Our own Susanne Dietze signed her first contract! Her novella, Love's Reward, will be included in Barbour's Most Eligible Bachelor Collection in June 2015! A novella by Gina Welborn will also appear.

Lisa, Gina, Jen and Carla Gade. MISTLETOE MEMORIES at #10 on the ECPA bestsellers list for fiction!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Antique Cookbooks Part 3 1920 - 1928

by Anita Mae Draper

Welcome to Part 3 in my Antique Cookbooks series. You can read my story on how I came upon this treasure by checking out the previous posts:
Antique Cookbooks Part 1 1890 - 1906
Antique Cookbooks Part 2 1900 - 1916

Today's post covers the period of 1920-1928 and delves into the world of Household Science, or what we used to call Home Economics when I went to school fifty years later.

First up is the 1920 Household Science Circular No. 3 from my own province of Saskatchewan. I believe this 30-page 6" x 9" booklet would been distributed through the school system, not only because of the photographs, but also because of the simple recipes geared toward children's meals and lunch boxes.

1920 Saskatchewan Dept of Education, Short Course Recipes
 Household Science Circular No. 3

Here's the photograph from the front of the book, which is a far cry from the photograph of a real classroom at the back of the book which follows--especially in the length of the skirt. But although it may not be true to life, it reminds me of the little Robin Hood Flour outfits I used to dress my own little kitchen helpers in when they were small.

1920 Saskatchewan Dept of Education, Short Course Recipes Household Science Circular No. 3

Note the girl in the left forefront of this classroom photo as she shows that the Flapper fashion has already hit Saskatchewan by her headdress. I also found it interesting that the girls with white stockings wore white shoes, and those with black stockings wore black shoes. I'm curious if this was regulatory or a dictate of fashion.

1920 Saskatchewan Dept of Education, Short Course Recipes
 Household Science Circular No. 3

As an example of the recipes from this 1920 Household Science circular, I chose page 18 and 19 for 2 reasons. First, because they sometimes switch the word, cookies, for the word, cakes. Is there a reason for this due to different percentages of certain ingredients? And secondly, because they use the word, cassia, for cinnamon.

1920 Saskatchewan Dept of Education, Short Course Recipes
 Household Science Circular No. 3

1924 brings the 6" x 8.5" Apple Recipes, Bulletin No. 35 from the Fruit Branch, Department of Agriculture, Ottawa, Canada. This is one of many booklets published over the years by governments who believe that educating the public on buying, storing and cooking produce will lead to more sales, better profits, and an improved and sustainable industry. If you have an abundance of fruit in your area, check your local Ag Extension Office, or local college or university, for a point in the right direction.

1924 Apple Recipes, Bulletin No. 35, Fruit Branch,
Department of Agriculture, Ottawa, Canada

The value of these types of booklets are pages like the following which show the types of apples available by season, and what they are best used for. I remember how disappointed I was when I made an apple pie using our famous Canadian Macintosh apples. So mushy. And so different when I tried a pie using crisp Delicious apples instead. Now-a-days, we know that the best pies are made using a combination of apples for different tastes and textures. It must be remembered, however, that because this information was published in 1920, many of the apples listed are of the heirloom variety and not so readily available.

1924 Apple Recipes, Bulletin No. 35, Fruit Branch, 
Department of Agriculture, Ottawa, Canada

The Metropolitan Cook Book measures 5.5" x 7.5", is 64 pages long, and was published in 1928 by The Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. The introductory page notes that there is a companion book entitled The Family Food Supply which explains marketing and meal economics and will be sent to you upon request. Pity the offer no longer applies for I am quite interested in what it would say.

1928 The Metropolitan Cook Book

I once entered a Heritage baking competition at the local fair with an entry from a recipe that used measurements in pounds instead of cups. In those pre-internet days, it took a lot of research to discover what the recipe needed. So for those of you who may run into recipes of this sort, I'm including that information from this Metropolitan Cook Book, as well as some recipes such as Iced Coffee and Cocoa Syrup. Yum.

1928 The Metropolitan Cook Book

I'd like to bring your attention to the recipe for Junket on the left side of the following page set. Am I correct in assuming that Junket is some sort of gelatine?

1928 The Metropolitan Cook Book

The page above on the right side caught my eye because of the use of cottage cheese as a sandwich filling--an ingredient I never considered tucking between two slices of bread although I have to admit the addition of walnuts sound good.

I have a couple cookbooks left which I want to show in more detail so I'll end this post here with this question for today...

Have you ever eaten junket or a cottage cheese sandwich?  Would you like to share your experience?


Anita Mae Draper is retired from the Canadian Armed Forces and lives on the prairie of southeast Saskatchewan, Canada with her hubby of 30 plus years and the youngest of their 4 kids. She writes cowboy stories set in the Old West, and Edwardian stories set in the East.  Anita Mae's short story, Riding on a Christmas Wish is published in A Christmas Cup of Cheer, Guideposts Books, October 2013. She is honored that Guideposts Books has chosen a second short story, Here We Go A-wassailing,  for inclusion in the 2014 Christmas Cheer II book set.   Anita Mae is represented by Mary Keeley of Books & Such Literary Agency. You can find Anita at

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Fabulous Flaxen Fiber Fan

On my last trip to an earlier century, I did some of my usual relentless questioning to uncover 'the way things used to be.'  Genesee Country Village and Museum, my somewhat local gateway to the 19th century, had a Fiddlers and Fiber Fair.  Surprisingly, I didn't go in costume but I'd like to show you my latest 1812 get up so you know I'm not kidding when I say I like to do this stuff 'hands-on'.

Here's a bit of my visit with the flax-to-linen man. He knew a lot about wool and spinning besides flax and linen, and I was, well, asking a lot of questions.  They love that, right?

I did do a post on flax and linen  and linsey-woolsey over at the Colonial Quills blog in the past with a nice video of the process, so I'll just offer the link here, and for the Inkwell, I'll stay with new photos.

Flax is a lovely plant that few of us grow. I have, but it's only because I love the plant and its blue flowers. I'd have a lot more of it if I had the room. It's an annual, but I've had it come back in the same spots so it must self-seed at times. For those who grow flax for linen (and that would have been quite a number of people in most of the northern climates over the last few thousand years...)  flax seed must be scattered in spring and then the plants can be harvested about a month after flowering, or roughly three months after seeding.  Those beautiful small flowers turn into small seedheads that contain a few small seeds in each.

Yes- you will now begin to look at those flax seeds you put in your food a bit differently now.  PS flax seeds make linseed oil. The spoils of linen production was used like hay - to stuff mattresses and sadly, to start fires. A woman in linen dress could be horribly burned as the stuff goes up in seconds!  Many colonials wore a wool petticoat and so hitched their linen skirt up away from the fireplace while cooking.

Plants were usually pulled out by the roots rather than cut to reduce loss of fiber, but in any case, were gathered in small clumps. From there our poor lovely flax plants begins to take a beating.
They are knocked around and beaten a bit and then left to hang out in the field in big clumps. In my research, I've seen both standing clumps and clumps laying down on the ground.  The point here is that the plant is encouraged to pick up bacteria from the soil that help break down the stem. After this, the clumps are chomped down upon as they are dragged through a device the bruises and separates the stems. This is called RIPPLING

Next comes the wooden knife beating which knocks away the tougher coating that didn't release during rippling. Our demonstrator explained it also does a fair job on the knuckles if you aren't careful. Somewhere in this process, the job is turned over from the farmer to his wife.

Next comes the HECKLING, or dragging through combs. You'll see the combs are really nails pounded through blocks of wood. Three sizes generally, with smaller nails and closer together as you go.
At this point, you have a nice handful of what looks like smooth, blond hair or a palomino's tail. ... uh, flaxen!

This hand-full of fiber easily lets itself get wrapped loosely around a spindle called a distaff.  Linen fibers retain a cuticle (like our hair) and tend to stick together.   Each distaff of flax fiber can be mounted on top of a spinning wheel or even held on the lap at which point a spinner lets the fiber run through wet fingers to be twisted by the spinning wheel and wrapped on to a smaller spool.

A spool of linen 'yarn' is then used for weaving or at times for knitting.

The finer linens were used for clothing, the rougher stuff (this has a lot to do with how much time is put into preparation) often is used for non-clothing items such as ruck sacks and outer coats. As you can imagine it's a matter of social status as well.

The demonstrator told us something about the ways linen was lightened (bleached) but I only recall it was a matter of repeated treatments in a liquid that 'might' have included cow dung. Well, we know the ammonia of urine is used in the tanning process of leather, so I wasn't too surprised.

I also learned a bit more about natural dyes but I'll save that for another day.

Linen making is so time consuming that wool was actually a quicker process. Of course, there's a difference in the use of the end products. No wonder cotton took over as the easier fabric - easier for some, right?  The boom in cotton fed the slave trade. Later in the 19th century, many abolitionists went back to flax/line and sheep/wool to put their money behind their words.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Depressed? Get Help. Don't Wait.

By Niki Turner

The death of comedian Robin Williams came as a shock to us all. How could the man who made everyone laugh be so depressed, so tormented, that suicide seemed the only plausible option? 

Depression doesn't always show up on the outside. And if we aren't asking questions and talking about it with our friends and family members, depression will continue to destroy lives. Denying its existence, calling it a "character flaw," or attributing depression to a lack of faith or sin in someone's life is ignorant, and harmful.

I used to be one of those naysayers, even while I battled depression and anxiety myself. I was convinced that if I just had more faith, if I just prayed harder, if I just wasn't so weak, the panic attacks and debilitating depression would go away. But they didn't. 

Oh, it's not like I wasn't "fighting" and "resisting the enemy." I confessed scriptures, prayed, repented, cried, took herbal supplements, started exercising, meditated, received communion. I tried every method in—and out—of the book to get my wayward self under control. And all the while a still, small voice kept whispering in my ear, "Go to the doctor." 

But I didn't want to go to the doctor. I didn't want to admit my failure to overcome, to be victorious in this quest for mental and emotional stability. Even though I firmly believe God gives man knowledge and wisdom to find and create medical treatments so His children can have health. Even though I'm the first one to say "do everything you can in the spiritual realm, and everything you can in the natural realm to achieve and maintain health." Sure, I'll say it to someone else, but not to myself.

There's nothing like pride to trap you in a pit. [Tweet this!]

Eventually, I cracked (the genteel Southern term is "dropped my basket") one day on the way to the ski area in nasty weather. My husband was driving, the kids were all in the car, on the way to an activity I don't particularly enjoy. I'd made myself go anyway because the LAST time I didn't go, my oldest son severely dislocated his elbow and required an ambulance, emergency surgery, and physical therapy. Was I thinking my presence would somehow prevent another traumatic experience? Possibly. (That's another side of pride, but we won't examine that one today.)

I started crying and could not stop. I couldn't breathe. Couldn't see. Couldn't think clearly. For a few terrifying moments I felt certain I was going to self-destruct right there in the car, like those people who spontaneously combust in the middle of a crowded sidewalk. By the time the attack finally ended, thanks to a praying husband, I was exhausted. I spent the day in the lodge at the ski area, too physically and emotionally drained to even think about hitting the slopes.

A few days later, teary-eyed and humbled, I described my litany of symptoms to my doctor. She asked me a few pointed questions about how I was sleeping (um...people sleep?), did I feel angry all the time (you mean it's not normal to always be ready to fly into a rage?), etc. And then she told me I had something akin to a repetitive-motion injury in my brain. Too much stress for too long = body chemicals all out of whack. I was existing in a perpetual state of fight-or-flight response. 

The medications she prescribed had some side effects, but the side effects were nothing compared to the wonderful realization that I was reacting and responding to things like a regular person. Things that previously threw me off-kilter for days were still upsetting, but only briefly. I could move forward. My children (who did not know I had started taking 'happy pills') asked me what was up ... I was so relaxed, they said. Wow. Had I been that crazy?
Son of Groucho via Flickr
I took those prescriptions for five years. Today I no longer need them, but I'm constantly aware that I may need them again someday, and I'm no longer too proud to admit it.  

Maybe you have some prideful attitude about something or someone, even though you secretly (or not so secretly) struggle with the same issue. Shakespeare put it this way, "The lady doth protest too much, methinks." The Apostle Paul put it like this: "Let him who thinks he stands, take heed lest he fall." 

Robin Williams' tragic death brought a lot of these topics up in conversation this week. I share my story because perhaps someone else out there is buckling under the pressure and stress and needs to know God has a precise and individualized plan for your good. If that's you, my prayer is that you will heed His still, small voice, and obey His leading. And for all of us, that instead of judging, we'll love one another. Instead of shaming, we'll offer a shoulder to lean on. And instead of assuming, we'll listen.

Niki Turner is a novelist, journalist, and blogger. She blogs at and is a co-blogger at Niki is an active member and volunteer for American Christian Fiction Writers and is involved in establishing an ACFW chapter on Colorado's Western Slope, where she resides. Her fiction blends the good news of God's love with come-as-you-are characters in stories that encourage and inspire. Her debut novelette, Santiago Sol, will be released through Pelican Book Group. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

My Favorite Actress

When the movie Philomena garnered so many awards and nominations last year, I knew little about it other than it starred Judi Dench. But that’s enough. My adoration began with her role as Jean Pargetter/Jean Hardcastle from the British TV comedy, Time Goes By.  For years my Saturday night meant watching PBS at 8:30pm, with my mom, for this entertaining comedy about two people who fell in love during WWll, lost touch and reconnected many years later.

Once you are aware of Dame Judi Dench, it’s hard to miss her, though the amazing number of television and movie roles she’s had seem to be barely half her credentials. She says theater is her first choice, TV second and movies third. She loves the feel and feedback of a live audience.  Must be part of the reason she has ten BAFTA awards.
The list of all her awards is endless and of course there’s that “Dame of the British Empire” to honor her achievements.

Mrs. Brown, the movie in which she plays the older Queen Victoria still caught up in her grief over the loss of Albert, was Judi Dench’s (self-proclaimed) break in “Hollywood” stardom. Before that she’d been well-known only to British audiences for live theater as well as TV. (Most notably, the comedy series  A Fine Romance—a long-running 70s series also starring husband Michael Williams). From there came many roles: Ladies in Lavender, Shakespeare in Love, Pride and Prejudice, The Shipping News and at least  5 or 6 turns as “M” in the James Bond franchise.

Judi Dench knows her stuff but admits to never feeling secure about her skills or her performances. I love how she can be the sweet-natured sister in Cranford, and the crusty Lady Catherine deBourg in Pride and Prejudice and never fail to glue me to the screen in anything she does.

Ms. Dench doesn’t plan on retiring despite a fight with macular degeneration.  Since the loss of her husband of thirty years in 2001, she has kept busy with roles and raising her only grandchild. Besides an inspiring dedication to acting and the stage, she is just plain beautiful.  We’ve watched her age but the twinkle in those amazing blue eyes only seems to shine brighter.

What is your favorite Judi Dench role?
What about…
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel? Philomena, Skyfall, J. Edgar, My Week with Marilyn, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Jane Eyre, Notes on a Scandal, The Chronicles of Riddick, The Importance of Being Earnest, Iris, Chocolat, The Shipping News, Tea with Mussolini, Shakespeare in Love, Cranford, Middlemarch, 84 Charing Cross Road, A Room with a View, Mrs. Brown…

Ms. Dench is also the voice of the kind ballet teacher in the Angelina Ballerina children’s cartoon based on the books, and is the narrator inside Epcot Center’s Spaceship Earth.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Robert Morrison: Missionary to China

by C.J. Chase

At the beginning of the year, I wrote a post referencing a Christianity Today article about the correlation between 19th century missionary activity and the development of modern democracy across the world. (I hope you read the article back in January because CT has put it behind a paywall.)

Then in April, The Telegraph (UK) printed another of those China-is-becoming-increasingly-Christian articles that seem to appear every few years. Alas, the news for Christians in China is not all good, as demonstrated by these two articles about the Communist Party’s attempts to control the churches. Evidently, the Communists are also aware of a link between Christianity and the development of democracy and freedom, and they aren't excited about a future filled with hundreds of millions of Chinese Christians. 

The number of Christians in China is pretty staggering, especially when one considers there were almost no Christians at all in the country just 200 years ago. How did such a dramatic change occur?

Portrait of Robert Morrison by
John Richard Wildman (1785-1839)
The first modern missionary to China was Robert Morrison. Born in Northumberland, England in 1782 to devout members of the Church of Scotland (Presbyterians), Morrison rejected his Christian upbringing for a while as a teen (how often do we read that!) before returning to the faith in 1798. Despite his 12-14 hour days spent in manual labor as a shoemaker, he still found time for 1-2 hours of daily reading and meditation. (Yeah, that’s convicting!) He also began witnessing to friends and acquaintances.

While reading about missionaries, Morrison felt God’s call and trained as a minister at the Hoxton Academy in London and at the Missionary Academy at Gosport. In 1804, he applied with the London Missionary Society, which had been founded ten years earlier through the work of several ministers, including Dr. David Bogue, the principal of the Missionary Academy at Gosport. Morrison was accepted as the LMS’s first missionary to China. (Another student of Bogue’s, Samuel Dyer also became a missionary to the Chinese in modern Malaysia. Dyer’s daughter Maria married another missionary to China, Hudson Taylor.)

Morrison spent the next couple years learning Chinese with the help of Yong Sam-tak, a Chinese man in London. He left for America in January of 1807. America? Yes, the East India Company prohibited missionaries in China and refused to carry them on their ships, so Morrison traveled westward, eventually arriving in China in September. It was in America that Morrison was asked if he really expected to “make an impression on the idolatry of the Great Chinese Empire.” “No sir, I expect God will.”

Painting of Morrison and Chinese helpers
translating the Bible by George Chinnery
But the discouragements mounted once he reached China. It was illegal for the Chinese to teach non-Chinese their language (under penalty of death!), and the only non-Chinese allowed in the country were traders. Morrison lived at the American Factory and his local teachers would bring shoes with them for their language tutoring sessions so that if caught, they could claim Morrison was repairing their shoes.

However, Morrison persevered  and because of his faculty with the Chinese language, the East India Company (yes, the same East India Company that wouldn’t take him to China) hired him as a translator in 1809. This gave him a legal reason for remaining in China. He spent a total of 27 years in China, much of it alone.

Morrison married Mary Morton, daughter of an army surgeon, in 1809. They had two surviving children, but poor health forced Mary and the children to travel to England in 1815. She returned to China in 1820, only to die (with their newborn) a year later. Now a single father, Morrison sent his children back to England. He did not see them again for nine years when he returned to England on his one-and-only furlough in 1824. While home, he married his second wife Eliza Armstrong, with whom he eventually had five additional children. He died in China in 1834 and is buried there next to Mary.

Morrison gained few converts (it was seven years before he baptized the first one), but he opened the door for other missionaries to follow him to China. He created an English-Chinese dictionary and translated the Bible into Chinese. According to Yung Wing, the first Chinese graduate of an American university, “The importance and bearing of his dictionary and the translation of the Bible into Chinese, on subsequent missionary work in China, were fundamental and paramount.” For an incredibly long list of known missionaries who followed Morrison to China, see this Wikipedia entry

I didn’t expect to be as moved by this post as I was, but there is great comfort in the reminder that God doesn’t call us to do great things. He calls us to be faithful and let Him do the great things. Today China is poised to become the nation with the greatest number of Christians – probably sometime within the next decade or two, so most of us here may live to see it happen. And it all started just 200 years ago with one faithful man.

After leaving the corporate world to stay home with her children, C.J. Chase quickly learned she did not possess the housekeeping gene. She decided writing might provide the perfect excuse for letting the dust bunnies accumulate under the furniture. Her procrastination, er, hard work paid off in 2010 when she won the Golden Heart for Best Inspirational Manuscript and sold the novel to Love Inspired Historicals. You can visit C.J.'s cyber-home (where the floors are always clean) at