I cannot count my day complete
'Til needle, thread and fabric meet.
~Author Unknown

Sharing a common thread with those who love the art of hand embroidery

Friday, July 17, 2015

I'm still working stitches.......so ........I want to tell you about Fannie Farmer

today because I just fixed the most amazing cake from her cookbook 
and the recipe is so worthy of sharing........and baking...

and Fannie's story is inspiring.

Fannie Farmer was born on 23 March 1857 in Boston, Massachusetts, United States, to Mary Watson Merritt and John Franklin Farmer, an editor and printer. Although she was the oldest of four daughters, born in a family that highly valued education and that expected young Fannie to go to college, she suffered a paralytic stroke at the age of 16 while attending Medford High School. Fannie could not continue her formal academic education;  for several years, she was unable to walk and remained in her parents' care at home. During this time, Farmer took up cooking, eventually turning her mother's home into a boarding house that developed a reputation for the quality of the meals it served.
At the age of 30, Farmer, now walking (but with a substantial limp that never left her), enrolled in the Boston Cooking School at the suggestion of Mrs. Charles Shaw.  Farmer trained at the school until 1889 during the height of the domestic science movement, learning what were then considered the most critical elements of the science, including nutrition and diet for the well, convalescent cookery, techniques of cleaning and sanitation, chemical analysis of food, techniques of cooking and baking, and household management. Farmer was considered one of the school's top students. She was then kept on as assistant to the director. In 1891, she took the position of school principal.

Fannie published her best-known work, The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book, in 1896. Her cookbook introduced the concept of using standardized measuring spoons and cups, as well as level measurement.  A follow-up to an earlier version called Mrs. Lincoln's Boston Cook Book, published by Mary J. Lincoln in 1884, and some criticized her for using some of the recipes, the book under Farmer's direction eventually contained 1,850 recipes, from milk toast to Zigaras à la Russe. Farmer also included essays on housekeeping, cleaning, canning and drying fruits and vegetables, and nutritional information

The book's publisher (Little, Brown & Company) did not predict good sales and limited the first edition to 3,000 copies, published at the author's expense.[2] The book was so popular in America, so thorough, and so comprehensive that cooks would refer to later editions simply as the "Fannie Farmer cookbook", and it is still available in print over 100 years later.

Farmer provided scientific explanations of the chemical processes that occur in food during cooking, and also helped to standardize the system of measurements used in cooking in the USA. Before the Cookbook's publication, other American recipes frequently called for amounts such as "a piece of butter the size of an egg" or "a teacup of milk." Farmer's systematic discussion of measurement — "A cupful is measured level ... A tablespoonful is measured level. A teaspoonful is measured level." — led to her being named "the mother of level measurements."

Farmer left the Boston Cooking School in 1902 and created Miss Farmer's School of Cookery.She began by teaching gentlewomen and housewives the rudiments of plain and fancy cooking, but her interests eventually led her to develop a complete work of diet and nutrition for the ill, titled Food and Cookery for the Sick and Convalescent which contained thirty pages on diabetes. Farmer was invited to lecture at Harvard Medical School and began teaching convalescent diet and nutrition to doctors and nurses.  She felt so strongly about the significance of proper food for the sick that she believed she would be remembered chiefly by her work in that field, as opposed to her work in household and fancy cookery. Farmer understood perhaps better than anyone else at the time the value of appearance, taste, and presentation of sickroom food to ill and wasted people with poor appetites; she ranked these qualities over cost and nutritional value in importance.
During the last seven years of her life, Farmer used a wheelchair. Despite her immobility, Farmer continued to lecture, write, and invent recipes; she gave her last lecture 10 days before her death. The Boston Evening Transcript published her lectures, which were picked up by newspapers nationwide. Farmer also lectured to nurses and dietitians, and taught a course on dietary preparation at Harvard Medical School. To many chefs and good home cooks in America, her name remains synonymous today with precision, organization, and good food.



Fannie Farmer died in 1915, aged 57, and was interred in Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge, Massachusetts
 I chose to make the Lord Baltimore Cake today.
There is a recipe for a Lady Baltimore Cake as well........
but the filling for this cake sounded so wonderful.....that I chose Lord Baltimore instead........
and I am so glad I did. 
The filling has a mixture of cookie crumbs, cherries, almonds, pecans and lemon.........
so wonderful!
You can get this recipe on my cooking blog

There are no mixes in this recipe........just fresh ingredients like butter and pure vanilla.
It takes a little more time to make........
but that is what makes it so good!

10 comments:

Sherri Farley said...

Great post, interesting and informative. I still make cakes, bread, pancakes, cookies and pudding from scratch. (Once in a while I cheat & buy a mix and I use a bread machine now) Nothing is better than home made!

Laurie said...

We were just talking on fb the other day about Fanny Farmer, there was a Fanny Farmer's bakery and candy store in our town, now I know where the recipes came from. What an interesting biography, so much I didn't know about how measurements came to be. Thank-you for a great lesson!

Carol- Beads and Birds said...

Hi K
This is an interesting post. I had heard of Fannie Farmer, but never knew anything about her. The pics of your cake have my mouth watering!
Have a great weekend.
xx, Carol

Gail Wood said...

My mother had a Fannie Farmer cookbook that was in constant use. It was spotted with food and she wrote notes in the margins and family recipes inside. Eventually the covers came off. When I went out on my own, one my first purchases was a Fannie Farmer cookbook. I've had it for many years even after using the Internet for recipes. I love her story. Thanks for sharing it.

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

I love old cookbooks and collect them when I can find them. I used to make a rich cake like this when my boys were growing up. It's super sweet but oh so delicious. Enjoy your weekend...happy baking! Hugs, Diane

Wren said...

I received a Fannie Farmer Cookbook when I was first married 34 years ago, and has been my go to cookbook for just about all my cooking. I just gave a copy to my son's girlfriend since likes to cook things from scratch. It was a nice history lesson to find out about her and how she came to publishing this cookbook! Thanks you for taking the time to write this post.

Miss Cindy said...

How interesting! I had heard of Fannie Farmer and knew she had a cookbook, but didn't know anything about her. Makes me want to go out and get one. But the one I want to purchases is an old one that was in a family for a long time, like what Gail has, with notes in the margin. And your cake looks great1 Yummy...

Marianne said...

That was most interesting, Kathleen! I have heard of Fannie Farmer or Fannie Farmer cookbooks. Now I know more about her. That cake looks scrumptious!!! In every way possible!! I love the thick filling center. I don't have the time to look at the recipe right now (must hurry off to work), but I am looking forward to checking it out soon. Thank you for sharing this. And thank you for your sweet visit to my blog. Always a pleasure, my friend!!

Love and hugs,
Marianne xox

Marie C said...

Oh, this was so fascinating! I didn't know about Fannie Farmer, and learning about her was fascinating! How lovely that you have a copy of the cookbook! That cake looks wonderful! What an inspiration she is!

Brenda Kay Ledford said...

Oh, what an interesting story about Fannie Farmer. Thanks for sharing her awesome story with us. That is a lovely cookbook and the cake looks so delicious.