North Dakotan Biscuits and Gems


The Civic League of Williston, ND

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Tonight, we’ll read about baking biscuits and gems from the “Civic League Cookbook” from North Dakota in 1913.

Gems are little muffin-like cakes that were popular in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. They were most often made using graham flour, and had very few other ingredients – some just required graham flour, water and salt.

Graham flour is named after Sylvester Graham , a minister who is considered one of America’s earliest and most vocal advocates of dietary reform. Foreshadowing the modern health food movement, he believed that natural foods in the purest form – whole grains, vegetables, fruits and nuts – were the pathway to a healthy life. Graham recommended using coarsely ground, whole-wheat flour to make bread, rather than white flour, which often contained chemical additives.