Mom submitted this “recipe” to a book of Butler County recipes of the 1920s and 30s. The title of the book is Grandmother’s Legacy. She emphasized that this was a just for fun recipe and not actually for consumption.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay
Gail Lee Martin said, “This is an oil camp kid’s memories of making this wine. There was never a shortage of dandelions.”
Pick 5 cups of dandelions. Keep only the yellow part of the flower and discard the green part. The green part makes the wine bitter. Always wash and drain the petals. Put the petals and a gallon of water, more or less, into an empty glass gallon jar. Stir in 1 pound of sugar.
Put the lid on tightly and bury the jar. Oil camp friends are needed to help dig a big enough hole. Of course, they would be in on the taste testing too.
Kids at the oil camp in Greenwood County, KS
After two or three weeks, the mixture should be dug up and taste tested. If needed, add more sugar to suit taste.
“This recipe is for historical purposes and reading enjoyment only,” Gail said.
I’m amazed that back in the 1930s that her mother would let her have a pound of sugar for what definitely sounds like an experimental project. When I looked up real recipes for dandelion wine, they call for additional ingredients like lemons, oranges, and wine yeast.
You could go to the Commonsense Homesteading blog to try her recipe for dandelion wine. It appears to be adult tested, at least.
Here’s a short exercise for you. Take a piece of paper and write seven sentences about your childhood. Each sentence must start with “I remember.” You might be surprised what comes to your mind.
Here are mine:
- I remember how excited we were when our cousins sent over a batch of their outgrown dresses.
- I remember hanging clothes on the clothesline on freezing winter days. The clothes froze stiff and were hard to carry into the house later.
- I remember learning to iron, starting with handkerchiefs. Eventually, we worked up to ironing blouses with sleeves and those gathered skirts on shirtwaist dresses.
- I remember pretending we were ice skating on our frozen creek, even though we didn’t have skates.
- I remember the horror of seeing our dog, Tippy, hit by a passing car. We were waiting by the highway for the school bus.
- I remember churning our own butter in the glass Daisy churn.
I browsed around on eBay and found this picture. It’s exactly what our churn looked like.
- I remember learning to make muffins back when they were like a bread, not the cake-like kind they make now.
I hope you will give it a try. Date and save your memory page to share with children and grandchildren later.
This old-fashioned candy recipe is one my mother-in-law, Cora Martin, made back in the 1920s. It takes two people to pull the taffy after it’s cooked. You can even make a party of it. Here’s how to make it.
Things You’ll Need:
- 1 cup molasses
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 tablespoon vinegar
- egg sized lumps of butter
- vanilla (to taste)
Mix all the ingredients, except the vanilla in a pan (molasses, sugar, vinegar, butter).
Bring it to a boil on the stove top. Boil for 10 minutes. Stir frequently. She always used a wooden spoon for this.
Add vanilla to taste.
Remove it from the burner and allow it to cool enough to be handled.
Coat your hands with butter, then pull the taffy with each person holding an end.
When the taffy becomes light in color, it has been pulled enough.
Twist the candy, then cut it into small pieces.
Cora and Ren Martin with their children in 1925.
My folks had taffy pulling parties when my older sister, Melba, was in her teens. There was so much fun and laughter as we paired up to pull that yummy stuff. Then we cut the taffy into strips to eat. The pulling and the togetherness made this a wonderful winter treat.
1938 – Pauline Bolte, Melba McGhee, Twila Yeager, Gail McGhee and little Carol McGhee.
(Article previously published online on eHow by Gail Lee Martin)
After reading Gail’s memories and the family recipe for taffy, I did some research using Newspapers.com. I found a similar description of the family having fun together making the sticky, stretchy candy. This clipping is from a Kansas paper, The Collyer Advance, 02 Jan 1930, Thu, Page 2
What’s became of the old-fashioned watch party on New Year’s eve? Remember how we used to congregate at some neighbor’s home, eat pop-corn and apples (and sometimes drink sweet cider) until a midnight hour and then all join in singing a welcoming song as the new year opened before us? Some years when the cane was exceptionally good and there was an abundance of sorghum, we’d have taffy pulls. My, how good that taffy tasted, especially if it was seasoned with black walnuts!
There’s another thing, too, that we remember in connection with the taffy pull, and that is how clean our hands would become after we had pulled and stretched our wad of candy (and had dropped it upon the floor a half dozen times) and had twined it around our fingers. No matter how dirty one’s hands were they always emerged from a taffy pull as white and clean as tho they had been given a scouring with Lewis lye.
The Collyer Advance, 02 Jan 1930, Thu, Page 2
Here’s a slightly different recipe for cream taffy from a 1930s Kansas newspaper.
The Hutchinson News (Hutchinson, Kansas) 10 Jan 1930, Fri • Page 11
At Home on the Prairie by Gail Lee Martin
My daddy worked for Phillips Petroleum Company back in the twenties and thirties. All their employees were furnished housing complete with natural gas heat and lights. I remember Mother lighting kerosene lamps but there was a gas light fixed high on the wall in each room. They all had glass chimneys that tended to get smoky inside no matter how low you turned the flame. The gas light made a hissing noise and Daddy always had to light it as Mother was too short.
One of the first chores I remember getting to do was washing the glass chimneys because my hand was the smallest. I had to be careful so as to not drop and break them. That made Mother unhappy. I recall one time I did drop a chimney. I tried to pick up all the pieces quickly so Mother wouldn’t know about it.
In my hurry, I cut my hand bad. Mother had heard the noise and knew just what had happened as mothers seem to. The scolding I expected turned into an expression of concern about where all the blood was coming from.
I can still trace the scar on the palm of my hand. I have another long scar on the same hand but that is another story to tell.
(This story is published online at Gail Martin’s stories on the Our Echo website. You can read more of her stories there)