Great-Great-Grandmother Raver’s Cake – Orange and Lemon Version

Over a year ago, I discovered a recipe for my great-great-grandmother Grace Raver’s cake, thanks to an article from my grandfather’s cousin, Anne.

In her article, Anne recalled that her grandmother Grace would vary the cake according to the seasons; she would flavor it with black walnuts when they were harvested in fall, but would make the cake with orange and lemon the rest of the year. I’ve made the black walnut version of this cake a few times already, so I decided to try the orange and lemon version this time.

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Mock Turkey

Vegetarianism has a long history in the United States, although the word “vegetarian” was not in common usage until around the 1850s. By the 1880s, vegetarian meat substitutes that were meant to mimic the look and taste of meat helped bring vegetarian foods to a wider audience, and vegetarianism was widely promoted as part of a healthy lifestyle.

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Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Although canned foods were commercially available in America as early as the 1820s, for many years canned foods were considered tasteless at best, and potentially hazardous at worst. Cooks who did use canned foods were often criticized as being lazy. By the 1930s, however, that reputation had completely reversed, as canning technology improved and efficiency and economy were prized. Cheaper canned goods brought expensive foods such as pineapple within the reach of ordinary Americans. The Good Housekeeping Institute promoted canned foods in quick dishes to make for company, such as in this 1933 recipe for pineapple upside down cake.

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Oatmeal Macaroons

This super quick, super easy recipe comes from War Economy in Food, a recipe booklet published by the U.S. Food Administration during World War I. The macaroons use oats and corn syrup to reduce the amounts of wheat and sugar used. In addition to saving wheat and sugar, the recipe also saves on time and dishwashing – it only uses one bowl, and only takes about 20-25 minutes from start to finish!

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War Bread

From The Economical War-Time Cook Book, this recipe was designed to save white flour during World War I, substituting rye, wheat, and cornmeal instead. Although the United States never had official rationing during the first World War, Americans were still urged not to waste food, especially wheat, meats, fats, and sugar. Corn, “the food of the nation,” was promoted in particular as an economical alternative to flour.

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Mrs. Macnab’s Scones

This recipe was collected by Scottish folklorist F. Marian McNeill and published in her 1929 book, The Scots Kitchen. She writes, “Mrs. Macnab was the wife of a farmer who lived near Ballater. Such was her reputation as a baker that King Frederick of Prussia and other distinguished guests at Balmoral used frequently to go over and have tea with her. It is not possible to impart Mrs. Macnab’s lightness of touch, nor the wine-like air of these regions, which doubtless contributed to her visitors’ enjoyment; but here, at least, is the recipe for her celebrated scones.”

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