Barney Google and the Applesauce Cake: Vintage Recipes from my Kitchen Today


This is a tale of two baked goods whipped up on different days but from the same awesome vintage cookbook, courtesy of Trinity Treasures (from Trinity Episcopal in Everett, WA a la 1965). I love love love cooking out of vintage recipe books, it is a something of a challenge, in part that recipes are written assuming a lot more kitchen knowledge than you find today and the ingredient ratios are different and often they are more simple but still flavorful. There are also some that are just not that tasty. Both the Barney Google Cake and the Applesauce Cake (I made it more like a quick bread) were selected to help use up some of my canned jams and sauces in the pantry. This makes them quite versatile.

Barney Google Cake or Bars


Bottom Crust Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2  eggs (I used 1)
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 tablespoon sugar, optional


  • at least 3/4 cup jam, not precise per se. I used fig jam!


  • 1/4 cup softened or melted butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar (white is fine too)
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup coconut flakes
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F.
  2. Lightly grease or line with parchment paper a 9×9 square pan or if doubling a 13×9
  3. Mix together the bottom crust ingredients. Sugar is optional.
  4. Press into the bottom of the pan. It is a bit like shortbread.
  5. Spread the jam on the crust. or dollop allover.
  6. Mix together the topping ingredients, except coconut until smooth. Then add and mix in the coconut.
  7. Spread topping over the jam filling.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown. Need to let cool a little bit before diving in.

Note: easily doubled to fill a 9×13 pan. Use any jam you want. Also simple to use gluten-free flours, such as GF oat bran flour. I also added 1 tablespoon to the shortbread like bottom crust and use unsweetened coconut flakes.

Applesauce Cake/Bread



  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 1/2 cups applesauce or ‘purees’
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cup flour
  • Optional: nuts, raisins, cranberries, 1/2 cup oatmeal, fresh or frozen berries


  • Preheat oven to 375 F. Prepare either a cake pan or loaf pan/pans with parchment paper. I doubled the recipe and made a full size loaf and three mini loaves.
  • Mix together all the wet ingredients. Adding the flour and then finally hand mixing in the add-ins like nuts etc.
  • Pour or spoon batter into pans. I had a little of this left over unsweetened plum and  pear puree that I was canning, which was used instead of applesauce, and I also drizzled some on top of the dough before baking.
  • This version has some random frozen raspberries, dried cranberries and plum/pear ‘sauce’. Feel free to change up your spices too.
  • Bake for 30-45 minutes until a tooth pick comes out clean.

Notes: Thank you Marilyn T. for submitting this simple and flexible recipe. It easily doubles and can use a variety of ‘sauces’ and add-ins. I halved the sugar from her recipe given the fruit’s natural sweetness and my desire to make this more of a ‘breakfast’ bread vs. dessert.


So Google was a word before Google was the web? Yes! Some sleuthing revealed Barney Google was a likable but fallible rumpled top hat horse jockey type cartoon character with goggle eyes (google is a play on goggle), who eventually was usurped by his sidekick Snuffy Smith, a bodacious hillbilly (by Billy DeBeck). Barney was married briefly to the formidable Mrs. Lizzie Google.  His cartoon theme song also inspired the memorable rice-a-toni jingle apparently. I guess he liked cake or found himself in ‘jams’ (one of the ingredients? ) Does anyone have other information, I wish I could ask my Grandma.

Other vintages recipes on this blog



Reach & Read: Cleared for Takeoff!

Cleared for Takeoff: The Ultimate Book of Flight by Rowland White


Yankee – Echo – Sierra! I recommend this book. Note that I am not an aviation expert, aficionado, hobbyist but I have flown in a few different kinds of planes, use aviation examples/learnings in my professional work with healthcare quality and safety, and appreciate a well written book with a variety of comparisons and contrasts paired with pictures, diagrams and activities to illustrate points. This book certainly hits that mark. Is it truly the Ultimate Book? That is not for me to judge alone.  Some of my favorite sections are the to-scale picture comparison of airplane size, all relative to the Hindenburg blimp (A380 looks like a toy), a word map of what planes are frequently named after (mammals, birds and meteorological phenomenon rank high), the activities to support concepts built in (like how to skip a stone in the section about dam busting strategies, origami), insignia reference and pictographs on how to land an airliner (you never know).  Aviation is important in my family and will make a great addition to our future bookshelves. While this is categorized as children’s non-fiction, I found the stories to be informative, well written yet able to stand alone so you could flip to sections of interest.  Note: there are several other books of the same/similar title. Here is my affiliate link for the right version, available October 2016.


A quick google search found me some of the downloadable activity sheets! Yay! I hope more will be available after book is published.

I received a electronic copy of this book to review but I was not financially compensated, nor required to say something positive, in any way. The opinions expressed are my own and are based on my experience and observations while reading this book. I haven’t yet purchased a hard copy because it not yet released.


PEPper Prepper Party : Like a cookie exchange but with waterproof matches.

all the disaster memes (thank you, I take no credit other than collaging them)!

I do love a theme! The disaster preparedness party idea started this summer when one of parents in our PEPs group shared an article on being ready for 9.0 earthquake in our near future (remember time is relative). In my last professional position, disaster preparedness was one of my bailiwicks, and I must have just been in a mood but therein sparked the September get together with our awesome PEPs group. Seriously, salt of the earth and surprisingly many had some form of disaster kit or at least a hint of a plan “a bunch of water in our garage and hope for the best”, so there was actual enthusiasm to get together and update now that our families are bigger by at least one. That and we like hanging out, eating and letting our kids play together.  Our first annual (because you need to update your kits) PEPper Prepper party was this September, which is National Emergency Preparedness Month (#notacoincidence).

Snapshot of some our kit contents to share.

Host your own Prepper Exchange Party

  • Create a list of basic items for guests to sign up to bring. Some examples:
    • Non perishable food items (think soup, vegetables, fruit, peanut butter, powder milk)
    • Can opener
    • Corkscrews (just kidding, sort of)
    • Whistles
    • Thermal emergency blankets
    • Moist towelettes
    • Garbage bags and ties for personal sanitation
    • Household bleach (for cleaning or water purification)
    • Water purification tablets
    • Duct tape (because if you can’t duct it …… )
    • Candles or flashlights
    • Lighters, matches
  • Suggest a minimum quantity to share with each family
  • Have guests sign up to bring 1) a dish or drink to share (potluck!) and 2) preparedness items to share


You might also want to have people bring boxes or find some 5 galloon food buckets to store items in. On a whim, I asked our local PEPs office if they had any swag that would be appropriate for disaster kits. Surprisingly, they had the perfect tote for us – electric lime green! [thank you for the other items too!]

Fortune cookies aka hope in a disaster and note the jam – must make room in my pantry!

Congregate, eat food, play with reckless abandon, assemble kits.  Another in the group found a cute coloring book to download about Pepper the Prepper Cat. There are others but this was a better fit for our toddlers (big picture, not a lot of words, they just eat crayons anyways). I also found a spooky vegetable page, a homage to our veggie-phobic brood. However, the large punch balloons were the big hit. Note: we live dangerously, since the balloons are labeled for ages 8 and over.



Check out this awesome repurpose/hack to portion out bleach using Medela storage containers. The label with instructions makes me smile.


Some helpful resources for filling in the rest of your kit:

Reach & Read: 1492 and 40 Fun Fables

Forty Fun Fables: Tales that Trick, Tickle and Teach by Mitch Weiss and Martha Hamilton

This is an easy to read book of re-told fables, although not ‘fun’ like I hoped given tickle in the title. Content is directed at younger readers, there are some illustrations  and each tale provides the ‘moral of the story’ (pfew!) and has a nice section in the back with activities and ideas for parents and teachers, with some emphasis on how to apply to Common Core Standards. There are activities like turning them into small plays etc. None of the lessons are big life, leadership lessons nor how you might explain the ‘key learning ‘to your child. Example “It’s good to be nice, but watch your back.” Rather than consider this a no-go on reading this book, use it as the starting point for conversation. This means these fables as opposed to other books I have reviewed, are better aimed a older children, maybe 7-10 years old?  Although this might be best used a classroom book as there are better fable collections out there that might inspire more thinking and action in children and/or more fun to read together.

But, in staying true to intent, my favorite fable in this book, titled the Happy Man with Holes in His Bucket, reminds us that “you will be happier if you look for the good in a situation.” Thank you for the complementary copy in exchange for my honest review August House.

It also reminds me of a talent show performance (am I remembering this right?) in years gone way by of the tune, “There’s a Hole in the Bucket”…..  totally different message or the story after the man in the fable got married to Liza?


A few days late for Indigenous People Day, but, that is just how it happens. Due  in part to the fact that I do not work for the government and go to great lengths to avoid physically entering a bank so it wasn’t  a day off for me but mostly it is delayed due to hashtag life.

Interesting collection of stories, meant to be read in succession/entirety but still enjoyable in bits and pieces. The authors did a thorough job telling more of the story around 1492, correcting many of the falsehoods ‘we’ hold today regarding the memorable year. “In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue…..” yes, true but there was a whole lot more going not that didn’t necessarily rhyme with blue (forget about flu). But this is not a historical fact repository rather an illustration of the power of storytelling in carrying communities and cultures forward.

This book has stories of various length and prose, some read more like poems, others are vignettes. The collection about the Canary Islands has me adding this destination to my vacation wish list but my favorite story, is the one about Black and Yellow (p. 175). I love all things bees especially this story is about the origin of the happy honeybee. Using magic and a desire to connect two disparate communities the Wise Man mixed up the work hard village (black) with the play hard village (yellow)  to create the black and yellow honey bee colony of today. Only part I am not sure I believe is the one about the tiny guitars (wink wink).  This text is thorough and would make a great class room resource or reference for a middle school history buff (or older). Thank you for the complementary copy in exchange for my honest review August House.


Other Fables and Folklore Tales on this site:

Reach & Read:Ticktock Banneker’s Clock


A biography of a pretty amazing man, Benjamin Banneker. Never heard of him? Me neither until I read this book with my son. Ticktock Banneker’s Clock is a illustrated children’s book telling the story of Benjamin Banneker, who all things consider, is an unlikely, but very welcome, character to be showcased for science and innovation. Benjamin, although born as a free black man in Maryland in the early 1700s, was only able to attend some schooling, spending the majority of his time as a farmer. Remember this is during a time that slavery was still prevalent, so his ability to self-education and, as shared int he story create his own clock after studying a friends pocket watch, is all the more inspirational.

The story is written in just the right detail and just the right length for both reading aloud and eventually reading to oneself. Benjamin displays qualities of patience, care, curious, persistence and ingenuity as described in story and via illustrations. While this book only shares one small part of Mr. Banneker’s life, building a clock in his early 20s, it leaves you wanting to go research and learn more. What else can you hope for in a book!  The illustrations are bright, contain a lot of detail, show the passage of time and seasons beautifully. The most memorable picture for me is that of a cardinal in winter. The pages are full of fun ‘I spy’ items like turkeys, bees etc.

In a time where there is still an under representation of diverse characters in children’s books,  the author Shana Keller and illustrator David Garnder offer a solution. I look forward to more of Banneker’s inventions.

Want to learn more about Benjamin Banneker? Here are some additional sources. Please add others the comment section.



I received a copy of this book to review but I was not financially compensated, nor required to say something positive, in any way. The opinions expressed are my own and are based on my experience and observations while reading this book

Reach & Read: Inside Your Insides

Inside Your Insides: A Guide to the Microbes That Call You Home by Claire Eamer


Itchy scratchy creepy crawly feelings are guaranteed! Interesting book about microbes that manages to make reading about a micro biome interesting. There are LOL kid jokes throughout, think knock knock and “what do you call a photo that a microbe takes itself? A cell-fie”.  Some words have pronunciations noted but there are still a fair amount of science words included, although the concepts are presented pretty simply and in a readable way. The glossary was a little light on content as well. For a child interested in science or things that are ‘gross’ this would be a fun book. I am sure as medicine continues to look at the power of the micro biome and how to restore, this will be come a more common children/young adult book theme. Maybe it will inspire a future scientist too?

I received a electronic copy of this book to review but I was not financially compensated, nor required to say something positive, in any way. The opinions expressed are my own and are based on my experience and observations while reading this book.

Reach & Read: A Squiggly Story

A Squiggly Story by Andrew Larsen


Love this book! It is a great, inspiring (as much as little kid books can) story and actually gives me ideas of how I can encourage my son with writing, creative thinking and play in the future, when he writes with implements, not just eat them or scribble on the table.. It features children that do not seem to be Caucasian (certainly not the cover character, but not profiling beyond that), an encouraging older sister (love to think that this was me, but I know I was bratty-at times), collaborative class mates and a fun story that is seemingly built on the fly using pictures and some letter. I hope more little squiggles stories will be coming out, and maybe an activity book someday??

I have added this book to the Children’s Book Shelf page where right now a list is growing with books featuring diverse characters or stories. Learn more about why on my Bee is for Books post.

I received a electronic copy of this book to review but I was not financially compensated, nor required to say something positive, in any way. The opinions expressed are my own and are based on my experience and observations while reading this book.

Painting with Plants: Nature Kid Fun


My little guy and I painted using some fern fronds, cedar needles (?) and leaves we collected on a walk recently. They make for a fun way to keep ‘interacting’ with nature and created a birthday card for grandma and easy art piece for our home.  My guy is more of the mess making age (under 2) vs. art making but we still had a good time together and our final products met the mark. Have fun collecting a few bits and pieces on your next walk, just do it respectfully!



  • leaves, pinecones, flowers, sticks, grass
  • paint
  • paper or cardstock
  • brushes
  • tape


  • We first taped down the nature bits to a piece of paper, either double sided or doubled up, and then painted over the top.
  • Start painting !



  • You can also take the leaf off after painting its online and press the painted side down on a new piece of paper.



  • Also, try making your own paint brushes. We taped some leaves, but grass etc would work, onto the end of brush, but a stick or pencil would work, to make a unique implement for more painting, or in our case mess making.



Reach & Read: Six Books of Fable and Folktale for Children of All Ages

I enjoy a good fable, parable, tale or story to help illustrate a lesson, prompt new thinking or reframe a problem. One that comes to mind really quick is the empty boat Tao story….. But in this post I want to share reviews and thoughts on six books gifted to me by August House in exchange for my honest review. What a treat, really as I would not have likely come across these particular presentations of classic storytelling.  I found them all enjoyable and encouraging of follow on activities (like baking some cookies!) Read on to learn about the Little Red Hen, origin of a baker’s dozen, some mischievous fairies, a slobbery dog, the smart kind sun and lastly a compendium of even more diverse tales.

The Little Red Hen Retold by Heather Forest Illustrated by Suan Garber



I love my chooks books! This timeless tale is told with succint lines, phrasing that perked up the ears of my toddler and prompted some ‘reading’ along (He loved the line My! My!). The book is written at just the right pace to keep the story moving but make clear the point of how important it is to pitch in and help with others. The illustrations are pleasing and catchy to the eye (both child and toddler). They are not too over done, predictable or crowded but still have some humorous, whimsical elements (the mouse in particular is comic relief) and offer the reader-in-charge items to question the listener about. Show me the dog, the cat, can you spy the mouse, what color is the string etc. I appreciate being able to spend more time in a story, toddler permitting and this book certainly supports that reading connection, it also offers an excellent alternative to the mass-media version. I certainly recommend this retelling of the classic fable and am thankful it has joined our bookshelf at home.

The Baker’s Dozen Retold by Heather Forest Illustrated by Susan Gaber

Another tale brought to our home complements of August House books! Forest and Gaber are names that appear on several books in our home know but you would have to look extra close to see the similarities as each story feels different and has different take on illustrations. This Colonial American tale about a greedy baker Van Amsterdam was a fun read for me, mostly because I did not know the origin of a bakers dozen (just the quantity) before reading this tale! I will most definitely add this book to our Christmas book count down calendar collection for sure and baking St. Nicholas cookies with the little man. The story does have a ‘dark’ character but she is presented in an approachable way that still makes the point about greed and its ripple effect. I also appreciate that the story’s lesson is clearly stated ” when generosity replaces greed, good fortune follows.”

Anyone have a family favorite recipe for St. Nicholas cookies to share?

The Contest Between the Sun and Wind: An Aesop Fable


Another fable from the Forest and Gaber duo complements of August House! I was not familiar with this particular Aesop fable in which Forest prompts the reader to think about whether or not gentleness, instead of force, can be a means to achieve a goal? Big question for a little people’s book but rings quite true in current day.

The wind is bit of a braggart and eggs the sun into a contest to see who can get an unsuspecting man’s jacket off first.  The wind tries to force it (think huff and puff) and sun kindly address the reason for the coat being on to begin with but imparting his (or is it a her?) warm rays. Guess who wins?

Recommendation: If Aesop could have met the Beatles on Abbey Road…. “Here comes the sun, here comes the sun.  And I say it’s all right”

The Great Smelly, Slobbery, Small-Tooth Dog Retold by Margaret Read McDonald and Illustrated by Julie Paschkis



The illustrations are quite elaborate and (naturally) I love that there are honeybees on almost every page and she uses the phrase ‘sweet as honeycomb’ to describe the kind canine. However, this particular fable was not a favorite at our house despite  being familiar with other versions like Beauty and the Beast. I think it is really the part that the father  gave his daughter (albeit beloved) away as a prize that influenced us the most. I try to be aware of potential themes that might raise questions  or fears as it relates to adoption or foster care.  For this single reason, we probably won’t be reading this again until little man is much older and we have a better idea of how he perceives the topic. I would still encourage others to read this book and enjoy the colorful and active illustrations.

The Woman Who Flummoxed the Fairies Retold by Heather Forest and Illustrated by Susan Gaber



It is not every day that the word flummoxed shows up in a children’s book. Flummoxed however captures the historical setting perfecting and for those not familiar defined on the last page [ confuse, perplex, surprise or befuddle] – all of which the smart woman did! You also learn the word ‘seanachies’, which was new for me, meaning Scottish storytellers. I would imagine that i have a few of these in my family tree. The illustrations are actually a bit hysterical, given the manly man type of fairy king with teeny legs and the perfect rainbow septor. Love!

The story is quite clever and highlights what lengths a parent will go to keep family together, but also be kind to others. She also teaches the fairies a few lessons in greed and practical things like what you need to bake a cake. The lesson learned through all of this is that ‘fairies gold (my note: think of this as gratitude) is like love or knowledge ~ or a good story. It’s most valuable when it’s shared.”    Please share this story with your family, you won’t regret it.

Ancient and Epic Tales from Around the World by Heather Forest



This is the last one by Heather Forest in our stack of books so kindly gifted to us by August House.  While it was just published this year, it is brimming with retellings from around the globe and across many diverse cultures. I love this fact! As there is more and more attention on how books should or do or don’t reflect diversity, there is literally a treasure of them already in existence. They just need retelling. I hope Heather puts more of these into children’s books, making them even more accessible at a younger age. Tales in this book range from Greek, Norse, light versions of Homer, Roman times, Sumerian, England (think Beowulf), Persia, India, China (Mulan), Japan, and all across the Southern Hemisphere. This particular book is more advanced that we are ready for at our house but in a few years will be fun to read the tale, talk about what we know already (maybe related to main stream story versions) and pair with learning more about the particular culture featured. Could also be class room resource. The book has a bibliography section with author notes from her research, remember that many of these stories were in oral form only for centuries.  Thank you to the author for all the research.

What are some of your favorite fables and stories to tell?