I decided to make Mrs. Welker’s Potatoes and Cream recipe (p. 66) from the 1906 Berlin Cook Book as I had leftover boiled potatoes. However, I was not prepared for Mrs. Welker’s story which left me teary-eyed as I cooked.
I think Mrs. Welker might be Fanny Feick who was born in 1875 in Woolwich Township and married Frank E. Welker, who in the 1901 census is a farmer. They both list their heritage as German and religion as Evangelical. They both can read and write and identify their mother tongue as German. At that time they lived with their little boy in Wallace Township (Wellington County) and it looks like they might be living near Frank’s family. Sometime later they move and by the 1911 census Frank and their 12-year-old son Loyd Wilfrid are living on their own in Woolwich Twp. Frank is now a general merchant. Sadly Fanny died in 1910, only a few years after submitting this recipe, and just a year before Berlin became a city. According to the Generations website she’s buried in Calvary United Cemetery in St. Jacobs with the following epitaph “Farewell Dear Mother, Sweet Thy Rest”. She was only 34 years old when she died.
Fortunately this recipe is easy to follow and quick to make. I put about a teaspoon of butter in a frying pan which was the closest thing to a spider in my kitchen. A spider is a type of cast iron frying pan usually with a long handle or with legs. I added chopped up cooked potatoes and let it fry. I assumed Fanny meant to put a lid on the frying pan. Once the potatoes were getting golden brown I added another teaspoon of butter. I’m not sure why this is needed. I think a modern cook might want to eliminate that part. I added salt and pepper and then put a little cream into the pan. I like fried potatoes so I probably didn’t add as much cream as Fanny. She was feeding a farming husband and growing son so the family needed those calories and cream was probably easy to get.
This was a tasty side dish and I would make it again except that I am not a farmer. I don’t need the cream and even fried potatoes are an indulgence. However, this recipe would make a great starting point for a modern cook. Fry some onions or add some herbs and this would be an interesting addition to a meal.
POTATOES AND CREAM
Mince cold boiled potatoes fine, put them into a spider with melted butter, let them fry a little in the butter well covered, then put in a fresh piece of butter, season with salt, pepper and pour over cream or rich milk, let it boil up once and serve.