[An interview with Mrs. Grace Jacques, granddaughter of Ellen G. White, conducted by Dr. Patricia B. Mutch, associate professor of Home Economics, Andrews University, at the workshop in "Ellen G. White and Dietetics," Andrews University, June 8, 1978. Questions by Dr. Mutch are identified by bold print and answers by Mrs. Jacques are identified by light print].
Ron Graybill: Before we begin this interview with Grace Jacques, I want to place some of these things in context. There is danger, I think, of making both too much and too little of the example of the Ellen White household and of the household of her son. W. C. White. In Counsels on Diet and Foods, on page 490, you will find that Mrs. White says:
I am not guilty of drinking any tea except red clover top tea, and if I liked wine, tea and coffee I would not use these health-destroying narcotics for I prize health and I prize a healthful example in all these things. I want to be a pattern of temperance and of good works to others.
So we have this one statement where Mrs. White talks about wanting to be a pattern of temperance and good works. I think all of us want to be a pattern of temperance and good works. On the other hand, we would be horrified if we thought people were basing their decisions about what they could or couldn't eat, what they should or shouldn't eat, on our example. And so we have another statement, a statement that Mrs. White made during her talk to the General Conference brethren in Battle Creek in the College Library just before the 1901 General Conference began. In the course of this talk (and we have a verbatim transcript, so the grammar won't be perfect), Mrs. White said: "Sister White has not had meat in her house, or cooked it in any line or any dead flesh for years and years." Then she went on:
And here's the basis of some people's health reform: "Now I have told you that Sister White did not eat meat, now I want you not to eat meat because Sister White does not eat it." Well I would not care a farthing for anything like that. If you have not got any better conviction, you won't eat meat because Sister White does not eat any, if I am the authority, I would not give a farthing for your health reform. What I want is that every one of you should stand in your individual dignity before God, in your individual conscience to God, that the soul temple shall be dedicated to God.- Whosoever defileth the temple of God him will God destroy. Now I want you to think of these things and do not make any human being your criterion. – Manuscript 43, 1901.
So she wanted to be an example, but she did not want her own personal example to be the criterion on which people based their decisions, rather, those decisions should be based on the counsel we have from the Lord. So I think that what we will hear today is good because we see the example of the Ellen White household. It is also valuable because it helps us to get definitions and understand the counsel that Mrs. White gave, and finally it is good because it is interesting, and interest is essential for learning, and learning is essential for change. So now I will turn it over to Dr. Mutch and she can conduct this interview.
It's a real pleasure to have a chance to talk with you, someone who remembers some of the practices and incidents that happened in the Ellen White household, and, of course, in your own home about that time. The first question I would like to ask you is something about what meals were like in Ellen White's home. Maybe you could give us just a little insight. For instance, what was breakfast like?
Yes. I would like to say that I was 15 when Ellen White died, so I do have many memories of what went on. Someone wrote me a letter when we were talking about the "fat" question there at Elmshaven. They wrote, "Were you the cook when Ellen White was alive?" I said, "No, I.wasn't the cook, but I was the cook's helper." Well, the meals were a happy occasion in the White family. There was worship first in the morning. Grandmother had been writing for several hours by that time. The household gathered in the room downstairs where the organ is and Grandmother would read the text. I don't remember her reading anything for worship except the Bible, and the worships were not long. Something interesting was presented, something that those who were present would enjoy, and then maybe one of the visiting ministers would offer a prayer.
The household of Ellen White was a ladies' domain. There were just three ladies, and one came in to do the cooking. Now, sometimes the cook stayed there, but the years that I remember most, the cook came in and did the cooking.
The breakfasts were good meals. After we sang a hymn we would go into the dining room and have breakfast. There was always a hot cereal, an entire grain cereal most of the time. We enjoyed cracked wheat very much as a hot cereal.
We enjoyed hominy which we made ourselves. We also enjoyed cream of wheat for a change. We ate millet for a hot cereal. We liked California wheat, soaked, and then brought to a boil and put in the fireless cooker and cooked all night. That made it almost like puffed wheat, not quite, but it was very nice. Cornmeal we had too. These cereals were well cooked. She said, "Cereal should be thoroughly cooked."
During that time there was a fad on of raw oats, eating raw rolled oats. Raw rolled oats with raisins was just the thing, but Ellen White never took up with the fads that came along. She was very sensible in her attitude toward diet, and while some of the people around were munching their raw oats and raisins, we had a nice cooked breakfast, with several kinds of fruit.
Breakfast was one of the fruit meals. We had sometimes four kinds of fruit. We just used lots of fruit. Fresh, canned, dried. For instance, we would have a grapefruit like we had this morning, and then maybe stewed cherries, and end up with a banana and maybe put raisins on our cereal. We never put sugar on our cereal. In fact, I don't like sweet cereal. We were allowed to slice a banana on our bowl of cereal if we wanted to. I didn't even want that. Or we could put dates on it.
The cereal was good with cream. Now, hot cereal tastes good with cream, and it doesn't taste half as good with skimmed milk! (Laughter) So, I like cream, but my husband is a doctor, and he doesn't let me have cream on my cereal. Isn't that something? But I can have whole milk, and he eats skim milk—and he can have it!
What time was breakfast?
Well,it was different at Grandmother's house. At Grandmother's house it was—see, she only ate two meals—at Grandmother's house it was a little later than at our house, maybe half past seven or eight. But we ate earlier because we had to go to school, you see, and our program was necessarily a little different from Grandmother's.
Grandmother stayed by the two-meal program all through her life. We started as babies eating every four hours. We finally got it down to eating three times a day. But we never seemed to like the two-meal plan. So, if we didn't want it, we didn't have to have it. That was Grandmother's attitude. If you want a third meal, have it. But don't have a heavy meal at night.
Just about that time the puffed rice and the puffed wheat came in. We also had granose biscuits that they made at the food factory that was near us on Grandmother's land, made from California wheat, rolled very thin, and they made a very nice—well, they called them Ruskets later, but they were much nicer than Ruskets. They knew how to make them somehow better than they did later. So we had those too, and those were nice for supper, you see, with fruit again and cottage cheese, and the food factory near us made peanut butter, so we had lots of good things to eat.
The breakfasts were a good heavy meal, but never a casserole dish. Now some people get the idea that Ellen White had casserole dishes and roasts for breakfast. Not in my memory, no. No, the breakfasts were a hot cereal meal. We always had mixed nuts—the place itself produced walnuts; we had lots of walnuts. She bought almonds by the hundred pounds. We had almonds, walnuts, Brazil nuts, and peanuts, and just mixed nuts. And we had those every morning. The nuts were a good source of protein to start us out in school. The bread things were gems several times a week. The recipe I gave you—that isn't the one they had in "year one" evidently— but that is what they used when I was growing up.
Could you give us that recipe again? Do you remember that recipe?
Yes, I do. [See recipe later in document].
My mother was a very good cook, and in the old recipe books it says put the gems in a cooler oven. Now you must remember that in those days no temperature [was] on the oven doors. You had no idea, as far as the degrees were concerned, how hot it was, but you cooked things in a medium oven, a hot oven, or a very hot oven! And gems were to be in a very hot oven, because you heated the iron gem pans. Now you can make them in other pans, but we had these big iron ones with about a dozen little muffin cups in the one section.
Mother would always send me to the woodshed. We had cords of wood stacked up for the winter. In our house there were five fireplaces and all the cooking was done with wood, and all the heating of bath water was done with wood. In those ranges, those big wood ranges, was a pipe, a water coil, in the firebox, you know, back and forth, and the cold water came in there and then when it got hot—you know hot goes up—it would. go into a water tank nearby. So when it came time for several baths, they had to run the stove quite a while anyway, and we did baking at the same time. It made quite a noise sometimes, the hot water going into the water tank.
Then we had something that. I miss very much. In those old big wood stoves it had what we called a warmer and the chimney went through it. Now, we never ate crackers that were not just crisp and nice, or melba toast, because it had a warmer. The lid came down, you put your crackers in there, you shut the lid and with the pipe going through, it kept all the crackers crisp and nice. And when my mother was old and had to go to the rest home, she couldn't understand why they had limp crackers!
They didn't have a warmer.
They didn't have a warmer! So we had advantages then that you don't have now.
So we had milk. Sometimes Grandmother had malted milk for breakfast. Now, oh, let's talk about this drinking business. "Don't drink at your meals," Ellen White says. I think if she had said, "don't drink copiously," it would have conveyed the idea that she meant. "Don't drink copiously with your meals," because we had tomato juice, a little glass, you know, a little cocktail at dinner time. At breakfast time we had this malted milk and sometimes we made the cereal from the food factory, what did they call it, caramel cereal? We had that.
Caramel cereal coffee.
Yes—Caramel cereal coffee. We drank milk. And at dinner we had either a glass of tomato juice or carrot juice—because we made carrot juice then, but we didn't have any juicers or blenders. We grated the carrots, then we put it in cheesecloth and squeezed the juice out. So we had carrot juice then.
At dinner time we also used sour buttermilk, and we made something that they don't have much now—Cumus. I don't know whether any of you know what cumus is? It's something like buttermilk. You have a starter. It looks a little bit like cauliflower, and you pour the warm milk on it and by dinner it is thick. So we had that to drink. It's supposed to be very good for you.
And then there was always an abundance of grape juice. We had a wonderful little vineyard. We did not irrigate either the prune orchard or the vineyard, and the fruits were just lovely, so sweet and nice. We cultivated and kept in the moisture that way. Well, this grape juice was pretty potent and we would dilute a little bit with water and lemon juice, and that made it a little more palatable because it was so very sweet. It was just too rich.
But you would have this as a small glass of juice at mealtime?
Yes. Not all at once, but either one or the other. So she evidently did not mean [not] drinking anything. Now, I was asked to speak in San Francisco not long ago, and I think the man that sat next to me at the table as a guest drank eight glasses of punch with his dinner, and I am sure his dinner swam for its life! [laughter]
No doubt! We could define that as copious, no question about that. So don't try to make up your eight glasses of water a day at meal time.
What was lunch like?
We had a good dinner. Ellen White set a very nice table. There was always a bouquet in the center, white tablecloth, white linen table napkins, and each one had their own table napkin ring. Now we had extra ones because we had a lot of company. Say a missionary family would come with their children. This would be Daddy's napkin ring, and that was Mother's, and this was the children's. If we wanted to reseat them, all we had to do was move these table napkin rings and they knew where they were going to go. It was quite handy, you know. [The table was set] with the centerpiece of flowers, or a fruit arrangement. The table was set just so. We were told how to set the table, where to put the bread and butter plate, and where the knife and fork went, and you know, just the way it was supposed to be.
The meals were delicious. My mother always cooked wonderfully. But not all the cooks we had were as good as others. As you know, some people spoil everything they touch and others make it taste good. But they were usually pretty good.
Nothing unpleasant was said at the table, no discussion about food at the table—that was all done beforehand. If you didn't want to eat something, don't eat it, that's all. You don't say you don't like it, or you couldn't, or you are allergic to it, you just didn't eat it.
Even if it had been served to you?
Well, you'd just say, “please, I don't want any beans today.”
I see. You were allowed to choose.
The host served. My father at our house had a dozen big plates in front of him, you know. There were three hot dishes, one of them the protein dish, in front of him, and he would serve out. We had a lot of company at our house too, as well as Grandmother having company, and my father always dished out the food, according to who he wanted to have it. He didn't want you to pass the plate on. If he handed it to you, that was yours. He would say, "I meant that for you."
Oh, I'll have to tell you a joke on Arthur about that, you know; it relates to my father serving. Well, of course we were brought up without any flesh food whatsoever. The thought of eating the legs and the sides of something was just horrible. There was a sick lady about a mile up the hill, straight up the hill all the way, and Mother went to see her. She was very ill, and she couldn't eat and was quite weak, and she said, "I think I could eat a little chicken broth." Well, so Mother said, "All right, I'll bring you some." So we had our own chickens, because we had eggs, and Mother cooked one of our chickens in a kettle, and not thinking anything of it much, and took the broth to the lady. The next day—we could come home to dinner from school because the school was just through our cow pasture—and my brother said at the table, it was his turn now, he said, "please, I don't want any string beans today." OK. My father didn't say anything. The next day Arthur said, "Well, I don't want any tomatoes today." And my father wondered a little bit, and the next day, "I don't want any mashed potatoes today." And my father was very deliberate. He put his hands down, and he said, "Well, what's the matter? You didn't want this yesterday, and you didn't want that the day before." You knowwhat was the trouble? He (Arthur) would come home from school and quickly go in the kitchen and see what was cooked in that kettle that the chicken had been cooked in. And if it had been lima beans, he wouldn't eat lima beans that day.
He was going to avoid any . . .
Well, that's how repulsive it seemed to him. Now it would be a great hardship for me to eat meat, but I wouldn't be that extreme. If I were in Alaska, or the South Sea Islands and I couldn't get other food, I would eat what they had, because what is health reform, the very simple definition: eating—what? The best food available. We have so many things in this land. We don't have to eat a lot of things that are not best for us. I'm so grateful, and I'm so thankful for the knowledge in healthful living. Now, we've always tried to live up to it. I wouldn't say we have done it a hundred percent, no one does that, you know, but we've tried all my life. I've been brought up on a healthful diet, and I'm grateful, I'm thankful, and I think I can do a lot of things people my age can't do. There was a lady came to Elmshaven the other day. [She was] sitting on the porch and she was so decrepit she couldn't even go in the front door and go up the stairs, and she was sitting there, her children were around her, you know, and helping her and talking to her and trying to encourage her, and finally I said, "Well, how old is grandmother?"
"Well," they said, "she is 80 years old." I'm eight years older!
You get around very well.
I mean 70 years old, pardon me. I'm 78, that's right, she's 70 years old. So, I'm thankful, I tell you it's a blessing, it's wonderful, the light the Lord has given us. Instead of grumbling and grumping we should be just the most happy, grateful people in the world. Ellen White said, "Come to the table with gratitude in your heart." The table was never used as a time to correct the children. Maybe our manners were terrible, but they didn't tell us then. It was a happy time. Meal time was a big occasion of the day. We all ate together. We all had a good time together, and we had so many people from all over the world. There was always somebody telling an interesting story. And if they didn't my father did. He was the chief of story tellers. And he always had a story that fit. I never saw anybody like him. So we had a very happy time at the table, and I think that aided our digestion.
What would be a typical kind of menu for lunch? What kind, not specific foods necessarily, but what—like you said, a protein dish and three hot dishes?
Yes. Three hot dishes and a protein dish. Well, we had a garden, so there was always something fresh, and I think Ellen White liked cooked greens every day. She couldn't eat the raw greens as easily as some of the younger folks, but she wanted the cooked greens every day. And in the wintertime when there wasn't very much growing, the early mustard comes up, you know, and not the prickly leaves at the bottom, but as it comes up, like broccoli, it comes in the little smooth leaves. Well, it was my job to pick enough of those little smooth leaves for Grandmother. Not for the whole family. It would have taken me all day, but I'd for Grandmother pick a little dish of those greens because she liked to have her greens every day.
She could not eat any beans, so she had to make up her protein in some other way, that's why she used, what should I say, perhaps more macaroni than some people would, because, you know, macaroni is made from hard wheat. It's a protein dish really, and she made, instead of macaroni and cheese, they made macaroni and corn and beat up eggs and put in, and baked it like macaroni and cheese and it's delicious, especially with the dried corn that we had. It has a special flavor.
We dried sacks and sacks and sacks of corn that was grown on the place.
We had a laundry. There was no washing done in the house, there was no provision for laundry in the house, so when Grandmother bought the place, there was a laundry and a woodshed by the side of the house, and we would light up the great big wood stove in there and put on the boilers, big wash boilers, oval ones, and we would peel this corn and dunk it in this boiling water for ten minutes and then we would take it out and drain it, of course. And we had some scratchers, and these scratchers were like a teaspoon in shape, only it was made sharp, five little things in it, and so we could go down at least four or five kernels of corn at a time. So we ripped every row of corn, and then with a silver knife, using the back of it, we would take the corn and press and only the corn itself would come out and the husk stayed on the cob. So the corn we dried was delicious. No husk in it. Of course we did some that was cut off, too, but that was for the younger folks, but it made a very delicious meal.
Our eating was quite different than it is now. For instance, if we had a vegetable pie, which my mother made nicely, a stew, you know, with the brown gravy (you browned the flour by itself, and tried not to overheat any of the oil). Then we crumbled up into this stew something that I don't see anymore at all. Our food factory near us made something like a bun—they made lots of buns, but this was something the shape of a bun, but you know what it was made of? Gluten. We washed the gluten, cut it in little pieces, like for about the size you would make a gluten cutlet, put it on a cookie sheet and put it in the oven, and it baked to a golden brown and it was crispy. Well, we didn't cut it, but crunched that up and dropped it in this stew that was going to be for the pot pie and it was delicious.
What did you call that? Gluten?
I don't know. It just came.
I've tasted that. It's baked gluten balls.
Is that it? Well, I didn't know.
But I’ve wondered what their term was for it.
Well, maybe we called it that. I don’t remember. The food factory made nice buns, and they made nice bread, and five kinds of crackers. We have no cracker factory now. They made two fruit crackers, one like a fig bar, and one where the raisins were right in the dough, of whatever it was this week. Then they made a great big heavy cracker, big, well, thick as my hand, and they had three big revolving ovens, and they baked these very slowly until they were golden brown through. Then the factory had a great big food chopper. Oh, I guess the front of it was this big, and it was run by the belt from the power (whatever they had down below, the belt came up from downstairs and ran it), and that made our grape nuts. Now, I can't get used to the grape nuts we have now. I don't mean grape nuts. What do they call it?
Granola. I can't get used to the granola. We made granola and it was grape nuts, like, you know, the commercial grape nuts, and I can't get used to the granola they're making now.
Well, I don't know what it is, it's just different. And so here we ground up these big crackers and then they would sift them because you didn't want the fine stuff in it, and you know where they put that fine stuff? In their Nuteena and it made it so tender and nice. They made Nuteena and Proteena.
Did you sometimes have a protein dish like that? Nuteena or Protose?
Oh yes. They made the Nuteena and Proteena. We made our own cutlets.
You did? You made your own, Like gluten?
Yes. They had the proteena and nuteena. But we made our own quite a bit, our meat substitutes, because my father was on a minister's salary, and he educated seven children, so we couldn't always afford [meat substitutes], even though the factory was right below us. [In spite of] all the company, Mother never made any difference. I mean we were never told, "We have company, but don't you eat this, that's for the company," see. Whatever was there was for everybody, and so we didn't eat them too much, although we liked them.
On your bread. Did you eat the bread just plain? Did you put margarine or cream, or what did you put on the bread?
Well, we loved cream, which is all out of date now, but we liked it. We scalded the milk because they did not test for Bangs disease or tuberculosis. Now I don't scald my milk, because I understand it's pretty germ-free-pasteurized.Now I know some people that take their milk and still scald it, but I don't think it is necessary with the pasteurized milk. I think the tests show it is pretty germ-free. But then we had no tests for Bangs disease or tuberculosis, and one of our own cows died of tuberculosis and we didn't know she had tuberculosis. No. And if we hadn’t scalded the milk, some of us might have been sick.
It was scalded in big pans. You see these wood stoves had big tops, so we would have several of these pans on the stove, and as soon as they would come to the boil, we would take them off and take them down in the cellar and put in the cooler that was screened off because there were flies in those days, and even though a few got in, we didn't want any in our milk! So we put them in this cooler down in the cellar, and then the next morning here was this lovely cream. You see, the cream was all in the milk. I think one of the questions was, "How did they pasteurize the cream?" Well, it was pasteurized before it came up as cream, before it separated, you understand? It was all pasteurized together. Well, here comes this nice cream on top. And you take the spoon and it just rolls over, because it's quite thick when cream comes on scalded milk and you have slabs. Well, that we used instead of butter. I don't think you'd ever want butter if you had that.
So you could really spread the cream?
Ah yes. But you couldn't pour that on your cereal, you know, those slabs. So we would take a portion of it and put it in a bowl with a little milk and beat it with an egg beater. As I said, we didn't have blenders then. So it was done either with a colander if you wanted to run something through a colander, like soup or lentils or something, you put it through the colander, or you beat it up with the egg beater. We had a couple of canaries in the kitchen. Grandmother had a couple of canary cages in the kitchen, and as soon as we would start beating the cream, the male would sing for all his worth.
He liked that sound?
He liked that sound.
They didn't use butter, as I understand.
Those that wanted it could go to the pantry and get it—if they were particularly hungry for butter.
There was butter?
Yes. She wasn't iron-clad. I mean, it wasn't the iron curtain like it is in Russia.
So there was butter in the pantry?
Yes, if you wanted it, go get it.
But most usually at the table.
Seeing we are talking about butter, do you mind my mentioning margarine? Well, margarine came in, oh, how old was I? I don't know exactly, but I was still helping in the Ellen White kitchen, and it was Nucoa. But it had to be sold white. It was against the law to color it. So they put with the Nucoa a little capsule of yellow coloring. For a while it was a color bean that you had to prick to get the [color], and the other was a powder in a little tiny container. Well, that was one of my jobs, one that I could do, you know, mix the Nucoa, the yellow in. Now that was served on the table. I don't remember if Grandmother ate it or not.
Now, I can understand Grandmother. She liked the taste of bread, because they made nice bread. Now, I still, with toast, hot toast in the morning, much prefer it without a spread. I like it with my fruit, I like the toast flavor. I don't want it smothered with something else. So I don't remember whether she—I couldn't say whether she used the margarine or not. I just don't know. It wasn't that big a point. I mean it wasn't made a point; we didn't look to see.
You just didn't know you were going to be asked this question.
While we are on the point of fat, do you mind if I digress a little more? Well, when we were in Australia, they didn't have the substitutes then for butter, and they could buy coconuts for 75¢ a sack, a gunny sack of coconuts. They scooped the heart out of these nice fresh coconuts and we grated it—not "we," but my sisters. When I say "we" it means the family, but I wasn't born yet—they grated the coconuts, Mother told me, grated it, and then poured hot water over it. Then again we used our cheesecloth and squeezed that out, and she said it made a delicious milk for cooking, and if you left it a little while, why you had a coconut cream which they used in the cooking, and they used that quite extensively in Australia. So there are all kinds of ways and things, and lots of things we did you never think of doing now.
Did they ever use fruit butters or anything that would be close to a preserve?
To a jam? Yes. We put up strawberry jam and blackberry jam and loganberry jam, but we ate it sparingly, I would say. Grandmother was not [one to say] "No, you can't have any of this." But, "eat it moderately." You know, don't eat too much, but enjoy a nice slice of bread and cream and strawberry jam. It's delicious.
So at some meals you had something that would be like a dessert?
Yes. Oh, we had dessert at dinner time. I didn't tell you, did I? There were 2,000 prune trees on Grandmother's land when she bought it. Now, that's a lot of prunes. Grandmother's policy was, keep children busy doing interesting things, then you don't have to say "don't." We heard very few don'ts.
Well, there were all these prunes; and I don't know whether you know how California prunes are done. Where we were, they didn't water them, but the minute the rains stopped, the farmer cultivated, and then he dragged it real fine so it was smooth like a floor. And when the-prunes were ripe the men would go through with big sticks with a hook on them and shake the prunes down. So the prunes were picked up off the ground, not off the tree, so you only got the ripe prunes. They would have to go through the orchard several times, you see, because they ripened at different times. Then we children picked them up, and we got six cents a box. Now some of the boxes were 40 pounds, some were 50, and some of them were 60 pound boxes. They were pretty big. We got six cents a box for picking them up.
Grandmother believed in children having some spending money, but we weren't given money for doing the dishes and cleaning the house. Everybody wants clean dishes and everybody wants a clean house. But for extra jobs, like stacking the wood and picking up the prunes, we got paid for it.
At Elmshaven there is a clock over the mantelpiece, and I call it the prune clock. I have a lot of the children coming, in fact, the Thursday before I came, we had two schools. One came at one time and one another, and besides the other company that came. I have the children sit down on the rug, because there are usually too many for the chairs, and then I tell them stories, and I tell them about this prune clock.
One Christmas my brothers and I thought, "What can we do for our parents?" 'Cause we always had a wonderful time at Christmas. The folks didn't spend much money, but we had a grand time. We had the trees on our own land, and we would pick out the tree, just perfect you know, and mark it long before Christmas. We cut this tree down and set it up in the third-story bedroom, which was 12 or 14 feet high, one of the real high bedrooms—I don't know why they built them so high then. Anyway, we had a lovely tree there, and up there it didn't bother anybody.
We could spend our time decorating it. We took the walnuts and opened up the walnuts and took out the meats, and glued them together again onto a ribbon and dipped them in silver or gold. We made those. That took us quite a while. And we strung popcorn and madrone berries. Madrone berries don't deteriorate easily. We did have a little tinsel we saved from year to year, but we made most of our own decorations, and that was half the fun, don't you know. Mother made for us things we would have to have anyway. She made little nightly suits, like pajamas, for us, with slippers to match because it's cold up there in the winter. So she would make these little slippers to match, and we were just as tickled over those little nighties as anything.
But when I was nine years old, my father taught us all to use tools, and I was a girl among boys, so I just had to learn to chop and saw wood and spin tops and play baseball, you know, and all that, swim. If my brothers would dive from a place so and so high, well I thought I had to go a little higher. I had to show them. So we had lots of fun. But what was I going to tell you now?
About the prune clock.
About the prune clock. Good. Thanks. This prune clock. We said, "What are we going to get for our parents for Christmas?" We usually made things. My brothers had—you know what a pyrography set is, a burning set, you burn wood? Well, Daddy was gone a lot of the time and he would send us postcards, and we would cut up wood and paste the postcard in the middle, and then put a nice burned border on and hang three of them together and made a nice little plaque for the wall. And we made cushions for Grandmother, cushion covers. One of my sisters painted nicely, and she would paint on velvet and give her a cushion cover. And the twin boys, who were very lively, four years older than I—Grandmother said boys should learn to sew, and girls should learn to milk a cow and hitch up a horse, so they learned to sew and they were very artistic. So one Christmas they made for Grandmother a beautiful cushion cover. They embroidered it, these lively boys now, imagine. California poppies on one side, and a lovely American flag waving on the other side, and gave it to her for Christmas. Well, now she appreciated those presents. She gave us books, and we gave her things we made.
Well, now back to the clock. "What are we going to get our parents for Christmas?" So we got the catalogue out. We had about $12. What could we do with $12? Well, we thought we needed a clock for over the fireplace, on the mantelpiece, so we found this clock, and we hunted until we found just the one we thought we liked, and we ordered it. Well, came Christmas time and we put it under the tree. Now, on Christmas we always had a little program because there were talented people working in the office, and Mother would prepare a nice supper, sandwiches, fruitcake we made at Thanksgiving time. But we frosted one to keep over till Christmas, a fruitcake. And Mother cut it in nice thin slices and put them on the platter with just the white showing, you know. You only ate a little piece. And Mother made sandwiches that were—actually it was the sandwich [itself] that was as thick as the bread we cut now. She never could understand what they made sandwiches like this for. She thought they didn't know how to make sandwiches. Well, here were these nice thin delicious sandwiches, and a warm drink. So, we would have supper first and then the program, and then the tree. Well, we just hoped that clock wouldn't strike until we gave it to them. So that's the prune clock, and it's still there.
So you paid for it with your own earnings?
With our prune money.
What kinds of desserts, when you had desserts, did you have besides the bread and jam?
That's a good question. Bread and jam was supper, not dessert. Sometimes we had a bread pudding, with raisins in it. I imagine it had milk and eggs. We made what we called a blanc-mange. Do you know what a blanc-mange is? And that was not very sweet. So it was served. Oh, that's when we used a little jam again on top of the blanc-mange, just a little bit running down the edges, it looked pretty. We made also a mildly sweet custard, not blah, but not too sweet either, that we put the first strawberries in, we would mash [them] up and put it in, they went farther that way. And we put sliced bananas in this cream custard, not a rich custard, but it had milk and eggs init, if that's your question.
She speaks of the free use of milk and sugar. I’m wondering if you have any idea what was meant by “free use?”
Yes, I think people now—how much sugar do they put in the cake? And then they put icing sugar about. that thick. Now my mother made cakes—she didn't use any baking powder in cakes. We had to have baking powder for cornmeal. What did we call it? Johnny cake. It just doesn't come up. So Mother used cream of tartar and soda, and she seemed to know the proportions.
So she neutralized it.
Yes. We never had anything that tasted like or smelled like soda. No. She was very careful with that. And we didn't do that often, but occasionally you want something that is raised besides yeast. Of course you can make corn bread with yeast, but it isn't too good to eat hot yeast bread, so then it would have to stand over to the next day, but it was no problem to warm it up in the oven. So it was pretty good, the yeast corn bread. But sometimes you want corn bread right now, and so you mix it up that way. But we very seldom used—well, she didn't use baking powder, she just made her own. It was baking powder all right, when you get through.
It wasn't easy to get packaged baking powder?
Well, yes, but we understood that it was pretty strong stuff. Now I would like to ask a question. In the baking powders that you get in the cakes that are ready made, like at our college store, are they all right?
They are chemically balanced.
That's what I wondered. Well, then I'll buy some someday. I never have. I've never bought a pre-mixed cake. Of course, I don't like cake anyway.
Oh, you mean in the cake mixes?
Yes. They're all right?
If it says baking powder. Now, some of the mixes will say just sonic, but that might not be neutralized.
Don't they have something else too, to neutralize it?
Depends on the—you have to read the label.
Well, I don't think they would have it in the college store if it wasn't good, would they? [some laughter] We'll say they wouldn't.
Did you ever have anything that was at all like ice cream?
We had sherbet in the summer. The occasions we would have it would be, well, maybe we would all get together. See, there were eight office rooms there in the office building; there was a lot of help. And on a hot day we would all get together out under the big oak tree which had built around it what's under the cedar tree now, a seat, an eight-cornered seat. And we would all go out there and eat together, and we'd make sherbet. We had lots of peaches, we'd put them through the colander and add a little cream and sugar and freeze it. We had lots of grape juice, and grape sherbet is pretty good. Apricots we did the same way, and what else did we do that way? So they just said, "Eat it slowly, let it warm up before it goes down." Which wasn't hard to do on a hot day, to hold it in your mouth a little longer. We used to take out the dasher, and [the question would be] who would get to lick it this time?
Do you—we were talking about the menus, and so on. When you had vegetables, did you also have fruit at the same meal, or was it only vegetables?
No, I'll tell you how it was. As I said, breakfast and supper were the fruit meals, but now with all these prunes I told you about, we had to use prunes every so often, and they make a most delicious prune and cheese salad. Did you ever eat it?
I'll tell you what we did, and they are tougher when they are dry, you know, and we put them on this wood stove with some water and let them simmer for quite a long time. And when the juice was all simmered down and they were just like candy, we'd take them and cut them and take out the pit and open it up and fill it with cottage cheese, and we put about four of those on a lettuce leaf and it made a beautiful salad, you know, the green leaf and the black prunes with the white center. We liked that very much.
We also had prune whip, if you know what that is. As I said, we had no blender, so we cooked them and put them through the colander and then mixed the white of egg with it, and served it, topped with a little cream. And just plain cooked prunes, if they are cooked down nice, with cream on it, is delicious for a dessert. Those prunes were wonderfully sweet. Not irrigated, you see, and they were delicious.
I said to the farmer when we were picking up the prunes, “My, prunes are good, aren't they?" "Well," he said, "I don't particularly like them.” “Why,” I said, "don't you like prunes with cream on them? They’re delicious.” “Why,” he said, "I could eat anything with cream on it." We were very fond of things that grew on the place.
So sometimes as a little dessert you would have prunes?
Wewould have prunes as a dessert. Yes, with a little cream, it was very good. And then what other dessert did we have? Oh, tapioca pudding. A simple dessert you would call it, but there were milk and eggs, but not overly sweet, just enough to betasty. Oh, and baked custard, and that's one place we useda little touch of nutmeg. Just a little flavor.
Ellen White apparently liked lemon pie, at least she mentions that. Plain lemon pie.
Evidently she did.
You don't recall?
Well, I've seen them cook it, but I never made a lemon pie. I don't know. The cook made it. I didn't make the pies, and I don't care for desserts, so it is kind of hard for me to talk too much about desserts, ‘cause I didn't like desserts. I would make my own birthday cake, and I didn't eat cake till I was 16. It'san acquired art with me. I'd like to tell you how I learned, but I won't. Take too long, but it would be fun.
Thinking about the . . .
Oh, you asked about fruits. Sometimes we would have melon. We grew our own melons, and we had lovely grapes and all kinds of peaches. You know last year we had peaches from June 10 till November 6. We had sliced peaches every day, fresh from the orchard.
One of the advantages of California.
Isn't that something? Well, I made a little experiment. I love to garden, and when I was a little girl, I visited [Luther] Burbank's garden in Santa Rosa, and he was alive. He showed us through, took us through, and I saw rows of little peach trees, and I asked about them. And he said, "Well, I plant the peach seeds." The way he takes care of them, they would bear in about 18 months, and then he would mark those that were good, see, because [with] seedlings you never get what you plant, it's always something a little different. And he marked the good ones, and then he used the others to graft the good ones onto. So, I thought, I'm going to go try that because we had three acres of land there, and we have to keep the weeds out, and I have to put something in to grow. So I have experimented with peaches, and I've got a nice variety of peaches from seedlings. Some were no good, and I just throw them away, you see. There is one particularly good one, and my name is Evelyn Grace, and I'm going to call it Evaline Cling! Maybe I'll get wealthy some day. It's delicious! The texture is just wonderful for eating. But I like clings for canning.
But these melons and peaches were not just used exclusively at supper? or breakfast?
We used them for dessert for dinner sometimes, grapes and bananas and figs; apples go pretty well with most people; they go well, if you don't overeat; you don't eat a whole bunch of bananas after dinner. In other words, don't overeat, but, like I ate an apple today, and it was delicious, a Michigan apple. Now, what else have I forgotten?
Nothing that you’ve forgotten. I’ve got some more questions, though. I’m curious about the use—we’ve mentioned several times here about the use of eggs. How did you use eggs? Did you use them just in cooking?
No, but that was mostly. We had eggs, Grandmother’s house had eggs, and I suppose we did too, about once a week, and we had these double egg cups, you know, do you remember them, any of you? Some of you do. Well, you turn them one way up and put the egg in top, and then when you are going to eat it, you turn the other way up and cut the egg in two and put it down it the center. They had soft-boiled eggs about once a week. And then we made a baked egg. You beat the egg up with a little milk, or water is just as good, and bake it. On toast it makes a very tender dish. Scrambled eggs sometimes get a bit tough, but this baked egg was always tender and nice, so you’d have your fresh toast and put a couple of spoonfuls of this baked egg on. And my mother always cut the toast corner ways, you know, so it would look nice.
Where did you get the eggs?
Well, we had hens at our house and Grandmother had a dozen hens down at the orchard.
So they were fresh.
Yes, they were fenced in, but they had access under the apple trees and things like that. Yes. We used eggs. I would say we averaged about three eggs a week each.
In cooking and in…
Yes, altogether, maybe once a week just eaten as eggs, and the rest was in the cooking.
You made cottage cheese?
Oh yes, after we skimmed the milk, if we didn't have too much company, there was some milk left. We would warm it up and put a starter of buttermilk or yogurt in to start in, see, so it would—you don't want bitter cottage cheese, you need a starter to make it a nice culture. Then we would pour boiling water in when it was thick and just strain it. And put cream in it and salt. It was delicious.
Do you ever recall yellow cheese? Mild or moderate, like cheddar cheese, do you ever recall that?
I smelled it. It was strong. We had a lot of mice and how were we going to get rid of these mice? So Mother bought some cheese in town and I don't know why I'm so fond of the smell of cheese, but that smelled so good to me, and she thought she put it where I couldn't find it, way up in the pantry. But I found it, but I didn't eat very much of it, but I would like to have eaten more. It's just something I like and something I don't do.
But it wasn't a household item?
Oh, no. We used the cottage cheese. I wouldn't say never.
Anything like cream cheese?
Oh yes, cream cheese. And what are these hoop cheeses? Aren't they white?
Yes, they're a little firmer.
Yes, we used that type of cheese, but none of the aged sharp cheeses. But I like yellow cheese. Didn't get it!
You are aware of the fact that a number of sales slips have been found in the records. There are some of the questions here that are based on some of the things that are on the sales slips. First of all, do you remember who was the household cook during the years, say 1911-1913?
That I remember? Well, I remember even before that, but it's a good question. To begin with, let me tell you how the slips were made. The store, the Sanitarium Store, was half a mile up the hill from our house. Every day a man came around with a horse and carriage and took your order, or we phoned the order, we sometimes phoned it, we had a local phone. Yes, it was more likely we phoned the order, and then he came down delivering the groceries, and they would make out the slips as we phoned them in, and he would bring down [the items] for each family, all ready in a box, delivered to our house.
One of the slips says some kind of oil, how many gallons of oil? You know what it was? It was kerosene for the auxiliary stove. We called it coal oil. There were quarts of coal-oil on that slip; somebody said, what kind of oil is that? Cause it isn't too plain you know. But it wasn't an eating oil, but we did use other oils, we used cottonseed oil, corn oil,
And making mayonnaise, yes.
Oh, you made mayonnaise?
Yes, that was one of my jobs, too. You see, we didn't use vinegar at all. In fact, I can't stand the smell of vinegar, and Grandmother was wild about it. That was one of the hardest things she had to give up, was vinegar. She wanted vinegar on her lettuce, and vinegar, I guess, on her cabbage, or whatever she cooked, and vinegar, you know, just vinegar.
It was a common article used on tables in those days.
I guess so. And she liked sour things. So it was substituted in my day with lemon juice. So we used quite a lot of lemon juice. We put lemons in the grape juice that was diluted some with water, and we drank a glass of water with half a lemon in it, each person, and that would make quite a lot of lemons. Mother made a nice lemon sauce with the grated lemon rind, and again a tiny bit of nutmeg. So we used a lot of lemons. Oh, and she grated it in a cake too. Lemon rind. It makes a nice cake.
They appear on the sales slips, a dozen lemons here and there.
Yes. We had lots of lemons.
Also on the sales slips was baking powder, and baking soda.
Yes. Not very often you didn't see it. There was a baking soda, yes.
What was that used for?
Well, we lived out in the country, and I remember one day I sat down on the grass on the hillside and I sat down near a wasp's nest, or a yellow jacket. You know where yellow jackets make their nest? Right in the ground. And did I get up and yowl! Four of them stung me all at once! So I rushed for the soda. We had that real handy, because we got stung, and the bees stung us and the ants bit us, and the other thing was there was lots of poison oak there, and some people didn't get it. I didn't get poison oak. But some people would come, and we would just have to put soda all over their arms, you know, and they would be white, because they had poison oak. We used a lot of soda on company that had poison oak!
We also used the soda for washing the icebox. We would use a cloth dipped in soda, you know, it freshens it and makes it clean, for cleaning. Yes, we used soda, and once in a great while, as I said, we would use a little soda with cream of tartar for baking something. I don't know exactly everything it was.
One of the slips has a baking powder.
Maybe by that time they felt baking powder was all right, but my Mother never got to thinking it was all right! She never used baking powder except what she made herself like that. And how she made those cakes so light, I don't know. She beat the yokes with hot water, and she beat the whites all separate and she folded it up, and it came out a delicious cake. I can't do it. She was a cook.
Oh, and then for frosting, instead of sugar frosting, you know with all this cream, we would beat it up and add just a little powdered sugar, it didn't take much. Well, when you eat a sugar frosting about this deep, you're getting a lot of sugar, but when you get just a little sugar in the cream—and that's how I learned to eat cake, was a cream cake, when my husband came from Europe, he came down to visit our place, and Mother fell in love with him before I did, so she would make cake when he would come down, so I thought I had to eat a little piece with him. So that's the way I learned to eat cake.
I see. I was wondering [about] the person who was cooking during this period that we have the sales slips, there were times when she was not able to find a good cook, or one who could cook according to health reform.
Do you have any recollection of the cook at that time?
Yes, I remember one of the cooks said, "I put baking powder in these gems," and Ellen White said well, they were the nicest, lightest ones she'd eaten in a long time. But the cook didn't tell her she had put baking powder and maybe the baking powder was better by that time. I don't know.
You didn't give us your recipe for the gems. We started to and then we forgot. The proportions.
One cup of flour, and we mixed different flours, we used some white flour, some graham flour, and sometimes cornmeal gems with the white flour, I mean cornmeal with the white flour. Cup of flour to a cup of milk to a level tablespoon of oil, a little bit of salt and a little bit of sugar, one egg. That's the proportion, but of course, you made several cups of it because you made a batch of gems.
What were they like?
As I said, Mother would send me out to the woodshed to get chips. I didn't tell you that. I got started, but I got sidetracked. I'd get a pan full of chips. We had manzanita wood, which made a hot fire. She wanted a real hot fire, and she put these chips in, and they sure would burn. And she would pour this batter, it was thin enough to pour, into these sizzling hot pans, and put it in the oven and shut the door and up they'd come. But the whites were folded in. If we didn't fold the whites in, we beat the batter a long time, and it was liquid enough to be able to beat.
So it was almost like a popover.
Yes, that's right. We had those twice or three times a week.
They sound delicious.
And I like to bite the end off and fill them up with cream. You can see I like cream.
You referred earlier, you were talking about the fact that at your home there were three meats a day usually, but at your Grandmother's there were two meals. What was the reason for the difference? Do you remember?
Yes, it was because of the school schedule. It was too long from twelve o'clock until you go to bed not to have anything to eat. And we were growing and we were terrifically lively. Grandmother was more or less [sedentary] though she did go out some, but there was no real heavy activity. We just went to work, swimming, baseball, and gardening and sawing wood, and chopping wood, and the Christmas when I was nine I got a red ax for Christmas, and I was delighted beyond measure.
Well, in some of the counsels she has written she talks about children on two meals a day.
Yes, I know, but we never did that.
Probably because you were in school.
Well, I don't know, we just didn't want to, and if you didn't want to, you didn't have to. I mean, she was tolerant.
It was never made an issue.
Well, certainly from twelve to the next morning would be a long time . . .
Well, it seemed long to us, and so we always had a supper, early, and that was in large proportion fruit and these puffed things, these easily-to-be-digested cereals, with cottage cheese. And the farmer [Iram James] had 13 children, and they made lovely bread, and in the afternoon one of the older girls would bring out a table outdoors under the trees in the summertime and these big loaves of bread, and she would slice these loaves of bread and spread them with jam, and the children were all lined up, see, and if we could get in that bread and jam line, we thought we'd got somewhere! Mother said, "You shouldn't do that. Mrs. James has enough to do without you getting in that bread and jam line.” But we were welcome, they made us welcome. We just thought that was wonderful, that bread and jam line.
How many items would be on the table at a meal, say at breakfast, or lunch or supper? Two or three different things usually?
Breakfast or lunch? Well, you mean fruit? That's all one thing, fruit, even if it's four different kinds? Well, we'd have fruit, and the cereal, and the nuts.
But several fruits, it wouldn't be just one fruit, you had a variety?
Four different fruits?
We just had lots of fruit. But, how many kinds of things at dinner? She used salads, nice fresh lettuce from the garden, lots of cucumbers, and just lots of fresh things from the garden....Radishes, even turnips sliced thin are good, if they're fresh, you know. So we had something fresh, a simple dessert, and the three hot dishes, and something to drink. So I don't know how you would equate this two or three things at a meal. I don't know what she did have in mind, I don't know everything.
Maybe classification. Thinking about the Sabbath meals, what was the difference between Sabbath meals and your weekday meals?
Perhaps not as heavy, the Sabbath dinner, but something special. As a rule the W. C. White family did not eat at Ellen White's home for the plain and simple reason that there was no table big enough to accommodate all, both families, with the company of both families. The Sabbath meals that we enjoyed the most came when Grandmother spoke, say in Calistoga, or in Napa. My mother would know ahead of time, and as you heard in the movie, "Yes, I Remember Ellen White," Mother would make a nice lunch.
Now what would we do about a hot dish? We were children and needed something warm. Grandmother was an elderly lady, she had used energy in her talk, she needed something warm. But as I told you in class, we had fireless cookers, and they were very handy, because all Mother needed to do Sabbath morning was to warm up a couple of hot dishes and put them in these fireless cookers, and put on the lid, and tuck it under the back seat. That with the sandwiches and fresh things [made our meal]. We put our tablecloth out on the ground, no table, we didn't need a table. They put the cushions down for Grandmother, and we'd sit around this tablecloth on the rugs and eat this delicious dinner, with something hot. It gave us something warm.
That was what I was wondering. You always had something hot for Sabbath dinner?
Oh yes. But it was always cooked before. There at Elmshaven now we have company coming at two o'clock every afternoon, and so I have dinner prepared Friday so that we can sit down to the table ten minutes after we get home, and that gives us almost an hour to rest before the company comes. And usually, there are maybe fifteen, maybe not, out on the porch waiting to get in. And then we are busy all afternoon.
These lunches together, they just stand out in my mind and my memory. The Sabbath, all Sabbaths, were like jewels in a lovely background. We just looked forward to Sabbaths, they were spent [with] the family together, Grandmother and our family together. She enjoyed it and we enjoyed it. We just had a good time Sabbaths.
After we had eaten lunch, an adult would take us on a walk. Now we were very lively. We had to sit still in church, but we didn't have to sit still all Sabbath. (In fact, we sat right on the front seat. You know what I think of? That song, "Nothing Between.") Well, we would go on a real hike with an adult to supervise it. They would always find something interesting to tell us. We learned a lot on those walks. And then we'd come back, and during that time Grandmother had rested, you see. Then my mother would read aloud to us some of the letters that had been saved during the week. We had, she had a tremendous correspondence, and such interesting letters from all over the world. They'd save the interesting ones and my mother would read them aloud to us. Then we'd each take turns reading, maybe I'd read from the Little Friend, and my brothers would read an article from the Instructor, and the grown folks listened while we read. That's where we learned to read nicely. And then my father would tell a story or two, and then: we'd get out the chapter that had been done that week, ready for the press, and we'd listen. So we heard those two books before they were printed. We enjoyed them as children.
Children understand a great deal. Their listening vocabulary increases very rapidly if parents read with meaning. Now, how much my mother simplified, I don't know, but she started reading to us the Conflict Series when we were just little bits of kids. And I don't know how many times we read it.
Tremendous experience. We spoke earlier about warm food, warm drink. You said they had the caramel coffee. Did they ever have anything else warm to drink, like cocoa?
Oh, say, you scientific ladies. Grandmother doesn't say a word about chocolate. Why? There must have been some reason.
It was a common article of food, and it's always been strange to me that there is no mention at all.
I read a list of six harmful drinks this morning and chocolate wasn't there. And we had it. But I'll tell you how it was. It was warm milk flavored with chocolate. You know, you can have chocolate so thick that it will practically stop your heart beating!
So it wasn't chocolate with a little milk, it was milk with a little chocolate.
We had so much milk, and we just put a little chocolate in the warm milk for a change. Yes, we did that once in awhile. I remember Mrs. McKibben was at our house once. She was to give a lecture, and she said, "May I have a cup of chocolate?"
And the cook said, "Well, of course."
Oh, and you asked who the cook was. The last few cooks were a twin and the next one was her twin sister, and they were the Woodbury girls.
And so they cooked for the last few years.
Yes, as they were told.
It must have been a challenge to cook for such a large group with people coming in all the time.
Well, it was. Oh, we had company all the time, and after I was married and gone, I wrote back, and I said, "Mother, do you still have the string of company?" "Yes," she said, "just the same."
Do you remember if those cooks used any particular cookbooks?
Well, I have, I wish I'd brought it, why didn't I! What is called the Laurel Cookbook. It's a big cookbook like this. And we had that one that that man read from. What did he read from? Fulton's Vegetarian Cookbook? Yes, we had that one. I think I still have one somewhere.
So they used some recipes; or did they use their own?
Well, the Laurel Cookbook we altered the recipes because they had things we felt we didn't want to use. But you can alter a recipe to make it the way you feel you should have it. So that's why I have been a little reticent about letting people have the cookbook because we have recipes even copied in the back pages that we would alter. We would copy them the way they were given and then alter them ourselves, and people don't always understand that.
In the writings we have Counsels on Diet and Foods, drawn from many places, she sometimes explains things on the basis of health and sometimes she just simply gives advice. Do you remember much discussion in her home, or in your home, about the reasons why things were the way they were? Because sometimes this is something that is curious to us today. We don't always understand what she had in mind.
With cheese she doesn't say the reason why. You gather that in the early days it was from the germ standpoint, and then later on you find things that [indicate] it was the content, the richness of it, and perhaps it was both. I don't know. We did discuss that.
You did discuss the cheese issue?
Not with her, but in our own home with my father. And when they did want to translate Ministry of Healing, my father talked to Grandmother [saying that] in those countries where [the book was] going it would be a hardship for them not to use cheeses, and so she decided that they would translate it "sharp, aged cheese is not fit for food." Now, you said something about my father coaxing my mother or something. I'd like that one, because it's a good one. What is it?
Well, the question [which grows out of] a rumor, is whether or not one of Mrs. White's sons asked his mother when she was going to retract an erroneous statement concerning mixing fruits and vegetables. Do you remember any discussion about fruits and vegetables?
I remember the discussion here [during this workshop]. No. My father never asked Grandmother to retract anything. She was the Lord's messenger, and he was the obedient son. He never asked her to retract anything. Why, that would be ridiculous. That's apocryphal.
But do you remember any discussion about the fruits and vegetables? That's one of the things we have very little information about reasons for.
I know. Let me see now. We did talk about it, but not with Grandmother. We had a little lady that lived near our house and helped my mother sometimes, and she had a weak stomach, and we children would end up [our meals] with apples or raspberries or peaches. We just liked fruit, period, as a dessert, and she just thought that was terrible. But she didn't remember that statement is prefixed with "those who have weak stomachs." We didn't have weak stomachs! No, I don't know what to say. I have nothing to say.
All right. Are there any other recipes, you know, family recipes that you recall with especially fond memories?
Oh yes. Let's see. We had a recipe that's very easy and we liked very much. Grandmother was fond of tomatoes. If she could either have tomatoes cooked or raw every day of her life, she would enjoy it. So we liked tomatoes too. And there was one that we liked very well in our household, and we called it baked breaded tomatoes. Now, you put in a casserole your can of tomatoes if it's the winter time, and dice up a little celery and a little onion. Then you spread bread with a little margarine and cut it in four pieces and then you set that on top of the tomatoes, and with a spoon just push it down until it doesn't quite go over the top, and put it in the oven. And really, you'd be surprised at the flavor. It's very good, and every easy, and that warms over nicely.
Another one that is a White dish, I don't know that I've ever eaten it anywhere else, and that's what we call baked nut rice. We had the cooked rice; say it's for a small family and you have two cups of cooked rice, then you take half a cup of peanut butter and dilute it with water. I think it takes more than half a cup of water, you dilute it until it is like thick cream. You put diced onions and sage, and don't put milk in, that takes the flavor away, you want to do it with water. Water, your sage, your diced onion, and bake that, and it's delicious.
I remember your brother telling us about peanut butter on rice.
Well, that was in the morning. We would pour it on just the plain rice, but this was baked with the sage, onion, peanut butter.
Did you thin the peanut butter when you put it over plain rice?
Oh, yes, you had to. You can't mix thick peanut butter with your cereal.
Were you children as fond of peanut butter as children are today?
Oh yes. They made nice peanut butter at the food factory. That was good. You could get it right fresh.
Do you have any idea how they made it? Was there sugar added to it?
Oh no. They just ground peanuts. And put a little salt. And then there was another [question] about nut foods; you didn't ask me that one.
We talked a little bit about the commercial proteins, but go ahead and talk about the nut foods.
We used them, but we made our own. Now, as I said, we couldn't afford to buy [them] even though the, food factory was right at the foot of the hill. So Mother made our own with tomato juice. [She] diluted the peanut butter with tomato juice, and grated carrots and a couple of eggs, and maybe a little cornstarch, or maybe entire wheat flour, to thicken it. And we used the same tins they used at the food factory for theirs. We had taken the tops off, you know... And we poured it inthat and if we baked it we set it inthe big baking pan with water in the bottom. If we steamed it, we just set it inthe steamer. And that sliced nicely. Nice little slabs.
I've had homemade nut loaf like that. It's delicious.
Put egg in it. I think you put egg in it. Did I say that?
Yes. You used your vegetables with the nuts, then, in some of these combinations.
Yes. Sometimes we used some carrots, and she suggested that we use vegetables in our nut foods, and I don't know any factory that doesn't. Do you?
I don't know.
Well, with tomato juice and carrots you have some vegetables in it. But you didn't even know there was a carrot in it. Blended in and baked in.
One of the difficulties, I think, that any person [faces] who is interested in health reform—health education—is the problem [of] people going to extremes, and I think most of us face this. How do we relate to people who have a very fixed viewpoint?
Who are extreme. It's very difficult. And it's very heart rending. And we meet them. There was one man who came to our place, and he said you must chew your water. Yes. Don't just put it down, chew it, mix saliva with it. Well, let him chew his water. We didn't argue with him.
And there was another one that came and he carried his hat, always, and it was a felt hat, and it was folded so he could carry it under his arm or in his hand, and he had carried it so long that way that all the creases had worn out. I mean it was split where those creases were. Well, why did he carry a hat? Because it was the thing to do in those days, to have a hat. Well, why didn't he put it on? Because in the Bible it says pray without ceasing, and you don't pray with your hat on. So we made him welcome, and he ate at our house and stayed several days. That's all right.
But one day in Australia (before I was born, but I've been told about it), a man came dashing from the United States—dashing on a month's boat, but he didn't take time even to tell his family goodbye after conference, he came dashing to Australia to tell Ellen White that the Adventist Church was Babylon. Well, he came and Grandmother knew that he was coming, the Lord had revealed it to her, see. So, when he came, [they said], "Oh, you're so welcome and you can be a member of our household, and by the way, do you know how to type?" Yes, he did. "Well, we're so busy now. We're getting out Desire of Ages." And she set him busy typing Desire of Ages. And you know, after I don't know how many weeks, he forgot that the Adventist Church was Babylon. He never did present it.
Such an excellent strategy to turn one's eyes to Christ. Maybe that's a lesson for us in dealing with people that don't agree with us . . .
If we could divert their minds. But it's hard because if a person is a fanatic and they believe something, argument does not change them, you cannot change them with argument. I was teaching school in East Los Angeles and a little boy came. I was teaching grades 6, 7, and 8; it was a small school. A mother brought a little tiny runt, he was ready for the 6th grade, little bitty thing. And I thought, "What's the matter with him?" "Well," she said, "he's never had any milk, and maybe I should give him some." I said, "By all means! Start giving him some milk." You know they just can't grow without some milk. They didn't have soy milk then.
We were speaking of the sales slips, and you said the food was delivered. Who ordered the food?
In Grandmother's household there was what I would call a stewardess. She was Miss [Sara] McEnterfer, and she had been with Grandmother since year one, or before that. And she planned the meals with the cook; they consulted.
So the cook was not ordering the food alone?
Sometimes Auntie Sara—we called her Auntie Sara, no relation—she ordered it, and sometimes the cook ordered, according to who was available at the time. One of the helpers ordered it. Grandmother never knew what they ordered.
Do you remember any times when food would be fried? Was there ever any fried food served?
Patties, in other words? Did you ever make patties or fritters? Yes. But there was great care not to overheat the oil and not have very much oil in the pan. We had these great big iron, practically like baking, these big iron frying skillets, and just enough to keep them from sticking, and great care was taken that they did not get too hot.
Drained afterwards? If they were fried was any excess oil drained?
No, no. We didn't put that much in. Just barely enough to keep it from sticking. I would say it was practically like baking in a Dutch oven. Put a lid on, too, sometimes. So it was practically like baking. But there was great care not to overheat. The problem infrying is too much oil—two things—too much oil—that's my mind, now you're scientists, you may have a different idea—too much oil and not to overheat the oil that you do use. And so many make the mistake. I've been in homes where it is smoking and then they put in the fritter dough, and that's absolutely indigestible. The oil that's heated that way.
Between meals. Did you ever drink juices or milk or anything like that?
Juice—between meals. But as far as eating between meals, that was out. Grandmother had lots of apple trees, and we would go down in the apple orchard to pick up apples so we could have some applesauce or apple pies or can apples, and we would start to eat an apples, and Mother would say, "Just swallow the juice, spit out the pulp." Well, that's the way we were brought up, and somebody gave the twins (we went to church at the Sanitarium, when they were little), [some] patients saw them walking by—those cute little fellows, you know—and [they] peeled a banana each for them and handed it to them. And do you think they would eat them? It really embarrassed my mother. No, they wouldn't eat them. They carried those bananas home to wait till dinner time. So we were well trained about eating between meals, I guess.
I guess you were! But sometimes a little juice?
Oh, yes. And if we got terribly hungry, well, I'll tell you what we had. We had some plum trees that were very, very juicy. They were little yellow plums like an apricot size, and if you would hit them together this way, the end you know, there is nothing but juice. And we'd sometimes have a lunch of those between dinner and supper, just like juice, nothing else much.
I've tasted those plums and they are super delicious.
They're nothing but juice. And when we'd go swimming we'd take a bag with us, and after we'd been swimming (we had to walk about a mile and a half to go to the swimming hole), well, we'd eat plums all the way home and then eat supper as soon as we got home. That wasn't considered between meals!
It was just pre-supper.
That's right, just getting ready.
You mentioned "a little nutmeg" being used. Was that the only thing we could consider a spice that was used?
Well, the only other one was a little cinnamon sometimes in apple pies. Some apples don't have much flavor, and [we] put a little lemon juice and . . . But whenever anything like that was used it was only occasionally, and it was almost like the pie went through on stilts—it didn't get too much cinnamon!
But you did use herbs?
Oh, yes, we grew our own sage and mint and what else? Thyme, marjoram. Yes, we used herbs for flavoring, garlic even.
Garlic is delicious—for some people.
For the one who eats it!
Do you know or do you recall what would be referred to by the term "coarse vegetables?"
You're the one for that.
We don't refer to vegetables in those categories.
Well, I would say that kale would be a coarse vegetable, and even celery could be coarse. Cabbage? Cauliflower isn't coarse, it cooks up quite tender.
It's an unusual term because it's hard to know how to define it.
The same as it's a hard term to know what a fruit is. They're about the same category.
Your memories show that you had such a happy childhood.
Oh, we had a grand time.
How did you see—as a child, how did you see your Grandmother? You loved her as a grandmother, but how did you see her as a person?
Well, we knew she was the Lord's messenger. I don't remember being told, but we heard her writings ever since we were little bits of things at worship time and around the fireplace in the evening. We knew she was the Lord's messenger. Never doubted it a moment. But she still was our sweet grandmother, and we had a wonderful time.
Fortunately, my father was like his mother, very good natured, and I don't think anybody had a happier childhood. We had high swings to swing on, things that didn't cost a lot, teeters to teeter on, homemade merry-go-rounds to get dizzy on, sand piles to play in, and for me ('cause my older sisters were gone from home when I was growing up, the last one married when I was six, so I was brought up with four boys), well, they fenced off a little yard for me, a little garden, and in it was a little playhouse, with, not wall, but lattice so the air came through, and I could do just as I wanted with that. I made a little path to the house, and I planted borders, and I got maidenhair from the rocks down by the creek and made a little corner, and I had a beautiful maidenhair corner, and geraniums, and I could do just as I wanted. And you know that means a lot to children, to have something you can do what you want to with, what you think up, you know. And I did just what I wanted with that little yard, and I just had the time of my life there.
Thank you so much for sharing your memories with us.