October 29, 2005

Jell-O Kids Recipe Booklet

There have always been regular children's cookbooks with simple recipes designed for young cooks. There are also advertising cookbooks with recipes designed to win the attention of children.

Jell-O Kids Cooking Fun was a full size spiral-bound cookbook (96 pages) published by Publications International in 1993. The cookbook had easy-to-follow recipes with illustrated, step-by-step instructions.

A smaller recipe booklet, also called Jell-O Kids Cooking for Fun (16 pages) was published in 1992. This booklet was free with the purchase of Jell-O Gelatin or Jell-O Instant Pudding.

Inside the booklet were the details of how to acquire the full-size edition by mail. It also included six recipes that kids could have fun making along with Mom:

  • Funny Face Desserts

  • Jigglers

  • Jigglers, Creamy Style

  • Dirt Cups

  • Buried Treasures

  • Pudding Poke Cake
Many of the brand name food websites have a section with recipes and activities that are developed to include children in cooking. Children are the future consumers of the food companies, and even at a young age, influence much of what is purchased.

    October 28, 2005

    Pickling with Heinz Vinegar

    H.J. Heinz Co., the makers of Heinz vinegars, published two simple pickling guides that are packed with recipes for making pickles with the fruits and vegetables from your garden or the market.

    Heinz Guide to Successful Pickling - Updated, Expanded Edition (1984, 32 pages) contains 51 recipes. Most of them use the traditional boiling water bath processing, but 17 of the recipes are quickies that need only overnight refrigeration to blend the flavors. With these recipes, it means you could pick your vegetables from your garden today and serve them at dinner tomorrow. In some of these quickie recipes you can use the Heinz flavored vinegars.

    Recipes from this booklet are the basics such as 14 Day Sweet Pickles, Zucchini Pickles, Bread & Butter Pickles and Kosher Dills. Also included are Sweet Onion Rings, Spiced Cranberries, Spiced Pumpkin, Pickled Green Beans, and some of the quickies: include Delicatessen Salad, Cauli-Slaw, Cranberry Butter, Spicy Apple Rings and Artichokes Vinaigrette. This recipe booklet is illustrated with colorful drawings.

    The Heinz Successful Pickling Guide - A Collection of Family Favorites (1997, 21 pages) is illustrated with color photographs that inspire one to whip out the canning jars. Some recipes in this booklet are similar to the one above, some with slight variations, but there are new ones too. This booklet contains 30 recipes. Most of these also use the hot water bath processing, but there are a few that are overnighters, and one recipe for Freezer Pickles.

    This booklet has recipes for Cauliflower Pickles, Giardiniera, End-of-the-Garden Pickles, Spiced Candy Apple Rings, Spiced Pears, Summer Squash Relish, Mexican Salsa and Apple Chutney. Some of the time saver recipes are Tomato Melange, Refrigerator Pickles, Pickled Mushrooms and Beet and Dill Flavored Pickled Eggs.

    Both booklets cover the right tools and methods to use, with hints and tips to make your pickles turn out great.

    October 27, 2005

    A Batch of Reynolds Kitchens Leaflets

    Yesterday I received a nice litle batch of new recipe pamphlets and leaflets from The Reynolds Kitchens. I believe I responded online at their website to a promotion for one free booklet, and I got eight instead. What a nice surprise!

    The booklets are timely as two of them are related to holiday cooking.
    • Holiday Fun - Festive Easy Gift Ideas - Ideas and photos for using Reynolds Color Plastic Wrap

    • Turkey Made Easy from The Reynolds Kitchens - Recipes for Grill Roasted Turkey, Thanksgiving Gravy, Oven Roasted Turkey, Microwave Turkey Breast and Herbed Turkey Breast, and a Turkey Roasting Timetable

    • Create a Masterpiece to Share - Recipes and Tips - Baking with Reynolds Parchment Paper and Land O Lakes butter, recipes

    • Reynolds Wrap Release Non-Stick Aluminum Foil Recipes & Tips - Three recipes, tips and a 50-cent manufacturer's coupon with no expiration date

    • Freezer Paper Tips & Techniques - Ideas for using freezer paper as stencils, in applique quilt making, crafts for kids, household uses, grocery stock-ups, bake-ahead tips, and tips for freezing

    • A-Z Kitchen Helper - Uses for waxed paper in the kitchen

    • Reynolds Quick & Easy Packet Cooking - Large foldout with instructions for using aluminum foil for packet cooking. Recipes and photos divided by perforated lines so they'll fit into your recipe box

    • Making Baking Better - Leaflet with three recipes - is that a genuine Jadite cup and saucer or a reprodution in the photo of the Lemon Blueberry Cookies recipe?

    October 26, 2005

    La Choy Chow Mein Noodles Candy

    The only copy I have available right now of The La Choy Collection of Favorite Oriental Recipes (undated, 12 pages) is going out in the mail today.

    Since the beginning of November will mark the start of the holiday cooking season, and homemade candy is always popular at Christmas time, I thought I'd go ahead and post the original candy recipe found inside this leaflet that's made with La Choy Chow Mein Noodles.

    This recipe is popular and particularly easy-to-make for those cooks who don't have a lot of time or the patience required for more serious candymakng.

    Nutty-Noodly Clusters

    1 (12-oz) pkg. chocolate chips
    1 (12-oz) pkg. butterscotch chips
    2 (5-oz) cans La Choy Chow Mein Noodles
    1/2 cup peanuts or cashews

    Melt chocolate and butterscotch chips in a heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and quickly stir in noodles and nuts to coat evenly. Drop by teaspoonsful onto waxed paper. Refrigerate. Makes 24.

    October 25, 2005

    What Was the Brand Name in That Lost Recipe?

    I recently had a request from a lady who was searching for a food company promotional booklet that had a recipe for Chicken Cacciatore in it. Her cookbook containing the recipe had been accidentally thrown away.

    Although the cover was missing from her cookbook, she was sure that it was the Crisco Praise for the Cook. She was fairly specific about the recipe, recalling that it used one cup of ketchup, and she thought she remembered the red dress on the cover from long ago.

    So I searched Praise for the Cook for the recipe. No luck. From other information she had given me, I knew that it was a vintage booklet and not a newer one. So I searched all of the Crisco cookbooks. No luck.

    During a telephone conversation I told her that I was unable to find the recipe. She mentions that perhaps it was not Crisco, that it was Heinz. Well, that makes sense. Heinz sells a lot of ketchup.

    The first Heinz cookbook for ketchup that I picked up, 57 Prize-Winning Recipes, contained the recipe she was looking for. I spent almost an hour searching for the recipe, and if not for the Heinz hint as an afterthough, I would never have found it.

    Oddly enough, today I am mailing out a different Heinz booklet to another customer, For Variety--Cook with Ketchup, and I checked--there the recipe is again. All over the place if you know where to look.

    October 24, 2005

    An Asparagus Cookbook

    Advertising cookbooks most commonly feature brand name processed foods. Less common are those showcasing generic or unprocessed fruits, vegetables, meat, nuts, etc.

    These other booklets are often published by trade industry associations. While these products might appear generic to us, they are certainly not nameless to those who produce or grow them. Louisiana rice, California avocados, Washington apples, Hawaiian pineapple, and Alabama peanuts are just a few of the many products that are represented by industry associations.

    One example for vegetables is the South Jersey Asparagus Cookbook (14 pages, undated) that was published by The New Jersey Asparagus Industry Council.

    New Jersey is the fourth largest producer of asparagus in the United States. It makes sense that they would want to market their product like everyone else, and that they would use some of the same advertising methods. Get the consumers to eat asparagus, and when they do, chances are that some of it will have been grown in New Jersey, whether it is fresh, frozen, or packed in cans or jars.

    The booklet contains 19 recipes. Some are favorite asparagus stand-bys such as Cream of Asparagus Soup and steamed or boiled served with simple flavored butters. There are three egg dishes that incorporate chopped pieces--an omelet, fried and scrambled. This book is probably circa 1950's as there is a page filled with asparagus ideas for the open face sandwiches that were popular then. Other more unusual recipes are Sweet-Sour Asparagus and Baked Pork Chops with Asparagus Stuffing.

    One recipe, Surprised Stuffed Tomatoes, shows whole tomatoes stuffed with a tuna, macaroni and asparagus mixture with a single asparagus spear decorating the salad, protruding up from the center like a missile.

    October 23, 2005

    Hunt's Mini Italian Recipe Book

    Let's "Cook Italian" with Hunt's Tomato Paste (24 pages) is a cute little recipe booklet that gives an abbreviated course in cooking Italian-style. It's not dated, but appears to be circa 1950's-1960's.

    Part of it's charm, to me at least, is the cover photo of what I assume is an Italian mother and her young daughter serving up a big tureen of Minestrone soup. The pair are shown in the rear of the book taking a big pan of Veal Parmesan out of the oven.

    The lady is shown again in three other photos, one with a young boy looking on. Each time she's wearing a different apron and a different dress. A little fussy for cooking, but she also looks a little comforting like the Italian mothers of my imagination tend to be. (If you have an Italian mother and she's not comforting, please don't write and deprive me of my illusions.) I believe this lady, or one who looks similar to her, also appeared in a Hunt's magazine advertisement.

    The first page tells how Hunt's Tomato Paste is the secret to Italian cooking and one of the authentic ways to achieve the fine flavor and aroma of Italian food. Well, I don't know about that, but I'm sure Hunt's would like us to think so.

    The next page says you don't need an Italian grocery store from which to purchase your ingredients, that you can do just fine with a regular market. All you need is olive oil, herbs, Italian cheese and Hunt's Tomato Paste, of course.

    They go on to enlighten us with the fact that pasta is what Italians call all macaroni, spaghetti and noodles, with a brief explanation and small illustration of the various types.

    The recipes included in the booklet are:

    Very Special, Old-Country Spaghetti and Pot Roast
    Spaghetti Sauce (with Meat)
    Mushroom Sauce (Meatless)
    Italian Meat Balls (Polpette)
    Veal Scaloppine (with a photo of veal smothered in a frighteningly red sauce)
    Lasagne (Italian Noodle Casserole)
    Italian Pizza
    Mediterranean Fish Rolls
    Fish Ripieno (Stuffed Whole Mackerel, bass, or any large fish)
    Rollettes (Italian Meat Rolls)
    Macaroni & Cheese (Italian Style)
    Risotto with Shrimp (A Rice Dish)
    Chicken Cacciatora (Hunter Style)
    Veal Parmesan
    Baked Round Steak (Bistecca al Forno)

    They also give three suggested menus:

    A Sunday Dinner Menu
    A Dinner Party Menu
    A Family Style Dinner Party Menu

    A short portion of one page tells how to prepare antipasto, another shows an Italian Herb Chart and another an Italian Cheese Chart. The last page gives some hints and tips for using Hunt's Tomato Paste.

    The rear cover shows a "Family Portrait" of the Hunt's tomato products. At the the time of publication, these products included plain tomato juice, tomato paste, tomato sauce, catsup, solid pack tomatoes and Italian peeled tomatoes. This is back when product selection was not a mind boggling chore in our busy lives--no blue or green catsup, no no-salt tomatoes, no Mexican-Style, no Italian-Style to choose from, just tomatoes, plain and simple.

    October 21, 2005

    Instant Blending Flour

    Here's a specialty flour I haven't thought about in quite a while: Instant Blending Flour. This type of flour goes through a special milling process and comes in a granulated form like sugar. It dissolves easily in liquids, either hot or cold, so this makes it perfect for sauces and gravies.

    It's a low protein flour, so while it's not the best for making bread, it does work well in gravies, sauces, pie crusts, batters, quick breads, muffins and cakes.

    I remember buying it to see if it would help my lumpy gravy. Did it work? I can't remember as that was 20 years ago and I've since learned to make gravy without it. If you're a beginning cook, it can't hurt!

    I'm not sure when Pillsbury first introduced their Instant Blending Flour. General Mills introduced their brand, Wondra Flour, in 1963.

    I have three Pillsbury recipe booklets that are all advertising their "New" Instant Blending Flour". None of the three are dated, but judging from the illustrations, they appear to be late 1960's or early 1970's.

    A New Way to Bake! with Pillsbury Instant Blending Flour, 14 pages (this booklet gives the pie-crust recipe and others)

    A New Way to Bake! Using Pillsbury Instant Blending Flour, 14 pages (this booklet gives yeast bread recipes and others)

    "Do-it-together" Butter Cookies, 30 pages (56 Fabulous Cookie Ideas plus 41 Do-it-Together Decorating Ideas)

    Somewhere along the way, Pillsbury changed the name of the flour to Shake & Blend and packaged it a pourable container. This brand is still available, although it's produced in limited quantities, so may be a bit hard to find.

    The Gold Medal Wondra brand (labeled "Sauce 'n Gravy" since 1986) is still available as well.

    The Robin Hood brand (owned by Smucker's) of Blending Flour is available in Canada.

    Maybe I'll try this flour in my pie crusts. Sad to say, they could use quite a bit of help.

    October 17, 2005

    Baker's Cut-Up Cakes

    If you're one of the younger generation, you might wonder "what are Cut-Up Cakes?"

    These cakes were popular during the 50's, 60's and 70's. Baker's Angel Flake Coconut (General Foods) put out several different recipe booklets that featured different Cut-Up Cake designs. Publications International also published a hardcover book in the 1990's.

    These cakes were popular because no special tools or pans were needed. Cakes were baked from your own recipe or from cake mixes, usually in either a 13x9 or two 8- or 9-inch layers. After the cake was cooled, you followed a pattern given in the recipe and cut the cake as directed with a knife, then put the pieces together to form the desired shape. The cake pieces were then covered with frosting making it appear as one solid cake. Most of the designs usually incorporated coconut into the decoration.

    Some of the designs were quite imaginative: an airplane, turkey, Christmas tree, butterfly, doll, Santa, Easter Bunny, flower cart, teddy bear, umbrella, Valentine, Witch, cabin cruiser, sailboat, dolls, ballon, lion, turtle, swan, and a penguin are just a few.

    These older booklets are still extremely popular. Grandmothers are baking them for their grandchildren, they're a fun cooking project to do with kids, and those practicing frugality and simpler lives find it easy to create a character cake without investing in special cake pans and cake decorating tools.

    A list below of the Baker's Cut-Up Cake recipe booklets:

    Cut-Up Cakes, 1956, 32 pages
    Animal Cut-Up Cakes, 1959, 32 pages
    Celebration Cakes: Cut-Ups!!, 1970
    Baker's Cut-Up Cake Party Book, 1973, 127 pages
    Baker's Easy Cut-Up Party Cakes (HC), 1993, 96 pages

    October 14, 2005

    Minneapolis Travel Plans

    Looks like I may get a chance to visit Minneapolis (once known as flour capital of the world) at the beginning of November. Just for a few days, but I'm well-known for cramming a lot of activity into a short amount of time. When it comes to travel anyway.

    Minnesota is a long way from Texas and I've only been up there once before. It was the tail end of winter and I spent most of the time checking out the used bookstores.

    I've been wanting to go back so I could visit the Mill City Museum. The museum has only been open a couple of years and the project wasn't yet completed when I was there before. It's built within the remains of the Washburn A Mill, the large mill that was once owned by the Washburn Crosby Company (which was later General Mills). Looks like a great place to soak up some history about the flour milling industry.

    I'll probably also check out a Byerly's or two and see with my own eyes this famed grocery store that has carpeted floors. We'll see how it measures up against my other favorite supermarkets around the country.

    I'm sure I'll find other things to see and do that are somehow related to food. Unfortunately I didn't find out about the possibility of this trip until it was too late to sign up for the Betty Crocker Kitchens Holiday Open House.
    That's kind of a disappointment, but maybe next year.

    October 12, 2005

    Betty Crocker Speaks Spanish

    Lest we ever forget, the purpose of advertising cookbooks and other brand name cookbooks is to promote the company's product.

    Kraft Foods has already jumped on the Hispanic marketing bandwagon with their nearly-duplicate content magazines Food & Family and Comida y Familia . I wrote about Recetas or Recipes? back on May 22.

    General Mills, not wanting to miss the boat, has released a new cookbook, Cocina Betty Crocker, also trying to capture the non-English speaking Hispanic market.

    The brand's first bilingual cookbook presents 125 recipes in both English and Spanish. "Learn to cook American favorites" is the helpful and friendly advice. "Learn to cook American favorites using General Mills product ingredients" would perhaps be a bit more forthcoming.

    Betty says "Soon these recipes will become your family's favorites."

    Mac 'n Cheese and Bisquick biscuits replacing tortillas, Menudo and Carne Asada? Somehow I don't see that happening.

    October 07, 2005

    USDA Food and Nutrition Bulletins

    Your government is an often-overlooked source of information on the subject of food, cooking and nutrition. The USDA and its agencies have been publishing food-related resource material for almost one hundred years.

    The USDA booklets didn't promote a particular brand name or product. They provided valuable, unbiased information in a generic manner. (In a society now over-saturated with advertising, how refreshing is that?)

    In the past, paper recipe booklets, informational pamphlets and leaflets were the methods the USDA used to get the information out to those interested. This material was usually free of charge and not very fancy.

    The topics of the earlier booklets, called Farmer's Bulletins, reflected the fact that most families ate and prepared food that was grown and processed at home on the farm.

    Then came the Home and Garden Bulletins, and as food processing shifted from the farm to the factory, the booklets reflected the trend towards more people eating commercially processed foods. New topics were added, such as "How to Buy" and "How to Serve" thrifty, nutritious and economical foods.

    The shift to processed food has taken its toll. America is fat and out of shape. Today, the main topics of the newer publications seem to focus on food handling and safety, food labeling, nutritional values and knowledge, and dietary guidelines.

    And just as the focus of the subject matter has shifted, so has the medium in which the information is conveyed. Gone are the plain, inexpensive booklets, replaced by shiny, glossy covers and a higher price tag. If it's free, it's because you printed it out on your computer at home.

    Perhaps I'm old-fashioned, but somehow a home-printed PDF file doesn't have the charm of an old booklet, even if the information it contains is useful.

    Check out the lists of past USDA publications related to food and nutrition.

    October 04, 2005

    Easy Home Cooking Sample Copy

    I acquired a set of three hardcover Campbell's Soup Cookbooks, and inside one of them was a card to send off for a free copy of Easy Home Cooking Magazine. So naturally, I did.

    It came today, the October/November 2005 issue, and it features Thanksgiving cooking. Lots of turkey, cranberry, pumpkin and sweet potato recipes, plus a special section with Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk recipes.

    Tonight, two recipes look particularly good to me: one for Pumpkin Creme Brulee and one for Pork Roast with Dried Cranberries and Apricots.

    I've cooked a lot of pork roasts the last few months. Don't know why, as I went years without ever cooking one before. Seasoned up Mexican-style with cumin and garlic, the ground or shredded pork makes great tacos. Come to think of it, the meat would be good in flautas too.

    I noticed in the front of the book, in a section called "Ask Emma", that they welcome questions and comments. It says that if they publish your letter then they'll send you a free cookbook. Sounds good to me.

    If you have a question for Emma, with the hopes of getting that free cookbook, you should write:

    "Ask Emma"
    Easy Home Cooking
    Publications Interntional, Ltd.
    7373 North Cicero Blvd.
    Lincolnwood, IL 60712

    October 03, 2005

    Holiday Recipe Booklets

    Heads up! The beginning of the holiday retailing season is upon us.

    This is the time of year that the aisles of the supermarket are plentiful with free or free-with-purchase promotional recipe booklets and recipe cards. The baking aisle and the refrigerated section are usually good places to find them.

    Bright Ideas for the Holidays from Kraft General Foods (47 pages) was in the aisles in 1989. It was free with the purchase of any two Kraft Maxwell House or Baker's products. It had both holiday recipes and entertaining ideas, with a center section with suggested food gifts that you could make like Chili Cheese Bread, Scrumptious Brownies, Pumpkin Cheese Bread, Holiday Popcorn and Christmas Time Cookie Dough.

    All these goodies were made with Kraft and General Foods products of course.

    If your supermarket doesn't put out any of these booklets, tell them they need to!

    October 02, 2005

    Our Brand's Better than Yours

    Food companies have long used many different approaches in their efforts to persuade consumers that their brand or product was superior to that of their competitors.

    A few examples from the olden days:

    Turn-of-the-century advertising for Hower's Oats stated rather frankly that if you bought bulk rolled oats from your grocer, then you could probably expect to find some vermin in your oatmeal. They were promoting their packaged product over the stuff commonly sold from barrels.

    Early on, General Mills used the allure of the Betty Crocker test kitchens and the concept of "kitchen-tested" recipes to win over homemakers, even offering tours of their Minneapolis kitchens. Heaven forbid you should use a recipe that hadn't been previously tested by the "experts" in a state-of-the-art kitchen.

    Bond Bread, a brand sold by the General Baking Company, put a "Bond of Purity" on all their bread wrappers. Wasn't that reassuring?

    "Know all Men by these Presents that GENERAL BAKING COMPANY is held and firmly bound unto the purchaser of this Loaf of Bond Bread and hereby warrants that the loaf of Bread contained within this Germ-Proof and Dust-Proof Wrapper is made from the following Pure Food Materials, and no other ingredients of any kind: Best Wheat Flour, Compressed Yeast and Malt, Pure Filtered Water, Best Fine Salt, Pure Shortening, Granualted Sugar and Condensed Milk."

    Almost a century later, the food companies play hard ball in the game of advertising, it now being quite common for one company to directly diss their competition by name.