Sunday, January 26, 2014

A Chinese New Year Tribute: Revisiting Lottie Moon, The Cookie Lady

Some of you may have "met" Lottie Moon before, I did an in depth post about her unconditional devotion to the Chinese people while serving as a Baptist missionary to China in 1873, way back in 2009. Her chosen mission was to spread the word of God among the Chinese people in a time when it was almost unheard of for women of her status. Despite the many obstacles she endured, Lottie spent her entire career in northern China, first in Tengchow (now called Penglai) and later in Pingtu.

Today I would like to explore the "lighter" side of Lottie (short for Charlotte) Digges Moon or the Cookie Lady, as she became to be known among her friends in China, with a few passages from The Lottie Moon Cook Book by Claude Rhea published in 1969.

When Lottie sailed for China in 1873, she brought with her the latest edition of Mrs. Hill's New Cook Book. Originally published as Mrs. Hill's New Cook Book, a Practical System for Private Families, in Town and Country with Directions for Carving and Arranging the Tables for Dinners, and Parties in 1872, it is believed Lottie's "go to" cookbook was the 1875 revised edition authored by socially prominent Georgia native Annabella P. Hill.

The recipes in this book have been gleaned from Miss Lottie Moon's own personal copy of Mrs. Hill's New Cook Book. Though the actual copyright date of Mrs. Hill's New Cook Book was 1872, the flyleaf of Miss Moon's copy was inscribed "L. Moon Jan. 7th 1875," which indicates that Lottie Moon used these recipes for some thirty-eight years during her forty-year tenure as a missionary in China...Lottie Moon's copy of Mrs. Hill's New Cook Book, together with other treasured mementos of her China years, is in the possession of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.

A facsimile of Mrs. Hill's New Cook Book, 1872 edition, "one of the most influential cookbooks of the post–Civil War South," has recently been published. I found a historical commentary about the book by culinary historian Damon Lee Fowler at The University Of South Carolina Press:

Originally published in 1867 as Mrs. Hill's New Cook Book this encyclopedic treasury of recipes, cooking advice, and household hints brims with insight into the culinary heritage of the South in general and Georgia in particular. With its return to print, the charming volume revises popular legends about the food ways of the Old South, revealing both the bounty of the Southern table and the expertise of the Southern cook.

From the Lottie Moon book:

Those first few years spent in Tengchow were busy but rather discouraging ones. There was distrust toward foreigners and she was often called the "Devil Old Woman." One day she tried a new method to reach people; cookies!... Chinese boys and girls couldn't resist the smell of those delicious cookies and as they munched happily, Lottie Moon had an opportunity to tell them the good news of Christ.

She served cookies many, many times through the years and used them as a point of contact with the Chinese people. Her cookie jar was also famous with children of missionary families who stopped over in her home from time to time.

Miss Moon, according to a China missionary, was lovingly nicknamed "The Cookie Lady." Her other more familar nickname came to be "The Heavenly Book Visitor" which replaced the "Devil Old Woman."

The Cookie Lady distributing tea cakes. Scene from film of the Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, The Lottie Moon Story

It has been my pleasure these past few weeks to visit many of you who will be celebrating Chinese New Year, and the year of the Horse, in a few days. To my delicious surprise, you have been baking up a plethora of unbelievable cookies. Lena, Joyce and Zoe have been conducting a month long bake-a-long featuring Chinese New Year Cookies which has an amazing 177 links. Just look at Joyce's most recent entry, "Crispy, fragrant Kuih Rose." Thank You Joyce!

I am more than intrigued to try Lena's Salted Egg Cookies and Zoe's Milky Cream Cheese Cookies sound heavenly! Of course, it is most difficult to choose just a few recipes from the linky list so I suggest you stop by one of the hostesses' blog and grab a whole bunch!!!

If Lottie Moon were with us today, I have a feeling her contribution to the New Year festivities would be her Plain Tea Cakes. These were the cookies she baked most often to entice the Chinese children to come and listen to her stories about Jesus.

As you can see, none of the wording or format has been changed in the Lottie Moon Cook Book. I was quite lucky to find an adapted version of Lottie's Tea Cakes at this website. The hostess of the website writes "I can say that I have made these cookies and they are super easy and pretty tasty too."

Lottie’s Plain Tea Cakes

2 cups flour

1/2 cup butter

1 heaping cup of sugar

1 well beaten egg

1 tbsp cream

Cream the butter and sugar. Add the egg and mix well. Add the flour and cream. Dust a board with flour. Roll the dough very thin. Cut cookies with a round cookie cutter. Place on a nonstick cookie sheet. Bake at 475 for 5 minutes.

The author, Claude Rhea, also included pictures of actual pages of her book.

During my research for today's celebration, I found many references to Lottie Moon's taste for tea. Perhaps she follwed these directions for Green Tea from Mrs. Hill.

In 1887 Lottie suggested to the Baptist women of Virginia the idea of a special Christmas offering. It's original purpose was to provide help for Lottie so she could take a much needed furlough back home. In her plea she wrote:

Need it be said why the week before Christmas is chosen? Is it not the festive season, when families exchange gifts in memory of The Gift laid on the altar of the world for the redemption of the human race, the most appropriate time to consecrate a portion from abounding riches and scant poverty to send forth the good tidings of great joy into all the earth.

The Women's Missionary Union, formed in 1888, took up the challenge and proclaimed a week of prayer and a special Christmas offering for 1888. It adopted a goal of $2,000 and requested a grant of $100 from the Foreign Missions Board for postage and publicity, of which only $72.82 was spent. Actual receipts amounted to $3,315.26.

The week of prayer and Christmas offering became an annual emphasis among the Baptist women. In 1918, the Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board named the annual churchwide offering the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. In the first ninety-five years since Lottie suggested it, more than a half-billion dollars was collected. It is said "One hundred percent is used for special projects, material and equipment: things that assist and enhance the work of missionaries." The goal for 2014 is $175 million.

FYI: Lottie was fluent in Latin, Greek, French, Italian, Spanish, Hebrew and English. She stood 4'3" tall.

Lottie Moon died on Christmas Eve in 1912 on board a ship bound for America. She was 72.

On December 20, 1912, she set sail for America, accompanied by Miss Cynthia Miller. While the ship was anchored at Kobe, Japan, on Christmas Eve, Lottie Moon quietly slipped into eternity. Japanese law decreed that the body be cremated. On January 28, 1913, a memorial service for Lottie was held at Second Baptist Church of Richmond, Virginia, and her ashes were interred in Crewe, Virginia. (source)

Lottie Moon's feast day is celebrated December 22 on the Episcopal Liturgical calendar. Here she is depicted in a stained glass window at Crewe Baptist Church.

"It is a great mistake to say that the Chinese are not hospitable.
A more graceful, hearty hospitality than that of the Chinese I have met in no land."

~Lottie Moon~ Pingtu, China, Sept. 10, 1890

1. Charlotte "Lottie" Diggs Moon
2. Charlotte Diggs "Lottie" Moon @Dan's Faithweb
3. A Snapshot of Lottie Moon's Life (scroll down)
4. Missions and Lottie Moon
5. Lottie Moon and Joshua Fry
6. Southern Cooking with Mrs. Hill (short article)
7. Lottie Moon Tour at Crewe Baptist Church
8. Housekeeping Made Easy @ google books
9. My Previous Lottie Moon Post