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16 December 2017

Food and Genealogy: A Remembrance of Things Past

by Georgia Lupinsky

The holiday season in which food plays such a central role is now upon us.  December seems a good time to reflect on how thoughts of savory and sweet delicious dishes are intertwined with our memories of family members and how these remembrances can be included as we write our family histories.

Nellie Baldwin, the Public View
Several months ago I wrote a blog piece on Nellie (Patterson) Baldwin, grandmother of CGS Past President John Ellis Hale.  Drawing from Mr. Hale’s research, which resides in our Manuscript Collection, I crafted a story of what a strong and formidable woman Nellie Baldwin was. A leader of the Federation of Women’s Clubs in the early 1900s, she was appointed a Juvenile Judge in San Francisco in 1920, having “the distinction of being one of only five women ‘ex-officio’ judges in the nation. The announcement of her appointment appeared in other newspapers nationwide.” 

Childhood Memories
The post was subsequently shared with Nellie Baldwin’s great-granddaughter, Katherine Hale. She then shared with me one of her father’s childhood memories of his “Grandma B” and it had nothing to do with her role in the community.
John Ellis Hale as a young boy
Photo provided by Georgia Lupinsky
In her later years, Nellie lived with John and his parents in Berkeley. Katherine wrote, “I remember Dad telling me that Nellie would make her famous oatmeal cookies (I still have the recipe!) which my Dad, his brothers and friends would stuff in their pockets on the way to the attic to play pool.” Mr. Hale noted on the recipe that he gave to his daughter that he himself prepared the cookies as an adult and “they were good and every bit as tasty as I remembered the childhood ones to be.”

Katherine has kindly sent me the recipe and given her permission to share with our readers. 
Grandma B’s Oatmeal Cookie Recipe

Blend 2 cups rolled oats and 1 cup of butter. Sift 3 times 2 cups flour, ¾ cup white sugar, 1 tsp. baking soda, ½ tsp. salt, cinnamon, ground clove, ginger and mace. Chop 1 cup of raisins. Dribble molasses over them. Beat 4 eggs with 5 tbsp. water and 1 tbsp. vanilla and almond extract. Combine everything. Drop by spoonful on well-greased pan. Bake in 350-degree oven about 12 minutes. 

I myself plan in the near future to prepare a batch and share with our Thursday CGS volunteer group. I’ll put a photo of Nellie on the table to oversee our enjoyment.

Copyright © 2017 by California Genealogical Society


Lisa S. Gorrell said...

Wow, that recipe is so different from the one on the Quaker Oats box (I made a batch yesterday). Would love to try those.