Both Grandma G and her daughter, my mother-in-law, kept their houses well groomed and lovely, a skill I have never really mastered. Of course, neither one of them ever had to deal with six children at once, so I think that might make a difference. The stereotype of people of German ancestry being good housekeepers certainly fit both of them (and still fits my MIL). Things were kept in a certain place, especially in the kitchen. My MIL once told me that she could go visit her cousin, who had ended up living in Arizona, and easily find anything in the kitchen because she and the cousin had been so well trained that they automatically stored things in identical places in each of their homes. Grandma G was a really lovely woman, and I liked her very much. And here is her recipe for Devils Food Cake.
DEVILS FOOD CAKE (with mashed potatoes)
1 cup milk
2 squares bitter chocolate (she must mean unsweetened)
2/3 cup mashed potatoes
2 eggs well beaten
1/3 cup butter
1/2 cup dates cut in small pieces
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup nut meats, chopped
1 3/4 cups pastry flour or 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
Sift together the flour, salt, soda and baking powder. Take out 1 Tablespoon of the mixture and mix into nutmeats.
Boil milk and chocolate together until it thickens, add mashed potatoes and the dates. Let stand until cool. Cream shortening (she means the butter), add sugar and cream together. Add eggs well beaten, vanilla, and then the flour mixture alternately with the chocolate/potato/date mixture. Add nut meats.
Bake in layers at 375 degrees Fahrenheit, or in a rather shallow loaf pan at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake layers about twenty minutes and loaf about forty five minutes.
Several of her chocolate cake recipes had dates in them. I have read about the custom during earlier generations for ladies to visit each other during the morning hours for a Kaffe Klatch, which means pastry and gossip. This would mean that any housewife needed to have a repertoire of dessert recipes like coffee cakes, cakes and pastries so that they would have something available to serve guests every day. Grandma G certainly did have a lot of this kind of recipe in her collection.