Remember how I said that I have several cookbooks that belonged to my late grandmother? Some of these are real gems, like the classic Betty Crocker cookbook, and some are strange fundraiser cookbooks, like this one from the South Carolina Women Involved in Rural Electrification (WIRE). It was published in 1982, and it completely baffles me that parts of South Carolina lived without electricity during the 198o’s. Hell, I was born in 1982 and my family’s trailer in the Ozark mountains of Arkansas had power. To say this cookbook is a bit outdated is an understatement. It’s a lot outdated, and unless I wanted to cook casseroles with lots of shortening, bullion cubes, and Ritz crackers (as opposed to olive oil, free-range low sodium chicken broth, and homemade seasoned breadcrumbs), it’s going to be a challenge to find a recipe I’m willing to make, let alone call a favorite.
I decided to go with a classic, pumpkin bread. I thought about doing a banana bread, but I already have a favorite banana bread recipe. Like the cranberry muffins for Thanksgiving, I made these early, froze them, and served them Christmas morning. The recipes in this cookbook were submitted by the WIRE members, and I doubt Mrs. Pauline Carmichael of Hemingeway, South Carolina minds me sharing with my readers. (After all, it’s not a secret recipe - she did submit it so she could keep her lard beef-powder cracker casserole fresh.)
- 3 1/2 cups plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp soda
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 Tbsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 2/3 cup nuts, chopped
- 2/3 cup raisins
- 2 2/3 cups sugar
- 2/3 cup salad oil
- 4 eggs
- 2 cups pumpkin (cooked or canned)
- 2/3 cup water
Sift flour and measure. Add baking powder, soda, salt, and spices. Toss nuts and raisins lightly into flour mixture. Beat sugar and oil at low speed with electric mixer. Add eggs, one at a time. Add pumpkin, flour mixture, and water. Beat until thoroughly mixed. Pour batter into one large or two small loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour or until done.
So here’s the cast of characters.
There are a few changes. The yellow lid behind the bag of pecans belongs to a jar of applesauce. The recipe calls for a large amount of “salad oil”, which is any kind of vegetable oil, and that’s just too much unnecessary fat in my opinion. (Also in my opinion, “salad oil” is olive oil, but that’s a bit to fancy for rural un-electrified South Carolina.) Applesauce is a great substitute for oil in a recipe. However, I made a little mistake, but I’ll get to that. Also, I ended up using a wayward bag of walnuts that I found in the bottom of the deep freezer after I took the photo. Walnuts just seemed more fitting than pecans. You’ll also notice that I have pumpkin spice instead of the long list of ingredients and golden raisins instead of the regular raisins (that look a little too much like little rodent turds).
Pauline tells us to sift and measure the flour. I’m glad I listened to her. I’ve always measured then sifted, and I think I’ve been using too much flour. Given most flour comes somewhat “pre-sifted”, I cram as much as possible into my containers.
Remember in my last FRS, when I was eagerly anticipating the arrival of my new sifter? It’s awesome, and it only requires one hand, which is, um, handy when you’re taking pictures of yourself. (Currently, it’s unavailable from Tupperware. Boo!)
Here are the all the dry ingredients mixed together. I didn’t have ground cloves in my pantry (shame!), but I did have pumpkin spice. Pumpkin spice is a yummy mixture of cinnamon, ground cloves, ground ginger, and nutmeg. I used 2 teaspoons of pumpkin spice and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon.
And now for the wet…I got a little over exited about substituting applesauce for some of the oil, and I ended up using 2/3 cup of sauce and 1/3 cup of oil. That’s a full cup of liquid when it should have been just 2/3 cup. Oops.
Hey! There are my legs!
Wet ingredients meet the dry ingredients (with raisins and nuts already included).
Here’s the batter poured into a mini-loaf pan. This pan belonged to Chris’s late Aunt Edith, and I think she’d be happy to know that I’m using it. I never had the opportunity to meet her, but I’ve heard great stories about her homemaking skills and her love for Chris. There’s something special about using old family cookbooks and kitchenware. It makes me feel connected to my heritage.
The recipe, as printed, bakes for at least an hour. Of course, I added extra liquid by mistake so my bread took extra long to bake. In the mean time, I whipped up Halibut with Lentils and Mustard Sauce for dinner. Poor Chris, his life is so hard…
Here’s the final product:
This recipes makes A LOT of bread so here’s the muffin version too:
Final Verdict: This recipe is AWESOME! Despite my goof with the extra liquid, it was absolutely delicious (just a little sticky), but then again, it would be hard for it to taste bad with nearly 3 cups of sugar. Nevertheless, I think this easily qualifies as my favorite recipe from this cookbook. Since I’m not into casseroles laced with cheez-whiz, I don’t think I’ll be using this cookbook often. However, there is a zucchini nut bread recipe that might come in handy if I have a bountiful squash harvest from my garden this summer.