Bread and Butter Days
by Trisha Faye


BBD_annie with barrelAnnie turned 63 on October 24th. Annie celebrated her birthday in a manner no one ever had before. And no one has since.

No red hat society luncheon. No parties with the grandkids. No drinks with her besties. No cake filled with candles.

It was only her. Her cat. A lucky heart shaped pillow. A big barrel. And thousands of spectators.

Annie is Annie Edson Taylor, born October 24, 1838 in Auburn, New York. She celebrated her 63rd birthday, in 1901, by being the first person – and first woman – to survive going over Niagara Falls in a barrel.

She didn’t set out to earn her notoriety with this unusual goal. But sometimes paths through life meander into ways we never expect.

Annie was the fourth of eight children born to Merrick and Lucretia Edson. Her father owned a flour mill along the Owasco Lake outlet. Her father died when she was 12, and the money he left behind left the family comfortable and not lacking.

After receiving an honors degree in a four-year training course, Annie became a school teacher. In 1856 she married David Taylor, the brother of her boarding school roommate. But life was far from ordinary after that. They had a son who died within days of his birth in 1857. Then the Civil War swept through our country. Her husband was killed in battle fighting for the Union. At the age of 25 Annie was a widow.

Still having a sizeable inheritance from her father, Annie spent the next years traveling in pursuit of different occupations. She traveled to Texas, then to New York City, the Carolinas, Washington, D.C. and Indianapolis. Through her travels, she mostly taught dance lessons. By 1889 she’d purchased a house and settled in Bay City, Michigan. She opened a dance school there, spending most of her money opening and supporting the school. It wasn’t successful and she had to close the doors. She saw her inheritance dwindling.

Enter the Pan-American Exposition taking place in Buffalo, New York. The Exposition was drawing huge crowds of people, coming to visit the 350 acres of exhibits and fun. Many stopped at Niagara Falls while in the area.

BBD_Annie in boatAnnie concocted a scheme about going over the falls in a barrel on her birthday. She used a custom made barrel, constructed of oak staves and iron bands, fitted with a leather harness and iron hand-holds and padded with a mattress. A 200 pound anvil ballast weighted the barrel.

A week before her grand even she traveled to New York and began preparations. Two days prior to her own ride over the falls, the feat was tested using a cat. Over Horseshoe Falls it went. The cat and the barrel survived the plunge unharmed.

On her birthday morning thousands gathered to watch the epic event. The barrel was towed out to the middle. Annie, dressed in a long black coat and broad feathered hat– and her lucky heart-shaped pillow – climbed in. The lid was screwed down. A bicycle tire pump was used to compress the air in the barrel and the hole sealed with a cork.

Off she went. Set adrift south of Goat Island the Niagara River currents carried the bobbing barrel toward the Canadian Horseshoe Falls. After a trip of less than twenty minutes, rescuers retrieved the barrel and after some time to open it up, discovered that the birthday girl had survived the trip relatively uninjured, except for a three inch gash on her head.

BBD_annie leaving boatAnnie later told the press, “If it was with my dying breath, I would caution anyone against attempting the feat … I would sooner walk up to the mouth of a cannon, knowing it was going to blow me to pieces than make another trip over the Fall.”

This grand gesture failed to garner the attention and fame that Annie envisioned. Her manager disappeared, taking her barrel with him. She earned some money from speaking engagements, but not enough to see her comfortably into old age. Annie died almost blind and deaf, and broke. She died April 29, 1921, at the age of 82 at the Niagara County Infirmary and is buried in “Stunters Section” of Oakwood Cemetery in Niagara Falls, New York.

During her lifetime Annie didn’t see her brave adventure gain her the wealth she expected. But 100 years later, 113 years to be exact, we still celebrate Annie and applaud her for attempting something that I’m certainly not ready to try. When I reach this milestone (not all that far off) I’ll attempt a much more sedate celebration. And it won’t have any barrels involved!

Do you have any stories about ‘the good ole days’ that you’d like to share? Contact Trisha Faye at



BBD_waffle iron cookbookLife was flying high in 1928. No crash of ’29. No Great Depression. The years of drought, heat, dust storms and poverty hadn’t hit America yet. And, in 1928 Edison Electric Appliance Co. published a small cook booklet of 52 Hotpoint Recipes.

Featuring new and different ways to use the popular Hotpoint Waffle Iron, the pint sized booklet proclaimed ‘A Different Delight for Each Sunday Night’.

“This booklet of 52 Tested Recipes each to be made on a Hotpoint Waffle Iron is the culmination of our experimental work in preparing other than waffles on the Electric Waffle Iron. We are endeavoring to give to Home-makers menu suggestions and recipes – not only for crisp brown waffles but delicious cookies, sandwiches, cake, doughnuts, fritters and desserts – using the waffle iron as a table cooking device three times a day – and for those in-between-time refreshments.”

Extoling the virtues of the Hotpoint Calrod, the heating element in the waffle irons and other electrical appliances, the book also gave general instructions, had four pages of menu suggestions, and of course, the 52 recipes. All for the price of 10 cents.

The suggested menu for a Bridge Luncheon (do women even play bridge anymore?) was Chicken Delight, Fruit Salad and Sponge Cake with Chocolate Sauce.

BBD_waffle ironOther suggestions, all in the cookbook, and easy to make on your Hotpoint Waffle Iron, were Dream Sandwiches, Cheese Sandwiches, Cinnamon Bread, Muffins, N.E.L.A. Cake, Ice Cream Sandwiches or Cheese Biscuits.

Recipe No. 34 – Chicken Delight

Chop cold cooked chicken. Moisten with mayonnaise or gravy. Slice bread, trim crusts and spread sandwiches with mixture. Dip into melted butter.

Preheat waffle iron 8 minutes. Put sandwich between molds and brown.

All the other suggested recipes were included in this little powerhouse – except for the Fruit Salad and Ice Cream Sandwiches. And believe me, I went looking for those Ice Cream Sandwiches. I wanted to see how they were going to cook those on this versatile little waffle iron.

There weren’t any pumpkin recipes in here, to help in the festivities of the National Season of Pumpkin Products. There were Spice Waffles, but nothing pumpkin related.

So, to bring you the pumpkin recipe that I promised you last week, we’ll skip ahead to the future and get a contemporary recipe to help you celebrate.


1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal, finely ground
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
Pinch ground nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
2 large eggs
2 Tbsp brown sugar (packed)
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup fresh or canned pumpkin purée
4 Tbsp butter, melted (plus a little more for brushing the waffle iron)

Applesauce or apple butter for serving

1 Preheat your waffle iron.

2 In a medium bowl, vigorously whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder,baking soda, salt, and spices.

3 In a larger bowl, whisk together the eggs and brown sugar until there are no more brown sugar clumps. Add the buttermilk, pumpkin purée, melted butter and whisk until smooth.

4 Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and whisk until smooth.

5 Brush a little melted butter over the wells of the hot waffle maker (to make it easier to remove the waffles.) When your waffle maker is hot, working in batches, ladle the batter onto the center of the waffle iron wells, not all the way to the edge, and slowly lower the top lid of the waffle iron. Cook until your waffle iron indicates that the waffles are ready, or until steam stops coming out of the sides of the waffle iron, about 4 to 5 minutes. Open the waffle iron and carefully lift the edge of a waffle with a fork to remove the waffles from the waffle iron.

Serve with warmed maple syrup and a side of apple sauce or apple butter.

Regardless of whether you go the 1928 route, or the more modern version, enjoy your waffles however they’re served.

Do you have any stories about ‘the good ole days’ that you’d like to share? Contact Trisha Faye at


Bread and Butter Days
by Trisha Faye


BBD_pumpkin everythingTis the season …

No, not that season, although Christmas is approaching faster than a speeding freight train.

It’s Pumpkin Season – the time of year when everything pumpkin flavored hits the markets.

Remember when there used to be pumpkin pie? And maybe a neighbor would bake some of their signature pumpkin bread. And … well, that was about it.

Then a few products started coming out; pumpkin spice hot tea and coffee, and maybe a cake or an ice cream. And then, the deluge began. It seems every year has more and more pumpkin flavored products. Now, besides the earliest items, there are: bagels, muffins, cookies of all kinds, Frappuccinos and smoothies, fudge, Pringles chips, pancake mix, Jif Whips, coffee syrups and creamers, beer, Hershey’s kisses, Oreos, eggnog, cheesecake, M & M’s, cream cheese, Pop Tarts … the list seems endless.

I picked up a small cookbook for my sister. It was pumpkin recipes, and only pumpkin based goodies. Of course, I had to copy a few recipes before I sent it her way. Out of curiosity I pulled out a few old cookbooks to see what pumpkin recipes they included.

A 1937 edition of The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book, by Fannie Merritt Farmer, had Pumpkin Pie and Rich Pumpkin Pie. That’s it. Two recipes. There were 772 pages of recipes and only two recipes were for pumpkin. There were more recipes for the pie crust pastry than that. (Remember – back in the good ‘ole days of when you needed a pie crust you had to make it yourself? No premade refrigerated or frozen versions to cheat with?)

Rich Pumpkin Pie

1 ½ cups steamed and strained pumpkin
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ginger
½ teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 ½ cups milk
½ cup cream

Mix ingredients in order given and bake in one crust.

For baking directions, you had to turn to page 625 where it then told you:

To Bake Pies. Set pie in bottom of hot oven (450º F.) for 10 minutes. Then move to middle shelf, reduce heat to moderate (350ºF.) and bake 40 to 60 minutes. If upper crust browns too quickly, cover with paper.

BBD_caloric cook bookFor directions on cooking pumpkin, I turned to a 1910 version of Caloric Book of Recipes. This nice little hardcover book sold for 50 cents. It states it was ‘Especially adapted to the improved Caloric cookstove’, or as the preface references, “… prepared primarily for the benefit of the users of the Caloric Fireless Cook Stove.”

Pumpkin – The hardest part of preparing a pumpkin for stewing is the taking off the rind and in the case of new pumpkins when the rind is free from decay it is worse than wasted labor, for the nearer the rind the sweeter the meat. Cut the pumpkin into strips and then into pieces as usual and stew rind and all. Of course, you have thoroughly washed your pumpkin before cutting; when stewed and cool, rub through a colander, which takes out all the bits of rind, leaving a rich, sweet residue.

Next week we’ll follow with a few more time tested pumpkin recipes and cooking advice. Until then, I’m headed to the kitchen. A bag of freshly purchased (no not homemade) pumpkin cheesecake cookies is sitting on the counter, waiting for me to come sample them.

Happy Pumpkin Days!

Do you have any stories about ‘the good ole days’ that you’d like to share? Contact Trisha Faye at

October Harvest

Bread and Butter Days by Trisha Faye


BBD_garden produceThe joyous October days are here. I sit in front of the computer with the windows open and a light breeze drifting through. After months of having the house shut up in an effort to escape the scorching Texas summer, the fresh – cooler – air is refreshing.

The nights have dropped to a pleasant 60 and 70 degrees. The daytime temperatures are tolerable. Events throughout north Texas escalate as people now enjoy the pleasant temperatures before the coldness of winter settles in.

Looking at my calendar for the month, I see I need to plant my garlic and wildflower seeds this month. This makes me think of our ancestors and how they would have been spending their October days. In days when most families had to grow their food, this still would have been a busy month. Although August and September were typically the busiest of the gardening/harvesting/preserving months, October didn’t really lighten up much.

By now the potatoes were usually harvested. Most of the tomatoes and cucumbers were canned and sitting in glass jars in a variety of different forms, ready to provide sustenance through the winter and early spring months. Peas and green beans, too, are usually about finished by now.

But harvest isn’t over yet. Now the broccoli, cabbage, Brussel sprouts and cauliflower are gearing up for their bounty during these cooler autumn days. Squashes and pumpkins are ready for harvest. Fall apples grace the trees with their offerings, tempting many a cook to offer the family a fresh baked cobbler or pie before the rest get canned or stored in a cool, dark fruit cellar.

To this California girl, transplanted in Texas now, gardening and eating your own homegrown produce is more of a from-days-long-ago venture. Now I’ve planted a lot of gardens and even canned a lot of my own goods – mostly pickles and tomato sauce. But, it’s always been more of an occasional hobby or gardening diversion. I’ve never had to actually feed myself for the rest of the year on what I’d grown … or not grown.

A trip to Iowa in August showed me that plenty of people still produce huge gardens. And, they can and preserve a lot of it.

And, I saw a lot of farms still in action. Although Texas has a lot of farming (much of it hay for cattle), it is nothing compared to the lush verdant fields of Iowa. They have corn fields by the miles. Wheat and hay would be cut and baled by now. Corn, especially grain corn, is still in the last days of harvest. And soybeans are harvested in October.

BBD_canned produceHow spoiled we’ve become in this nation of consumers where we buy almost all their food at the grocery stores. When I want potatoes … I go buy potatoes. I don’t have to check the cellar and hope we still have some, or hope they haven’t spoiled. When I want tomatoes … I go buy some, regardless of what month or season it is. Now, granted, I already know in January or February the hot house tomato I buy will not have the same rich flavor and taste of a summertime garden specimen. But – it is available for a wintertime salad. When I get a hankering for a sweet potato casserole … I run to the store and buy a can. No checking to see if there’s any left. Or even worse – we didn’t grow any last year.

As I was sitting here being thankful for the easy life we have in our meal preparation, a memory just crossed my mind. I’m in Indiana, seeing my Grandma Cline in the process of harvesting garden produce. I picture fresh picked broccoli, sitting in a pot of water with some salt in it, to get the bugs out before she cooks it. I rinse my grocery store broccoli. Or, open the bag of frozen, if fresh isn’t available. But there’s not a slew of bugs to rinse out.

I’ll think of the ‘good ole days’ with fondness. But, I’ll appreciate the easy life I have now, with instant and almost-always-available food, regardless of the season and whether or not I planted any this year.

Do you have any stories about ‘the good ole days’ that you’d like to share? Contact Trisha Faye at