Depression Era Poor Man’s Cake, Courtesy My Grandmother (and a Coupon Code For You)

My grandmother, Mary Barnard, with my niece, Rose, my son, Robert, and my husband, Bill, circa 1991, at her Little Sebago Lake cottage in Gray, Maine.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my grandmother lately.  I often think of her in challenging times for so many reasons.  At the moment I am realizing that I can no longer realistically run Parris House Wool Works as alone as I have been, because I am running myself ragged (no, threadbare) keeping up with all of the wonderful opportunities I’ve been given.  I have one fantastic helper, a virtual assistant, already started, and two other people waiting for me to get my act and timing together in a smart enough way to hand them some work.  So really, not catastrophic, but the overwhelm is a bit much right now.  Additionally, and more actually truly sad, the canine love of my life, Corgi Tru, was diagnosed with cancer last week and is not expected to live the summer.  She is twelve and she’s had a fantastic life, but I wasn’t ready to face letting her go so soon.

I think about my grandmother in stressful times because I loved her so much and she was such an enormous influence on who I am today.  The very best times of my childhood were spent at her summer cottage on Little Sebago Lake in Gray, Maine.  I was a stressed out child, mostly due to circumstances at home but also because, well, I seem to have been born Type A (I’m working on it). The summer cottage time in Maine with my grandmother was the antidote to that stress.  There were no crazy expectations at the cottage.  I was always good enough.  In fact, I was great, or so my grandmother told me.  We played cards, swam in the lake, climbed hills to find wild blueberries, hiked to an abandoned cellar hole and cemetery, and ate.  We ate ice cream every night at 8 o’clock on the dot.  My grandmother didn’t scoop it out like most people do.  Nope.  She took the paper wrapping off the half gallon – a true half gallon back in the ’70s – and then cut the ice cream in to perfectly even bricks.  I will never know whether she did this just to have nice equal servings or because she had been a Depression era mom and this was the most efficient way to divvy up a box of ice cream.

As I said, my grandmother had been a Depression era mother to three children, my Uncle Courtland, my Aunt Dorothy, and my mother, Elizabeth, all born between 1920 and 1928.  She knew what difficulty really meant.  She lost both of her parents before she was forty herself, and she survived the indescribable worry that must have come with having a son and son-in-law serving in combat during World War II.   As a child I never gave any of these things a thought.  I just knew that this was the sunny grandmother who made my life a dream in the summers and had introduced me to Rudyard Kipling, Lewis Carroll, Grape Nut ice cream, daily diary keeping, Canasta, and, perhaps most pivotally, Maine.

I would often awake in the summer time to the delicious aromas of whatever my grandmother was already baking in the kitchen.  Sometimes it was homemade fried donuts, or cookies, or the recipe I’m going to share with you now, Poor Man’s Cake.  Poor Man’s Cake was a Great Depression recipe and I’d bet there are variations of it, if not this same recipe, in your family too.  It may even be older because my copy of the recipe from my grandmother says, “Poor Man’s Cake, World War,” which may indicate World War I.  Her brother, my great uncle Winfield Martin, had fought in France during the Great War and nearly died.  Thankfully, he recovered in a hospital in France, came home and lived a long and good life.  You will notice that this recipe has no milk, no butter, no eggs.  But don’t be put off.  Either this cake is the most delicious and addictive old recipe ever, or…it just is to me because so many memories are attached to it.

Here it is for you to try.

1 pound raisins in 2 cups water, boiled 15 minutes

Add to the raisins…

3/4 cup shortening and mix together

2 cups sugar

1 cup cold water

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tbsp baking soda

1 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp allspice

1 tsp salt

4 cups flour

1 cup chopped nuts

1/2 jar candied fruit (I don’t know what 1/2 jar measures out to, but feel free to wing it)

Mix all ingredients together.  Bake at 275 degrees for one hour in 3 greased and floured loaf pans.

I know that sounds like a very low oven temperature, but that’s what my grandmother did.  What you end up with is a very soft, very dark raisin/fruitcake, very unlike those doorstop fruitcakes often found in the supermarket during the holidays.  Sometimes she left out the candied fruit and it was more of a raisin spice cake/bread.

This week (May 22nd to May 29th) I’ll offer coupon code POORMANSCAKE in the Etsy and Shopify shops for 10% off your order of $25 or more, and let me know if you try the recipe!

Happy hooking – Beth

 

Facebook Contest!

1000LikePrize

Would you like to win the bundle shown above?  It’s three of our handcrafted soaps, two wool fat quarters, a beginner Moshimer hook, and 10% off any purchase in our Etsy shop or from our studios!

We are looking to reach 1000 “likes” on Facebook and will pick a name at random of those who newly “like” our page, or who “like” and/or “share” our post there that features this picture.   You can head on over there now by clicking HERE.

Thanks so much and when we reach 1000 “likes” we’ll share who the lucky winner is!

Good luck and happy hooking. – Beth

10% off at Parris House Wool Works – Etsy Maine Team Cash Mob Event Friday – Lots of Holiday Shopping Options!

EMTCashMob

It’s that time again!  For the third year, the Etsy Maine Team is sponsoring its holiday season cash mob event, and we are participating!  If you go on to our shop, and use coupon code:  MAINETEAM2014 you will receive 10% off of your order.

We have some great items for holiday gifts in the shop this year, for hookers, non-hookers, and supplies for making gifts.  There’s still time to make holiday gifts for your friends and family!  Here are a few…

Wool Collector sign for hookers, knitters, crochet-ers, rug braiders, penny rug artists, etc.
Our super popular beginner/travel frame, available in two sizes and very affordable, starting at just $65! We have sold over 100 of these to hookers all over the country, with rave reviews.
Crawford Purdy pencil hooks, all the way from Truro, Nova Scotia! Crawford says he is the only male member of the Nova Scotia Rug Hooking Guild. 🙂
The classic. The Hartman hook.
Want to paint or otherwise decorate a little foot stool as a gift, or better yet, put a hooked top on one? We offer the foot stool and custom patterns for the tops of these, and one stock in the shop. Contact us FMI.
Debbie Howe craft bag, made in Waterford, Maine! We have these in four different styles. Check them out in our “Tools & Accessories” shop section. I use mine for knitting.
Need a stocking stuffer? We have a variety of hand crafted soaps, all natural, nothing artificial, made right here in our studios!
Is there someone you’d like to get started in the craft? We have a variety of easy 12″ x 12″ beginner kits with everything they need.
Or maybe you’d like to gift a more advanced hooker with a beautiful project for the new year?
Or maybe this easy snowman ornament kit, which can be completed in just a couple of hours.
Edna Olmstead’s double thickness super soft frame covers keep your favorite hooker’s hands and arms scratch free.

We also have a variety of patterns appropriate for the holidays and the winter season.  Here is a sampling…

Emerson’s Redbird. 12″ x 12″
Let Us Sing Winter table runner.
Castine Cardinal 6″ x 8″ kit or pattern alone. Great for making balsam pillows.
Tesla’s First Snow pattern 16″ x 22″
Winter Chair Pad offerings – 12″ round

In 2015, we will be setting up the antique & vintage area of our shop because Jen and I are both “pickers.”  We do have our first item in the section, though…

Post WWII Occupied Germany Rosenthale Bowls

And, of course, you will find a variety of wools and other patterns in the shop for your hooking and crafting needs.  Again, to view our entire inventory, click HERE, and to view the other wonderful offerings from the rest of the Etsy Maine Team, follow the directions below:

EMTCashMob2
Happy shopping and happy hooking!

Mark Your Calendars for the 2014 Holiday Open House at the Maine Studio of Parris House Wool Works!

ChristmasDoor

Please join us for our second annual Holiday Open House at the Maine Studio, 546 Paris Hill Road, Paris, Maine on December 6th from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Welcome to the Parris House!
Welcome to the Parris House!

We will have a cookie swap, delicious refreshments, goodies baked from the Beekman 1802 Heirloom Dessert Cookbook, a prize drawing, and a 10% off sale on all wools!

Some of our delicious heirloom desserts from last year’s open house!
We had samples of our handcrafted soaps last year and will have some this year as well.
Hope to see you on December 6th!  Happy hooking!
Hope to see you on December 6th! Happy hooking!

Halloween Coupon Code on Etsy Today!

Happy Halloween!  We have a coupon code up on Etsy for the following patterns, today only, 10% off!  The coupon code is BOO2014 and you can access our Etsy shop here.

Southern Elegy
Candy Corn Season
A Murder Among the Magnolias
Parris House Pumpkin
Candy Corn Season Trivet

Happy Halloween and happy hooking!