Friday, February 22, 2013

A Home (and Some Home Recipes) In Kansas City

This is the beautiful John Wornall House Museum in Kansas City, Missouri. This Greek Revivial style house was built back in 1858 by John B. Wornall for his lucky wife, Eliza. Though you won't necessarily be looking for a Victorian mansion when you're checking out Kansas City real estate, it is still great fun to see what sort of house a well-to-do family would have lived in just before the Civil War. It's now located in the Brookside neighborhood.

During the Civil War the Wornall House was used as a hospital - for both the Northern and Southern wounded, after the Battle of Westport, which took place in October 1864 in Kansas City (Westport is now a neighborhood in Kansas City).

I adore house museums and would love to visit the Wornall House when I visit Kansas City. When I checked out their official site, I noticed that they incorporated cooking demonstrations into their museum tours, which I would not want to miss. Vintage kitchenware and kitchens are just about my favorite part of an old house. I also like to learn about a region's oldest cookbooks. The first cookbook ever published in the state of Kansas is thought to be The Kansas Home Cook-Book which was brought out in 1874 by the Kansas Home for the Friendless in Leavenworth. It was written by Mrs. C.H. Cushing and Mrs. B. Gray. But since it has not been digitized, I can't share any of its recipes with you. However, I do have a 1940 compilation called America Cooks, which features vintage regional recipes from all over the US. From this book, here are two Kansas recipes that Mrs. Worrall might have served for tea or supper:

Sand plums

Combine 1 cup sugar, 1 1/2 cups shortening, 1/2 cup molasses, 1 cup sour milk, 1 teaspoon [baking] soda, 1 cup chopped raisins, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, cloves or nutmeg, and 1 cup currants. Add flour to make a stiff batter and bake in small gem [muffin] pans.

Kansas is also known for its gorgeous fruit trees, and this prize-winning vintage recipe features golden, tart local sand plums (also called Chickasaw plums or Cherokee plums):


Gather native Kansas sand plums, cook until soft, and mash them through a sieve. Pour out on a cloth and dry in the sun. The finished sheet of plum leather is rolled up like a jelly roll, and in the winter pieces are cut from this and stewed with sugar, eaten as sauce, or made into pies.

I would like to try this plum leather recipe in the fall, which is when the plums are best around here - plum sauce instead of apple sauce (or even the two blended together) sounds really good. If I could cook in a beautiful Kansas City kitchen like Mrs. Worrall's, of course, that would be even nicer - but maybe someday I'll get to visit Kansas City, and see the houses (and the sand plums) for myself.

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored but all the views and points are my own.

1 comment:

Zootsuitmama said...

I live near Kansas City in Independence, yes, home of Harry Truman! Come to our square and experience some great food and shops! My daughter manages the Main Street Coffee house!