Sorry folks, we are not about to take another journey into the alcohol soaked alleys of Berlin Ontario. Instead the recipe for Moonshine in the 1906 Berlin Cook Book is a fluffy dessert contributed by Mrs. H. C. Diebel. The additional adventure for me in making this recipe is that once again I am in an unfamiliar kitchen. I’m back in a friend’s kitchen since I came home from work to discover all the bathroom fixtures in other rooms and my kitchen packed to the brim again. I couldn’t even reach the fridge. It is time to put in subflooring and I did say it was a good week for the work as my friends needed a housesitter. It does mean I had to “borrow” some items from this well stocked kitchen which I will replace before they return.
A few days ago I brought supplies like eggs, milk, sugar, vegetables and fruits to this wonderful house so I could make the previous two recipes. Moonshine requires very few ingredients. I even remembered to bring my new dover style mixer. This is the type of manual egg beater you might still have stored away. Mine had seen better days and I finally found a new one. This was a very popular bit of technology at the turn of the century. There were all sorts of patents for hand mixers. For awhile Dover became the brand synonymous with egg beaters — rather like “Kleenex” or “Cuisinart” or “MixMaster”. The brand name become the name of the equipment.
I had no use for six servings of Moonshine to I cut the recipe in third. This is a great recipe for adding and subtracting depending on the number of people you wish to serve. As usual, you’ll have to decide for yourself whether to risk raw eggs. This dessert is not cooked. I separated two medium eggs and began beating the whites. My dover made short work of the two egg whites. I was able to find some icing sugar and add two tablespoons to the mix. I was prepared to use regular granulated sugar if I couldn’t find icing sugar (powdered sugar) in this kitchen. I started beating again but found that there was no need to beat for 15 minutes. Perhaps if you are making the full recipe it will require this length of time with a manual mixer. I still had a rather sad-looking peach left from Monday so I peeled and cut small pieces from the sound part of the peach. I probably had a bit more than 1/3 of tablespoon of peach in my final Moonshine.
Henry Conrad Diebel and Lydia Caroline Moebus were married in 1894. Lydia was a local girl with German born parents but her husband was from Germany. By the time the cook book was published they had three children and the 1911 census shows the family living at 47 Scott street. Both Henry and Lydia were 48 years old with two children at home. He works as a painter.
This is a great no cook recipe on another hot day. It is also a good way to use up a peach or perhaps other sorts of fruit. Of course there is no point in making it if you don’t like sweetened raw egg white. This is basically meringue before it is cooked. I rather liked it as it is light, fluffy and not too sweet. I think it needs more peaches. All that egg white and just a few bits of fruit might look pretty but it isn’t very satisfying. I’m trying to imagine how Lydia served this recipe. Clearly the presentation is important but I can’t imagine two preteen children appreciating it. It would be an inexpensive dish to make if she had her own chickens and it would really stretch a fruit like peaches that were not grown locally. A few people might try to nurture a peach tree in a Berlin back yard but most peaches came from the Niagara area even in 1906.
Beat the whites of 6 eggs to a stiff, then add gradually, 6 tablespoons powdered sugar, beating for 15 minutes, then beat in 1 heaping tablespoon peaches cut in tiny bits, in serving pour in each saucer some cream sweetened, flavored with vanilla and on the cream place the moonshine, this will be enough for 6 persons.