Lemon Sponge Pie, Marshmallow treats and Apple Butter recipe

Joan Fry remembers her mother making sandwiches and pies which her father sold to patients at the Tuberculosis Sanatorium in Sabillasville in the 1940’s. Thursday was pie day. The patients were so lonesome for their families who weren’t able to visit very often because tuberculosis was so contagious. This is one of those recipes. Reminiscent of a traditional lemon meringue pie.

Nothing like a lemon
Nothing like a lemon sponge pie from the 1940s.

Lemon Sponge Pie, Joan (Bitter) Fry, 1940s or earlier

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • Yolk of 2 eggs

Directions: Beat this together. Add grated rind and juice of one lemon (about one-fourth cup), add 3 tablespoons flour or cornstarch. Mix all together. Add 1 cup milk and the stiffly beaten egg whites (I folded in the egg whites). Pour into shell. Bake one hour minutes at 325 degrees F. or until firm. Top will be a golden brown color.

From a folded newspaper recipe found in my Trinity Lutheran Recipe Box

Decorating Marshmallows: From Katherine Kitchen, 1970

In addition to either large or miniature marshmallows, you will need flavored gelatin and some food coloring. Add the coloring to the dry gelatin, a few drops at a time, mixing well to obtain the desired color. (A blender can be used for this step and it does the trick beautifully). Dip two or three marshmallows at a time in water. Drain, the excess moisture by shaking in paper toweling, then roll in the colored gelatin. Place on paper toweling and allow to dry thoroughly.

I borrowed a neighbor’s toddler to help with this marshmallow recipe.  He didn’t get beyond bathing the marshmallows in water, so I finished the recipe on my own. I skipped the food coloring and blender step and used packaged, flavored Jell-O instead. The dry Jell-O was poured it into a zip-lock bag, wet marshmallows added and a little shaking to finish the coloring. Fun decorations to add with dyed eggs.

Hints from 1980:

Lemons: Submerge a lemon in hot water for 15 minutes before squeezing will yield almost twice the amount of juice.

Oranges: If you put oranges in a hot oven before peeling them, no white fibers will be left on them. To increase juice yield, follow hints for lemons.

1967: Dip a new broom in hot salt water before using. This will toughen the bristles and make it last longer.

Nice and creamy apple butter just like grandma made.
Nice and creamy apple butter just like grandma made.

Notes for Apple Butter: 1953.

These were handwritten and tucked behind the apple pie recipes in my Pennsylvania recipe box. This is a no spice recipe. Apple butter has the consistency of soft butter; butter isn’t an ingredient.


  • 12 crates of red delicious apples for cider.
  • 4 bushels of banana apples for snitz (dried apples)
  • 35 lbs. of sugar
  • No spice
  • Recipe:
  • (Make cider and snitz ahead of time)
  • 30 or more gallons of cider (about 9 of mother & dad’s milk buckets)
  • 7 large buckets of snitz

Cook cider down in kettle at least 8 inches. Put in snitz and cook down to the mark (inside the kettle) and add sugar and cook until it jellies in dish.

Here’s a photo of an apple butter kettle, made in the late 1800’s by JP Schaum in Lancaster. My husband and I bought it in Omaha, drove it to California and now it’s with us in Maryland. Quite a journey for one pot.