electric mixer for this. A spoon and your hand are good enough. A mixer might overmix and make tunnels in the final product
  • Then slowly add/drizzle the melted butter into the batter, stirring all the while. Slowly adding the butter while constantly mixing ensures the butter mixes well into the batter and does not re-solidfy. 
  • Pour batter into prepared baking dish/pans. It will about double in size when baking so only fill the baking pan/dish halfway. 
  • Bake at 425 degrees. My cast iron corn bread pans take about 20 minutes. A frying pan or baking/casserole dish would take longer. I’m not sure how much longer so you will have to pay attention. 
page or recipes from the Oaks of Omena

This is a page of recipes from an historic inn that was called “The Oaks of Omena” which was located in Omena, Michigan.


Dinner menu from the Oaks in Omena, Michigan Aug 29, 1918

This is a menu from a dinner served at The Oaks in Omena, Michigan


Cherry Bounce – a boozy drink from the past

Cherry season will soon be here in Leelanau County so I thought I would share my recipe for Cherry Bounce! Cherry bounce is is a fruit coridal or liqueur, that is how it might be described today.  Usually made with Rye Whisky or Brandy. I like Brandy in mine.  It is good straight up or I like to mix it with some muddled mint leaves and a lot of sparkling water to make a nice light summer drink.

The recipe below also makes a batch of Brandied Cherries, sort of my own concoction. This recipe is from one of my favorite authors William Woys Weaver… check him out on the web. He has written amazing cook books and has now started selling seeds from his collection of heriloom plants. He is truly doing some important work by saving seeds from the past. You can read about him and order seeds here.

Montmorency Tart Cherries ripe on the tree

Montmorency Tart Cherries ripe on the tree

Cherry Bounce – Original recipe from “Sauerkraut Yankees” by William Woys Weaver
This also makes a recipe of Brandied cherries

Put 6 pounds of ripe Morello cherries and 6 pounds of large oxheart cherries in a wooden tub and mash them with a hammer until all the pits are broken. Add 3 pounds of white sugar to the cherries, and put them in a stone jug or large bottle. Add 2 gallons of the best double-distilled whiskey, and shake the bounce every day for the first month. At the end of 3 months, draw the bounce off into bottles. The longer it stands, the better it becomes.

A few notes….
Morello cherries I interpret as tart or sour pie cherries. and Large oxheart  as large black sweet cherries. If you want to make brandied cherries in addition to bounce do not mash the cherries with a hammer as instructed. But instead carefully pit the cherries. Take the pits and put them in a heavy cloth and mash those with a hammer. You can add them to the bounce by tying them snuggly and securely into a cheese cloth and soaking them with the cherries and brandy. The pits impart a lovely bitter almond flavor. Or skip that step if you want to adhere to USDA warnings about cyanide, there are very small amounts of cyanide in cherry pits and other tree fruit seeds.

I once did an experiment with all kinds of spirits in this recipe. I decided I like brandy the best. I don’t like it made with whisky or vodka or gin. I find Brandy to be a warm liquor and takes fruit well.

To make Brandied cherries: After 3 months you strain the bounce and put the liquid in bottles or jars. Take the cherries and put them in a heavy sugar syrup. I did not officially can my cherries. I figured with the brandy and the sugar they would be ok and so far down in my cellar they are. But you might want to can yours. This recipe for brandied cherries is based on my own experimenting. There are more official recipes for making brandied cherries. You might want to compare my recipe to some others.

Pitting cherries can be messy work as this photo illustrates. I like to use a plain hair pin stuck into a cork for pitting cherries which is what is happening in the photo below.

Aprons are in order when pitting cherries.

Aprons are in order when pitting cherries.

Sugar Syrup for Brandied Cherries

4-1/2 pounds sugar
3 cups water
Juice of one lemon

In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, water, lemon juice. Stirring to dissolve sugar. Bring to a boil for at least a minute, allow to cool to room temp and then pour over cherries.

I hope you enjoyed reading this. If you have questions please post a comment below!

—Thanks, Susan Odom

Mincemeat Pie Recipe

Plum pudding and Mincemeat made at Hillside Homestead

Plum pudding on the left and several large jars of mincemeat on the right.

Mincemeat – The ratio based recipe


This recipe is based on the recipes in The Kentucky Housewife, published in 1839.  Over the years I have tweaked this recipe and developed a ratio for the ingredients based on about one pound of prepared tongue. I found that I normally get about 1 pound of prepared meat from a raw beef tongue after it is cooked, trimmed, and minced.


Ratio of ingredients

  • 1 beef tongue or  1 pound plus of venison loin (back strap)
  • 1 pound of Beef kidney suet
  • 2 pounds of dried fruit (raisins, currants, cherries, etc)
  • 1 pound of candied fruit (brandied cherries, citron, orange peel, lemon peel, some people use some preserves or nice jam)
  • 3 pounds of prepared apples, Rhode island greenings
  • .5 pounds of almonds, walnuts and/or hickory nuts
  • 2 pounds of sugar
  • 2 oranges
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon mace
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 quart cider
  • 1 pint brandy
  • Molasses to cover tongue



Thus is a long and somewhat complicated recipe. You have to really want to make it. And this is called mincemeat for a good reason; there is lots of chopping and mincing to do. Read the recipe thoroughly and make a plan, it will take a few days to complete.


Put the beef tongue in a large pot of water and simmer till cooked but still tender, a knife inserted to the thick part should go in easily. You could also call it ‘fork tender’. This takes 2-3 hours or more. Don’t let it cook fast because that makes the tongue tough. Remove the tongue from the pot to cool a bit. When it has cooled just enough to handle it, go ahead and peel off the skin and taste buds. Trim off the root parts and any glands. A lot gets trimmed off. Trim it nicely and put it in a covered dish and cover it with molasses. Refrigerate that overnight. The next day mince the tongue very fine. For backstrap roast it in stead.


Now prepare all the other ingredients and have them ready. Here are a few notes on some of them.


  • Dried Cherries: Chop the cherries in half. If you don’t have these you could try dried apricots or maybe prunes and some dates.
  • Brandied Cherries: I make my own brandied cherries; you can skip this step if you don’t have any. I don’t know where they can be purchased. Some recipes call for adding some preserves or nice jam. You could try that.
  • Apples: I like to use Rhode Island Greening apples. They are a very fine cooking apples and don’t turn to mush in the mincemeat crock. They are peeled, cored and minced fine.


  • Citron: I only use my homemade candied citron. I think the conventional citron available at common grocery stores is intolerable and should be avoided. It does not taste like the real thing at all. If you can’t get any good citron, just skip it. And of course to prepare it for the mincemeat crock it should be minced fine. You can add some quality candied lemon or orange peel instead.


  • Nuts: of course mince them fine.


  • Oranges and lemons: First grate the rind of the citrus fruit and set it aside in a bowl. Then squeeze the juice from what is left and set it aside in another bowl.
  • Cider: This is called hard cider today. I can buy it local but not everyone can. Lots of local ciders are being produced today. If no local is available,  woodchuck brand will do. This is a fermented drink. It is often confused with apple jack or other types of spirits or whisky.  It is not as strong as whisky or brandy or even wine.


  • Brandy: I use the Ernest and Julio brand of brandy


  • Beef suet: Know the weight of your beef tongues and get the same amount in beef suet. On average I have found tongues are about 1.5 pounds each. Many local butchers will put the beef suet through a sausage grinder for you, thus mincing it for you. If you have to buy the suet whole you will have to mince it very finely yourself. This is a lot of work.


After you have all the indigents ready and standing by you can begin to mix it all together.


Mix the suet with the salt and about 2 cups of the sugar, so that the suet is well coated and does not clump together. Take ½ cup of the sugar and the grated lemon and orange rind and mix those 3 ingredients together well. Now mix the suet with the minced tongue and apples. Add the raisins and currants. Sprinkle the sugar and citrus rind mixture on top and mix it all well together. Add the dried cherries and brandied cherries and mix well. Sprinkle the citron and almonds on top and mix it all together very thoroughly.


Dissolve and simmer the remaining sugar in the brandy and the cider. Then add the spices to it and dissolve. Then add the lemon and orange juice. Let it simmer a bit more. Let it cool before adding it to the crock of mincemeat.


Now mix the wet ingredients with the other ingredients in a tall crock or some large container. Allow this mixture to stand for at least a few days before attempting to use it, two weeks or more is ideal. This will make about 1-2 gallons of mincemeat. Keep the mincemeat in a crock/crocks or gallon glass jars all throughout the holiday season and use as needed.  It is usually made in early November and then used to make pies until it runs out, maybe sometime in January or February. The crock of mincemeat can be kept in the refrigerator or a cellar or maybe even a cold garage. Just keep it well covered with a heavy cloth and some string or a lid. Don’t let it freeze.  It should stay moist. In the beginning it will soak up lots of moisture so you will have to add more brandy and cider. Be liberal with the liquids and keep the mincemeat moist.  The liquor is what keeps it from spoiling and the sugar too! The mincemeat improves with age. Make sure to stir it at least every other day. If it does not get stirred the mincemeat exposed to the air at the top of the crock will start to mold.


When you want to make a pie, prepare a top and bottom crust. Put the bottom crust into the pie plate and prick the bottom of the crust and then scoop in enough mincemeat mixture to fill the crust, you can add more minced apples at this point if desired. Put the top crust on and cut some vents into the top. I always brush a bit of milk on the top crust and sprinkle a bit of sugar. It improves the way the crust looks. Bake at about 350 degrees till golden brown probably about an hour. Enjoy! If anyone has any questions please contact me and I would love to hear from you if you really do make this!


February 2017 Value-Added Meat CSA


Value-Added Meat CSA

Welcome to the third installment of our value-added meat CSA. We hope you enjoy it. Below are a few comments about some of the articles in your box. If you have any questions, please let us know. You can contact email Susan here.

Maple Smoked Bacon

We are proud of this bacon. It was cured using locally sourced maple syrup and then hickory smoked. It has not been sliced, which gives you the opportunity to slice it thick or think or to dice for a recipe.

Smoked Ham

This is a fully cooked food. Thaw in the fridge to slice and eat. Or let it come up to room temp and slice. It also is good fried, sliced thick or thin for sandwiches, or in your favorite recipe.

Smoked Andouille

A spicy, smoked Cajun sausage ready for your favorite recipes. Delicious in jambalaya or Susan likes it in fried cabbage with apples. One of Andrea’s specialties.

Italian Sausage

This is not like the stuff you get at the grocery store. We toasted the fennel, we minced the garlic fresh – this stuff is the best. Your share may include links or bulk sausage, all fresh and ready for you to fully cook in your recipe.

Poultry Bone Broth

This delicious  poultry bone broth is made from bones and the feet of chickens and ducks. Yes you read that right, feet. Don’t be afraid because the cartilage in all of those bones is so good for you! We combine the bones with carrots, celery, onion, garlic and dried herbs from Susan’s garden and plenty of cold well water. Simmer for hours on the wood stove.

Maple Sugaring at Hillside Homestead

Time to make sugar at Hillside Homestead

Maple Sugaring season is upon us at Hillside Homestead. How long will it last, only the weather knows. The perfect weather is around 40 degrees during the day and dipping below freezing at night; that allows the sap to run up the tree and then drop back down at night.

Just for fun here are some maple sugaring entries from Sarah Palmer’s diary. Sarah and her husband farmed in my community and she kept a diary from1876 to 1915, not every day, but many days.

April 9, 1893
Perry got home this morning. Lorin came down this morning. Nellie is sick. Elmer brought Edwin & Clyde up to stay while they went over to Eri’s. Indian (a sir name was given but it was unclear) came here & brought us a pail of maple syrup. Mother was here a while. Elmer came for the children after supper & Lorin went home in the evening.

March 17, 1904
Lyle went up to Norris’s Mill with a grist of wheat, Pa done the noon chores. Rosa’s cough keeps troublesome, she is taking Kings Discovery. It is not very cold nor very bright, it snows. my cold bothers me a good deal. I am eating maple sugar every day. Lyle got his grist ground and got back home about three oclock. Pa walked to town this afternoon and got a letter from Amzi and one from Catherine Peck. I will make biscuit for supper.

April 23, 1907
Pa went to town afoot the boys went to school. I sent a letter off to Perry, also one to Amanda Weaver at Gr Rapids. Eri came before dinner. Clyde Peck is plowing across the road & brings his dinner up here at noon at sits at the table with us. Lyle is plowing. Rosa finished her washing. I made bread six loaves, and a batch of cookies. We had a dish full of maple syrup that I made on the stove.
Notes: evidence of making syrup on the stove and not outside! And the neighbor is already out plowing and she is still making syurp, overlapping seasons.

Sept 24 and 25, 1908
Baked bread, cake, cookies, and apple pies and made sauce. We went to the Leelanaw Co Fair, Melville took Ned and Dennis and the Calf. I took a big plant of California grass and Arthur’s cake of maple sugar, 25 years old. We took our dinners with the Catholic ladies. School closed for afternoon and the boys went from school.

We all went to the Fair again. We got our dinners with the Ladies Aid of the Keswick church. the boys went from school again to day. Melville got First premium on Ned & the calf and winter squash, we had watermelons and onions there, I got 1st premium on the plant and Arthurs maple sugar.

Notes: 1st premium means first prize which usually included a monetary award too. So She won an award for one of her houseplants and a 25 year old cake of maple sugar! And she uses an old spelling of Leelanau, replacing the U with a W .