I'm seriously beginning to wonder if my junior high school home economics teacher, Sophie Kwasniowski, is haunting me.
After three columns, you would think everyone had had enough of Miss K and her recipes -- and my reminisces. Not so! I have received more mail (all about Miss K) in the last three months than I have in all my years writing a column!
Through the letters and causal conversations with people I've seen in my travels, I've learned that Miss K taught home economics in North Adams schools during the 1940s, ‘50s and ‘60s. It's amazing to think of how many young women's lives she touched.
Suzanne Boyle, of Cheshire, who generously let me copy her cookbook from her classes with Miss K, wrote to thank me. She added a postscript: "I got to thinking more about my time at Freeman School and I remember the ‘old-fashioned' soap suds maker for doing dishes there. It was a metal-handled ‘thing' that opened up to insert a soap bar that you would close and swish under hot water in the sink. Can you believe that years later, I bought a similar one at an antiques show!"
Melanie (Smith) Burnell, of Pittsfield, also wrote to share her memories of Miss. K: "Sophie Kwasniowski was a friend of my family's! I remember fondly one day my family and I visited some friends and Sophie was there, showing us how to make these delicious lollipops! I am sorry I hadn't thought to have written the recipe down, as I was more into the moment with family, friends and Sophie, and what Sophie was showing us! I was also a very young girl! Sophie will always be remembered fondly. Yes, she touched many lives! She was quite the lady! If anyone ever comes across a lollipop recipe made by Sophie would you please have it printed?"
Mary Williams, of Adams, wrote: "Your recent article in the Eagle brought back many memories of Sophie Kwasniowski and the home ec. classes she had. She was a wonderful teacher. [I was] a student at Freeman School in the 7th and 8th grades in the early ‘40s. We made the infamous apron, hat, pot holders and dish towel (7th grade). The came the cooking -- baking powder biscuits and chocolate cake I remember well. A dirndl skirt was the 8th- grade sewing accomplishment. The food I remember was canning tomatoes and making spaghetti sauce for our last hurrah as we left Freeman for Drury High School.
Everything was from scratch. I, for one, was able to try the recipes out on the family."
All in all, Sophie left a great impression on her students.
And I heard from Melanie Burnell again -- this time with wonderful news to share:
"I came across two recipes of Sophie Kwasniowski in the First Congregational Church of Adams cookbook, compiled by the Women's Society. Enjoy!"
2 tablespoons butter or oleo, melted
3/4 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons grated orange rind
1/2 cup finely cut dates
1 cup sugar
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Combine first seven ingredients. Mix and sift remaining ingredients; stir in and mix well. Turn into a greased loaf pan. Bake in moderate oven (350 degrees) for 50 minutes or until done.
Grape-Nuts Puff Pudding
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup sugar
2 egg yolks, well beaten
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons Grape-Nuts cereal
1 cup milk
2 egg whites, stiffly beaten
Add lemon rind to the butter and cream well; add sugar gradually, blending after each addition. Add egg yolks and beat thoroughly, then lemon juice. Add flour, Grape-Nuts and milk, mixing well. Fold in egg whites. Turn into a greased baking dish and place in pan of hot water. Bake in slow oven (325 degrees) one hour and 15 minutes. Serve cold, with cream.