Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Recipes and Reads with Author Karla Stover: Recipe for Vinegar Cookies and Tacoma History in A Feather for a Fan

Recipes 'n Reads Series
Guest author Karla Stover

Please welcome talented author Karla Stover to our Recipes 'n Reads series, scheduled every third Wednesday of the month. Karla shares one of her favorite recipes and the reason why she chose this particular one. If you love history, you will love Karla's book, A Feather for a Fan! Read on.


Welcome, Karla! Thank you for being my guest.

Why did you choose to share the recipe for vinegar cookies? I must admit I have never heard of them...

My great grandmother Elizabeth Grose Cady came to the United State from

Penzance, Cornwall in 1862. She kept a proper English household, something she

passed on to her daughters which include my grandmother, Zenaida. And that

included afternoon tea where we had vinegar cookies among other things. In trying

to research the origin of vinegar cookies, I can only get as far back as far back as

the Victorian era.

Two other things we had but not at tea were Cornish pasties - - - so good and, if we

were sick, Buttery sops. “Sopps” comes from sopp, the Old English word for

“bread soaked in liquid” and it dates back to medieval times. From this we get

“milksop” meaning a weakling, someone who could only take bread soaked in a

little milk.

The Buttery sops we had when we were sick was buttered bread smooshed in

warm milk but there are lots of variations. Some people use meaty broth or wine

instead of milk. Some add legumes, mushrooms, fruits, capon meat, or

cheese. Now days, not many people are familiar with it but Buttery sops seemed

like a good comfort food for my character, Mr. Money, who was undergoing drastic

dental work. This is an excerpt from A Feather for a Fan, and why Mrs. Money

makes Buttery sops for her husband.

“Doctor Spinning retrieved his medical bag from the counter and took out a glass

tube. Then he opened a jar and fished around in it. “You ever see one of these,

young lady?” He held up something black and slimy that moved between his

fingers. Before Hildy could answer, the doctor said, “It’s a Dalmatian blood sucker.

Best kind there is. Now, look here, I’m going to put this little guy in this tube. Mrs.

Money, you’d better help me.

Mrs. Money knelt on the floor nest to her husband and Dr. Spinning handed the

tube. “You just hold this right there on the gums where they’re all red and nasty

looking and the leech will east all that bad tissue away.”

“For how long?” Mrs. Money asked.

“I’d say about twenty, maybe thirty minutes.”

When I wrote both A Feather for a Fan and the sequel, Mr. Singer’s Seamstress, I

read local newspapers of the time and did two things: I wrote my characters into

what was going on in Tacoma and included real people. Both Dr. Spinning and Mr.

and Mrs. Money were Tacoma residents.


Vinegar Cookies


½ cups shortening

1 cup sugar

1 egg

3 TBL vinegar

1 TSP baking soda

1 TSP salt

1 ¾ cups flour (more if dough is too sticky)

Mix the wet ingredients together, add the dry and form into a roll (log)

Chill. Slice and sprinkle on a little sugar, bake at 350’.


A Feather for a Fan by Karla Stover


Everything about New Tacoma in Washington Territory comes as a shock to Hildy Bacom when she and her family move there in 1876. Cows and pigs roam the muddy streets‚ some people live in lean-tos or hollowed-out tree trunks‚ and her first friend‚ Mrs. Money‚ runs a shop with a parrot on her head. Hildy's new life includes a new best friend and a romance‚ plus a lady of the night‚ Indian and lots of Chinese. Over her first year on the frontier Hildy encounters a skunk‚ a bear‚ and a lost Chinese baby. From fires to landslides to the unexpected appearance of her cousin‚ Elsie‚ Hildy's life in a rough frontier town isn't at all what she expected.




Author Karla Stover

I graduated from the University of Washington with honors in history. I

think I would have full honors but in one of my classes I defended the

British presence in Africa and that unpopular stance pulled my GPA down.

Bummer. Anyway, I started writing when a friend of mine became editor of

a newspaper called Senior Scene and needed someone to write a column on

local history. Then a bank clerk I knew happened to mention The Imperial

Russian Journal ( https://www.romanovs.eu/paul-gilbert ) so I contacted the

editor, Paul Gilbert, and began writing for it. He branched out and started the

European Crown and I also wrote for it. Along the way, I wrote for the

Tacoma Reporter, had a column in Country Pleasures and freelanced to The

[Tacoma] News Tribune, Chronicle of the Old West, and Birds and Blooms.

Last but not least, for many years I had a radio program, first on KISS and

then on KLAY called “Local History With Karla Stover.” 


Karla writes a blog post for our publisher, BWL Publishing, on the 11th of each month. Click here to read her February article, Winter Walking.

BWL Publishing

Karla's Books on Amazon



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Shannon Lawrence said...

I've never heard of vinegar cookies, but I'm curious about their taste.

J.Q. Rose said...

Hi Shannon. Although I am not a cookie baker,I do want to try these. Thank you for stopping in!

Karla Stover said...

Thank you ladies, for dropping by. If you bake the cookies, hope you like them.

Helena Fairfax said...

I've never heard of vinegar cookies, but I know and love Cornish pasties :) They're widely available even in my county of Yorkshire, which is much further north. Thanks for the lovely post!

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