Molly MacRae Monday: Tomato Figs, Baked Brains, and a Parish Mystery

Molly MacRae delves into the mysteries of handwritten recipes and old clippings today. I have a collection of these from my Mom and some that I’ve purchased. This is always fun to do!

Molly’s latest Haunted Yarn Shop mystery, KNOT YOUR USUAL SUSPECTS, is out! I have my copy! Do you?

Oh, and Molly? Prunes and caramel should not even be typed on the same page! -AA

Last month I said I was going to experiment with a dessert called a bombe and report back on how it turned out. Bombes are made by layering several kinds of ice cream into a round mold or bowl. When unmolded, a bombe looks something like a cannon ball or one of those round bombs you used to see in Saturday morning cartoons. I was going to use two kinds of gelato – ginger for the outside layer, and lemon with thyme for the center – and call it a Thyme Bombe. I asked Amy to make a bombe with vanilla ice cream and prune caramel ice cream. Amy, did you get around to doing that? If you didn’t, don’t worry. I bombed on the bombe, too. But we can make them this month, though, okay?

To make up for the missing bombe report, I got out an old stationery box of my grandmother’s handwritten recipes and newspaper clippings dating from the turn of the last century to the mid-to-late 40s. There are a lot of cooked cucumber recipes and several dozen clippings from a column of suggestions for housewives on everything from how to make a cleaning fluid by mixing salt and gasoline to how to kill rats (interestingly, not with the salt/gasoline).

Tonight I found three intriguing clippings from the Chicago Record Herald, a paper published from 1901-1914. Unfortunately, my grandmother clipped everything so closely, there are only partial dates to tease us. These three items came from a paper dated October 8th in an unknown year. Someday I’ll go to the University of Illinois Newspaper Library and track that paper down.

The first item is a recipe for Tomato Figs – a way of preserving little pear tomatoes the way you might figs or dates. Don’t they sound interesting? And what a great way to use up an abundance of tiny toms at the end of the summer. I’m really tempted to try this. The next recipe I’m not at all tempted to try, but it shows how eating habits have changed. When was the last time you ran cold water over brains until they were plump? And how do you like the way Granny cut off the last line “and serve with . . .” I hope it wasn’t tomato figs.

The last item is the best, though. It’s from the column on the back side of the recipe page, and because of where the recipe ended (and Granny’s habit of clipping closely), we’re left with only part of a story and a couple of lines that ought to tickle the brains of any amateur sleuth, baked or otherwise. “Priest is found dead in be[d].” “Rev. J.P. Aylward of Kankakee is thir[d] to expire suddenly.” What do you think? Sounds fishy to me.


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5 Responses to Molly MacRae Monday: Tomato Figs, Baked Brains, and a Parish Mystery

  1. Brynn Bonner says:

    Love this post, Molly. I love old recipes…would also love to know more about string of suspicious priests’ deaths. Hmmmm…..

    • Molly says:

      Isn’t that scrap intriguing? I almost hate to go track down the paper – how could the rest of the story live up to what I’m imagining? Thanks for stopping by, Brynn!

  2. Molly says:

    A friend knew right where to look and found poor Fr. Aylward! Here’s a link to the Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois with a very flowery article about him.

  3. Kristy L. says:

    Love this post, Molly. What an interesting clipping-glad we found out more about the priest.
    I’m going to get your book this week. It sounds great!

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