A Story and a Recipe

By Dorothy Johnson


Throughout our history we have heard about the brave women who helped our country through its historical difficulties.  Unfortunately, because only males were writing history books, it took a long time before we actually could read and study these brave women. Of course, we knew at an intellectual level that the early pilgrims brought men, women and children to this new land, but the women were rarely mentioned. On the Mayflower women joined the men and helped establish the Plymouth Colony, but before that, women landed on St.Croix Island and helped settled Jamestown.  

The women had many chores and work to do in the new world, but most of it would be classified as “housework”.  Housework then was very different, of course, and it took both strong and brave women to cut wood, carry water, handle the long gun, bear the children, tend the animals, take care of the gardens ,make cloth and clothes, and do everything that would keep the home fires burning. The work was difficult and the expectations were high so the mortality rate was quite high.  If the woman of the house died, the men managed by finding another woman to marry and take on the duties of the house. The family hardly skipped a beat.

Then in one of the early settlements if happenings could not be explained, residents were singled out and accused of being witches. Most of these residents were females. Salem, Massachusetts gets most of the credit for the witch burnings, but other very “religious” communities also got in on the act.

I have heard of no woman taking part in the great Tea Party. I have seen no pictures of a woman riding with Paul Revere or fighting the Redcoats as the British marched on Boston. No woman signed the Declaration of Independence and as far as we know, no woman helped write the Constitution. I personally believe that the more outspoken women gave their unsolicited advice at the supper table. 

We know about Betsy Ross and the young lady in Machias who carried ammunition to the Patriots in another town. We know about brave African-American women who conducted the Underground Railroad, the brave women who were nurses and even soldiers in disguise during the Civil War. But these women were the exceptions; they were not the working backbone of America, the women who did the hard work of settling America day-by-day.  Those women are our ancestors who live on in our memories, not in our history books; and I am betting that most of us can only go back two or three generations of our ancestors before we run out of names and deeds of either grandmothers or grandfathers. All of our unknown relatives not named in our history books did their part in making the America we have today, whether it was fighting in a war, growing food for others or working in the many mills in the country. We need to pay more attention to our ancestors; all of them are important in the real scheme of things.


Before I go on to the easy recipe for your Valentines, I will tell you what brought this tirade to mind.  After being alone here on the Ridge through four snow storms, after having the furnace quit twice (because I did not clear the vent), after having a snow drift block my driveway and another six foot drift on my deck, after having the front door freeze shut twice and after falling down and scaring myself half to death before I could get up, I have decided that I would not have been a good pioneer woman.  If settling the West had depended on me, we might have traveled as far as Pembroke.


Now I will introduce this week’s recipe.  My friend Sally gave me the recipe book of Dump Cakes by Kathy Mitchell. The cakes are quick and easy and would be great for your sweetheart on Valentine’s Day. This recipe is for Blueberry Cinnamon Cake.

Blueberry Cinnamon Cake


Two packages (12 ounces each) frozen blueberries, thawed and drained

One-third cup sugar

Three-fourths teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided

One package (about 15 ounces) yellow cake mix

Three-fourths (one and a half sticks butter), cut into thin pieces


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 13 by 9-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Spread blueberries in prepared pan.  Sprinkle with sugar and one-half teaspoon 

cinnamon; toss to coat.  Top with cake mix, spreading evenly. Top with butter in a 

single layer, covering cake as much as possible.  

Sprinkle with remaining one-fourth teaspoon cinnamon.

Bake 50 or 60 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean.  Cool at least 15 minutes before serving. This recipe makes 12 to 16 servings.


Here is another another quick and easy recipe for your special Valentine. I found this recipe for Cherry Chocolate Dump Cake from the Quick and Easy Dump Cakes by Cathy Mitchell.

Cherry Chocolate Dump Cake


Two cans (21 ounces each) cherry pie filling

One package (about 15 ounces) chocolate fudge cake mix

Three-fourths cup semisweet chocolate chips

Three-fourths cup (1 and a half sticks) butter, melted


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray 13 by 9-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Spread pie filling in prepared pan.  Top with cake mix, spreading evenly.  Sprinkle with chocolate chips. Pour butter over top, covering cake mix as much as possible.


Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean.  Cool at least 15 minutes before serving. Makes 12 to 16 servings.