For nine decades, Our State has made its way into homes across North Carolina, the United States, and the world. To celebrate, every month this year, we’re paying tribute to the readers who inspire us, offering a taste of our earliest recipes, and revisiting old stories with new insights. Follow along to find out how our past has shaped our present.
December 9, 1950 • These holiday cookies are a spiced treat descended from recipes dating back to the 1700s. According to The State contributor Gertrude Cook Page, mothers and grandmothers would cut dough into different festive shapes. Once baked, the cookies were used to decorate Moravian Christmas trees.
Yield: 16 cookies.
½ cup molasses ¼ cup light brown sugar 2 tablespoons salted butter 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting ½ teaspoon baking soda ½ teaspoon ground allspice ½ teaspoon ground ginger 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon ½ teaspoon ground cloves ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
In a saucepan over low heat, combine molasses, sugar, and butter. Stir until well incorporated.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and spices. Pour molasses mixture and oil into flour mixture and stir until well incorporated. The dough will separate from the bowl.
On a lightly floured cutting board, knead dough until smooth, about 3 to 5 minutes.
Cut ball of dough in half. Wrap dough halves in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to overnight. Before baking, let dough sit out for 15 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350°.
Lightly flour a cutting board and rolling pin. Roll dough to ⅙-inch thick. Cut out cookies with a tree-shaped cutter. Using a sharp-edged spatula, place cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Bake cookies for 10 to 12 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned.
December 18, 1937 • This salad from a Roxboro reader is a take on ambrosia. One of the earliest written recipes for the classic fruit-filled side dish came from Concord cook Maria Massey Barringer. Her variation, featured in her 1867 cookbook, Dixie Cookery: or How I Managed My Table for Twelve Years, only included coconut, sugar, and oranges.
Yield: 6 servings.
6 lettuce leaves 6 slices pineapple ¼ cup mayonnaise 1 (14.5-ounce) can sliced peaches, drained and chopped ½ cup mini marshmallows 1 banana, peeled and sliced 10 red maraschino cherries, halved
Lay lettuce leaves on a serving platter or individual salad plates. Place a pineapple ring on each lettuce cup.
In a small mixing bowl, toss together mayonnaise, peaches, marshmallows, and banana slices.
Fill center of pineapple slices with fruit mixture. Top with 2 to 3 cherries to resemble holly berries.
December 19, 1953 • This cake was served at the now-defunct Kenlin Hotel in Dobson. Opened in 1846 as the Norman Inn, the hotel was known for its excellent food and for hosting nearly every North Carolina Superior Court judge.
Yield: 12 servings.
2 cups all-purpose flour 1½ teaspoons baking powder 3 tablespoons cocoa powder 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon ½ teaspoon ground cloves ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg 1 cup mashed potatoes, chilled 1 cup blackstrap molasses 1 cup whole buttermilk 1½ cups granulated sugar 2 sticks salted butter, room temperature 4 large eggs 1 cup pecans, chopped 1 cup raisins Powdered sugar (for dusting)
Preheat oven to 325°. Grease and flour a 10-inch Bundt pan.
In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, cocoa powder, and spices.
In a separate bowl, mix mashed potatoes, molasses, and buttermilk.
In a third bowl, cream sugar and butter with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add potato mixture and beat until combined.
Gradually add flour mixture to wet ingredients and blend on low speed. Stir in pecans and raisins. Pour batter into the pan and spread top evenly.
Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes. Let cool completely on a rack. Place on a cake stand. Dust top with powdered sugar and serve.
December 15, 1968 • In lieu of ham biscuits this year, delight your holiday guests with these German-inspired bites. While you could purchase egg salad from your local grocery store for this dish, the 1968 recipe recommends making it yourself.
Yield: 8 rolls.
For the egg salad: 4 hard-boiled eggs, chopped 1 tablespoon mayonnaise 1 teaspoon dill pickle relish 1 teaspoon anchovy paste 2 teaspoons dill pickle juice
For the rolls: 8 thin slices boiled ham, not shaved Egg salad 8 asparagus spears, blanched
For the egg salad:Mix all ingredients until well combined.
For the rolls: Place one slice of ham on cutting board. Spread 2 teaspoons of egg salad in the center. Place one asparagus spear on top of egg salad. Roll ham around ingredients and secure with a decorative toothpick. Repeat until all ingredients have been used. Refrigerate until ready to serve.