Sauerkraut Cake

My mother, Gail Lee Martin, used to make a lovely German chocolate cake. This was back in the day when you didn’t buy a container of pre-mixed icing, so she laboriously made that with the coconut and chopped pecans and other ingredients. It really was special to eat that cake. The cake’s name came from the German chocolate bar that you had to melt for making the cake.

My sister, Karen, found an easier chocolate cake to make that didn’t require melting baker’s chocolate but did have a strange ingredient (sauerkraut). Her recipe produced a very moist chocolate cake and it looked wonderful with the German chocolate icing on the top.


Karen made the cake during her teens and college years. I didn’t realize that she still made it until a picture appeared on her social media recently. That brought back memories, for sure.

sauerkraut cake and spice cabinet

You can tell from the range of spices in the cupboard behind the cake that my sister is a serious cook. She even made a recipe book for her daughter with all their favorites in it. Of course, it included the Sauerkraut Cake and the Coconut-Pecan Icing.

sauerkraut cake in KK cookbook

Just to tease you a bit more, here’s a slice of the cake on a plate ready to eat. I think a glass of milk would be perfect with this rich and moist cake.

sauerkraut cake on plate

I asked her where she had found such an off-beat recipe. She still had the original recipe booklet, so I’ll include that here. That recipe called for a mocha cream icing, but I think it was brilliant to use the coconut and pecan icing recipe from the older German Chocolate Cake.

sauerkraut cake sourcesauerkraut cake title pagesauerkraut cake recipe


P is for Potatoes And Chocolate?

Here’s another of those vintage recipes from my mother’s stash. It’s a cake made with potatoes as an ingredient. Nope, I’m not talking about potato cakes or potato patties. This is actually for a chocolate cake you can serve as a dessert.

chocolate potato cake, not gail's

I’ve added in a few clarifications on the soda and chocolate. I’ve also added some details in the notes from similar recipes, but think of yourself as a pioneer on this one. Follow your instincts.

Chocolate Potato Cake

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1 cup mashed potatoes
  • 1/2 cup sweet milk
  • 4 eggs (beat separately)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon (baking) soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cloves (presumably ground cloves)
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 cups chocolate (unsweetened baking cocoa)
  • 2 cups flour

Dissolve the soda in just a little water. Just before adding soda, add a teaspoon of vinegar to it. This will prevent the soda from smelling in the cake. Pour in the soda and vinegar while foaming.

NOTES: These are my “best guess” on the way to make this cake since it doesn’t give us the step-by-step directions that we are used to in modern recipes.

Before starting, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two 8-inch round cake pans. I presume that all the dry ingredients, except the soda, get mixed together first. Then the beaten eggs, milk, and mashed potatoes are stirred into the dry ingredients. At the end, put in the foaming soda and vinegar.  

Pour it into 2 cake pans. Bake at maybe 350 temperature for 25 to 30 minutes. Keep an eye on it as the temperature and time are guesstimates.

Our Favorite Walnut Cake

I don’t know if this stash of vintage recipes came from someone in our extended family or if Mom found them at a yard sale. It isn’t in Gail’s handwriting and at the bottom, it says Aunt Allie. Now, there were six Allies on the family tree but there were quite distant (mother-in-law of a third cousin, etc.). Anyway, here’s the cake recipe if you want to give it a try.

The Walnut Cake recipe.

Our Favorite Walnut Cake

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup shortening – half lard half butter is best
  • 1 cup sour milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon soda
  • 2 cups light brown sugar
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder sifted into flour
  • 1 cup walnut meats chopped fine by hand
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon (leveled) allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 level teaspoon cinnamon
  • a little grated nutmeg

Cream the sugar and butter or shortening. Add well-beaten eggs and stir in. Dissolve the soda in the milk and add to sugar and butter but do not stir. 

Stir the walnut meats into flour – also the spices. Put the vanilla in the other mixture then stir in the flour etc. 

Bake in a loaf in slow oven till done.

Make icing with two or three tablespoons of cream or heavy condensed milk and powdered sugar – just thin enough to spread with a knife.

Eggs in a bowl – photo from Pixabay

I don’t have all the ingredients on hand to try this out. If anyone is in a baking mood, let me know how the recipe turned out for you.

Peanut Butter Fudge Recipe

Our guest blogger today is Patricia Cole Tucker, whom I met in an online recipe group. I loved what she shared there.

Patricia wrote, “This is my mom’s handwritten peanut butter fudge recipe. She passed four years ago this month. This recipe was one of my favorite things she made. When she passed away I framed it and hung it in my kitchen.

I sometimes make it just like she did and other times it is a flop. However, every time I make it my mind is flooded with memories of me watching her make it and hearing her laugh with me each time I tried to make it.”

old recipe for peanut butter fudge from Patricia Cole Tucker

Patricia Cole Tucker framed her mother’s handwritten recipe for Peanut Butter Fudge.

The recipe, lovingly displayed with lace and a burlap rose in a vintage style frame, is a tribute to her mother and their good times together in the kitchen.

For easier reading, I’ll transcribe her recipe.

Peanut Butter Fudge

2 cups sugar                 1 jar marshmallow creme – small

1 tbls cocoa                  1 – 12 oz peanut butter

1 cup milk                    1 tsp vanilla

Combine sugar, cocoa, milk – cook to soft ball stage. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter, marshmallow creme, vanilla. Beat until thickens. Pour into greased pan, cut in squares.

Someone commented, “there is nothing more comforting than seeing my mom’s handwriting. I miss her so much. Thanks for sharing your awesome creation!”

Hang your framed recipe where it won’t get direct sunlight that might fade the ink or you can buy special glass that blocks UV rays. This is an idea that we all can take to heart.


Making Flint Hills Cheese Soup

flint hills cheese soup pixabay meme gail
This recipe was shared by Gail Lee Martin on the eHow website some years ago.
This cheese soup is a great way to use lots of garden vegetables. Get some at the farmer’s market, if you don’t grow your own. It’s really a lovely soup with the cheese in it. Serve the soup with warm, home-baked bread.

Flint Hills Cheese Soup

* 1 stick of butter
* 1 quart of milk
* 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
* 2 tablespoons of butter
* 6 tablespoons of flour
* 1 teaspoon of salt
* 2 cups cubed cheese
* 1/2 cup chopped onions
* 1/2 cup chopped bell pepper
* 1/2 cup chopped celery
* 1/2 cup chopped carrots
* 2 cups chicken broth
Cut the cheese into cubes. I use an American cheese like Velveeta, but you might prefer another kind.
Wash and chop the vegetables.
Make a rich cream sauce by melting 1 stick of butter in a 4-quart saucepan stirring constantly. Add 1 teaspoon of salt, 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce, 2 cups of cheese and the 6 tablespoons of flour.
Gradually add 1 quart of milk, stirring constantly. Set aside (off the burner) when thick.
Sauté the chopped vegetables in the 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the chicken broth and cook very little. The vegetables are best a little crunchy. Combine this with the cream sauce.
Flint Hills Cheese Soup Recipe Postcard
Flint Hills Cheese Soup Recipe Postcard
Here’s the recipe on a postcard that you can order and send to your friends.


Make Meatloaf in a Jar

Gail and Clyde Martin’s Canned Meatloaf

This recipe makes meatloaf for canning in jars. It’s great to have in the pantry for an easy meal.

In our retirement years, my husband and I traveled together more than ever did when we had a car full of six kids. We even got a small camper and a small boat called a Scamper, built just for two. As we provisioned the camper to travel to Eastern Kansas we took food from our pantry that we had canned ourselves. We took canned green beans, pickled beets, okra, dilled green beans, stewed tomatoes, swiss chard and other greens, new potatoes.

When we discovered the Kerr Canning book also told us how to can beef, pork, chicken, fish, nuts meats, onions, hominy, and mushrooms, we expanded our menus of home-canned foods.

meatloaf in a jar
One that we liked best was the canned meatloaf. We found the recipe in our well-worn Kerr Canning book. We doubled the recipe to use a five-pound chub of hamburger that most grocery stores carry pre-packaged.

I like taking our own canned food when we go camping. Then when we catch any fish or grew too much garden at our summer home in Prescott, Kansas, we have the empty jars from eating the quick-to-fix good food we brought. We refill the jars with fish we catch or produce we grow, to take back home to fill our pantry for the coming winter.
So we were having more fun than when we canned for out big family.

Meatloaf in a Jar

The recipe goes like this: Get your biggest mixing pan. As my husband says “I suppose they mean a clean pan.”
Combine the following ingredients.
5 pounds of ground meat
2 ½ cups of cracker crumbs
1¼ cup milk
5 eggs, we prefer fresh farm grown eggs
5 tablespoon of chopped onions
5 teaspoons of salt or less if your diet calls for low salt
1¼ teaspoons of pepper (optional)
¾ teaspoon ground sage
1¼ teaspoons celery salt

Mix all very thoroughly. Pack the mix loosely in wide-mouth Kerr pint jars to within an inch of the top. With a damp cloth, wipe the rim, then put on the flat top and add the screw band firmly tight. This will yield around 8 or 9 pints.

Use 10 pounds of pressure in the pressure cooker.

Place a rack inside the pressure cooker, set the jars on that, and carefully follow the cooker’s instructions. Pints of meat require 75 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure.

To serve the meatloaf, remove the ring and with a pop opener snap the flat lid off. Place the open jar of meat into the microwave for three minutes, then slide the small, round loaf onto a plate. Slice into five or six servings and enjoy.


How to Make Baked Pineapple – An Old-Fashioned Recipe

An eHow article by Gail Lee Martin.

My mother-in-law used to make this dessert back in the 1950s. We all loved it. It’s easy to make and really tasty.

Things You’ll Need:

  • large can of crushed pineapple
  • 1/2 pound of rolled graham crackers
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • cream
  1. Crush the graham crackers with a rolling pin. If you don’t have a rolling pin, just run them through a blender to make coarse crumbs. You can also get these in a box now.
  2. Mix the graham cracker crumbs, the crushed pineapple, and the sugar together.
  3. Stir in the cream, adding just enough to make the whole mix pourable. You can use half ‘n half for this.
  4. Grease a 1 1/2 quart casserole and put the mix into it.
  5. Bake in a 350-degree oven for one hour.

Retro Pineapple Artwork Postcard

Retro Pineapple Postcard

by tnmpastperfect

For other recipes by Cora Joy Martin, check out these:

Sourdough Pancakes

Molasses Taffy

Sour Cream Raisin Pie

Old Fashioned Muffins Made from Scratch

It seems like muffins evolved over the last 20 or 30 years into miniature cakes. They are baked in muffin tins in muffin-shaped paper linings, but they are different. They aren’t like the muffins we ate as children back in the 1950s and 1960s. Those were homemade from scratch, not from a mix and certainly not from a bakery or coffee shop.

Muffins often have fruit baked in them and are thus more of a breakfast food than cupcakes would be. They don’t have icing on top, so that distinguishes them from cupcakes too. The texture and sweetness of modern muffins seems more and more like cupcakes these days.


Old-fashioned muffins, not the cakelike ones. Photo by Virginia Allain. Muffins made by Karen Kolavalli.


Back when I grew up, we learned to make muffins in 4-H. They were bread-like, not sweet and cake-like. The old-style muffins benefited from liberal applications of butter then spread with jam or jelly. At times we put apple butter on them. These were the kind of muffins my mother ate as a child in the 1930s and baked for her young family in the 1940s.

Recently in a fit of nostalgia, my sister made some old-fashioned muffins for me. They tasted just as good as I remembered. She used the vintage Household Searchlight Recipe Book (published by Household Magazine)ir?t=ehow05-20&l=as2&o=1&a=B000ERQ30K that Mom always used.


searchlight cookbook

The 1940s Searchlight Recipe Book just like Mom had.

 (Originally published on the Daily Two Cents website by Virginia Allain)

Grandma’s Lye Soap Recipe

Gail Lee Martin submitted this recipe when the local historical society wanted recipes from the 1920s and 1930s. It appeared in the book, Grandmother’s Legacy: A Collection of Butler County Recipes.



Homemade Lye Soap

5 lbs of grease

1 quart of water

1 can of lye

Save clean fat scraps from meat, lard, and hog scraps. Melt into the grease. Strain through a cloth and let cool. Add the lye gradually to one quart of water in a stone crock and mix until dissolved. Pour this mixture into the grease. Stir thoroughly until congealed. Pour this mixture into cardboard box molds to cool. Let stand a couple of days. Using a wire, cut the soap into usable size pieces.

lye soap pixabay 2


Recipe Notes: On wash days, my mother would use her paring knife to shave slivers of this soap into her copper wash boiler where it slowly dissolved. Clothes came out very white in those days. It was also used as a poison ivy medicine. Melt and put warm all over the blisters.

2008-11-02 gail and ks photos 001

To find lye, look for Sodium hydroxide. It is also called caustic soda. Store it safely, as it is quite toxic if ingested.

P is for Pancakes

Cora Joy Martin shared some of her recipes with her daughter-in-law, Gail. She raised eight children and when the crops were ready, Cora fed a whole harvest crew. One of the recipes that Gail Martin inherited from her was her hardy sourdough pancake recipe.

You need to plan ahead to make these. The night before, you mix the milk, flour, salt and sourdough starter. Leave that in a warm place overnight. Check out the rest of the ingredients and instructions below.

Art Deco Glenwood Stove Poster

Art Deco Glenwood Stove Poster by Vintage_Obsession

Hearty Sourdough Pancakes Ingredients

2 cups milk
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 cup active sourdough starter
2 tsp baking soda
2 eggs
3 tbsp melted lard
2 tbsp sugar

Mix the first 4 ingredients and let stand overnight in a warm place. In the morning, remove one cup of the mixture, to replenish the sourdough starter. To the remaining mixture,

pancakes-white plate pixabay

Pancake photo courtesy of Pixabay.

To the remaining mixture, add the baking soda, the eggs, lard, and sugar. Mix well, then bake on a hot frying pan or griddle that has been greased. This serves 6 people.

Sourdough Starter (Cora’s Version)

1 cup milk, 1 cup flour

Let the milk stand at room temperature in a glass bowl for 24 hours. Do not use a metal container. Then mix in the cup of flour and place it in a warm, but not hot place for 3 or 4 days. It is ready when it begins to smell sour and bubbles.

After that, keep it in a cool dark place when not in use. Stir twice daily. This was used before packaged yeast was available.

eggs bowl pixabay

Eggs in a bowl – photo from Pixabay

You can make the sourdough starter another way. Below is the recipe passed down to Gail Lee Martin by her mother.

Kansas Sourdough Starter (Ruth McGhee’s Version)

1 potato, peeled and grated
3 cups water
1 cup sugar
3 cups flour

Combine the grated potato, sugar, water, and flour. Let stand in a gallon crock, lightly covered with a cloth for 3 days. Every time you remove a cup of starter for a recipe, add 1 cup of water, 1 tablespoon sugar, and 1/2 cup flour to the starter.

Gail Martin shared these recipes when the Butler County Historical Society collected 1920’s and 1930’s recipes. They were published in the cookbook, Grandmother’s Legacy.