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Bridgewater Historical Society

August 2013


What’s Cooking?


I could be wrong, but I’d bet that almost every household has a cookbook. Maybe it belonged to your grandmother or maybe it’s pieces of paper stuffed into a folder that hold the secrets of old family recipes. My mother was the worst cook in the world, but she had a huge collection of cookbooks. We told her it was fiction.

A while back, the Bridgewater Historical Society put together a compilation of the recipes collected by Gladys Randall. Many dated from the early 1900’s. We copied the recipes – sometimes called “receipts”- word for word which included some “interesting” spellings. In the end, we had a snapshot of home cooking a long ago time, when the temperature of the oven wasn’t measured in degrees, if even mentioned. It was when you included suggestions for sick farm animals – and humans, too. Some recipes we found are identified by the cook’s full name (Sylvia Disbrow’s Black Cake), whether to praise or chastise the chef, we don’t know for sure. Many were simply a list of ingredients and you were supposed to know what to do, not the step-by-step instructions we have today. You might not be able to identify some of the ingredients or question the amount of molasses one human being could consume. Yet, some recipes like Tapioca Pudding, haven’t changed in a hundred years.


Here are a few long lost “receipts” – oven temperature and cooking time are for you to decide. After reading these, you may want to reach for a Betty Crocker mix!


Mrs. J.H. Randall’s Molasses Cake

1 cup molasses

½ cup sugar

1 egg

Some shortening the size of as egg (melted)


Any spice or flavor desired

Then add 2 ½ cups flour and lastly pour over and stir in 1 cup hot water.


Disentary Receipt

1 teaspoon of powdered peppermint

1 teaspoon of turkey rubarb

1 teaspoon of saleratus (baking soda or soda bicarbonate)

1 gill French brandy

4 oz. of lapp sugar

1 pint boiling hot soft water

1 table spoonful once an hour


For Sick Cows by Fred Roberts

1 lb. salts

1 cup molasses

½ cup salt

1 teaspoon ginger

1 ½ quart water



Sliced Green Tomato Pickles

10 lbs. sliced green tomatoes soaked over night with salt. Drain. Add 1 quart vinegar, 4 lbs. sugar, cloves and cinnamon. Cook until tender.


Tapioca Pudding

Cover 4 tablespoons of tapioca with water, soak until soft, add one quart of milk, small piece of butter, 4 egg yolks, 1 cup sugar. Boil to thick custard. When cold, cover the top with whites of eggs.

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