June 20, 2005

Story of Swans Down Cake Flour

Excerpt from New Cake Secrets, an advertising cookbook published in 1931 by Igleheart Brothers, Inc. and General Foods:

"In 1853, Levi Igleheart, at the age of thirty-three, finding farming to be discouraging, moved to the then little town of Evansville, Indiana, on the Ohio River and Erie Canal, and started a sawmill. He later took on the grinding of wheat grist. With this new enterprise, he was so successful that in 1856, his brothers, Asa and William (the latter leaving the farm and moving to town), established the firm of Igleheart Brothers, Millers. The business was run by Levi and William, while Asa followed the legal profession, later withdrawing from the firm. In 1892, the firm was incorporated, and William died soon after, leaving Levis and his three sons, Leslie, Addison, and John, to run the business. In 1896, Addison Igleheart found a means of making flour which was of superior quality for cake making, and, after experimenting and perfecting it, he began the manufacture and sale of this new product, called Swans Down Cake Flour.

Leslie, Addison, and John each have one son to whom they are gradually turning over the cares and joys of Swans Down Cake Flour.

The business has grown from year to year and the capacity has been increased from a small mill on the Canal in 1853 to a fine, modern plant of latest type structure. Every care and precaution is taken to put out a superior product under the most sanitary conditions."

June 18, 2005

American Pie Celebration

I came across the Crisco American Pie Celebration cookbook today (published in 1989 by Procter & Gamble). The Crisco American Pie Celebration originated in 1986 to commemorate Crisco's 75th anniversary. A bit of information taken from the front of the book:

"To find the best pie recipes in America, Crisco pie bake-offs are held at State and County fairs in each of the fifty states throughout the country. In each State, bakers compete in a pie category chosen to reflect the unique personality of the State and to include native grown ingredients. For example, the category in Hawaii is Macadamia Nut Pie, Vermont is Maple Cream Pie and Kansas is Beef Pot Pie. The winning baker from each contest goes on to represent their State at the national competition for the title of THE AMERICAN PIE."

The 50 winning recipes compiled in this particular cookbook are from the 1988-89 National Finals, which were held in Los Angeles, CA. Illustrated, step-by-step instructions for preparing the Classic Crisco Crust and the Contemporary Crisco Crust are shown in the front.

This cookbook seems to be a favorite with collectors of Longaberger baskets. The Longaberger Company designed the official pie basket for the New Orleans Celebration Bake-Off in 1991 and that basket marked the beginning of what's known as the Crisco American Series. The cookbook makes a nice go-with for the pie basket.

Today, Crisco and The American Pie Council are sponsors of The National Pie Championships, a competition that began in 1995. This competition is for bakers from the both the U.S. and Canada. The APC has an interesting website that's worth a look if you're seriously into baking pies.

June 17, 2005

Sugar in the Raw Recipes

Well, I said I'd report back when I received the Sugar in the Raw Recipe Collections Offer that I sent away for. It came a couple of days ago. The envelope included several things:

  • A foldout of 4x6 perforated recipe cards called "Naturally Simple but Elegant". Nicely printed on stiff, glossy paper with color photos of each dish, one recipe per card. The recipes are for Gingerbread, Sweet & Spicy Nuts, Pumpkin Pie, Chocolate Brownie Cookies, Banana Tarts, and Fruit Crisp Topping. Looks like some tasty ways to use Turbinado Sugar.

  • A smaller 16-page booklet called "26 Ways to Get Back to Nature with Sugar in the Raw Recipes." It has an additional 23 recipes, some of which are Baked Apples, French Toast, Glazed Ham, Banana Nut Bread, Pecan Cake, Spice Cake, Oatmeal Cookies, Refrigerator Cookies, Coffee Cake Muffins and Carrot Pineapple Muffins. Looks good.

  • A manufacturer's coupon for 25 cents off your next purchase of Sugar in the Raw, no expiration date. My favorite kind of coupon--it can easily be doubled or tripled at most supermarkets, and there's no expiration date, so I can use it when I need to, no pressure.

  • A small foldout recipe leaflet for Butter Buds; it also includes a 25-cent manufacturer's coupon for that product with no expiration date. The leaflet also has a couple of other premium offers you can send away for.

  • Several mail-in forms for a variety of advertising premiums for Sweet 'n Low, Sweet One, Natra Taste, Sugar in the Raw mugs, sweetener packet holders and a sweetener and creamer set.

A nice little packet. I'm happy.

June 12, 2005

Ball Blue Books

Vegetable gardeners residing in southern climates are already contemplating what to do with their first crop of tomatoes and other vegetables that are ripening and ready for harvest.

One option for the surplus that can't be served fresh or given to lucky neighbors and friends is canning. One of the most popular and reliable guides for this method of food preservation is the Ball Blue Book.

Ball Blue BookThe Ball Brothers Company and The Ball Corporation, manufacturers of glass fruit jars, have published Ball canning guides regularly for almost 100 years. The first guide, published in 1909, was called The Correct Method for Preserving Fruit, and was written by Miss Elizabeth Ball. Later revisions renamed the guide The Ball Preserving Book, and in 1915 the booklets took on the name Ball Blue Book of Canning and Preserving Recipes. The Alltrista Corporation has published Ball Blue Books since 1995. Alltrista is a spin-off of The Ball Corporation that was formed in 1993. The latest book was published in 2004 and is called the Ball Blue Book of Preserving.

The Ball Blue Books provide all the information you need to know about canning fruits and vegetables. They explain the techniques of water bath and steam pressure canning, provide detailed instructions on each method, they cover food and canning safety, give recipes for canning meats, vegetables and fruits. Freezing foods in glass fruit jars is also possible and this is covered as well. The books contain tables of canning times, troubleshooting tips and tells you which methods of canning are best for which food. They are well illustrated.

The Ball Blue Books are also popular with fruit jar collectors as a go-with to their fruit jar collections.

Although I am terrified of pressure canners and eating any food that I have personally canned, I occasionally enjoy the process and the sense of satisfaction that it brings. I like to line up those finished jars on the counter and admire them. Then I give them away to people who don't have any hang-ups about home canned food. I do enjoy reading about canning, however, and I can safely follow someone else's adventures on the subject at Hot Water Bath.

June 09, 2005

Mary Lee Taylor

Many of the advertising cookbooks were authored by home economists and other spokespersons employed by or associated with the food companies. Some were fictional characters and some were real people. Ann Pillsbury, Betty Crocker, Janet McKenzie Hill, Martha Logan, Mary Lee Taylor, Frances Lee Barton, and Winifred Carter were but a few of these ladies who promoted the company's products and recipes to the consumer through cookbooks, magazine ads and radio shows.

Mary Lee Taylor was the pseudonym for Mrs. Erma Proetz, a spokeslady and home economist for the Pet Milk Company. She developed many of the early recipes using Pet products.

The Mary Lee Taylor Program was a radio recipe show hosted by Mrs. Proetz. The program, whose listening audience consisted of homemakers across the nation, aired from 1933 until 1954. The program featured a Dramatized Story of the Week, a Tested Recipe of the Week, meal planning, cookbook promotion and household hints. The first recipe was for pumpkin pie filling made with Pet Milk. There are several Pet Milk cookbooks from these two decades, which encompassed the Depression, World War II and part of the Baby Boom.

Many of the recipe booklets featured recipes that could be prepared for 2 or 4 or 6 servings, with separate ingredient amounts given for whatever quantity that was desired. The booklet shown below, Successful Recipes for 2 or 4 or 6, is not dated.

The second booklet shown, Better Meals In Less Time... For Less Money was published in 1942. This booklet addresses the new challenges to women who now had to run a home and hold a job because of the war. "Planning the menus for several days at one time and doing the shopping in advance is part of the secret of successfully playing the dual role of Homemaker and War Worker," advises Mary Lee. (If you've been frantically hunting for the recipe Victory Prune Salad, look no further--it's in this booklet.)

At that time, the latest Pet Milk Cookbook could be secured by mailing in a Pet Milk label with the word "cookbook" written across the back of the label.

June 05, 2005

Using Quaker Wholegrain Oats

The Quaker Oats Wholegrain Cookbook is a 63-page recipe book published by the Quaker Oats Company in 1978. The booklet provides an introduction to the world of wholegrain foods and nutrition and promotes wholegrain oats as a good source of dietary fiber for both children and adults.

Five ways to use wholegrain oats in the preparation of healthy, nutritious meals are shown. Each of the five concepts are explained, along with suggestions for use and basic recipes:
  1. Make your own wholegrain oat flour at home in your blender or food processor in 60 seconds.
  2. Use wholegrain oats or ground oat flour to thicken soups, gravies, sauces, stews and puddings.
  3. Toasted oats can add a slightly crunchy texture to many foods.
  4. Make a wholegrain Add-A-Crunch topping and add crunchy good taste and texture to your favorite foods.
  5. Make big, fluffy wholegrain Golden Oats to use just like rice.

Recipe categories include Breakfast; Soups, Salads and Accompaniments; Breads; Main Dishes; Desserts; and Cookies and Snacks. Some recipes are suitable for the microwave as well as conventional ovens. Recipes easy enough for a child to make are marked as such.

This is a great cookbook and it has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity in recent years as more people look at their diet as an important tool in preventing and controlling cholesterol levels, diabetes and other chronic diseases.

June 04, 2005

Pillsbury Bake-Off Ephemera

The Pillsbury Bake-Off recipe books are popular with cookbook collectors. A special Bake-Off cookbook has been published for each of the 41 competitions held since 1949. The 42nd Bake-Off is scheduled for March 2006 in Miami, Florida. The Grand Prize is $1 million.

(FYI: According to the CPI Inflation Calculator, the $50,000 grand prize in 1949 was worth $396,850 in 2004.)

It's fun to collect not only the official Bake-Off cookbooks, but also some of the other Bake-Off ephemera. There are many leaflets, package inserts and magazine inserts that contain Bake-Off recipes.

One example of this type is a 16-page tear-out recipe booklet entitled Newest Bake-Off Recipes. This booklet came from a Reader's Digest magazine and featured recipes from the 16th Grand National Bake-Off held in 1964. That year, 17-year old Janis Boykin of Melbourne, Florida won the contest with her homework assignment; a recipe she developed called Peacheesy Pie. The booklet has a small article about Janis and some of her answers to the questions on the questionnaire she filled out as a contest finalist. The recipes in this booklet can also be found in the 100 New Bake-Off Recipes cookbook published in 1965.

It's also interesting to note that in 1964 the quick and easy method for preparing pie crust used a recipe called New "Instant Blending" Pie Crust. This method utilized Pillsbury Instant Blending Flour and the electric mixer. As with many recipes, the one for Peacheesy Pie has been modernized and in 2005 the quick and easy method uses Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crust.

June 02, 2005

Early Jell-O Recipe Booklets

JELL-O. America's most famous dessert. Add boiling water and set to cool. Can it get any simpler than that? Over a hundred years later and it's still just that easy.

Early Jell-O Slogans
1902 - America's best family dessert
1906 - The dainty dessert
1909 - The American dessert
1910 - The fairy dessert
1911 - America's most famous dessert

The first Jell-O recipe booklets and package inserts were published by the Genesee Pure Food Company.

An early Genesee advertisement proclaimed "No recipe book required for the new dessert" and pictured a woman holding a box of Jell-O in one hand and tossing a booklet away with the other. In spite of their declaration that a recipe book was unnecessary, Genesee did, however, go on to publish more than fifty recipe collections, literally millions of booklets, during the first quarter of the 20th century.

Many of the booklets were printed in the French, German, Spanish, Swedish and Yiddish languages, so that the new immigrants to the United States would not be left out of the massive campaign to bring Jell-O into every home. The booklets published in foreign languages would be nice to collect.

In 1923, The Genesee Pure Food Company changed its name to the Jell-O Company.

Search terms to use when searching for Jell-O recipe booklets on the Internet:

  • Genesee
  • Genesee + Pure + Food
  • Genesee Pure Food Company (in quotation marks)
  • Genessee (try a misspelled form of the word)
  • Jell-O
  • Jello
  • gelatin
  • gelatine