Happy Monday everyone! Kate here, with another treasure to share from the 1900 Farm collections! I discovered this week’s item, a needlepoint wall hanging, above the bed in the parents’ room. I had seen the wall hanging many times without looking at it too carefully; I just assumed it read “God Bless Our Home”. One day, however, I noticed it read “Friendship, Love and Truth”, and had three links in the upper left-hand corner.
To the average person this may not seem significant, but to me this was the iconography of a fraternity called the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. Originally started in England, the first American chapter was established in Maryland in 1819. Since its inception, the Odd Fellows’ goal has been to provide support and help to those in need. The motto of the first Maryland chapter, in fact, was “Visit the sick, relieve the distress, bury the dead and educate the orphans.” In 1851 membership was extended to women through the Rebekah degree, and the Odd Fellows became the first national fraternity to have members of both genders. On a local level, the Grand Lodge of Iowa was established in 1838. Even today there are still many lodges both in Iowa and around the United States, as well as internationally.
The symbols in the center, including the moon and seven stars, the beehive and the dove are all symbols of the Rebekah order. If you’d like to know more about what these symbols mean, make sure to come see us at the 1900 Farm and see the wall hanging for yourself!
As promised, I now present the Swedish almond cake (or toscakaka) recipe! Though toscakaka is often made in the winter, I encourage you to give it a try and let me know what you think! If you don’t have an almond cake pan of your very own, a loaf pan is a handy alternative.
1 1/4 Cups Sugar
1 1/2 Teaspoons Pure Almond Extract
2/3 Cups Milk
1 1/4 Cups Flour
1/2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
1/2 Cup melted butter
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease almond cake pan well and set aside. Beat sugar, egg, almond extract, and milk in bowl; add flour and baking powder, mix well, then add melted butter and mix well again. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until edges are golden brown. Cool completely in the pan before removing or the cake may break. Sprinkle with confectionery sugar and serve.
Notes: This particular recipe is not from one of our 1900 cookbooks. The difference between this toscakaka recipe and the almond cake recipes in our cookbooks is the inclusion of the almond extract instead of calling for chopped almonds or an almond garnish. Imitation almond extract is easy to find at grocery stores and may be substituted, but the result will not be as flavorful. Additionally, margarine may be substituted for butter.
Hello Everyone! My name is Kate Dahl and I am a Domestic Programs Assistant here at Living History Farms, working primarily at the 1900 Farm and the Tangen House. Since I started working at the 1900 Farm last summer, I have discovered several interesting items both in the house and the barn about which I would love to teach visitors. Throughout the summer I plan to feature a new object each week, and I encourage you all to come visit us and see some of our lesser-known treasures!
My inaugural object is an almond cake (or Toscakaka) pan. Almond cake is a Swedish cake, and is still very popular today; in fact, modern almond cake pans can be easily found through a simple internet search. Though we do not portray the 1900 Farm as being the home of a Swedish-American family specifically, many Swedish immigrants had settled in Iowa in the decades leading up to 1900.
Intrigued? Look for the recipe to be posted later in the week!
This morning the 1900 welcomed a new addition to the farm. Our milk cow Lily gave birth to a bouncing baby bull. Mom and calf are doing well. Next time you come to the 1900 farm be sure to ask the farmers if you can meet the baby, who is so new and fresh that he doesn’t have a name yet. Do you have any suggestions on what his name should be? Happy Birthday baby calf!
Recently we noticed that the green walls of the back kitchen of the 1900 house had started to tint black due to the smoke and soot of the wood burning stove. As this is a 19th century problem that we don’t commonly deal with in the 21st century, we consulted a turn of the century household guide.
Page 284 of Sidney Morse’s 1908 book Household Discoveries instructed us:
To Remove Blackened Walls. – A smoked or blackened ceiling or wall may be cleaned by means of a cloth wrung out of a strong solution of baking soda and water. Or use vinegar and water. If the stain is not all removed, dissolve gum shellac in alcohol to the consistency of milk or cream and with it cover the sooty parts. Paint or whitewash over the shellac. The black will not show through.
As baking soda is something we keep on hand at the 1900 house we decided to give it a shot. What we found was that Samuel Morse’s recommendation were good ones. Using a strong tincture of baking soda, water, and elbow grease we scrubbed the black off the walls, restoring them to their green color. In a way it was like Morse invented the magic eraser, one hundred years early. The change with such a simple solution was tremendous. Check out the following picture:
Now with the risk of sounding like an infomercial for baking soda I want to just state that this particular product has many wonderful uses. Turn of the century households knew this, and thanks to the internet and a desire for “clean living,” modern households are rediscovering the wonderful uses for baking soda. This product, developed as early as the 1790s but brought into common use in America by the 1850s, can be used in several different rooms of the house.
As spring has finally come into full swing here on the 1900 farm, the cherry, pear, and apple blossoms in the orchard and fresh shoots of clover emerging in the hayfields have reminded me of the importance of bees to the farm. Despite spending most of my life being terrified of all stinging insects, I have come to have a great respect, appreciation, and love for honeybees. Read more…
The 1900 Farm welcomed a new animal into our herd earlier this year: a boar who has been given the farm name of “Harvey”. Harvey is an 18 month old purebred Berkshire boar who comes to us from Dr. Pete Hoffman and his operation, Phenotypic Acres, south of Ames, IA. Dr. Hoffman has been in the Berkshire business for 29 years and has implemented intensive breeding selection using the most extensive testing procedures available to the swine industry. Harvey demonstrates all the classic characteristics of the Berkshire breed: black body, white face and legs, and erect ears. He also has the personality of a puppy – he loves to follow us around his pen and often plays a game of hiding his water pan when it’s empty!
Hogs have always been an important staple on Iowa farms. As the leading pork-producing state, Iowa’s swine population is currently around six times the human population of the state. With the growth of Des Moines and its suburbs and urban sprawl, it may be hard to imagine now, but in 1900 there were actually more pigs than people right here in Polk county. Read more…