January 09, 2006

Rumford and Jewish Housewives

When planning and publishing promotional cookbooks, the food companies did not neglect the needs of the Jewish population.

The Rumford Company, makers of Rumford Baking Powder, published a small booklet called What Shall I Serve? (1931, 24 pages). The booklet, subtitled Famous Recipes for Jewish Housewives, contains the following introduction:

"Gathered from the culinary lore of good old-fashioned Jewish housewives, this unique little volume contains a wealth of treasured, traditional recipes. The majority of these recipes come from a private search among Jewish mothers whose very joy in life is the preparation of Friday night's supper for the family.

The younger generation may now enjoy the secrets of those exquisite delicacies which mother used to make, and whose origin dips way back into the romantic past.

We believe this is the kind of cook-book you have always hoped for; and it is our humble way of playing tribute to the young Jewish housewives whose tables reflect the unusual recipe-consciousness of the entire Jewish people."

What Shall I Serve? contains 39 recipes, a Calendar of Jewish Holidays with suggested recipes appropriate for each, and a Week's Menus with suggestions for Breakfast, Dinner and Supper.

Among the pages of this little recipe book, which is decorated with lovely color illustrations, one will find recipes for Cheese Kreplech, Egg Kichlech, Homontashen, Lebkuchen, Mandel Bread, Pirogen, Potato Kugel, Potato Latkes, Prune Cakes, Soup Cakes, Strudel and Tayglech.

On the last page is a Hechsher, a symbol placed on many preprepared foods signifying that the product is kosher, with a Rabbi's Certificate:

"This is to certify that Rumford Baking Powder, product of the firm called Rumford Chemical Works is absolutely Kosher, according to the Jewish laws, to be used for baking purposes, except during Passover.
Furthermore, its ingredients are not only of the utmost purity, but are of such a nature that this powder can be used for baking either meat or milk dishes.

I herewith set my hand and seal this 28th day of October, 1930. Rabbi Laagudas Hasfardim
David M. Rabinovitz in Boston, Mass."

For Purim, the booklet suggests Homontashen:


1 egg
1/4 lb. melted butter
3/4 cup milk
1 tsp. salt
2-1/4 cups flour
2 heaping tsps. Rumford Baking Powder
1/4 lb. poppy seeds
1 egg
3/4 cup sugar

Scald the poppy seeds and let stand until the seeds sink to the bottom of the bowl. Pour off the water and let poppy seeds drain in a fine strainer until all the water has dripped off. Then grind with the finest knife of food chopper. Fold in an egg, and work in the sugar until mixture is well blended. Mix the ingredients of the first column (the remaining 6 ingredients) thoroughly, and knead well. Roll out the dough in pieces, so that each piece makes a circle about 6" in diameter. Then put a tablespoonful of the poppy seed mixture in the center of each circle, draw up three sides, and pinch in form of triangle. Place on buttered pan and bake in medium oven until brown, about an hour.

Recipe makes 8 good sized Homontashen.


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