Cincinnati’s 6th St. Market in the 1930s

When I was a high school junior in 1949,  one of our assignments in English class was to write an autobiography.  A portion of my life story was about visiting the old Sixth Street Market with my mother and little sister.  In 1936, our family had finally left the home of relatives during the Great Depression and rented a one-room flat on Elm Street in downtown Cincinnati.  My 20-something father had a job on the WPA and my teenage mother made the one room into a comfortable home and took care of my sister (age two)  and me (age four).  Since we didn’t have an ice-box, one of our daily chores was to walk about 4 blocks to the Sixth Street Market to get our supply of perishable food.  My father would tell my mother what to fix for supper, give her a list of ingredients and the money to cover it, and we made our way through the city streets which were completely unfamiliar to my mother and her small-town upbringing.    Since my memory at age 16 was much sharper than it is now, I’m offering my chapter on this experience from my 1949 high school autobiography, exactly as I wrote it then.  Accompanying the piece are pen and ink sketches I did in 1992, using old Cincinnati photographs as my reference.


“One of my earliest memories is that of going to the Sixth Street market with Mother and Shirley.  Each day we took the trip and made our rounds of the stores.  In the butcher shop, the friendly butcher always presented Shirley and me with a fat, juicy hot dog.  You can imagine what kind of picture we presented walking along the street, hanging onto the handles of Mother’s shopping bags, munching hot dogs.

Sixth Street market was a fascinating place, always bubbling over with loud-mouthed vendors who tried to out-do each other in shouting their bargainsI can remember the outdoor stalls and the piles of fruits and vegetables each one contained.  The apples and oranges were wrapped in flimsy, red tissue paper, and an abundance of these wrappers could be found laying on the pavement near the stalls.  The vendors of oranges or lemons were always anxious to cut one of the fruits in half in order to show the good quality of their products.

There was a row of little shops along the street and we frequented all of them.

One shop was full of poultry products.  Cages of cackling chickens were setting all around the room.  That queer, stale odor that goes with fowls filled the shop and floated out of the open door into the crowded street.  Men with blood splattered aprons were on hand to kill any chicken the customer might desire.  Fresh eggs could also be purchased as well as fat ducks.  The chatter of the men, the demands of the customers, and the quacks and clucks of the fowls added to the general confusion of the shop.

In the very middle of the square was a huge meat house.  It was very quiet and cool in the house, and it proved to be a welcome place to enter from the scorching street.  Great halves of beef hung on the walls, and fat,  jolly butchers cut the scarlet meat and wrapped it in brown paper taken from a big roll that was kept on the counter.  Attached to the ceiling was a large ball of string with the loose end hanging down so that the butcher could grasp it and use it in wrapping the packages of meat.  Through the windows of the showcase,  I could see heaps of juicy, soft hamburger; strings of pink hot dogs; piles of lean steaks and chops; and smooth, red liver laying beside big hunks of rich, yellow cheese.

At the very end of Sixth Street was a little store which sold such articles as tobacco, cigarettes, gum and candy.  Mother would always take us to the store and let us choose a piece of penny candy.  There was never any hesitation – Shirley and I always chose “candy fudges”.  Sometimes, we purchased dark, rich chocolate ones, but more often we chose the creamy, smooth vanilla squares of fudge.

On our way home from the market we passed an ancient Jewish synagogue.  It was a gloomy-looking building, its dark, yellow walls covered with vines.  Surrounding the temple was a short, wide wall, and my sister and I delighted in walking on top of it.  We thought that we were performing quite a daring feat, although the wall was only two feet tall.  At the end of the wall, we scrambled down with mixed feelings of satisfaction and regret that the fun was over, and headed for home.”

A Snowy Day Retro Meal

My oldest daughter was here for supper in the middle of a weeklong siege of snow and I wanted to fix some kind of comfort food.  What says “comfort” more than a casserole and some cookies from the late 1940s-early 1950s?

The Casserole:  I loved to have lunch at my Aunt Mabel’s house when I was a kid.  Mabel shared a two-family house with my maternal grandmother and each week they and Mabel’s two young children got together with my mother, my sister, and me.   Mabel was something of a kid herself – in her early 20s, funny, good with young people, a tomboy in jeans long before girls had started to wear them in the mid-1940s.  She wasn’t particularly interested in cooking but she always served fun food – cold cuts, store-bought cookies, potato chips – and sometimes she would try out a popular recipe such as her Tuna Noodle Casserole.  My father wouldn’t touch anything that even looked like a casserole with its conglomeration of ingredients, so this was a real treat for us.  At Mabel’s, we enjoyed the food we never had at home, as well as all the latest magazines and, the best thing for me, the chance to sit with the three women and listen to them talk while the younger children went off to play.

This is my version of Mabel’s casserole:


  • 6 oz. dry noodles (about 1-1/2 cups)
  • One can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
  • Several gratings of black pepper
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 2 Tblsp. chopped pimiento
  • 2 Tblsp. dry minced onion
  • 2 cans white albacore tuna (6 oz. each), drained &  flaked
  • 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup crushed cheese crackers

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Spray or oil a 9″ baking dish

Cook the dry noodles in boiling, salted water until al dente (about 7 minutes).  Drain and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the soup, milk, sour cream, salt and pepper.  Mix well and stir in the peas, pimiento, onion, flaked tuna and grated cheese.  Stir in the drained noodles.  Pour into the prepared 9″ pan.  Sprinkle the top with the crushed cheese crackers.

Bake @ 400 degrees F for 20 minutes until the mixture is hot and bubbly.

Serve at once.

The Cookies: These cookies are especially good when they’re first baked and the chocolate is still soft.


  • Servings: Approx. 48 cookies
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  • 48 Hershey milk chocolate kisses
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tblsp. milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Remove wrappers from chocolates.

Beat shortening/margarine and peanut butter in large bowl until well blended.  Add granulated sugar and brown sugar, beat until fluffy.  Add egg, milk and vanilla, blending well.

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda and salt.  Gradually beat the flour mixture into the peanut butter mixture.

Shape dough into one-inch balls.  Place on an ungreased cookie sheet about 2″ apart.  Bake @ 375 degrees F for approximately 8-10 minutes until cookies are lightly browned.  Remove from oven and immediately press a chocolate kiss in the center of each cookie.  Remove cookies to wire rack to cool.

Yield:  48 cookies 

I would love to have just one more chance to sit around the table with those dear people, listen to them talk and enjoy Mabel’s casserole.

Retro Coffeecake

This recipe goes back to my early days of marriage in 1952.  It came from either a Crisco or Sunbeam mixer cookbook (two of my favorite sources at that time) and I made it countless times.  The crumb topping is very sparse and light but is just right for the cake which is richer than most coffeecakes.  I have always called it my “best coffeecake”.


  • 1/2 cup shortening (Crisco)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tblsp. baking powder
  • 1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Grease and flour a 9″ baking pan.

In the large bowl of an electric mixer, place the shortening, sugar and egg.  Beat until light and fluffy.

In a separate medium bowl, mix together the flour, salt and baking powder.

Add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with flour, and beating until well blended after each addition.

Pour into a greased and floured 9″ pan.  Sprinkle the following topping on the top of the cake:


  • 1-1/2 Tblsp. melted butter
  • 4 Tblsp. granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 Tblsp. flour

In a small bowl, mix together the butter, sugar and cinnamon.  Stir in the flour and mix well.  Crumble over the top of the unbaked cake.

Bake cake @ 400 degrees F for approximately 25 minutes, until cake tests done.

Cool for 10 minutes on a rack.  Cut into squares to serve while still warm.

In the early 1960s my husband and I were raising three children in a 1922 house on Maple Drive in Oakley (Cincinnati).

I used to bake this cake as a treat during the evening when we didn’t have money for snacks like potato chips and soft drink.   I would omit the crumb topping and after it was cool, frost it with some powdered sugar icing and sprinkle raisins on top.


  • 1 Tblsp. softened butter or margarine
  • 1 Tblsp. undiluted evaporated milk
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup powdered or confectioners’ sugar
  • Dash of salt

Place all of the above ingredients in a mixer bowl and beat until smooth.  An additional drop or two of evaporated milk can be added gradually to make a good spreading consistency.  Frost top of cooled cake while still in the pan and sprinkle about 3 Tblsp. of raisins on top.

The three kids (age 2, 6 and 8), my husband and I would eat the entire cake that evening while watching television.

Grandma Mary’s Doughnut Balls


When I met my future mother-in-law in 1951, she introduced me to her very popular Doughnut Balls.  She told me that when her four kids were little, she would get up early in the morning and make these treats before her husband went off to work so he could have some fresh and warm for breakfast and the kids could eat some later when they woke up.  Actually, the recipe is easy and quick enough to do just that.  I never made them for her son for breakfast because he preferred bacon and eggs, but I did make them many times for my own four children and my mother loved them for lunch with a cup of hot coffee.

Here’s a 1950s picture of my mother-in-law, later known as Grandma Mary, at her familiar place in the kitchen, getting a meal ready for her family.

Grandma Mary 58

For our first Halloween together as a married couple in 1953 before there were any children, I decided to make special treats for the “beggars” as we called them in those days.  When I was a child out begging one Halloween, word had come along the street that someone was handing out hot doughnuts.  We raced up to the house only to find they had run out, but I always thought that sounded like an ideal Halloween treat.  So, using a wedding gift electric deep fryer, I set up an operation near the door, mixing up batches of Grandma Mary’s recipe and offering piping hot, sugary Doughnut Balls to some very surprised trick or treaters.  I had also made a huge batch of hot chocolate and passed out small paper cups of this to wash down the doughnuts.

I was very pleased with my Halloween treat idea but by the next year, I had a six-month-old baby and after that there were more children and less time, so I never duplicated that 1953 Halloween.  However, we still enjoy having these Doughnut Balls for breakfast and I think of Grandma Mary every time I make them.


  • Servings: 2-3 doz. doughnut balls, depending on size
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  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tblsp. melted Crisco shortening
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • Crisco for deep frying
  • 1-2 cups of confectioners’ sugar for coating

In a medium bowl whisk together the sugar, milk, egg and melted shortening.  In a separate small bowl mix together the flour, salt and baking powder.  Combine dry and wet ingredients, stirring just until dry ingredients are incorporated.

Heat Crisco shortening to 365 degrees F in a large pan with a fryer basket*.  Drop batter by teaspoonful into hot shortening – 4 to 5 doughnuts at a time.  Fry for 3-4 minutes.  Doughnut balls will flip over and become golden brown on both sides.

*If you don’t have a basket, lift and turn doughnuts with a slotted spoon.


Drain doughnuts on a paper towel.


Continue frying remaining doughnuts, placing the drained doughnuts in a brown paper sack along with about a cup of confectioners’ sugar and shaking until doughnuts are coated. 


I’ve never had time to count how many doughnut balls this recipe makes since it requires fast work for a few minutes, frying, draining and coating – and anyone who is in the kitchen grabs a warm doughnut as soon as it’s finished.  These are best when eaten while still warm.



Update: It’s a long time since 1953 and a different world.  I wouldn’t recommend having children eat anything homemade by people they don’t know.  But Doughnut Balls and hot chocolate would be nice for a family Halloween party!

A Little Christmas Baseball Story

baseballcdI can’t remember when I didn’t love baseball.  I was encouraged in my devotion by my father who took me to Crosley Field to see the Cincinnati Reds, explained the fine points of the game during radio broadcasts, and by the time I was 10, appointed me as his pitching practice catcher.  I had a great ball glove with well-oiled pocket, but what I wanted for Christmas was an official, grey flannel, pin-striped baseball uniform.

baseball-johnnySure enough, on that wartime Christmas Eve in 1942, under the tree was the gorgeous soft uniform with elastic-banded knickers.  I couldn’t wait to put on the uniform although I had to look a little strange wearing it with finger curls hanging halfway down my back.

lilI wore the uniform all evening, watching my little sister with her toys, admiring the tree and eating my favorite Christmas candy – Mother’s fudge and the old-fashioned chocolate drops with cream centers and dark chocolate coating.

Toward the end of the evening, I plunged into a big leather chair and threw my legs luxuriously over the arm, not realizing that I had sat down on a big gooey chocolate drop.  There was a dark brown stain on the seat of those grey flannel knickers that never did wash out completely.

But it didn’t matter – the thrill of the gift and the pride in the wearing had already taken place on a long-ago memorable Christmas Eve.

1950s Spritz Cookies

spritzcardFor quite a few years, I’ve created personal memory-type Christmas cards for close family and friends.  In 1995, I sketched and scanned this Spritz cookie scene.  Since I didn’t have a printer with colored ink at the time, I hand water-colored each card.  This was the inside message:

In December of 1953, I took the trolley bus downtown and bought a beautiful copper and aluminum cookie press.  I could hardly wait until the next morning to try it out and kept getting up in the middle of the night to read the little recipe pamphlet that described all of the different shapes possible with this marvel.  I’ve baked hundreds of cookies of all kinds since that December, but every year I get out the old cookie press and look again with wonder at the dainty Christmas tree and wreath cookies, sparkling with green and red sugar.

Have a Christmas full of wonder.

Once again last week, I pulled out the press and the plates for the tree and wreath, making Spritz cookies from the 1950s for St. Nicholas on December 6.

fullpressHere is the recipe:


  • Servings: Approx. 60 cookies
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  • 1 cup margarine (I like Imperial)*
  • 1 large egg (should measure 1/4 cup when broken)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose fl0ur
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

*Back when I first started making these cookies, I couldn’t afford butter but in later, more affluent times, I’ve found that I prefer the consistency of the Spritz made with margarine.  Certainly, butter can be used if you prefer.

Cream margarine, egg, vanilla and sugar until smooth.  Add flour and salt.  Mix until blended.  Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least one hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Put one of the plates and half of the dough in the cookie press.  Press cookies onto an ungreased cookie sheet.

pressSprinkle with colored sugar and bake for 10-12 minutes until light brown.  Remove to rack to cool.


Repeat with other half of dough, changing to the star plate which I use to make long strips which can be cut and formed into wreaths.  On these cookies, I have traditionally added bits of red and green candied cherries.

I’ll make another batch of these cookies for Christmas and this year, I’ve been asked to make enough of the wreath cookies  to serve  14 of my granddaughter’s pre-school classmates at their Christmas party.   Since my granddaughter likes them so much, I hope her friends will, too.

Best Light Bread

stovecardMany of my childhood Thanksgivings were spent in my Grandma’s kitchen where she cooked a big family dinner on a woodburning stove.  I cook for my grandchildren now, gratefully using all the latest conveniences.  My favorite yeast rolls for Thanksgiving are made from a recipe adapted from one that appeared in Better Homes & Gardens Country Cooking magazine (1982-83).  The original recipe called for the more conventional method of proofing, mixing, and rising, but I converted it to a quicker way with fast acting yeast.

I won blue ribbons at the Hamilton County Fair (Cincinnati) and the Ohio State Fair using this recipe in the 1980s.



  • Servings: One to two dozen rolls, depending on size
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  • 6 to 7 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 2 pkgs. fast-acting dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup hot milk (130 degrees F)
  • 1 cup hot water (130 degrees F)
  • 1/2 cup margarine, melted
  • 2 beaten eggs, room temperature

Place 2 cups of flour, yeast, sugar and salt in the large bowl of an electric mixer.  Add the hot milk, hot water and melted margarine and beat for 3 minutes at medium speed, using the paddle beater.  Mix in the eggs.  Insert dough hook and continue to knead dough for another 6-1/2 minutes, adding flour as needed.

Cover and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.  Punch down and form into rolls.  Place on greased baking sheets, cover and let rise for 30 minutes.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Bake rolls for 12-15 minutes until golden brown.  Let cool on wire racks. 


For Thanksgiving, I like to make the rolls large – the better for making turkey sandwiches.


The Pie Contest

I didn’t want to enter the county fair pie contest at all.  My experience with pie baking consisted of old-fashioned pies for Sundays and holidays – nothing that was worthy of a contest.  But my oldest daughter insisted and so I got up early on a hot August morning in 1983 to bake a pie for the Hamilton County Fair (Cincinnati, Ohio).  I had a lot of fresh blackberries we had picked in the wild bramble area behind the house and some green apples from the trees in the front yard.  It sounded like a good combination and I baked the pie.  I felt a little dismayed when I saw the juices had bubbled out of the top crust as usual, but cooled the pie, wrapped it in foil and started out for the fairgrounds.

Contest entries were flowing in by the time we got there.  It was an open class contest so there was every conceivable kind of pie – apple, strawberry rhubarb, blueberry, lemon meringue, chocolate cream, a fancy strawberry pie with mint leaf garnish – I was starting to get a little worried.  I didn’t want to embarrass myself with such a low-key entry.  I was only hoping for one of the runner-up baskets of apples with no thought of winning a ribbon.  The pies were being arranged on large tables set end-to-end and at one point I almost went over and removed my entry but my daughter insisted on going through with the ordeal.

It was an interesting experience watching the entrants and their supporters, the judges, the passers by – all in intense heat in an antique building with windows open and an occasional swishing electric fan.  There were 34 entries in all, each one lovely and surrounding my very ordinary-looking pie.  Finally, after about an hour and a half, the winners were announced, beginning with the runners-up – no basket of apples for me.  Then the third place was announced and the second – I was almost relieved that it was finally over – when I heard the blue-ribbon, Best of Show winner called – BLACKBERRY APPLE PIE!  I was astounded and went to the contest director to ask if there could be a mistake.  I couldn’t believe that a Sunday dinner pie had won this contest.

I had my picture taken for the newspaper holding my pie and blue ribbon in one hand and the Best of Show rosette and an engraved brass tray in the other.

Then, my daughter and I got to carry all this plus a half-bushel of apples through a very crowded Saturday afternoon fairgrounds midway to the parking lot.

I entered this pie in a lot of other contests after that and it always won for me, but I never again had the thrill that I had that hot August day when I WON THE PIE CONTEST!


  • Pastry for two-crust 9″ pie (See recipe here)
  • 3 cups blackberries
  • 1 cup peeled & thinly sliced green apple
  • 3 Tblsp. quick-cooking tapioca
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 Tblsp. butter
  • 1 Tblsp. milk
  • 1 Tblsp. sugar mixed with 1/8 tsp. cinnamon for topping

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F

In large bowl combine berries, apples, tapioca, 1 cup sugar, and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon.  Mix well and allow to set while preparing pastry.

Turn berry mixture in a pastry-lined 9″ pan.  Dot with butter, adjust top crust, cut vents and flute edges.  Brush top with milk and lightly sprinkle with sugar/cinnamon mixture.  Set pie pan on a larger flat pan to catch spills.

Bake @ 375 degrees F for 45-50 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack. 

A remake of the pie some years later with the coveted rosette.

County Fair White Cake

My youngest daughter’s adventures with baking award-winning cakes for our county fair started in 1983 when she was a 13-year-old 8th grader and never that interested in fairs – to attend or to exhibit.  But her older sister and her mother were immersed in getting things ready for the Hamilton County (Cincinnati) Fair and she decided to enter the cake division.

Cakes were not allowed to be frosted, so all of the attention was centered on the attributes of the cake itself.  She made the cake, I took it to the fair and she won a Blue Ribbon and even got her recipe printed in our community newspaper.  Here is the recipe:


  • 2-3/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1-2/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 4-1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2/3 cup Crisco shortening
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 5 egg whites

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In large mixer bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Add one cup milk and Crisco.  Beat with electric mixer for 2 minutes at medium speed.  Add 1/3 cup milk and vanilla and beat until smooth.

Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.  Fold into batter.  Pour batter into two greased and floured 9″x1-1/2″ round cake pans.  Bake approximately 25 minutes until cake tests done when a toothpick is inserted near the center.

Cool in pans for 15 minutes, remove from pans and cool on wire rack.  Frost as desired.

The years passed by,  she married, had two children, and out of nowhere in 2006, 23 years after her first blue ribbon, she decided to enter again.  But this time she was adamant that she was going to get a Best of Show Rosette.  Her sister and I, seasoned fair exhibitors, tried to tell her it was very difficult to get the Rosette which would represent the best cake out of all kinds of cakes – white, chocolate, spice, layer, sponge, angel food, pound, etc.  She said the Rosette was all she really wanted and she would retire from fair competition after winning it.  In spite of a broken oven, coping with two young children and taking the cake to the fairgrounds on a day so hot that we were afraid the cake itself would dissolve – she did it.  She won the blue ribbon and the Rosette for Best of Show.

The cake was a favorite she had been baking for quite a few years as my birthday cake – White Velvet Cake from the Cake Bible cookbook.


  • Servings: Makes two-layered 9-inch cake
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  • 4-1/2 large egg whites (4 full liquid ounces)
  • 1 cup milk, divided
  • 2-1/4 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 cups sifted cake flour
  • 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 Tblsp. plus 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 12 Tblsp. butter, softened

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium bowl lightly combine the egg whites, 1/4 cup milk and vanilla.

In the large bowl of an electric mixer combine the cake flour, sugar, baking powder and salt and mix on low speed for 30 seconds to blend.  Add the butter and remaining 3/4 cup milk.  Mix on low speed until dry ingredients are moistened.  Increase to medium speed and beat for 1-1/2 minutes.  Scrape down sides.  Gradually add the egg mixture in 3 batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition.

Pour batter into prepared pans and smooth surface with a spatula.  Pans will be about 1/2 full.  Bake 25-35 minutes or until a tester inserted near the center comes out clean.  Cakes should start to shrink from the sides of the pans only after removal from the oven.

Let cakes cool in pans on racks for 10 minutes.  Loosen sides with a small metal spatula and invert onto wire racks.  To prevent splitting, reinvert so the tops are up and cool completely.

Frost as desired.

Note:  Two 9×1-1/2″ cake pans should be greased, bottoms lined with parchment or wax paper and then greased again and floured.

Can be frozen for two months.  Texture is most perfectly moist the same day as baking.

The fair exhibit rules called for a single layer with no frosting, but I’m including the recipe for the lucious caramel frosting that she always uses for my two-layer birthday treat.

QUICK CARAMEL FROSTING (Fannie Farmer Cookbook)

  • Servings: Frosting for 9-inch layer cake
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  • 6 Tblsp. butter
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar

Melt butter and brown sugar in a heavy-bottomed pan, stirring over moderate heat until sugar is dissolved.  Add the milk and blend.  Cool in the pan.  Then beat in the confectioners’ sugar until the frosting is thick enough to spread.

I don’t expect my daughter to enter a fair again but I do expect her to bake this wonderful cake for my birthday in September.

UPDATE:  My daughter did bake the cake for my birthday and it was delicious, as always.


Valentine’s Day in the 1940s


In the 1930s-40s, I lived in downtown Cincinnati and attended old Raschig School on Central Parkway.  In those days, Valentine’s Day was a major holiday in school.  A week ahead of time, the teacher brought in a big cardboard box which we decorated with cutout hearts and bits of paper lace doilies.  A slot was cut in the top and we were encouraged to bring a Valentine for each person in class and put it in the box, waiting for the big day.  The Valentines were “penny Valentines” and probably cost less than a penny apiece in those depression-World War II days.

Then on February 14, it was time to get the Valentines out of the box and distributed to the class.  A boy was chosen to be mailman (never a girl!), outfitted with a paper hat and mailbag.

In 1993, I wanted to make a Valentine for family members and did a sketch of the scene, incorporating my memories of two boys in my class.  Rollo was the only black boy in the class, always well dressed in knickers and argyle socks.  Otto was from the poorest part of the school district and seemed always to be a little grungy with a sole-flapping shoe.  I was a proper little girl with waist length finger curls and a dress made by my mother.  In 1993, I didn’t have a color printer and printed the cards in black and white, then hand watercolored each one.


Imagine my surprise when about 10 years later, my oldest daughtergave me a Valentine gift of my sketch in redwork.  I had just started quilting at that time and put together a wall hanging with the redwork as the centerpiece.



The dress on the card was actually a black and white check which my mother later made into a doll dress.  I took a picture of the fabric and printed it in a nine-patch to use as two of the blocks…..


I also printed fabric blocks with vintage pictures of myself and old Raschig School to add to the history.  I wish I had pictures of Rollo and Otto, but they didn’t take class pictures at our school in those days.


When I see my grandchildren laboriously writing their names on their little Valentines to take to school and pre-school, I remember musty old Raschig and all the fun of Valentine’s Day.