May 31, 2005

The Odd Things People Do

I processed a new batch of cookbooks today. The previous owner felt compelled to write the date she received the cookbook in the mail somewhere on the book--the cover, the first page, the last page. In ink. Sometimes she wrote how much it cost and how she paid for it. Sometimes she stapled the mailing label from the envelope inside the front cover. This batch came from the estate of a former librarian. Maybe that explains why--it was her nature to keep detailed records.

That reminded me of my grandmother. She kept a spiral notebook on her coffee table that she used to write down the times each day she took her medicine. I understand that. Not good to get confused or forgetful and overmedicate. However, I never understood why she also wrote down the exact times of the sunrise and sunset each day. If she ever told me why she did that, I've forgotten.

Then my mind flitted away from the odd things people write down to the people who pass away and leave behind cabinets full of Tupperware, margarine and Cool Whip containers and the orphan lids that go to nothing. Entire cabinets full of the stuff. Then somebody else has to sort through all of it.

Long ago I decided I wasn't going to check out leaving behind a cabinet full of plastic food storage containers. I got rid of almost all of mine, in case I didn't have the opportunity to dispose of it ahead of time. I'm doing pretty good. For the last year, I've had two GladWare Containers, two Tupperware containers and one margarine bowl. I think I'll go pitch the margarine bowl now. I might leave behind a lot of useless stuff, but it's not going to be plastic.

May 30, 2005

Premium Deli Meat and Cheese

I'm in Akron for the holiday weekend. A lovely place to spend the holiday, far away from the sweltering temperatures of Texas. On Friday we stocked up with the groceries we'd need for four days. We've had sandwiches, hot dogs, grilled rib eye steaks and more sandwiches. With a few snacky items in between. All meals planned for minimum time in the kitchen.

Whenever I'm in Akron, I always shop at the West Point Market. It's a fabulous specialty food store and at the top of the list of my favorite things about this town. One of the reasons we shop there is because they're the only ones in the area who sell Boar's Head brand deli meats and cheeses. We're kind of finicky about our deli meat.

Boar's Head is a bit pricier than most of the other brands you find at the supermarket, but well worth the cost if you care about taste and what goes into the products. They don't use extenders, by-products, artificial colors or artificial flavors. I personally don't mind paying a bit extra for good quality.

I picked up a free copy of their current recipe book from the delicatessen counter. It's called Classic Recipes and this edition was published in 2004. It has 31 pages of recipes. There are several previous versions, all of them a bit different. This edition doesn't have any photographs of the food except for those on the cover. While you're standing around waiting for the lady to slice the order, you can browse through the booklet and get a lot of good recipe ideas.

A look at some of the recipes in the book:

Appetizers - Italian Stuffed Mushrooms, Smoked Liverwurst & Cream Cheese Spread, Pastrami Reuben Appetizers.

Sandwiches - Roast Beef Italiano, Roast Beef and Jalapeno Havarti Melt, Black Forest Ham and Egg Sandwich, Gouda Cheese & Canadian Bacon Sandwich

Salads - Creamy Blue Cheese Salad Dressing, Greek Salad, Maple Honey Turkey Waldorf Salad, Southwestern Chicken Salad, Oriental Chicken Salad

Main Courses - Traditional Cheese Fondue, Grilled Ham with Pineapple Bourbon Sauce, Chicken Enchiladas, Elegant Smoked Turkey with Asparagus, California Style Pizza

They also have a Nutritional Brochure, another nice booklet that comes in really handy if you're trying to watch your cholesterol or calories, lower your fat intake, or count carbs or WW points. The nutritional information for all their products is included in that book, a handy reference to take home with you, or to look at when you're trying to decide what to buy.

May 29, 2005

Turbinado Sugar Recipe Offer

We started using turbinado sugar instead of refined sugar in our coffee, oatmeal and other cereals last year when we were on the Weight Watchers program. The motivating factor was that we could save one point per teaspoon by using the turbinado sugar. We strayed from Weight Watchers but kept on buying and using the turbinado sugar.

We don't monkey around with the sweet iced tea in this household, and we personally find the turbinado sugar a little too strong in flavor for that purpose, but we incorporate it into a lot of other recipes where the light molasses flavor won't make much of a difference in taste. It's easy to remember that you can replace white sugar in recipes with equal amounts of turbinado sugar.

The 2 lb. bulk package of Sugar in the Raw has a special offer on the side of the box for the Sugar in the Raw Recipe Collections. It says that the collection is a series of recipes developed by Claudia Fleming, celebrated pastry chef of the Grammercy Tavern Restaurant in New York City. The recipes include desserts, cakes, cookies, meat glazes and more, plus 26 Ways to Get Back to Nature with Sugar in the Raw.
Their website doesn't mention the recipe offer, nor does the mail-in form state that it's specifically necessary to get the recipes. I've sent an email to them, and will update this post when I find out for sure.

In the meantime, here's the information on the form:

Send $2.25 by check or money order (includes postage and handling) along with your name and address (printed clearly) to:

Sugar in the Raw Recipes
Brooklyn Premium Corp.
60 Flushing Avenue
Brooklyn, New York 11205

Allow 3 to 5 weeks for delivery.

I'm sending off for it on Tuesday. I'll give a review when it arrives.

6/2/05 Update: An email received from a representative of the company states that "the form from the box is not necessary to order the recipe book but you should include a note and mention the item and quantity you desire."

May 28, 2005

French's Outdoor Recipes

Yesterday I wrote about advertising cookbooks that focused on the theme of outdoor cooking. One such recipe booklet of this type was Outdoor Recipes for Patio, Picnics, and Camping, published the R. T. French Company. It's not dated, and I haven't yet tracked down the date of publication, but it appears to be from the 1970's. It's illustrated with nice color photographs.

The booklet uses French's brand ingredients such as Worcestershire Sauce, spices and seasonings, mustards, gravy, sauce and seasoning mixes, minced onions, and potato mixes.

The recipes are divided into three groups--Patio Cook-Outs, Picnics and Camping. While the recipes for the cook-outs and camping are prepared outdoors, the picnic food is prepared indoors at home.

FrenchsIn the Patio Cook-Outs section there are 24 recipes. Some of those are Piquant Grilled Steak, Reuben Burgers, Grilled Meat Loaf, Stuffed Onions, Deviled Steak Sandwiches, Striped Spuds, Foil Grilled Pot Roast, Garden Ham Salad, Polynesian Pork Packets, Taco Ribs, Slow Cooker Ribs, and Bacon Wrapped Fish Kabobs.

If picnic food conjures up visions of only sandwiches, think again. There are 23 recipes for dishes like Polynesian Chicken Salad, Barn Dance Hot Dogs, Herbed Meat Loaf, Crispy Chicken, Antipasto, Sandwich Kabobs, Picnic Pitas, Tuna Potato Salad, Picnic Chicken Dijon, Picnic Potato Salad and Tabbouleh.

The Camping section contains 20 recipes, showing that camping food doesn't have to be just hot dogs and marshmallows on a stick. There are recipes for Minestrone Soup, Hamburgers with Mexican Sauce, Hearty Down-Home Frittata, Summer Chicken Skillet, Chicken Dinner Camp Style, Stone Soup, Beef Skillet Pie, Denver Stuffed Pockets, Golden Fish Fillets, Campers' Tater Skillet, Brunchwiches and Skillet Cheese Biscuits.

I noticed in this booklet that there are a lot of uses for those seasoning and sauce mixes besides just adding water and making the basic package recipe.

May 26, 2005

Fire Up the BBQ Grill

Memorial Day weekend is the traditional beginning of summer activities such as camping, swimming, boating, and outdoor cooking.

Whether you're cooking in the woods, on a beach, or in your own backyard, there are many advertising cookbooks to help you turn out the perfect outdoor meal.

The food companies seasonally publish cookbooks and booklets with recipes using many of the foods and ingredients usually associated with outdoor cooking: hot dogs, hamburgers, beef, pork, sausage, chicken, fish, mustard, mayonnaise, buns, marinades and barbecue sauce. Some of the popular outdoor summer desserts are cakes, pies, ice cream and fruit.

The companies that produce charcoal briquettes, aluminum foil, paper plates, plastic wrap and plastic food storage containers issue pamphlets and leaflets with recipes and serving ideas.

Today's outdoor cook has a wide variety of equipment choices:

Traditional barbecue pits
Gas or charcoal grills
Portable grills and stoves

The manufacturers of outdoor cooking appliances usually provide a recipe book along with the owner's manual and many offer full-length cookbooks associated with their brand name.

Backyard barbecues were very popular in the 1950's. Some of the vintage cookbooks from that era have plenty of ideas if you want to plan a retro 1950's party or a Hawaiian Luau. After you've planned your menu, you can shop at party stores for the theme decorations and matching serving ware.

Get out of the kitchen and light the fire. Summer's here!

May 25, 2005

Is This Borden's?

I get phone calls....

Is this Borden's?

Hi, I'm trying to call Kraft...

Is this Duncan Hines?

Is this Sunbeam?

I'm looking for Rival...

Is this Borden's?

All of these phone calls come from folks who are looking to speak with the food or appliance manufacturer for one reason or another. And somehow they've gotten their Search Engine results all mixed up and they find me instead.

I try to help when I can. I'm usually sitting here at the computer anyway, and it's easy enough to find the phone number they're really trying to call. Sometimes I just like to see how quickly I can find the information they're looking for. I love the Search Engines.

One gentleman wanted to find out if his Duncan Hines Cake Mix was still good. Evidently it had been on his pantry shelf for A While. The manufacturing date was easy to figure out with the information given on the Duncan Hines website. Useful stuff to know--I'm the kind of person that won't use anything one minute past the expiration date.

Around the Christmas holidays, another lady couldn't find Comstock Pineapple Pie Filling at any of her local stores. I looked on the Comstock website, but didn't see where you could order it there. No phone number either. That's always frustrating when the only way to contact TFC's is via email. What if you need to know NOW? I sent her off to hometownfavorites, an online grocery that specializes in hard-to-find foods. Online. 24/7/365. You gotta love it. She was a happy camper because she got to make her traditional holiday dessert.

Today a woman wanted to know where she could find Oreo Chocolate Cookie Crumbs. That one was kind of difficult, because the Kraft Product Locator wasn't easily found.

A while back, a man from Florida called. He had purchased an older Sunbeam Electric Skillet at the thrift store. It was one of the models with the crockery insert. Sunbeam couldn't help him, so I guess he called me out of desperation. He was really wanting to make sure he had the correct instructions before he let his wife loose with the skillet. Didn't want her to break that crock. That one was fun, because it was a challenge. I could find an advertisement for the crock insert in one of my Sunbeam appliance booklets, but no printed instructions on how to use it (he didn't want to take my word for it either). I finally ended up sending him the order insert with a different manual. Last month I came across the original booklet while I was in Indiana. The booklet's pretty beat up, but I'm going to send him a copy of the "real" instructions.

Another lady was looking for canned Borden Egg Nog; it was for her mom who had cancer and not much of an appetite. She couldn't find any at the stores near her, because it was March--no egg nog on the shelves in March. I was happy to help her track some down because I've been there. You'd go to any lengths to get them to take some nourishment.

I get a LOT of calls from folks wanting to know stuff about Borden Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk. They can't find the Borden website, but they can find me. They need to be looking for Eagle Brand Foods, not Borden. That's usually why they can't find it. One sweet little lady was quite insistent. She kept saying "but your phone number is listed on their website." MmmmHmmm. "How can I help you today?"

I like researching and answering people's questions. Maybe I ought to get a job at Pillsbury. On the other hand, my phone's pretty busy already!

May 24, 2005

Menu Merry-Go-Round

Not all promotional recipes were published in a booklet or leaflet format.

Many food companies issued recipe card sets for products such as Bisquick, Minute Rice and Gold Medal Flour. Pillsbury and Crisco, among others, published several full-size hardcover books.

One nice example of a non-booklet was the Bond Bread Menu Merry-Go-Round. It's not dated, but on one side the consumer is urged to ask their grocer for the new 72 page Bond Bread Cook Book which was published in 1935. The illustration on the front side showing a family at the dinner table is definitely 1930's.

The cardboard wheel measures 10-1/4 inches in diameter, and consists of two pieces held together by a center brad. The rear side gives several reasons why one should use the Bond Bakers products, and illustrations of the Bread Krums, Cracked Wheat Bread, Wheat Bread and Rye Bread are shown. The green and red colors of the Bond product packaging are used.

The front side is a wheel that spins around, showing Bond dinner menus for each day of the week. One recipe using a Bond product is given for each day. The wheel spins around, showing one day at a time with cutouts to show the day, the menu and the recipe.

The seven recipes are:

  • Sunday - Chocolate Puff
  • Monday - Mexican Salad
  • Tuesday - Bond Patty Cases
  • Wednesday - Apricot Betty
  • Thursday - Kidney Bean Roast
  • Friday - Quick Puree of Pea Soup
  • Saturday - Stuffed Spareribs

May 23, 2005

The Elusive Nancy Carter

It's a wonder I get any work done at all. The following is a good example of my purpose for creating this blog in the first place--a depository for some of my unplanned meanderings.

I had several recipe leaflets that I was ready to enter into my database. A simple 10-minute task. They were published weekly during the late 1950's for the shoppers at Colonial Stores. The leaflets all list Nancy Carter as the Director of Home Economics for that grocery store chain. Some of the recipes use the CS, Colonial and Triangle brand ingredients.

(Apologies for the less-than-optimum photo--my scanner has died, and now, apparently, so have my camera batteries.)

At the last minute, I decided to find out how many different folders there were in the series and what years they encompassed.

I quickly found one brief online reference to a book, Nancy Carter's Cook Book of Tested Recipes that was published in 1955, but that was all.

I couldn't find any more leads on the recipe leaflets, but I did find out more about the Colonial Stores chain at Groceteria, an interesting site about supermarket history and architecture. A place I probably never would have encountered out there in cyberspace if I weren't trying to track down the elusive Nancy.

I put her aside for the moment and spent quite a while perusing that site which has some great historical information and photos. I know, I know--I'm supposed to be focusing on the products inside the stores, not the architecture of the buildings. But I rationalized to myself that the store histories are not too far off my topic and actually quite necessary in my pursuit of the facts.

Then my brain wandered back to the Weingarten's chain in Houston that we shopped at when I was a kid. I wondered if the developers had plowed down all of their old buildings yet in the name of progress. So I had to go check that out over at the Houston Architecture Forum.

That led to thinking about a blog entry and that I had better dash off a quick draft before I lost THAT thought.

So here I am.

I still don't know anything more about the leaflets and I'm embarrassed to admit how much time has passed. A lot more than 10 minutes.

May 22, 2005

Recetas or Recipes?

In case you haven't noticed, marketing to the U.S. Hispanic population is the name of the game these days. With billions of dollars in purchasing power at stake, The Food Companies want their piece of the pie.

One result of all this hoopla is that many of the promotional recipe books put out by TFC's are now available in Spanish as well as English.

My trusty mailman has come through again and delivered the Spring editions of Food & Family magazine and Comida y Familia, both published by Kraft Foods North America. A free subscription to these publications (five issues per year) is available to registered users of the Kraft Foods website. They're really nice magazines, by the way. The recipes are easy to make and the food photography is top notch.

I thought it would be a fun exercise to compare the two issues to see what the differences are.

Being a born and bred Texan, I'm no stranger to the spoken Spanish language, but I'll have to use the Spanish dictionary and online language translator to help me out with the reading material.

It would be erroneous to assume that language is the only difference in the two issues, as the Spanish version takes the Latino culture into consideration in the scope of recipes it offers.

Quite a few of the recipes and Kraft brand ingredients used are the same. Both issues include recipes for a yummy looking roast chicken, Chocolate Cherry Jiggler Cups, Easy Toasted Coconut Pie, Easy Strawberry Dessert, a Smoothie and Cereal combo, an Italian Chicken Pasta Skillet, a grilled cheese sandwich, Chicken & Cheese Tostadas, Un-Fried French Fries, Lean Beef Tacos, and Made Over Cheeseburgers, a Grilled Steak & Vegetable Salad, a Chicken & Citrus Salad, and a Hidden Treasure Cake.

The paths of the two issues then diverge. The Mom's Specialty and the Fresh Off the Shelf sections feature two totally different sets of recipes. The recipes found in the Celebration Cakes section show slight variations of the same types of recipes. Food & Family features a Chocolate Cheesecake and a Citrus Cream Cake while Comida y Familia shows a plain cheesecake and a Lemonade Cake. The Eggs Beyond Breakfast sections both include an Easy Mac 'N Cheese Pie, but the others are different.

Because market research has shown that Hispanic cultures prefer more fruit and fish in their diets, Comida includes an extra section of recipes on bananas (platanos), and many of the recipes that are different are seafood oriented.

Those who receive only the English edition will be missing out on a great recipe for Croquetas -- fried stuffed peppers with chicken, beef and pork variations as well as one for Coconut Fried Shrimp. Hispanic consumers receiving only the Spanish edition will miss out on the recipe for Homemade Chicken Nuggets and perhaps never learn of the American tradition of Ritz Mock Apple Pie.

Am I the only one left feeling a little peeved and a bit disappointed that the two issues don't contain the same recipes?

May 21, 2005

Mail-in Offers

In addition to collecting the cookbooks themselves, it's also fun to find the original mail-in offers that match the books.

The original offers were usually found on the product packages and in magazine ads.

The offers on the packages sometimes turn up in collections of old recipe clippings, cut off the box or bag right along with the recipes.

Magazines such as Century, Scribners, The American Family, Woman's Home Companion, McCall's, and Good Housekeeping are just a few of those that contained food advertisements in each issue.

The booklets were often free or obtained for a minimal charge. Sometimes stamps could be used for payment rather than coins, a common practice in the past.

In a 1900 advertisement for Knox's Gelatine in Century Magazine, Chas. B. Knox, known for his unusual marketing methods, offered a copy of Dainty Desserts for Dainty People if one would mail him the name of their grocer. If one didn't wish to give up the grocer's name, he would accept a two-cent stamp instead.

An offer for the New Royal Cookbook from a 1923 Good Housekeeping ad:

An offer for a free recipe book from Brer Rabbit Molasses from a 1935 Sunset magazine:

Promotional cookbook offers are still as abundant today as they were in the past. The individual manufacturer websites usually display their current promotions. Another easy way to find current offers is to Google the phrase "free recipe book".

May 20, 2005

My First Cookbook

My own interest in advertising cookbooks started when I was a child. I liked to receive mail and consequently sent off for every free offer that I could find from magazines, comic books, backs of cereal boxes and other product packaging. For the price of a stamp in the early 1960's, it was cheap entertainment for a little kid. I can still remember eagerly awaiting the arrival of the mailman to see what he might have for me that day.

I got my feet wet with the offers of dolls and toys advertised on the boxes of breakfast cereals, soon moving on to sea monkeys and magic tricks from the comic books. My mother's magazines were a bonanza, where the blurb "Free Recipe Book" could be found on several pages in each issue. In a pinch I would even send off for military school, summer camp and prep school pamphlets. I amassed a huge cardboard box full of travel brochures that I drug along with me for way too many years.

1959 EditionThe first of the promotional recipe books that I actually used was the 1963 edition of My First Cookbook, which came from a mail-in offer on a package of Imperial Sugar.

I fondly remember the recipes for for Patty's Penuche, Betty's Bran Muffins, Dreamwiches, Roly-Polies, Humpty-Dumpty Eggs and Circus Cookies. I methodically plowed through all of the recipes on our yellow Frigidaire range. The single recipe from that book that I'll always associate with the Imperial Sugar brand was for a Candlestick Salad--an individual fruit salad serving that consisted of a canned pineapple slice resting on top of a lettuce leaf, with a banana sliced flat on the ends and standing in the center, garnished at the top with a dollop of pink mayonaise and a Maraschino cherry. Very easy and fun for a kid to prepare.

My First Cookbook was first published in 1959, with revisions and updates in 1963, 1967, and 1991. Instructions for ordering the newest edition, published in 2004, can be found at Imperial Sugar. This edition fits in nicely with the current trend of kids cooking. Printed in both English and Spanish, it's also a great example of the food companies targeting the Hispanic market.

May 19, 2005

Get R Done

For quite some time I've wanted to expand on some of the things I think about while I'm working on Advertising Cookbooks, my business website.

A goodly amount of my time on that project is spent cataloging the recipe books. Each book that I handle brings forth a new question or triggers an associated thought or idea that I want to explore.

My mind wanders from things like "why was this vile product invented in the first place?" to "nice graphics" to "I'm going to try this recipe for dinner tonight--better make a list of ingredients to buy".

Some of my ideas and the directions I want to go in aren't really appropriate for that site and after trying several workarounds, it became obvious that I would need to create an entirely separate website.

I've set up several websites in the past, both for myself and for others, and learned lots of valuable lessons along the way. Some of my friends and relatives, who haven't a clue about the details of how stuff actually gets ON the internet, think I'm an internet whiz.

But I know better.

For instance, I realized that it would take me forever to set up a good online bookstore on my own, so Chrislands was the perfect answer for me. And while there are numerous instant-website choices available, I want to do this next one, more sophisticated than others I've done in the past, on my own.

My web development skills aren't quite as developed as I'd like them to be, so while I struggle with the learning curve I thought I'd take the easy way out by starting a blog first.

I've got to start SOMETHING, perfect or not, today. And so I have.