My Dad's cousin Sandra has been following my blog for awhile and
emailed me asking if I would like to have some old cookbooks she
had that were my Great Grandma's. She also took the time and wrote
some history out for me about my Great Grandma and Grandpa:
Tillie Knutson (Great Grandmother Bong) was born in Sonja, Norway in 1875.
In the mid 1800's she traveled to America with her mother, father, two brothers,
and a sister. They made their home in Pulcifer, Wisconsin. Elias Bong was born
in Norway in 1867. He also traveled to America in the mid 1800's. His family
stayed in Norway. He moved to Seattle, Wa. where he worked as a logger. The
Seattle fire in 1889 took most of the jobs so he move to Oconto, Wis. where he
met Tillie Knutson at a logging camp where she was a cook.
They were married Dec 7th 1894.
Their first daughter Alpha (my Grandma) was born in 1895. Grandma Bong
had a little cabin in Pt. Alex., Alaska where she baked bread and sold it. I don't
know how she could do it, must have been wood stoves, wish you could have
known her, such a wonderful loving lady.
My Great Grandma Tillie. Isn't it interesting how everything comes full circle.
Here I am in Alaska over 100 years later baking breads and cakes & selling them.
Thank goodness I don't have to use a wood stove!
Here are the cookbooks from 1903-1937 that Sandra sent me that
were my Great Grandma's. Sandra's Mom Hazel and my Grandma Alpha
were sisters. Don't you just love those old names? I was very excited
to get them--thank you so much Sandra!
What fun to look through them and realize her hands were touching them at
one time and looking through them just like I was doing. There are some
chocolate stains in the baking book and notes written in the others about the
recipes and it makes them seem even more personal to me. The baking book even
has a coffee cup ring on the front just like a lot of my own cookbooks do.
I especially like this baking book with it's hints about the proper baking
techniques for producing perfectly baked goods. After reading through it
I find it interesting that most everything is the same as now. The wording is
different, but the methods for making excellent cakes and breads haven't
changed very much. Even back then they understood about the chemical
processes taking place while mixing ingredients!
The author writes in one recipe:
"cakes will come out nicely when taken at the proper time, therefore I say
teach the boy in place of sweating and you will have no more trouble."
There are a couple of interesting items shown with drawings that you could
purchase from the author of the book. For $2.50 you could purchase your very
own ice cream cone maker. A common theme I noticed throughout this book is
the emphasis on the quality of the items he was offering for sale. Things were
made to last a long time; you purchased them once and passed them along.
There were a couple of different cake fillers offered for sale. It looks to
me like you filled it with cream from the top, stuck the pointed end into
your pastry & pushed the plunger to force the cream into the pastry.
I am no Grandma Bong, but I have been working on learning some new
techniques to offer people that are looking for a celebration cake. When we
went to Juneau I purchased some ready-made Sugar Paste and I made these
flowers for 2 cakes I made this weekend for the Meet and Greet at our church
welcoming our pastor candidate from Texas.
They are edible because they are made from sugar, but I think you would have
to be REALLY hungry to want to crunch through them once they are dried on the
cake. It was fun making these and not nearly as difficult as I thought it would be.
I sprinkled them with edible glitter once they were on the cake and then sprinkled
it lightly over both cakes. They were a hit!
My next project is to try covering a whole cake in fondant and see how that turns
out. I know Marzipan has been around a long time, but now I'm wondering if they
knew what fondant was all the way back in my Great Grandmother's time?