By Curt Oden - Exline correspondent
Last week, we took a ride through the country and we noticed the colors on the trees and other foliage, sure is beginning to look pretty for this Autumn season.
It reminded me of a neat old recipe that was given to my mom years ago, from someone she worked with in New Jersey.
The lady that gave her this recipe was originally from the state of Virginia. She said it had came down through her family for generations. It is for:
Old Virginia Gingerbread
1 c. shortening
½ c. brown sugar
½ c. white sugar
1 c. molasses
1 c. boiling water
3 eggs, well beaten
1 Tb. ginger
1 Tb. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. cinnamon
3 ½ c. flour
Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees. In a large bowl combine the shortening, brown sugar and white sugar and blend together. Then add the molasses and hot water to the sugar mixture and stir well. Slowly add the beaten eggs.
In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients of the ginger, baking powder, baking soda, cloves, cinnamon and flour together.
Then slowly add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture and mix together until it is all blended together.
Prepare a 13x9 inch baking dish by greasing and flouring it. Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish and bake for one hour. This can be topped with chocolate icing for a real tasty treat.
This old Virginia Gingerbread recipe makes me recall a trip I took, to the Old Dominion State years ago.
In the town of Fredericksburg, Va., which is remembered for the famous Civil War battle that was fought there, some members of George Washington’s family also resided in that fair city in the 1700s.
His mother, Mary Ball Washington’s house and gardens are preserved and were open for touring, when I visited there. Not too far away, the home of one of George Washington’s brothers, Charles’ home is also preserved.
After Charles moved away from there, the new owners of the house turned it into a Colonial tavern and that is how it was depicted when I was there.
On the tour, they told you that the old saying, that is still in use today such as, “mind your Ps and Qs” referred to their equivalent of saying “Last Call” today. It referred to Pints and Quarts, as drinks were ordered in those days.
Also at that time, some pewter drinking tankards had glass bottoms. When you tipped up the tankard and drank the last drop, you could see the people in the room, through the bottom of the drinking vessel, so the saying “Here’s looking at you,” came into fashion.
They also showed you an old style cash draw. When it was opened, a bell would ring. That way, the owner could tell if an employee had their “hand in the till.” That is why modern cash registers still have a bell or tone that goes off, when the cash drawer is open.
Charles Washington moved out near Harper’s Ferry, which in those days was still part of Virginia, but it is now in the state of West Virginia. Their nearby county seat town of Charlestown, is named in his honor.
That is where the famous activist John Brown, was tried and hanged for raiding the Federal Arsenal in Harper’s Ferry that started the Civil War.
Also, in Fredericksburg, George Washington’s sister Betty, lived with her husband, Fielding Lewis. He was a wealthy merchant before the Revolutionary War.
Fielding was also a relative of the famous, Meriwether Lewis who, accompanied William Clark on their famous expedition out west. One of Fielding’s first cousins, William Lewis, was the father of Meriwether.
Their big, brick Federal style mansion “Kenmore” was built beginning in 1769. They moved into it in 1775. It is now preserved and surrounded by beautiful grounds and gardens.
When I visited there years ago, you were served a delicious treat in the nearby brick kitchen dependency building. There you enjoyed apple cider and homemade Gingerbread that they said was made from George Washington’s mother Mary’s, old family recipe. It sure was good, as you sat in that historic old kitchen building, enjoying the surroundings.
The recipe that I included today is not from Mary Washington, but it is similar in that it also came down through another family in Virginia.
In Colonial times it was not deemed a good thing to smell cooking in the main house so separate buildings were constructed for that purpose. It also was a safety feature. Since a fire was usually going in the kitchen fireplace all of the time, it prevented the main house from burning down, if the kitchen fire got out of hand.
The pathway in those days from the kitchen building to the main house was known as “Whistler’s Walk.” It got that name because the young boys carrying the food from the kitchen building to the main house had to whistle the entire time as they walked along to make sure they were not tasting the food as they went.
So, as you enjoy this Old Virginia Gingerbread, you can think of those Colonial times of long ago.
As you may have heard, Larry and Carol Drake are donating the original church bell that came out of the Methodist Church in Exline that was torn down years ago.
To display this bell, a stand is going to be erected in what is now known as Hero’s Park. That is the newest park in town and the original site of where the Methodist Church once stood on the southeast corner of East Wall and South First Streets.
The stand that is going to be erected to hold the bell will be constructed of brick. They are going to sell bricks for this stand that may have two separate names on one brick.
There will be 100 bricks used in this construction. These bricks will sell for $50 a piece and will go towards building this bell stand.
If you are interested in buying a brick or want further information, you may contact Mary Ann Hurley at 315 E. Second St., Exline, Iowa 52555.
Condolences go to out to the family of Donna Cossolotto, who was our rural mail carrier. She will be missed.
If you showed up Tuesday evening to attend the meeting about the closing of the Exline Post Office, you were disappointed.
That meeting was changed until a week later. It will now be held this coming Tuesday, Oct. 11. The representative from the U.S. Postal Service will be here in the town of Exline at the community center to answer your questions and concerns about the loss of our post office.
As before, the meeting will be held from 7:15-8:15 p.m. to discuss the matter.
It will be a sad demise if our town loses its town post office after all of these years.
I know every once in a while when I am somewhere I will be asked about when the next dinner will be held at the Exline Community Center.
Well, I have it on good authority that the plans are being made to schedule this event for their Fall Smorgasbord Dinner, later this month, in October. So, as soon as I receive the details about when it will be, I will let everyone know.