Hmm. So on page four (of what’s left; the outside pages were missing) there’s a recipe from Sophia Hoffman, and then on the facing page, there are two recipes, one from “Carl’s wife” and this one, the chocolate cake from Sophia.
So I went looking for Sophia and it came down to two likely candidates. One lived in Platte County, along the railroad lines to Sterling. The other lived in Antelope County to the north. But I think the latter is the correct Sophia for two reasons.
One, this Sophia lived on a farm; the other had a family that worked on a railroad bridge gang (basically, men who build and repair bridges for trains). As the author of the notebook lived on a farm, it seems more likely that she traded recipes with her neighbors than with railway workers.
Two, her husband’s name is Carl. And Carl and Sophia loved each other very much. Very much. Here’s the family in the 1940 census.
I’m starting to worry if it’s even safe to keep the recipes touching, lest they spawn a bunch of other recipes. Cupcakes, presumably.
This recipe is from the fifth page of the notebook; here’s the page in full (click to enlarge).Click to expand a longer explanation...
|In the words of the seller:
I acquired this book from the great granddaughter of the woman who wrote this book back in a small Nebraska town in the 30’s. She belonged to that generation of rural housewives who worked tirelessly to make ends meet and “keep body and soul together” for their families working the farms.
[A]fter a conversation I had with a friend’s sister who used to live in North Eastern Colorado, given the type of recipes listed we decided it might be from a small town there, i.e., Sterling or Fort Morgan. Also North Platte or Scottsbluff, Nebraska. Even Cheyenne, Wyoming. If you Google a map of Sterling, Colorado and pull back, you will see all these little towns in that tri-state area.
Chocolate Cake From Sophia
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. lard or butter, mixed 1/2 c. cocoa
1 c. milk (sweet)
2 c. flour (or more)
1 tsp. soda (rounding)
Beat well and bake.