Way back when, my hometown newspaper used to run a column called “Cooks Around County” (no idea why there is no “the” in that title). Later, it became “Cook’s Corner”. Every week this column featured some pillar of the community who had agreed to share some juicy tidbits about their life and a few of their favorite recipes. Not too long ago, my mom found a couple of binders in which my grandma had saved dozens and dozens of these columns, dating back to the late fifties. She made archival copies of the best ones and organized them into a little spiral bound book. It is, in a word, magnificent.
It’s not so much that I want to make a lot of the recipes. They do not really comport with my general cooking style (i.e. no animals, minimal Jello).
Also, this is as close as the Cooks Around the County ever got to “vegetarian”:
No, it’s not the food that makes this such a magnificent compilation. It’s the retro charm, the photos, and the insight into people’s lives through their comments about what they cooked for their families.
My Grandma Neva appeared in the column, and shared her no-fail recipe for pumpkin bread.
Here’s the photo from my mom’s column…
…and my dad’s, after the world realized men can cook too!
I wanted to make something straight from one of the columns for this week’s post, but the recipe that sounded best to me used a cake mix and I’m generally not a cake mix kind of girl. So, I put on my retro baking spectacles and did some adapting.
Here’s what I came up with, and the recipe. See you all next time, friends!
Applesauce Cupcakes (makes a dozen)
- 2 c. flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/3 c. butter, at room temperature
- 3/4 c. honey
- 1 c. applesauce (unsweetened)
Preheat the oven to 350, and grease a 12-cup muffin tin or fill with liners. Using an electric mixer, whip the honey and the butter together for about two minutes. Mix in the applesauce, and then the dry ingredients. Spoon the batter into the pan, filling each cup about 2/3 full. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in one of the cupcakes comes out clean.
At this point, you have perfectly wholesome applesauce muffins. If you wish, add some cream cheese frosting after they’re completely cool, and CONGRATS! You have slightly-less wholesome applesauce cupcakes. Sprinkle with chopped walnuts if you’re into that. I just eye-balled the ingredients when I made the frosting (sorry), but you’ll need cream cheese, butter, vanilla extract, and confectioners sugar. The vast and mighty internet can give you measurements, I’m sure.
- There are no eggs in this recipe, so I would think these could be easily vegan-ized if you wanted to–swap Earth Balance (or maybe coconut oil?) for the butter and agave nectar or maple syrup for the honey. (And vegan cream cheese frosting for the regular stuff, obviously.)
- If you’re looking to go the muffin route instead of the cupcake route, consider mixing some chopped walnuts and/or raisins into the batter. You could also swap out some of the white flour for whole wheat.