Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Among the family recipes that I have gathered is one for brownies included in a note written to my Great-Aunt Barbara. 

46 Oak Street 
Taunton, Mass.
June 24th

Dear Barbara -
   Congratulations and all that sort of thing! I hope you will have the best of summers.
   I can not thank you for being such a trump the day of the fashion show! Please let this "baseline" help me.

Martha Foster


Baseline? Maybe that's a play on baste line? Fashion show humor. You had to be there. (Or maybe someone out there can transcribe that line better than I did.)

Thanks to good ol' retro-stalker (ancestry.com), I was able to determine that Martha Foster lived at 46 Oak Street in 1933 and 1934, when Barbara was fifteen or sixteen years old. Born in New Hampshire in 1902, Martha Foster worked as a teacher at Taunton High School.  In 1938 she married her colleague, Walter Bowman, and thereafter she was known as Martha F. Bowman. The couple lived in Taunton and finally settled in or near Mattapoisett, Massachusetts.

I doubt that Barbara and Martha were close friends. Martha Foster was born about 16 years before my great-aunt.  Barbara attended St. Mary's, not Taunton High, so it's unlikely that the two had a student-teacher relationship either. Nevertheless, even as a teenager Barbara was probably a godsend at a fashion show. She was always at her sewing machine.

It's just a nice little thank-you note and someone in the family probably saved it for the sake of keeping the recipe. Maybe Martha's brownies were the culinary hit of the show, and Barbara just had to make them herself. My great-aunt was a wonderful cook.

Well, the fashion show may be long over, but we can still judge the recipe. The brownies are chewy and moist and not too difficult to make. They're a little sweet though. Maybe baking chocolate has a bit more sugar now.

You'll need a small pan. Keep in mind that it was the 1930s. Waste not, want not and all that sort of thing.

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