August 02, 2007

Cookbook Triple Play

Wherever I go, I cannot resist picking up the cookbooks. I may not take them all home with me, but I ALWAYS look at them. After the food company cookbooks, some of my other favorite types are regional and fundraising cookbooks.

The other day, while on my way home from borrowing a pressure cooker from my dad, I picked up what looked to be a Tennessee regional cookbook at the Bellville General Hospital Ladies Auxiliary Resale Shop. (Ladies, I do like your shop, but I sure miss the annual Rummage Sale and the two week pre-sale of all the books! We don't have nearly enough Rummage Sales here in Texas.)

The Etowah Cook Book (1945, 62 pp.) is a collection of favorite recipes that were collected and compiled by the Ladies Auxiliary to The Order of Railway Conductors.

It's like many others of the same ilk--it contains recipes popular during that particular time period, from that particular area, and the names of the recipe contributors. Also like so many other older fundraiser and community cookbooks, there is a notable lack of illustrations.

While looking through the book a bit more thoroughly after I got home, I was pleasantly surprised to find several small advertisements for JFG Special Coffee and J. Allen Smith's White Lily Flour. Since Etowah is located in McMinn County, Tennessee, it's not surprising that two of the (sponsor?) ads in the cookbook are for Tennessee-produced products. Like so many other humble food companies of the past, these two brands are now owned by mega corporations, Reily Foods and J M Smucker, respectively.

I was surprised, however, to find the ads there at all. And while the majority of the recipes call for generic ingredients, there are recipes for White Lily Buttermilk Biscuits, White Lily Self-Rising Biscuits and White Lily Baking Powder Biscuits. No recipes using JFG coffee though, but the company slogan is there: "JFG Special Coffee -- The Best Part of the Meal".

This cookbook also has a nod towards the World War II sugar rationing, something many U.S. housewives had to contend with in the years leading up to the publication of this book. There is a small section in the Cake category that addresses this situation:

Sugar Saving Tips from White Lily Flour

In home baking, delightful cakes, cookies and other good things can be made
using sweeteners other than sugar. Molasses, sorghum, honey, light and dark corn
sirup*, and maple sirup are available and are excellent substitutes.

All of these sweeteners contain some water since they are in liquid or "sirupy" form. Therefore a few changes in recipes must be made when these are used. Cut out these rules and past them in your recipe book:

1. Never substitute other sweeteners for all sugar in baking recipes. Equal parts of sugar and other sweetener gives excellent results. One-fourth sugar and three-fourths other
sweetener gives good results.
2. When using molasses or sorghum, reduce liquid one-fourth cup for each cup of molasses or sorghum used. Allow 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda for each cup of molasses or sorghum.
3. When using honey, reduce liquid 1/4 cup for each cup of honey used. Use slightly lower oven temperatures to prevent oven-browning.
4. When using corn sirup, reduce liquid 1/4 cup for each cup of corn sirup used. Light corn sirup is better for light cakes, breads and cookies. Dark corn sirup is good in spice and other dark cakes, cookies and breads.
* (as spelled in the book)

So even though this book was not published specifically as a promotional item by a food company, I can rationalize and fit it into my advertising cookbook realm. After all, it DOES have those three brand-specific recipes. And I'll stretch it further and consider it to be somewhat of a wartime cookbook, as it does have suggestions to compensate for the shortage of sugar.

A triple play. I like that. (I am so easily amused.)

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