Food for a Barn-Raising

16-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Tuesday, June 6, 1911: We had the raising of the barn this morning. Tweetie and her mother were here to assist. Besse also. Perhaps you may think I was in my highest ecstasy, a hovering among the dishes. M.C.R. was here. Good night.

Recent photo of the barn on the farm where Grandma lived when she wrote the diary. Which part was the addition that was raised a hundred years ago today?

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

It’s amazing how neighbors helped one another a hundred years ago. I wonder how many men helped with the raising of the barn addition, and how much food Grandma helped prepare and serve. The Mennonite Community Cookbook by Mary Emma Showalter contains a menu for a barn raising. The book was published in 1950—but the author writes that the menu was found in an old hand-written recipe book of her great-grandmother’s so it’s old:

Food for a Barn Raising

(Enough food for 175 men)

115 lemon pies

500 fat cakes (doughnuts)

15 large cakes

2 gallons applesauce

3 gallons rice pudding

3 gallons cornstarch pudding

16 chickens

3 hams

50 pounds roast beef

300 light rolls

16 loaves bread

Red beet pickle and pickled eggs

Cucumber pickle

6 pounds dried prunes, stewed

1 large crock stewed raisins

5 gallon stone jar white potatoes and the same amount of sweet potatoes

  The Mennonite Community Cookbook by Mary Emma Showalter

5 thoughts on “Food for a Barn-Raising

  1. I love the “Enough food for 175 men”!

    I just discovered your blog via your interview in Geneabloggers. 100 years ago, one of my grandmothers was four years old in Pittsburgh and the other was 14 years old in Chicago, so I look forward to reading your blog to get a sense of what life might have been like for them.

    1. It’s amazing how we both included the same excerpt from this book in our respective blogs. I also consider the Mennonite Community cookbook to be a staple of our home. Even though I’m not Mennonite–so many of the recipes are for the foods that I grew up with.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s