Early Arizona settlers who whipped up tasty summer goodies for their families in pre-air conditioning days were simply heroic! Despite scorching temperatures, country fairs were replete with prize-winning preserves and baked goods all prepared over wood-burning stoves, or perhaps one of those new-fangled (and often unreliable) electric models.
Creative and frugal, these early “domestic goddesses” used whatever was on hand or still in their summer garden to tempt the judges’ taste buds and vie for the blue ribbon.
Vintage recipe books are a fun source of these old prize-winning recipes, as well as a charming glimpse into the cultural trends of the period. Check used book stores, thrift or antique shops, and maybe even Great Aunt Tildy’s old trunk to find nostalgic recipes like these:
1 (9 inch) pre-baked pie shell
4 egg yolks (Set aside whites in a chilled glass bowl.)
¼ cup sifted all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1½ cups boiling water
1/3 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar or distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon lemon extract flavoring (optional)
4 egg whites
6 tablespoons sugar
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 325. Beat egg yolks with whisk until thick. Add 1 cup sugar, flour and salt. Mix thoroughly. Slowly add boiling water to mixture, stirring constantly. Cook and stir over double boiler for about 15 minutes or until thickened and smooth. Add butter and vinegar. (If using white vinegar, add 1 teaspoon of lemon extract for flavor.) Continue cooking and stirring several minutes until blended. Remove from heat, lightly cover custard pan with foil and set aside.
Meanwhile, to make meringue topping, beat chilled egg whites until foamy, gradually add the 6 Tablespoons of sugar and ¼ teaspoon vanilla. Beat until stiff peaks appear.
Pour the warm custard filling into the pre-baked pie shell. Top with meringue, spread gently and seal to edges of crust. Tap lightly to create peaks.
Bake in slow oven (325) 15 – 20 minutes or until custard is firm and meringue is golden. This version is similar to lemon meringue pie. May be served warm or chilled.
Blue-Ribbon Blackberry Cobbler:
4 cups fresh blackberries
2 tablespoons cornstarch
½ cup butter, melted
1 ½ cups white sugar
2 cups water
2 cups flour
½ teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup white sugar
1 cup butter
2/3 cup milk
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease 9×13 baking dish. Place blackberries in large saucepan and add cornstarch, 1½ cups sugar and 2 cups water. Bring to boil, stirring constantly about 5 minutes or until thickened. Pour into baking dish.
Stir together flour, nutmeg, baking powder, salt and 2/3 cup sugar. Cut in butter and add milk to form a soft dough. Drop by spoonfuls over hot blackberry mixture. Bake 30 – 45 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with homemade ice cream.