August 07, 2006

B-V Meat Extract

Wilson & Co. was once one of the most successful meatpackers in American history. One of the products they began selling in the early 1940's was Wilson's B-V, a concentrated paste of meat juices and vegetable flavorings.

Wilson's B-V was most likely welcomed by wartime cooks who were wrestling with meat rationing, sugar rationing and other shortages brought on by World War II.

B-V could be dissolved in water and used to add more meat flavor in recipes for casseroles, stews, gravies, salads and other dishes that might otherwise be suffering from a shortage of meat or an absence of any meat at all. (See Bread and Gravy below.)

Wilson & Co. held a recipe contest and in response received thousands of consumer entries with recipes that used B-V as an ingredient. There were 1,036 winning recipes and 36 of them were tested and presented in a small recipe booklet called Home Makers Prize Recipes (circa 1940s, 48 pp).

George Rector, a cookbook author and famous restauranteur was a Food and Nutrition Consultant for Wilson & Co. He puts his endorsement of the product in the front of the booklet.

Besides the 36 recipes there are also several Kitchen Helps, which were quick uses for Wilson's B-V. Three of them are below:
  • Pep up hash, next time, with Wilson's B-V. Two teaspoons of B-V for 2 cups of ground beef and 4 cups of potatoes is about right.
  • Water that vegetables are cooked in is rich in vitamins and minerals. Store a jar of it in your refrigerator and when you have enough use it in making a delicious B-V boullion. Just heat and add dissolved B-V to taste. Serve hot with crackers or croutons.
  • Add Wilson's B-V to tomato juice cocktail. 2/3 cup tomato juice, 1/3 cup iced water and 1 tsp. Wilson's B-V dissolved in 1 tbsp. hot water makes 2 or 3 tasty servings. Equal parts of tomato juice and sauerkraut juice with 1 tsp. B-V per cup of cocktail juice is equally delicious. Oh, really?

The last page of the booklet shows four other Wilson's "Certified" canned products: MOR, Wilson's Chili Con Carne, Wilson's Corned Beef Hash and Wilson's Deviled Ham.

August 04, 2006

The Universal Electric Range

Landers, Frary & Clark of New Britain, Connecticut was the manufacturer of the Universal Electric Ranges. By the 1930's electric ranges were quickly beginning to replace the more common gas ranges in American households.

Recipes and Instruction Book: Universal Electric Ranges (circa 1940, 71 pp) was published by LF&C to educate users on how to get the best use from their new Universal range.

Perhaps they felt consumers might be hesitant to replace their current stove with an electric range for fear of having to learn new tricks. For the benefit of any relunctant cooks, they were quick to point out in the Introduction that one did NOT have to change their present cooking methods in order to use the range.

The booklet covers Surface Cooking on the range top, the Economy Cooker which was another range feature, Broiling, Oven Cooking, and the baking of Cakes, Cookies, Pies and Bread, as well as a short section on oven canning. Canning in the oven took longer, as evidenced by the canning chart which gives processing times from 45 minutes for berries to up to 3 hours for vegetables.

The booklet gives basic cooking instructions for use with the electric range, however, several different range models are mentioned:

Super Clipper Model - This unit had the new Multi-Heat Surface Unit Control which looks similar to those we are familiar with today--a knob for each burner with settings for Low, Simmer, Medium and High. A single pilot light located below the switch dials was lit up when one of the switches was turned on. The pilot light remained on until all of the swtiches had been returned to the off position.

The Super Speedking and Super Mercury Models also had the Multi-Heat Surface Unit Controls, but the difference between these two Deluxe models and the Super Clipper was that each burner had it's own individual light, which also indicated the approximate heat at which the burner was operating by the amount of light emitted from the light indicator.

A large Warm-A-Drawer, which reached a maximum temperature of 135 degrees F., was a feature on the Super Mercury and Speedking. This drawer could be used to warm china and dishes at a safe temperature.

The model Mercury was equipped with an attractive chrome buffet server called a SERV-A-TRAY that came with two glass oven dishes; this fit into the SERV-A-Drawer. The SERV-A-TRAY could be placed on the table directly from the warm drawer.

Another useful feature of the Universal range was the Mult-I-Heat Economy Cooker, an aluminum pan which fit into an insulated well that could be used for cooking entire meals or for those foods that required long and slow cooking.

The Super Speedking and Super Mercury Models included a Combination Automatic Timer and Minute Minder and the booklet explains the use of these in detail.

The Super Comet, Super Clipper, Super Flight, Super Meteor and Portland Models all had different oven controls, which are explained as well.

There are menus for fifteen different Oven Meals, where the entire meal was cooked in the oven. Charts for Surface Cooking, Roasting and Baking are given, as well as recipes for the different baked sweets.

I noticed that the first page of this booklet doesn't quite match the title on the cover, as inside it is called Modern Meals Prepared the Electric Way and subtitled Cook Book and Instruction Manual for Universal Electric Ranges. Perhaps this booklet, No. 6419--5--1-40 has a different cover from a previously published edition.