Murder: Not Most Foul, But Sweet & A Little Bit Spicy

Today, Gentle Reader, I have for you a tale of mayhem and murder, set in the gaslit streets of 1896.

But instead of ending under a tombstone, this story ends in cookies.  Plus a bonus quick bread recipe.

I am totally digging that many people who are stuck at home because the world is on fire have begun baking.  Folks are baking so much bread that yeast has become scarce.  So, enterprising, adaptable Americans are starting their own sourdough starter from naturally occurring free-floating yeast.

Honestly, I couldn’t be prouder or more pleased.  You go, American self-starters!

They’re also making quick breads.  These are easier and as the name says, quicker.  Last week I shared my favorite banana bread recipe, and if you’ve made it Gentle Reader, I hope you’ve enjoyed it.

This week, I have a quick bread recipe that started its online journey on Reddit.  It’s actually a depression-era recipe that doesn’t call for scarce, expensive ingredients.  It doesn’t even contain eggs.

If like me, you are trying to cook from your pantry, or if there are allergy issues at your house, I’ve given you some substitutions that will still turn out a loaf you can be proud of.

The cookie recipe also came from Reddit.  It was shared by a woman who was researching a murder that took place in her house in 1896.  This led the woman, as she called it, “down the rabbit hole”.  She eventually came upon this recipe that came from Cushman’s Bakery which was next door to her house when the crime occurred.

As for the murder, in Patterson, New Jersey a homeless man spent the night accosting women, continuously escalating his behavior until he bludgeoned Mary Sullivan to death.  An interesting side note: the coroner ordered a photograph made of the woman’s retina under the then-theory of optography; that the last thing seen (in this case her killer) by the dead is permanently engraved upon the eye.

I listed tons of different substitutions for these cookies so that no matter what’s in your own pantry, you’ll be able to make your personal version of “Murder Cookies”.

Thanks for your time.

Contact debbie at

Murder Cookies

(Cushman’s Bakery Scotch Cookies)

1 1/2 cups sugar         

1 cup shortening

1/2 cup molasses

1 egg

3 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon mace

1/4 cup milk

Cream sugar. shortening, molasses, and egg.  Sift dry ingredients and beat in, along with the milk.

Drop by tablespoonful onto greased sheets.  Press down lightly with floured glass.

Bake, but do not overbake at 350° for 12-14 minutes.


Sugar: brown sugar

Shortening: Softened butter, olive oil, coconut oil, lard, duck fat, or half the amount of apple sauce.

Molasses: equal amounts of liquid sweetener such as honey, corn syrup, agave, maple syrup, sorghum.

Cinnamon and mace: Mix and match a total of 2 teaspoons except where noted.  Ginger, allspice, clove (use no more than ¼ teaspoon), Chinese five-spice, nutmeg (pinch of freshly grated), cayenne (to taste), back or pink peppercorns (pinch of freshly grated), curry powder, smoked paprika, anise, caraway,  fennel,  sumac, or cardamom.

Milk: any fat level, or any plant-based milk.

1932 Peanut Butter Pandemic Bread


2 cups all-purpose flour

¼ cup sugar

4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/3 cups milk

2/3 cup peanut butter

Preheat oven to 325°.

Mix dry ingredients.  Mix in the milk, then the peanut butter.

Scrape into greased quick bread loaf pan and bake for about 1 hour.

*You can use any type of peanut butter, nut butters, sun butter, Nutella, or cookie butter.

3 thoughts on “Murder: Not Most Foul, But Sweet & A Little Bit Spicy

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