Sphere Magazine July/August 1978

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The cover photo bursts with summer fruits, jams, vegetables, and preserves.  It’s such a good feeling on future cold winter days to be able to bring a little bit of summer to the table.  In this issue you can preserve ten different jams, chutneys, and pickles.

There is still a severe heat wave in many parts of the country at the moment which means it’s time for ice cream.  The recipes for homemade ice cream in an article by Bert Greene are classics like vanilla and strawberry, but also mango, apricot, plum, a 1920’s “Frozen Passion” made with ingredients like candied pineapple and ginger ale; another with two kinds of chocolate, coconut macaroons, and cognac;  and one I would love to try soon that includes toasted pine nuts and Grand Marnier in its ingredients.  Or how about refreshing drinks like Sangria, lemonade, or a ginger-grape cooler.

Perla Meyer has recipes for melons such as a chutney with watermelon rind, apples, and raisins; a honeydew-orange salad; and cantaloupe with raspberries and crème de cassis.

The great Edna Lewis wrote a long and heart-warming article about country cooking and growing up on a Virginia farm in a community called Freetown which was founded by her grandparents and other freed slaves.  They built large homes so all family members could be together; Edna’s parents, her grandfather, three sisters, two brothers, and cousins who were welcomed anytime.  Everyone shared in the work by tending the animals, gardening, foraging, fishing, harvesting, preserving, and dishes to celebrate each season.

The biggest excitement was Revival Week starting the second Sunday in August.  It was a kind of Thanksgiving, rejoicing the fruits of their hard labor.  The week before, Edna’s mother sewed new dresses for the girls.  They were all in anticipation of relatives coming to visit for the week with new cousins to play with.  Everyone met at church set up with tables filled with food for the community to enjoy with all families bringing their specialties.  After the weeks’ festivities ended by Friday, everyone said their good-byes promising to return next summer.  It all sounded magical and filled with family love.

Edna reproduced many of the dishes made from her farm days for Sphere.  There are photos of long tables with ham, vegetables and fruits, pies, cakes, pitchers of sweet tea and lemonade.  The table with the dozens of pies looked like a competition at a state fair!

The table to showcase breakfast held sunnyside-up eggs, coffee, tea, sausage and gravy, slices of fried sweet potatoes, homemade jams, and my favorite- buttermilk biscuits.

The biscuits are made with lard which makes them crispy and golden on the outside and soft and pillowy on the inside.  Top with butter, honey, or jam, or have a slice of ham or sausage inside.  It’s all good.

5.0 from 2 reviews
Edna Lewis Buttermilk Biscuits
  • 3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ⅔ cup lard
  • 1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons buttermilk
  1. Heat oven to 450 degrees F. Have a large ungreased baking pan ready.
  2. Mix flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Cut in lard with pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in buttermilk to form a soft dough. Knead dough on a lightly floured surface for 1 minute.
  3. Roll out dough until ½-inch thick. Cut dough with a 2-inch round cutter and place ½-inch apart on ungreased baking sheet. (You should have a dozen biscuits or maybe a few more)
  4. Bake until golden, about 10 minutes. Let stand about 3 minutes before serving. Serve warm with butter, honey, or jam.

Happy Heavenly birthday to my mom, who died at age 97 and would have been 102 today.  She would have loved Edna’s biscuits, and she loved Sphere magazine.  I love you mom, and miss you more than I can say.

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10 Responses to Sphere Magazine July/August 1978

  1. August 21, 2023 at 9:26 am #

    What an inticing cover! I had never heard of Sphere before your columns, Debbie. Thank you for making me aware of this. 1978 is the year I graduated from high school. I wonder how I missed this!

    Anyway, I found the magazine on ebay this morning and decided to purchase. I’m very intrigued by Edna Lewis’ wriitings of her home life. It will also be fun to see all that was happening in the cullinary world that year. The amount of information from reputable sources is unbelieveable – all in a magazine!

    • August 21, 2023 at 11:30 pm #

      Hi Denise! I’m so happy I introduced you to Sphere. It was a very popular magazine that many people miss. I have received emails about Sphere recipes continuously since I started this blog thirteen years ago. Enjoy your purchase and I hope you find more.

  2. August 21, 2023 at 11:41 am #

    Thank you for sharing the details of this Sphere issue. It does sound magical! I love your summary of the Edna Lewis article on Freetown life. The biscuits recipe is wonderful.

    • August 21, 2023 at 11:41 pm #

      Polly, there wasn’t enough space to write all about Edna Lewis’s article of growing up in Freetown. What an interesting life she had, and lucky for us, to share it with the world.

  3. August 21, 2023 at 4:57 pm #

    I adored Sphere Magazine and love your excerpts. I recently discovered the “Fine Cooking Community” on Facebook. They have made access to the old magazines available. I’m not computer savvy, but maybe the administrators could help with something similar for the Sphere lovers.

    • August 21, 2023 at 11:43 pm #

      Roxy, I’ll have to look up the “Fine Cooking Community.” Thank you for mentioning it.

  4. August 22, 2023 at 5:13 am #

    I too had never heard of Sphere magazine until your column and boy, have I missed out! I found a copy of Edna Lewis’ first cookbook at a yard sale many years ago and I treasure it! Did your magazines survive the flood or did you replace them?

    • August 22, 2023 at 8:21 am #

      Hi Lynne- I lost all my Sphere magazines in the flood, but thank goodness for my wonderful readers, they started sending me copies. By a year later I had the full set and use them all the time. I’m forever grateful.

  5. August 23, 2023 at 12:30 pm #

    Hello again, Debbie.

    I noticed two things when I pulled this up. First, I missed your comment about your mom’s birhtday. I always enjoy when you share about her. I can imagine how much you miss her just from the influence she’s had on your cooking and what you share here.

    Also, my misspelling “hit me in the face”! Sure wish I’d noticed before hitting “send”.

    • August 23, 2023 at 2:42 pm #

      Thank you for the nice comment about my mom, Denise. As for the misspelling, I couldn’t find it!

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