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Thursday Thirteen Ed. #137: 13 Fun Facts About Fannie Farmer and Frances Farmer

March 19th, 2008

I was going to write this post two weeks ago, but I got distracted by someone’s smut talk. That’s right. It was her. No, I cannot find the exact post I’m referring to, because I cannot figure out her archives is why. (Blame it on Mac blogs.) Anywho, lots of sex talk, smut talk, shoe talk, California talk over there. Don’t go all crazy.

Thirteeners and Usual Suspects, I am back. And this week, I will make a stunning and daring attempt to visit 50 — yes, fifty — Thursday Thirteen blog posts after I am done here. Wish me luck, because you know how it challenges me when I try to “concentrate” on something for more than 20 minutes at a shot.

Hmmm. Why is this so? I have no idea. All I know is that both Mallory and Rockstar Mommy have given up blogging and I am not so happy about that. It leaves me less than inspired about my own blogging! They inspired me! I am not giving you links to them because what would be the point?

To quote Lewis Grizzard: “Elvis is dead and I don’t feel so good myself.”

Without further kvetching, I present…

Thirteen Fun Facts About Fannie Farmer and Frances Farmer:

1) They are not the same person. They are entirely different chicks.

2) Fannie was a Unitarian, thus my Sunday School lesson on her a couple of weeks back.

3) Throughout the class, I was nervous that I was going to say “Frances” when I meant “Fannie.” Frances was accused of being both an atheist and a Communist. Hmm.

4) Perhaps I should have worked this quote into my lesson? “It was pretty sad, because [after the publication of God Dies] for the first time I found how stupid people could be. It sort of made me feel alone in the world. The more people pointed at me in scorn the more stubborn I got and when they began calling me the Bad Girl of West Seattle High, I tried to live up to it.”

5) Sadly, I did not share that quote with the children. Instead, we made muffin mix:

Mae’s Muffins
Adapted from a recipe by Fannie Farmer, the “Mother of Level Measurements.”

1 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
2 cups all-purpose flour or whole wheat flour (or 1 cup of each)
1/3 cup sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Heat oven to 400°. Grease bottoms only of 12 medium muffin cups, 2 1/2 X 1 1/4 inches, or line with paper baking cups. Beat milk, oil, vanilla and egg. Stir in flour, sugar, baking powder and salt mixture all at once just until flour is moistened (batter will be lumpy).

Possible add-ins: 1 cup fresh or drained canned blueberries or 3/4 cup frozen blueberries, thawed and well-drained; chocolate chips or nuts; shredded or chopped apples.

Divide batter evenly among muffin cups. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Immediately remove from pan.

We measured the dry ingredients only into gallon zip-lock bags. The kids thought this was excellent. We accidentally added a half-teaspoon of extra salt into the mix we brought home. No matter! We added shredded, unsweetened coconut for our “add-in,” along with some extra sugar, and it turned out great! We made a pan of it, due to the fact that I couldn’t find our muffin tin. It baked at 350 degrees (then 325 degrees, for the last 20 minutes) for about an hour total. Dee-licious.

6) Fannie Farmer worked as a “mother’s helper” for Little Marcia Shaw (this is how she is named in my book) and taught her to cook! Then she wrote down the recipes for her, and that eventually became the “Boston Cooking School Cook Book.”

7) She taught at the school for many, many years.

8) How many? I have no idea!

9) She also wrote a book called “Food and Cookery for the Sick and Convalescent.” She considered this her most important book. When I am sick, all I want is Pad Thai with shrimps and Tom Kha Gai soup. I am seriously doubting that her Food and Cookery book contains these recipes, so I have no plans for purchasing it. I am sorry, Fannie. Also I have no plans for actually cooking Tom Kha or Pad Thai, cuz we have a number of excellent Thai restaurants in my neighborhood where we can go for take-out.

10) Hmm. More on Frances? She supposedly never had a lobotomy, according to Wikipedia. And Wikipedia, as you know, is next to God. Just ask Michael Scott.

“Western State Hospital recorded all the lobotomies performed during Farmer’s period there. Since lobotomies were considered ground-breaking medical procedure, the hospital did not attempt to conceal its work. Although nearly 300 patients received the procedure, no evidence supports a claim that Farmer was among them.”

Newspaper interviews: In 1983 Seattle newspapers interviewed former hospital staff members, including all the lobotomy ward nurses who were on duty during Farmer’s years at Western State. They confirmed that Farmer did not receive a lobotomy. Nurse Beverly Tibbetts stated, “I worked on all the patients who had lobotomies, and Frances Farmer never came to that ward.” Freeman’s private patient records contained no references to Farmer. Dr. Charles Jones, Psychiatric Resident at Western State during Farmer’s stays, also stated that Farmer was never given a lobotomy.”

11) Fannie? She taught people to measure “exactly” and is known as the “Mother of Modern Measurements.” She and my granny would not get along one bit because my granny does not measure anything. Ever. She uses a measuring cup to dip in the flour, but only if she doesn’t have a coffee cup handy. I have followed in her footsteps, I am happy to say.

12) Frances Farmer’s films include: “Come and Get It,” “The Toast of New York” and “South of Pago Pago.”

13) If I had to choose between dinner with Fannie Farmer and Frances Farmer, I think I’d go for Frances. We could get Thai take-out and discuss our medical histories, amongst other things.

Happy Thursday, y’all!


  1. Cindy Lynn says

    I liked this list a lot, especially since I *knew* they were not the same person, but when I had to explain why, I couldn’t lay my hands on a lot of facts. :D

    Very cool!

    March 20th, 2008 | #

  2. MamaToo says

    I loved this post, and especially the recipe (yum) and the hilarious stream-of-conciousness commentary I love about you. Communists, lobotomies, and Tom Kah Gai soup? Who else can put those things together? happy thursday – good luck with your quest for 50.

    March 20th, 2008 | #

  3. Malcolm says

    I first became familiar with Frances Farmer from the movie in which Jessica Lange played her. It was amazing how much Jessica looked like Frances. I finally saw a film with Frances last year on Turner Classic Movies. It was one of the movies that you listed (Come and Get It). I really enjoyed it.

    March 20th, 2008 | #

  4. Library Lady says

    Yeah, but just imagine the meal Fannie would cook for you!

    March 20th, 2008 | #

  5. Chris says

    Fun list, though I’m afraid I have no idea who either of them are. Thanks for stopping by my list this week, hope you made it to your goal of 50.

    March 21st, 2008 | #

  6. Chelle Y. says

    I have never heard of either of them. Thanks for the information.

    March 21st, 2008 | #

  7. Norris Hall says

    Hi. If you are interested in cooking Thai food try
    It’s got about 30 recipes each one with a cooking video to go along
    Good if you like to try cooking Thai food at home

    March 23rd, 2008 | #

  8. Joely says

    I never expected to read about Fannie Farmer and lobotomies at the same time. :-) Happy TT and Happy Easter!

    March 23rd, 2008 | #

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