October 13, 2007

Gumbo and a Birdcage Kitchen

The Kitchen Digest (circa 1953) was published by the Parent-Teachers Association of my local school district.

It's a bit different as far as modern fundraiser cookbooks go because the first 62 pages are actually a compilation of short articles and national brand advertisements for homemakers. Some of the areas of interest are Food-Family Homemaking, Fashion and Beauty and Sewing-Needlework. For both husbands and wives, there is Home Furnishings and Interior Decorating and Travel & Resort. These pages are in black and white and at the rear is the Home Shopping Dept. which has a couple of pages of gifts and gadgets from Shrell Products.

The remaining pages (35 of them) are given over to recipes from local ladies and local merchant sponsor advertisements.

The previous owner has made corrections to several of the contributor surnames with her ink pen. I wonder how disappointing that was to the ladies of the 1953-1954 PTA to discover their names spelled incorrectly after the fact?

I recognize many of the names of the contributors and the merchants. This is a small town, after all, and not much has changed.

Sanitary Farm Dairies is the brand name called for in all recipe ingredients that fall under the dairy category: butter, oleomargarine, pasteurized or homogenized milk, cream, buttermilk, sweet milk, cottage cheese, whipping cream, and sour cream.

The following recipe is from the book and may come in handy if you have to feed a crowd.


10 fat hens
2 qts. hog lard or other grease
8 stalks celery
1 doz. green peppers
4 doz. small cans tomato paste
1 box salt
4 boxes crab boil
2 boxes file powder
50 lbs. shrimp
25 bunches shallots
1 bushel okra
5 lbs. flour

Day before you wish to serve:
Boil hens, bone and grind meat and add back to broth and freeze. Clean shrimp with shrimp cleaner, be sure to remove sand duct down the back. Cut shrimp in small pieces and freeze.

Brown flour until it is the color of peanut butter and close in a jar. Wash celery, green peppers and onions, chop fine and freeze. Cut okra ad fry in hog lard until slime is gone, cool and freeze.

Day you wish to serve:
Take 4 pots, 15 gallon size. Start 5 gallons water in each pot, bring to a boil. Add green pepper, onions, celery, okra and tomato paste. Simmer 2 hours. Add chicken and shrimp to broth and add enough water to have about 10 gallons of gumbo in each pot. Cook 20 minutes. Add hot gumbo a little at a time to the brown flour until it is a smooth thick sauce, then add this back to the gumbo. Add salt and pepper to taste, 1/4 box to each pot of gumbo. Let come to a boil and remove from fire and add 2 tbsp. of Gumbo File to each pot. Serve on steamed rice.


Wash rice 3 times, last time with hot water. One cup of rice to one cup of water. Place in double boiler and boil about 45 minutes. Do not stir at any time while cooking rice.
One of the advertisements in the homemaking section caught my eye. It was for Armstrong's Linoleum and featured a Birdcage Kitchen.

This unique kitchen looks like it was designed for a round or an octagonal-shaped room. Wish I could see this ad in color. There are stripes on the ceiling, cabinets and walls all meeting in the center of the ceiling above a hanging light fixture (complete with greenery), just like the top of a bird cage. There's a curly filigree around the top of the soffit. Two birdcages with resident cardinals are stenciled, painted or decaled onto two of the cabinet doors. Check out the design on the floor. It's just too cute.

What do you think about this kitchen? Do you suppose anyone every actually had one? I always did like those old Armstrong flooring advertisements.

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