August 28, 2005

Bettina's Cookbooks

A little note about some vintage cookbooks tonight, even though they aren't food company cookbooks. I was answering an inquiry by a reader of my website, so I thought I'd go ahead and post the information here in the event it might be useful to someone else.

A beginning cookbook collector, she was inquiring about a title she had recently acquired -- A Thousand Ways to Please a Husband. I'm not sure which edition she had, but compiled a list of the Bettina cookbooks for her.

The first book starts at the beginning of Bettina and Bob's marriage, and there are several others in the Bettina series.

A Thousand Ways to Please a Husband was first published in 1917, with a new, revised edition being published in 1932, and at least one other edition in 1941. A facsimile edition was also printed in 1970. Different covers on all.

A Thousand Ways to Please a Husband with Bettina's Best Recipes by Louise Bennett Weaver and Helen Cowles Le Cron. Decorations by Elizabeth Colbourne. 479 pages. Hardcover. (1917, 1932, 1941, 1970)

A Thousand Ways to Please a Family with Bettina's Best Recipes by Louise Bennett Weaver and Helen Cowles Le Cron. Decorations by Elizabeth Colborne. 397 pages. Hardcover. (1922)

Bettina's Best Salads and What to Serve With Them by Louise Bennett Weaver and Helen Cowles LeCron. Illustrations by Elizabeth Colborne.
215 pages. Hardcover. (1923)

Bettina's Best Desserts by Louise Bennett Weaver and Helen Cowles Le Cron. Illustrated by Elizabeth Colborne. 194 pages. Hardcover. (1923)

When Sue Began to Cook with Bettina's Best Recipes: A Beginning Cook Book for Girls from Eight to Fifteen by Louise B. Weaver. Illustrated. 189 pages
Hardcover. (1924)

Bettina's Cakes and Cookies by Louise Bennett Weaver and Helen Cowles Le Cron. Illustrated by Elizabeth Colborne. 224 pages. Hardcover. (1924)

August 26, 2005

Cake Decorating and Marshmallows

I do get sidetracked--I was going to do a post earlier this week about the Wilton 1978 Yearbook. Then it evolved into several pages about the Wilton Cake Decorating books on one of my other websites. While I never even started that original post, you can see a list of the cakes and pans used in that issue over there.

Stapled inside the cover of one of the copies of that book is a little advertising sheet called "Kraft Marshmallow Magic." I guess the previous owner attached it to the cover because it has a cake decorating idea on it.

That idea is a Flower Garden Cake, where you ice a sheet cake with 7-Minute Frosting, cover it with green tinted coconut, and cut flowers out of the flavored mini-marshmallows, so that it looks like a field of spring flowers.

Another idea is Panorama Easter Egg where a mixture of puffed rice cereal mixed with Parkay and melted miniature marshmallows are molded around a greased 1-pint jar. (Sounds like a generic version of Rice Krispie Treats to me.) Bunnies made from marshmallows, more green tinted coconut, and Kraft Marshmallow Creme decorate the inside of the egg.

Then there are Little Ladies, paper doll tops stuck into bases (skirts) made of the same cereal mixture as above with the skirts decorated with little cut petals of the Flavored Miniature Marshmallows.

Simple ideas from 25 years ago before there was a different pan for everything.

I'd post a picture, but my scanner's broken. I really need to get that taken care of this weekend.

August 18, 2005

Borden New Idea Series

The Borden Company published a series of recipe booklets called "New Idea Books" in the late 1970's and early 1980's.

Some of these cookbooks had five pre-punched holes along the left edge so they would fit into a binder. Some booklets were slightly smaller and didn't have the binder holes. There's also an example of one that is a smaller foldout leaflet that has fewer recipes and the word "free" in the upper right corner.

Some of the titles in the New Idea Book series are:

  • Delicious Desserts Made Easy with Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • Create a Difference with ReaLeamon Lemon Juice from Concentrate
  • That Lively Lime Twist
  • Bring Out the Flavor (with Wyler's Bouillon)
  • Sixteen Cottage Cheese Recipes
  • That Twist of Tomato from Sacramento Foods
  • Bouillon is Basic - Wyler's Bouillon
  • WISE Ideas from Dips to Desserts
  • The Taste of Tradition - None Such Mincemeat
  • Introducing Cottage Cheese
  • The Touch of Taste from None Such Mincemeat
  • Tried & True Money-Saving Meals (Creamettes
  • Beverages with the Real Difference of ReaLemon Reconstituted Lemon Juice
  • They'll Love It! Easy Taste Treats with Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • Lite-Time is Anytime

The recipes in these booklets are fairly traditional and basic, easy-to-make, and they're illustrated with nice color photographs. The recipe books are fairly easy to locate individually; the binders are less common.

August 17, 2005

Wonderful World of Cooking

Ruth Conrad Bateman authored several cookbooks published during the 1960's and 1970's: "Fifty Great Buffet Parties", "I Love to Cook Book", "Serve it Cold! A Cookbook of Delicious Cold Dishes", and "The Zucchini and Carrot Cookbook."

Some of her recipes from the "I Love to Cook Book" were used in a series of promotional cookbooks during the 1960's called the "Wonderful World of Cooking."

Harwood & Tjaden published the first series in 1965. In the front of the first booklet it states that there were to be four booklets: Volume 1 was French Specialties, Volume II would be Italian Recipes, Volume III would be USA, and Volume 4 would be recipes for cuisine from Middle Europe. So far, I can only find that Volumes I and II were published. These books are illustrated with small drawings.

Jump to 1967, same series, slightly different name. The series is now called the "Wonderful World of Cooking and Homemaking." Ruth is still the author; some of the recipes are still reprinted from her cookbook. Different publisher though, these are published by Phillip Weil, Inc. and it says that they are published four times a year.

Then it gets more confusing, French Recipes is noted as Volume 1 (no date) and Italian Recipes is also called Volume I (this one is dated May 1967). I haven't yet found any other booklets in the series. These booklets have color photography of the prepared dishes inside as well as photography on the front covers.

The food company advertisements are different in each series, and there are some cute 5-cent to 10-cent manufacturer coupons in all of them.

In the French Recipes booklet of 1967 there is also a one-page advertisement for a 4-volume paperback cookbook set in a slipcase, also titled "The Wonderful World of Cooking." These are edited by William I. Kaufman and were published by Dell. Although the books in this set aren't advertising cookbooks, I'll go ahead and name them, in case you're interested:

Volume 1 - Far East and Near East
Volume 2 - Italy, France and Spain
Volume 3 - Northern Europe and British Isles
Volume 4 - Caribbean and Latin America

Does anyone know if the other booklets in the promotional series actually exist?

August 15, 2005

More About Betty

I finished the book about Betty Crocker that I mentioned last week. And I was right. It was a quick, entertaining read.

I already knew some of the historical facts presented in the book, such as the events surrounding her introduction to the American public in 1921, the titles of the cookbooks and recipe pamphlets that have been published over the years, and how Betty and her products have changed with the trends throughout the life of the brand.

A good portion of two chapters contained information that was new, to me, at least.

I wasn't very familiar with the Betty Crocker radio programs. These programs, whose listening audience was the American homemaker, ran from 1924 until the mid-1950's, ending about the time I was born. The author gave me a good sense of the program formats and the resulting interaction between the listeners and the food company. The author provided enough dates and other details so that I can research them further in the future, should I desire.

I find it interesting that the home service radio programs of the past, designed to inform and entertain primarily female homemakers, have been replaced with the Food TV of the present. Today's food television is aimed at both genders, airs almost continuously around the clock, and they, too, provide both entertainment and educational information. One thing that remains constant within both mediums, however, is the underlying promotion of consumer consumption.

I also enjoyed the chapter regarding the Betty Crocker Test Kitchens. The test kitchens are where recipes and products are tested and re-tested before their release to the public. The author took me through the growth of the test kitchens, describing in detail their decorating themes that changed with the decades, how they were outfitted with the most modern appliances and gadgets, the moves the kitchens made from their early space to their current quarters that were a result of the General Mills and Pillsbury merger. I especially enjoyed learning about the Kamera Kitchen, where the food was photographed for recipe booklets, package labels and other advertising promotions.

The Betty Crocker Kitchens, once regularly open to the public, were a popular tourist destination for Minneapolis visitors. Due to the confidentiality of product research, General Mills closed the kitchens to the public in 1985. Although the Kitchens were opened to the public again in 2003, it's on a much more limited basis.

I'm kind of disappointed to think that I won't have the opportunity to personally visit those kitchens of yesterday. Any current glimpse I get of these famous kitchens is most likely to be in the form of a television program.

I also didn't know that Betty used to hang out in Hollywood. How the corporate offices managed that, since she wasn't actually a real person, was pretty interesting as well.

August 13, 2005

Moonlight Mushrooms

I didn't grow up eating mushrooms. For whatever reason, they never made it into our household. Not even in the form of a can of Campbell's Cream of Mushroom Soup. Whether this was a Texas thing or a Mom thing, I'll never know.

The man I married was from New Jersey. He ate a lot of what I considered to be, at the time, "strange" food, and it was because of him that mushrooms finally made their way onto my grocery lists and into my kitchen.

That was in 1978. Although I loved to cook, I was more into the finished product than the history of food or wondering about where it came from. I was a city girl. Food came from the grocery store.

My discovery of the fact that some mushrooms were grown in underground caves came as a total surprise. Who knew? (This information was gleaned from a promotional cookbook, I might add, else I might still be in the dark.)

"Good things to eat with Moonlight Mushrooms" is similar to the recipe book I had. It gives a short history of mushrooms in general and also tells a bit about Moonlight Mushrooms, a brand name for mushrooms that were grown and packed by the Butler County Mushroom Farm in Worthington, Pennsylvania. An excerpt from the front of the book reads:

"Before the turn of the last century, underground limestone mining began in the Allegheny Mountains in western Pennsylvania. The stone in several of the mines was exhausted after many years of mining, leaving vast underground mazes of galleries and corridors...dark, silent and empty. Then in 1937, the corridors began to bustle again with activity, not with miners with their picks and shovels, but with farmers! Constant darkness, never varying 56 degree temperatures, high humidity and protection from freezing winters and parched summers "up there" was the ideal environment for cultivating mushrooms...Moonlight Mushrooms."

"Two of the "ghost" mines are now flourishing underground farms, providing full time employment for over 1000 people. Skilled laboratory technicians collecting microscopic mushroom spores in test tubes...engineers designing new specialty equipment...mechanics maintaining equipment that can handle 500 tons of organic compost daily....carpenters building and repairing thousands of 1/2-ton growing trays...maintenance personnel constantly checking and maintaining the safety of the mine...drivers of electric vehicles bringer pickers to and from over 100 miles of underground growing corridors...packers weighing and packaging Moonlight Mushrooms...and hundreds of pickers wearing miners' hats and lamps, harvesting mushrooms seven days a week in total darkness...all work together to bring you the finest mushrooms that modern science and know-how can produce."

Pennsylvania is the nation's largest mushroom-growing state. There are several different mushroom companies out of Pennsylvania that have published their own cookbooks in the past. Now known as Creekside Mushrooms, Ltd., the facility mentioned in the excerpt above is now the only underground mushroom farm in the United States and they still produce the Moonlight Mushrooms brand.

August 12, 2005

Details, Details

I've finally finished a couple of books I've been reading (fiction by Ridley Pearson and Richard North Patterson) and next up on the stack of books to read is "Finding Betty Crocker: The Secret Life of America's First Lady of Food" by Susan Marks.

I'm always interested in the details of the food companies and what goes on behind the scenes. Why else would I think food industry news is interesting? I love to read about grocery stores, food packaging, product branding, food trends and marketing.

It's all those details that they don't really mention in the consumer advertising that I find so fascinating.

I like to find out about the little things that nag at the back of my mind while I'm grocery shopping.

Why are they selling green ketchup and blue Jell-O? Why are my cracker choices suddenly limited to little dinosaur shapes? What's up with the proliferation of cup-holder food and individual-serving packages? What happened to my favorite cereal and why isn't there anything on the shelf for people who aren't interested in low-carb or low-fat?

I'll also admit that "Finding Betty Crocker" looks interesting to me because it's not really a "business" book and in flipping through the pages, it appears that it might actually be entertaining. So many details about the history of this fictitious woman and well-known American icon--all nicely laid out for me in the pages of a single book.

How convenient--just like the food that Betty's selling.

August 11, 2005

Brand Name Foods - 1939 NY World's Fair

I spent the afternoon at the library perusing The Official Guide Book of the New York World's Fair - 1939 (Exposition Publications Inc., 1939, New York).

I was interested in the promotional recipe booklets and pamphlets that were given out to the public by the food exhibitors during the course of the fair.

The slogan of the 1939-1940 New York World's Fair was "Building the World of Tomorrow." Food played an important role in this exposition, as the fair planners wanted to demonstrate that the food of the future would come from factories rather than the farms. The larger industrial food exhibits focused on conveying the message that food processing was clean and safe. American consumers were being schooled and prodded to increase their consumption of packaged and processed foods.

The Food Zone, one of the seven themed areas of the fair, was the location of the main food exhibits. Several exhibitors had their own pavilions--these included Beechnut Packing, Borden, Continental Baking, Heinz, National Dairy Products, Standard Brands, Libby's and Swift and Company. Two other buildings in this area housed smaller exhibits.

Some of the food companies and grocery products represented at the fair included Junket, Kraft Mayonnaise, Philadelphia Cream Cheese, Miracle Whip, Northwestern Yeast Company, Coca-Cola, Durkee, Loose-Wiles Biscuit Company (Sunshine Bakers), Canada Dry Ginger Ale, Curtiss Candy, B. Fisher, General Foods, Jell-O, Maxwell House, Sanka, Birds Eye Frosted Foods, Post Toasties, Walter Baker Chocolate, National Biscuit Company (Nabisco), S. A. Schanbrunn & Co. (Savarin), Planter's, Campbell's Soup, the California Olive Association, Minute Tapioca, Fleischmann's Yeast, Chase & Sanborn Coffee, Royal Desserts, Swift's Premium Frankfurters, Swift's Premium Ham, Swift's Premium Bacon, and Maca Yeast.

Listed below are a few of the free recipe booklets and pamphlets distributed at the fair by the food corporations:
  • Sealtest Kitchen Recipes - World's Fair Edition.
  • 121 Tested Recipes by Mary Mason - Junket
  • Salads & Snacks with Miracle Whip Salad Dressing and Kraft Mayonnaise
  • New Delicacies with Philadelphia Brand Cream Cheese
  • The Art of Making Bread at Home - Northwestern Yeast Company
  • 70 Years of Good Eating - H. J. Heinz
  • The Junket Folks Book of Fun
  • Durkee Famous Foods - Recipes: A Century of Progress (from the 1933 Chicago World's Fair)
  • Oven Melodies using Maca Yeast - Northwestern Yeast
  • Intriguing New Ways to Serve Ice Cream - Sealtest

Many of the recipe booklets had references to the World's Fair printed on the cover or the inside.

August 08, 2005

Farewell to Peter

Goodbye, Peter Jennings. I will miss you and your presence in my household, even if it was only through the medium of television.

You already left my living room, of course, sometime last April. Not hearing the sound of your calm, steady voice reporting the news of the world has left a void the last four months, much like the one that was left when Johnny Carson quit lulling me to sleep at night so many years ago.

I'll leave the television on today, one last chance to hear and experience your comforting presence in my little world, over and over again for one last day, as the media does what it does best. For once, I'm glad of their mind-numbing, endless repetition of reporting the same story over and over again.

You were a class act. God Bless.

I'm down to Imus and Barbara now. You guys be sure and eat your Wheaties every morning, you hear?

August 01, 2005

Catfish from the Farm

I recently received a recipe folder in the mail called Eight New Recipes (Or Should We Call Them Makeovers?).

This collection of recipes is promoting the use of U.S. farm-raised catfish. You can order your free copy or download the recipes from The Catfish Institute. If you're a paper freak like I am, you'll likely prefer the recipe book to the download. It's very nicely done--printed on heavy blue-textured cardstock and illustrated with some scrumptious-looking catfish dinners.

My favorite way to fix catfish is by simply dredging fillets or pieces in a mixture of cornmeal and flour and frying in oil until golden. I've honestly never thought about preparing catfish in any other manner.

However, the eight recipes are illustrated so nicely and sound so good that I'm definitely tempted to give some of them a try: Grilled Catfish over Mixed Greens; Almond-Crusted Catfish; Grilled Catfish with Black Bean Salsa; Ranchero Catfish; Sesame-Crusted Catfish with Sweet-and-Sour Sauce; Tuscan Catfish, Parchment-Steamed Catfish with Spring Herbs and Vegetables; and of course, Classic Fried Catfish with Jalapeno Hush Puppies.

At one time I felt catfish was nothing more than a muddy-tasting fish from the bottom of the river and I wouldn't eat or prepare it at all. If I caught one while fishing, I would throw it back. My mind was changed one night after an all-you-can-eat catfish dinner at a restaurant in the backwoods of Tennessee (that I have been unable to locate ever again). They served farm-raised catfish and I was an instant convert.

I have a hard time thinking of fish as an agricultural crop like beans or corn. However, the practice of aquaculture, or fish farming, is on the rise. And it's a controversial subject to say the least.

Other than catfish, I'm always in a quandary when I peer through the glass of the seafood case at the supermarket and try to choose between wild or farm-raised fish or shellfish. I'm on the fence. How about you?