Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sophie's Doughnuts....

So your fresh cream has soured, what are you to do? There are many practical, delectable dishes that can be made or a little fun could be had with a tried and true family recipe. Fortunately for us, Sophie Schottler's Sour Cream Doughnut recipe has been preserved for posterity.

Sophia Schottler was born to Mathias and Caroline Schottler of Germantown, WI in 1872. She was 1 of 11 children. It was Sophie's daughter, Regina Gilbert, who shared this recipe with Old World Wisconsin some 30+ years ago. We are forever grateful. Where she learned to make these wonderful little treats is lost to history.  Although I cannot share every recipe from the museum, I will share this one. When this recipe is shared, the world becomes a better place.

4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
3 eggs well beaten
1 cup sugar
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
lard for frying

Mix the ingredients together. The recipe calls for strips of dough to be rolled 1/2 inch thick strips and formed to create the traditional doughnut shape. We usually roll small balls and drop them into the lard.  Fry in lard until done. While still warm, roll them in sugar.

Along with gathering the ingredients, you should also gather a few friends or close relatives.  It seems a bit of giggling and general fun does make these doughnuts even better. They are meant to be shared and taste best warm.  A wood-burning cook stove adds ambiance but is not necessary.  Lard is necessary to obtain the correct flavor and texture the Schottler family would have enjoyed. They are crispier and have more flavor when lard is used.  

On a side note, last winter I spent some time working with the Curator of Collections, Ellen Penwell, at Old World Wisconsin.  She found a small hook labeled "Wooden Hook".  In the artifact master file, it stated this hook was carved in Milwaukee by a German man (who's name I cannot remember). Specifically, it is a Doughnut Lifter.

This simple yet handy tool would serve a doughnut-maker well when the doughnuts are made properly as seen in the photo below.  You may also glean from the last photo that this recipe is not merely a museum piece, but transfers rather well into our contemporary world.  Try it and enjoy!

Photo Courtesy of Hannah Bailey

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Kindly Look Through Your Victorian Eyes, Please....


"Gross! Look at those awful color combinations!" "What were they thinking?" I hear people say. My response, "They are awful in the most wonderful, beautiful Victorian way"

I often ask people who are new to Victoriana to look through "your Victorian eyes".  That is to completely drop our pre-conceived contemporary idea of beautiful color combinations and see the world differently.  A world with a mixture of natural and aniline (chemical) dyes that create a multitude of rich muted tones often played against strong vibrant ones.  It is a world where patterns and textures are layered and prominent.  Now, add changes in lighting. These colors and patterns would have one look in the daylight and take on something entirely different in the dim lighting of the evening. The soft moody glow of whale oil lamps, tallow and paraffin candles would later in the era give way to the soft brighter glow of kerosene, gas and electric light.  The flicker of these artificial lights would play on the contrast of these colors as would the dim winter daylight here in the Upper Midwest.

It is in this setting that these colors and patterns would thrive.  I am only sorry that I do not adequately possess good evening photos with period lighting. If you should ever have the opportunity to tour an appropriately lit 19th c. home by all means do not pass it by. It is in the evenings and during the dim winter days that it becomes the easiest to see through your Victorian eyes.

Parlour at Koepsell House as seen at Old World WI (c. 1880).  Frederick and Sophia Koepsell are middle class German immigrant farmers living in Jackson, WI.  (Frederick & Sophia Koepsell's images can be seen hanging in the large oval portrait.)

The parlour at Christmas of the Benson House as seen at Old World Wisconsin c. 1880. Wesley and Sophia Benson are middle class Yankees living in Fort Atkinson, WI.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Background Photo...

So you ask, "What about the background photo?" Well, all the items in the photo were indeed chosen for a reason. Starting with the doily in the lower corner, my mom made it. She taught me to crochet when I was about 11 yrs old. She never did make lace, but a few years ago she wanted to try her hand at it. This little one is small but was challenging. I had to include this piece for it was my mom, Jean, who started me down this road.

The burgundy lace is one of two lace pieces I made in college.  I had never made crochet lace, but I thought I would give it "the old college try". This what I concocted while not really knowing what I was doing.  I would come to learn a couple years later when I started at Old World Wisconsin that I had created fairly good Victorian facsimiles. Who knew?

The doily in the upper right corner is one that I tatted ...and one of the few tatted pieces I've made and kept for myself.

The 3 photos are part of a healthy vintage photograph collection Karl and I own. There a 3 different time periods. Top: Oconto WI - 1880s; Lower Left: Rachele Cherry, Marion, OH - 1860s (w/older hairstyle); Lower Left: Young Ladies in Unknown Location (probably WI or IL) - 1890s

There are brooches on the doily. The vintage brass brooch was give to us by a dear friend. Bar pins were very popular throughout the 1870s and 1880s. The silver brooch is a Norwegian sølje. It is a traditional Norwegian piece of jewelry. This sølje is new but has vintage style. It was purchased in Stoughton, WI.

Lastly, there is the sewing basket. Here, I have taken a bit of artistic liberty. This basket is one of my favorite pieces because the glass handles and beads are still in tact, but it is really from c.1920. Our Victorian sewing basket is similar in style without the beads. It is so dark it didn't show up well in the photo.
Welcome! I believe as with anything else in life, this first post is going to be the hardest and perhaps the most awkward. Where do I start? Why a blog you may ask? Well, I have been toying with this idea for a while now, and I have decided to do something about it. I hope to share mainly observations, but perhaps a little of the knowledge that I have picked up along the way. I love all period textiles and the ethnic foodways of Wisconsin.  I am experienced in period crochet and tatting techniques. Women's history has a special place in my heart.

Basically, I hope my wanderings through the 19th and Early 20th century material culture are as interesting and fun to you as they are for me.