Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Corn Bread recipe more than 100 years old

October 20th, 2019 by Susan Odom

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

June 24th, 2019 by Susan Odom

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

Three meals a day, literally and figuratively. The cure for what ails us.

February 5th, 2017 by Susan Odom



Today I spent some time reading a 19th century book called, “The Hearthstone; or Life at Home. A Household Manual. ” by Laura C. Holloway, 1883.

It eloquently describes many housekeeping themes from the 19th century  most of which I am familiar with. They seem trite in todays world, they include topics like,  understanding why there should be a parlour for company and a sitting room for family, reconciling with the tyranny of carpets, the dangers of overcrowding and cluttering in furnishings, window decorations and more.

But I heard a theme today that I had not really considered as of late and that is the home is the center of all that is good and right, “… the best security for civilization is the home, and upon its perpetuity rests the future of the world.” This idea of individual homes that are the center of it all seems lost to history to me. I don’t recall that emphasis in my 52 years on this planet. I can sense a theme in my life of family being very important but somehow that seems a bit different from the ‘home’ emphasis here.

But do not think the author of this book is entirely focused on lace curtains and window boxes, although she does expand a lot on those topics, she extrapolates her idea to say this, “The basis upon which all homes should be founded is good living  and no matter how straitened the circumstances  how little there is to be spent, this can always be secured if housekeepers will begin at the beginning –that is, in the kitchen.”

So then she goes on to explain how three well-planned meals, served at a consistent hour each each day, in an attractive dinning room will lead to family togetherness and harmony. I admit this all appeals to me — especially that is, because it comes from the kitchen. I adore the kitchen and all things food.

I am thoughtfully considering these ideas and comparing them to the modern world today where there seems to be such division, falseness, intolerance and fear. It makes me wonder if three meals a day, at a lovely table would give us all the chance to engage in conversation. The author of the book expresses it thus, “The dinning room out to be the pleasantest place in the house; it is the meeting room where the family are expected to be always present at stated times, and where the events of the day are talked over while the pleasant business of eating is being discussed.”

Of course it is dangerous to look at history with rose-colored glasses. No generation is devoid of strife. But the theme of home and three meals a day, literally and figuratively, as center in our lives and how that might apply in 2017  gives me reason to pause and think and to….that is, digest.

"The Hearthstone; or Life at Home. A Household Manual. " by Laura C. Holloway, 1883.

“The Hearthstone; or Life at Home. A Household Manual. ” by Laura C. Holloway, 1883.

Got Snow? Make Snow Ice Cream!

January 21st, 2016 by Susan Odom


A big winter storm they they knighted as Jonas is coming and it will effect much of the East coast. This is the perfect time to make snow ice cream! Snow ice, snow cream, snow ice cream, however you call it, is made with fresh, newly fallen snow! If you have that, than you have the main ingredient.Just remember to buy some cream when you run out for your milk and bread!  I made it for the first time just a few days ago (Jan 18, 2016).  Here is a photo of the original recipe for snow ice cream or snow ice as they call it here:

Recipe for Snow Cream

Recipe for Snow Ice Cream

Buckeye Cook Book Cover 1904

Buckeye Cook Book Cover 1904




This recipe comes from one of my favorite books, the Buckeye Cook Book! I have a large collection of just this cook book! It was first published in 1876 and the last publication was about 1905. If you ever make it out to Hillside Homestead for a visit we can delve into my collection and have a good time discovering old foodways! I’m open all year and am always scheduling overnight stays and classes.  I do love this book, but lets get to the ice cream…



fresh snow and cream

The fresh snow on the left and the cream mixture on the right

Here is how I made my Snow Ice Cream:

1 cup of heavy cream
1/2 cup of sugar
1 tablespoon of Vanilla
4-6 quarts of fresh, fluffy, newly fallen snow

Mix together the cream and the sugar and the vanilla. Stir till sugar dissolves. If you think about it before hand, mix these together and heat slightly to help dissolve the sugar and then let it cool for several hours.


Mixing in the snow

Mixing the snow into the cream mixture. Work fast. Don’t hesitate. Eat it right away!

Now mix in the snow. Mix in big scoopfuls of snow at the time. Add snow, mix well, add more snow, etc. Till you think it looks done! Then scoop it into bowls and serve it up! Your own homemade snow ice cream!





Snow ice cream (3)

A sad picture I know, but I was in a rush to eat my bowl of snow ice cream!   I’m so excited to publish this blog post because of the upcoming storm that my pictures are not polished! Later on I hope to re-read a few of the Little House books, because I know the Ingalls family enjoyed this recipe too. I hope to edit this post soon. Looks like a big storm coming so If winter is going to give us snow then we should make ice cream!


Apple Butter Recipe

October 25th, 2014 by Susan Odom

Once a year at Hillside Homestead we make the supply of apple butter. We follow a common 19th century apple butter recipe which have no added sugar. It makes sense to do this because we use a thirty gallon copper kettle, an eight foot long paddle and one huge roaring fire! It is a big project and best to get it all done in a day. I have some wonderful friends who come and help me do this and it is great fun to share it with the public! So an annual event was born; The Apple Bee.

The apples have just been added and now for the big boil!

The apples have just been added and now for the big boil!

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