December 30, 2007

The ReaLemon Collection

ReaLemon Recipe Collection (1987, 128 pages) is a hardcover book with a spiral wire binding published by Borden, Inc. It contains many of the recipes previously published in the smaller promotional pamphlets and booklets. We looked at a couple of those a while back in the Borden New Idea Series.

Annie Watts, Director of the Borden Kitchens, noted that [at the time of publication] ReaLemon Lemon Juice from Concentrate had been around for more than 50 years. ReaLemon was originally sold by the Puritan-ReaLemon Company. Borden acquired the company in 1962.

Eagle Family Foods acquired the brand from Borden and owned it from 1997 until 2001. It's current owner is Mott's, the apple juice people. Mott's, by the way, is owned by Cadbury Schweppes, the worlds third largest soft drink company.

Like most food companies today, this brand, which started in a Chicago basement, is a long way from its roots.

This cookbook contains more than 200 recipes in a variety of categories. Appetizers, Salads, Beverages, Fish & Seafood, Meats & Poultry, Vegetables, Breads, Cakes & Cookies, Pies and Desserts are all well represented.

According to the Order Form in the rear of the book (where you can order additional copies for $2.95 w/POP and $4.95 w/o), there are 98 color photographs. The actual food in the photographs looks very nice but the backgrounds are kind of dark, as you can see in the photo below.

A little perk is in the back of the book too: a 20-cent manufacturer's coupon with no expiration date. That makes this 20-year-old coupon worth about 60 cents today if you take triple coupons into account.

Hidden way back on page 120 is the spiel on why you should use their product instead of fresh lemons:


"ReaLemon starts with the juice of fresh lemons, concentrated to a uniform strength. Enough filtered water is used to return this concentrate to the natural strength of fresh lemons. Lemon oil from the peel is added to enhance the natural taste of fresh lemons. ReaLemon is more economical and more convenient than fresh squeezed lemons. And since fresh lemons can differ in size, juiciness, and strength, the uniformity of ReaLemon can be an advantage in preparing recipes that call for lemon juice. For recipes specifying the "juice of one lemon," use 2 to 3 tablespoons of ReaLemon."

(To avoid the fresh lemons vs. bottled juice debate, let it be known that I use fresh lemons most of the time, but I like to have a backup in case I'm out.)

I looked at a bottle in my refrigerator, which specified to use 3 tablespoons of ReaLemon for the juice of 1 medium lemon. Modifications to the product or marketing? I go with the marketing--no use in giving consumers an excuse to buy less.

Muffins seem to be more trendy today than coffee cakes. I'm thinking of trying this recipe out tomorrow. It's been a while since I made a coffee cake.


2 (3-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons ReaLemon Juice from Concentrate
2 cups unsifted flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup margarine or butter, softened
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (8-ounce) container sour cream
Cinnamon-Nut Topping*

Preheat oven to 350°. In small bowl, beat cheese, confectioners' sugar and ReaLemon until smooth; set aside. Stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside. In large mixer bowl, beat granulated sugar and margarine until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla; mix well. Add dry ingredients alternately with sour cream; mix well. Pour half of batter into greased and floured 10-inch tube pan. Spoon cheese mixture on top of batter to within 1/2 inch of pan edge. Spoon remaining batter over filling; spreading to pan edge. Sprinkle with Cinnamon Nut Topping. Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until wooden pick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pan. Serve warm.

Makes one 10-inch cake.

*Cinnamon Nut Topping: Combine 1/4 cup finely chopped nuts, 2 tablespoons granulated sugar and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon.
And now for an observation from a consumer:

Did you notice the nice glass bottles of ReaLemon shown on the front side of the page with the cookbook offer? Now ReaLemon comes in those nasty, really flimsy plastic bottles.

It's places like this where I get sidetracked, off reading about details such as the packaging of the products. It's part of what makes these advertising cookbooks so interesting to me.

The ReaLemon packaging was redesigned in 2003. I'm not sure when they switched from glass to plastic on the smaller bottles, but the 32 ounce bottle was still packaged in glass at that time.

After reading this article on Packworld, I found out why my ReaLemon doesn't last as long as it used to. I knew that previously I could have a bottle in the refrigerator for what seemed like forever and it would still be good. Then I noticed that it seemed like it went bad much more quickly. I just didn't know why. I sure didn't connect it to the packaging.

"We set out to redesign the ReaLemon packaging to fit our manufacturing standard and take cost out of the package," notes Bill Eaton, packaging manager, juices and ingredients. He says molding bottles on existing equipment in-house provides economic advantages compared to buying finished bottles. Previously, the company bought glass for the 32-oz size, which Eaton admits offered a shelf life longer than the nine months PET delivers. The previous 15-oz bottles bought externally used a polypropylene/ethylene vinyl alcohol combination."

"With any citrus product, heat, oxygen, and light are the primary barrier concerns," says Eaton. "We did extensive shelf life testing and found the product holds up pretty well in PET."

"Consumer research showed they really loved the bottle compared to what we were offering," says Bergenfeld. "Customers think it's great because it's very innovative and it gets them out of the glass bottle where there's a safety and breakage [factor because] we're always on the top shelf. They're always looking for innovation and great-looking and handling products." The new packs sell at retail for the same average prices as their predecessors, $2.69 for the 32-oz ReaLemon; $2.09 for the 15-oz version."
They didn't ask this consumer. I always prefer glass bottles. I will even pay more for glass given the choice of glass versus plastic. I do find it interesting that despite all of the rah-rah "this is for the consumer" stuff, they managed to cut their packaging costs, decrease the shelf life which will result in more product sales, and keep their retail price about the same.

It's particularly irksome because the plastic bottle in my refrigerator practically caves in from the normal pressure of my fingers when I pick it up. I've noticed this "caving-in" trend in a lot of plastic bottles recently. Can manufacturers skimp any more on the plastic?

December 29, 2007

More Turkey, Anyone?

Thanksgiving and Christmas may be over, but that doesn't mean we have to wait until next year to eat more turkey. There are lots of year-round options now besides that old frozen bird in the freezer case.

I looked through some of my pamphlets trying to find one with recipes for turkey leftovers. I was in a bit of a hurry this morning, so I'll show you the first turkey related item I came across.

Turkey Store Recipes (1983, 7 pages) is a little fold-out brochure which I assume was given away at the grocery stores. (The bold words "Take One Free!" on the front of the brochure provides this clue.)

The brochure was published by Jerome Foods. According to Wikipedia, Jerome Foods was started by Wallace Jerome, who began his company in 1922 with fourteen turkey eggs and two brooder hens in Barron, Wisconsin. Jerome Foods eventually became The Turkey Store and The Turkey Store also became the brand.

The recipe folder has five turkey recipes using parts of the turkey rather than the entire bird. Fresh Turkey Roast, Fresh Turkey Breast Slices, Fresh Ground Turkey, Fresh Turkey Drumstick Steaks and Fresh Turkey Breast Tenderloins are the turkey parts used in the recipes. There's a color photo of the finished dishes on the opposite side of each recipe page.

The brochure also shows a mail-in offer for a Turkey Store Cookbook (an 80 page booklet with over 100 recipes). The booklet was available through the mail for $1.95.

In 2001 Hormel acquired The Turkey Store and merged it with their turkey processing subsidiary Jennie-O. Now the brand is called--guess what? Jennie-O Turkey Store.

Here's one of the recipes found inside. Maybe you can use some of that leftover turkey in here.


3 tablespoons Soy Sauce
1/4 teaspoon Garlic Salt
Dash of Cayenne Pepper
1 pkg. (about 1-1/4 pounds) Fresh Turkey Breast Tenderloins, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons Cooking Oil
1 medium Green Pepper, cut into 1/4 x 2-inch strips
4 ounces Mushrooms, sliced
4 Green Onions, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tablespoon Cornstarch
1/2 cup Chicken Broth
10 Cherry Tomatoes, halved

Marinate turkey in first 3 ingredients 5 minutes. Heat oil in wok or skillet over medium high heat; stir-fry turkey 3 minutes; until no longer pink. Add green pepper; stir-fry 1 minute. Add mushrooms and green onion; stir-fry 1 minute longer. Combine cornstarch and broth. Stir into wok, bring to boil. Boil 1 minute. Add tomato and heat. Salt and pepper to taste. 4 to 5 servings.

4 to 5 servings

No turkey around here today, leftover or otherwise. As a matter of fact, if the line at the store's sushi bar this afternoon was any indication, it looked as if everyone was pretty much turkeyed out. In any case, two of us managed to polish off a party tray meant for four.

December 28, 2007

Wakefield's King Crab Meat

As New Year's Eve, with its traditional parties and celebrations grows near, many are thinking about the food to serve at their gatherings.

Appetizers, canapes, and hors d'oeuvres are common accompaniments to the the New Year's Eve or New Year's Day menu. A popular ingredient choice for appetizer recipes has always been crab meat.

Recipes for Serving Wakefield's Fresh Frozen Alaska King Crab Meat (not dated, 20 pages) is a small recipe booklet containing several such recipes.

Wakefield Seafood was founded in 1945 by Lowell Wakefield, a pioneer in the marketing of frozen Alaskan King Crab. The Wakefield's brand was very successful up during the 1950s up until the early 1960s. In 1968 the company was sold to Hunt-Wesson.

Their frozen product was sold to the consumer in two forms: 12-oz. packages of crab leg sections cut into serving size portions and 6 oz. packages of generous sized pieces of pure crab meat. The rectangular packages were a familiar sight in the frozen foods sections of the supermarkets.

Although the booklet is not dated, it shows the two digit postal code of 66 for their Seattle, Washington office. This system was phased out entirely by 1963 and replaced by the five-digit zip code, so the booklet was published sometime before 1963.


Defrost and drain 1 6-oz. package of Wakefield's fresh frozen King Crab Meat. Arrange crab meat sections on lettuce leaves around edges of 4 small serving platters. In the center of each plate, place small paper cup containing King Crab Meat Dip. Serve as first course or dinner. To serve before dinner, arrange on one large plate.


1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons finely chopped celery
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped onion
1/4 teaspoon salt
dash of paprika

Mix ingredients thoroughly and put in paper cups. One package of Wakefield's King Crab Meat and one recipe for Dip makes 4 portions.


1 6-oz. pkg. Wakefield's fresh frozen King Crab Meat (defrosted and drained0
2 tablespoons finely chopped celery
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped onion
2/3 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon paprika

Mix mayonnaise, celery, onion, lemon juice, salt and paprika. Add chopped King Crab Meat. Place in bowl in center of tray. Surround with potato chips or crackers.

The front of the booklet contains a little bit of background on the company:

An Amazing Fish Story That Really Happened!

"The Giant King Crab is a fabulous creature weighing as much as 24 lbs., whose legs may have a tip-to-tip span of 6 feet! The meat of the King Crab has a flavor and texture all its own--people everywhere agree there is nothing to equal it. But bringing it to you with its sea-fresh flavor and goodness intact, from 200 feet below the surface of the Bering Sea off Alaska--one of the most remote and stormy bodies of water in the world--presented a problem. Captain Wakefield solved it by building and outfitting a fleet of trawlers, with enormous nets to drag the sea bottom, and especially designed stainless steel equipment for the job of cleaning, cooking, quick-freezing and packaging the catch at sea, all within a matter of minutes. The fleet's home port is Seattle, Washington, 2,000 miles from the fishing grounds, where boats and crew stay out 3 months at a time. It is this hazardous, pioneer venture that makes it possible for you to enjoy Alaska King Crab Meat at its sea-fresh best. You'll find it in the frozen food cabinet at your grocer's."

You can read more about Lowell Wakefield and Wakefield Seafood here.

December 25, 2007

Holiday Wishes

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Wishing you a safe and happy holiday!

See you later on this week.

Booklet shown is Home For the Holidays (circa 1970s or 1980s) from Borden.

December 22, 2007

Gold Medal Maid

Here's another nice piece of Washburn-Crosby Company ephemera advertising Gold Medal Flour. A Good Bread Recipe for Gold Medal Maids (circa 1914) is a single page (9-1/2 x 12-1/2 inches) that's folded into quarters.

I'm not sure if their use of the word "maid" refers to a servant or a young unmarried woman. Whichever, I do like the detail of her clothing that's shown in the full length image inside.

When the brochure is folded out you'll find the Good Bread Recipe made into a rhyming verse. Here's the first half:
First, mix a luke warm quart my daughter,
One-half scalded milk, one-half water;
To this please add two cakes of yeast,
Or the home made kind if preferred in the least.

Next stir in a teaspoonful of nice clear salt,
If this bread isn't good, it won't be our fault,
Now add the sugar, tablespoonfuls three;
Mix well together, for dissolved they must be.

Pour the whole mixture into an earthen bowl,
A pan's just as good, if it hasn't a hole.
It's the cook and the flour, not the bowl or the pan,
That--"Makes the bread that makes the man."

Now let the mixture stand a minute or two.
You've got other things of great importance to do.
First sift the flour--use the finest in the land.
Three quarts is the measure, "GOLD MEDAL" the brand.

Some people like a little shortening power,
If this is your choice, just add to the flour
Two tablespoonfuls of lard, and jumble it about
'Till the flour and lard are mixed, without doubt.

Next stir the flour into the mixture that's stood
Waiting to play it's part, to make the bread good.
Mix it up thoroughly, but not too thick;
Some flours make bread that's more like a brick.

I love the close-up illustrations next to the individual steps.

On the rear side is the recipe in its traditional form.

December 20, 2007

Cast Iron Cookware

My cookware isn't very sophisticated. I'm still using a set of Club Aluminum received as a wedding present in 1978.

Although I've had various pieces of Teflon type non-stick pots and pans over the years, I generally shy away from them because of the pet bird that resides near the kitchen doorway. Teflon (or PTFE) fumes are supposed to be bad for birds so I don't want to take any chances. The bird has outlived most of those pans anyway.

And, like the pioneers did long ago, I use a lot of black cast iron cookware. It's annoying because they're heavy and bulky, but they sure get the job done. I use big skillets, medium-size skillets, small skillets, even a square one; a muffin pan, a corn stick pan, and I have three Dutch ovens--one with and two without legs. I used to have a waffle maker with a base and a long griddle that fit over two burners, but got rid of those when I finally conceded that even the lowliest family restaurant makes better pancakes and waffles than I do. I also had a tea kettle.

Most of the pieces are Wagner Ware but one Dutch oven is a Lodge. They last forever.

I initially picked up Lodge Presents Chef John Folse's Cast Iron Cooking: An Historical Collection From America's Culinary Regions (1999, 104 pages) for no other reason than it's a cookbook sporting a brand name. It wasn't until I was cataloging the book that I noticed some of its more interesting features.

This cookbook contains much more than recipes--it has a bit of history, recipe author profiles, old catalog pages--and I am fond of those things, as you already know.

You may remember Chef John Folse from his PBS television cooking show "A Taste of Louisiana." In the Foreword, he tells of his southern Louisiana upbringing and how cast iron pots and pans were used by all generations of his family. The food they prepared is mouth watering.

This cookbook was created to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Lodge Manufacturing. The company was founded in 1896 in South Pittsburg, Tennessee. The family of the original founder is still making and selling the same products today that they made a century ago.

The chapters of the book are divided into seven U.S. regional cuisines with chapters also included on the Caribbean and Chuckwagon cooking.

A premiere chef was selected from each region and they share their favorite recipes that represent the spices, foods and flavors of their particular cuisine. (The recipes are reported to be best prepared in cast iron, which is not a surprise, considering the publisher.)

You'll find some of the history of the Lodge Manufacturing Company and also entire pages and smaller illustrations from an old 1920s Lodge Cast Iron catalog. I had fun picking out the cookware pieces I currently use or have used in the past.

Knowledgeable advice is dispensed on the general care and use of cast iron cookware as well as the all-important seasoning process. There are several seasoning methods given by one of the company's customer service representatives. I like this one best:

"Fry only bacon in a new skillet for a month or so. Don't wash pan after each use except with hot water and a brush and then wipe completely dry. I imagine any self-respecting doctor would discourage eating bacon every day for a month, but it does wonders for a cast iron skillet."
Below are the different cuisines and the names of the chefs associated with each region. There's a short profile of each as well as some of the history of each cuisine. The recipes come next; there are several recipes for each region. There are photos of the chefs but none of the food.

Chapter 1 - New England - Chef James Griffin
Chapter 2 - Low Country - Chef Don McMillan
Chapter 3 - The Caribbean - Chef Andre Niederhauser
Chapter 4 - Cajun & Creole - Chef John D. Folse
Chapter 5 - The Southwest - Chef Maurice Zeck
Chapter 6 - Chuck Wagon - Chef Jim Anderson
Chapter 7 - Pacific Northwest - Chef Alfred Popp
Chapter 8 - Heartland - Chef Dennis Bahm
Chapter 9 - Great Lakes - Chef Louis Jesowshek

Some of the recipes sound delicious: a North Carolina Hillbilly Apple Sonker (a deep dish fruit pie or cobbler), Shrimp and Pumpkin Soup, Louisiana Crawfish Etouffee, Class Relleno with Cilantro Coulis, Chisolm Trail Blueberry French Toast Cobbler, Dungeness Crab Cakes, Cheese & Corn Bread Lodge-Style and Rhubarb Dampfnudlen.

One recipe does not sound good: Chisolm Trail Fried Prairie Oysters.

I found out more than I ever wanted to know on this subject (complete with visuals) over at Confessions of a Pioneer Woman. I'm open to at least trying most foods, but I won't be trying these anytime soon, even if I do have the perfect pan to fry them in.

This recipe is from the New England region. It's more to my liking.


This dish combines two traditional New England ingredients--apples and maple syrup--for a unique flavor treat.

Ingredients for Filling:

6 Cortland or Fuji apples
3/4 cup maple syrup
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Ingredients for Dough:

2 cups flour
1/2 cup butter
1 egg
pinch of sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3 tsps milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Peel and core apples. Cut into quarters and sprinkle with lemon juice. Set aside. In a 12-inch cast iron skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat. Dust the bottom of the skillet with 1/2 cup sugar until completely covered. Remove from heat and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, place apples, syrup, 1/4 cup of flour and cinnamon. Toss apples coating completely with syrup mixture. Line the bottom of the skillet with apples in a decorative fashion. To prepare pie dough, place 2 cups of flour on a flat surface. Cut in butter. Add egg, sugar and salt. Knead dough until it forms a ball. Add milk and knead several times until smooth. Roll dough into a 1/4-inch circle, large enough to cover the skillet. Place the dough over the apples and trim away the excess dough. Place the skillet over medium heat. When the edges of the pan begin to bubble, remove skillet. Place tart in oven and bake for 15 minutes or until the crust is brown. Carefully turn hot tart over onto a large serving platter. Allow tart to cool slightly before serving.

Prep Time: 1 Hour
Serves: 6

Some tips and other trivia are found on the bottom edge of some pages. Here are a few examples:

  • Preheat cast iron before baking.

  • Cooking foods with fat content expedites seasoning cast iron.

  • Good cooks claim: "The heavier the metal...the lighter the bread."

  • Cast iron is noted for its even heat distribution.

  • Cast iron is the original waterless cookware.

  • "Once seasoned, always seasoned" is not true.

  • Cast iron cookware is made from recycled metal.

  • If the pan is well seasoned, nothing will stick to cast iron.

  • Cast iron skillets are born one at a time --each in a different sand mold.

If you're interested in the cookbook, you can get it from the Lodge website or from one of my favorite places in the whole world.

December 15, 2007

A Meat Loaf Train

Last night I was looking through 100 Ways to Be Original in All Your Cooking (not dated, 47 pages). This was a booklet promoting the use of Worcestershire Sauce, probably published sometime in the early 1960s.

A lot of things cross my mind while I'm cataloging these old cookbooks.

My thoughts range from from "I wish I were eating that right now" to "why do people keep their things in smelly old basements and leaky storage sheds?"

I rarely poke fun at the contents of the cookbooks although many things about some of them are humorous. James Lileks does an excellent job in this area already. I tend to just look at it like these books are part of our culinary history, and they are what they are, warts and all.

There are exceptions, however, and the recipe for a Meat Loaf Train is one of them.

A Meat Loaf Train? My immediate reaction was "They're kidding, right?" In case there's any doubt, those are mashed potatoes underneath the train.

December 14, 2007

Sunshiny Florida Citrus

I was browsing through Florida Cuisine (1998, 49 pages) when I came across a word that was new to me.

This pamphlet was published by the Florida Department of Citrus and was used as a promotional item by Randalls, a Texas-based supermarket chain. The recipes feature the use of Florida citrus, Florida orange juice concentrate in particular, as a key ingredient.

The cover photo features a dish called Floribbean Chicken and Shrimp. At the risk of exposing my ignorance, I'll tell you that Floribbean was a term I was unfamiliar with, so I had to look it up.

I intially thought it was a made-up word created just for this recipe. Turns out it's a regional cuisine of Florida. Who knew? Perhaps my lack of awareness was a result of my not visiting Florida very often (I'll choose the Northeast and the Pacific Northwest every time). I don't really know why this term escaped my notice back in the 1990s when it first came into use in relation to food.

Wikipedia has this to say about the word Floribbean:

"Typical features of Floribbean cuisine include:
  • An emphasis on extremely fresh ingredients
  • Complex medleys of spices, especially powerful flavors that are softened by milder ones
  • An emphasis on seafood and poultry
  • Generous use of fresh fruit and juices, especially citrus and sweet tropical fruits
  • Special care in presentation, especially when seeking a more natural effect rather than an ostentatious one"
The pamphlet itself describes Florida cuisine as one that "successfully combines fresh tropical ingredients--such as Florida orange juice, grapefruit juice, oranges, tangerines and grapefruit--with healthful cooking techniques."

The introductory text refers to a technique called the citrus swap.

Here's how the citrus swap works:

"As you prepare the recipes in this book, you'll often replace or partially substitute fats and refined sugar with Florida citrus juices and frozen concentrates. This technique works beautifully, for example, in marinades, typically made with oils. By using orange juice to replace the oil, you have a flavorful, stick-to-the-meat coating for grilling, broiling or roasting. So while you're reducing fat and calories, you're also getting the added nutrition that Florida citrus naturally provides."

1 cup frozen Florida Orange Juice Concentrate, thawed
1-1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
12 ounces large shrimp in shells, peeled and deveined
8 ounces skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
3 small Florida Oranges, peeled
2 medium red and/or green sweet peppers, cut into 1-inch pieces

For sauce, in a small saucepan stir together thawed concentrate, chili powder, and cumin; cook and stir over medium heat until heated through. Set aside 1/4 cup sauce.

Rinse shrimp and chicken; pat dry. Cut chicken into 3/4-inch pieces. Divide each orange into 8 wedges; remove seeds. On twelve 8-inch metal skewers (or six 12-inch skewers), alternately thread chicken, shrimp, and orange and pepper pieces, leaving about 1/4 inch between pieces.

In a grill with a cover arrange preheated coals around a drip pan. Test for medium heat above pan. Place kabobs on grill rack over drip pan. Cover and grill for 6 minutes. Carefully turn kabobs (be sure oranges turn with kabobs); brush generously with sauce. Cover; grill 5 to 7 minutes more or until shrimp is opaque and chicken is tender and no longer pink, brushing with sauce. Thin reserved 1/4 cup sauce with 1 to 2 tablespoons water or until desired consistency. Drizzle sauce over kabobs.

Makes 6 servings.

If using wooden skewers for the kabobs, soak them in water for several minutes to prevent them from burning as the food cooks.

The pamphlet addresses the dilemma of what to do with the leftover concentrate.

"After using part of a can of frozen Florida orange or grapefruit concentrate in cooking, enjoy the rest of the concentrate as a beverage by following these guidelines to reconstitute:

to 1/3 cup concentrate, add 1 cup water;
to 1/2 cup concentrate, add 1-1/2 cups water;
to 3/4 cup concentrate, add 2-1/4 cups water;
to 1-1/4 cups concentrate, add 3-3/4 cups water."
Apologies to those in the currently frozen north--living in the South does have some advantages--year-round outdoor grilling being one of the few.

December 13, 2007

Tortilla Soup

A few months ago I passed up some fresh roasted Hatch chile peppers at the grocery store because I wasn't going home right away and couldn't store them properly in the heat of the car. I thought about the missed opportunity periodically throughout that day and then promptly forgot about them.

A post last month over at The Perfect Pantry, however, reminded me again of my failure to make sure the cooler was in the car before I left home. Until I read her post I wasn't aware of the Hatch brand of canned green chiles.

Although the company offers a line of several different products, I don't recall noticing any of them on my routine wanderings of the grocery store aisles. I finally remembered to look for the brand and found some Hatch Green Chile Enchilada Sauce and small cans of diced roasted chiles at one place. A soup recipe on the label of the Enchilada Sauce sounded good so I decided to try it. (I later saw the whole pepper variety at a SuperWal-Mart).

I thought the finished soup had a nice flavor, with the green chiles making it a bit different than the tortilla soup I usually prepare using jalapeno or serrano peppers.


1-1/2 lbs. cooked, shredded chicken
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 14 oz. can HATCH Green Chile Enchilada Sauce
2 4 oz. cans HATCH Diced Green Chiles
1 15 oz. can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 medium onion, chopped
2 Tbs. minced garlic
2 cups water
1 15 oz. can chicken broth
2 tsp. each: cumin, chili powder, salt, black pepper (or to taste)
1 15 oz. can corn, drained
2 Tbs. cilantro, chopped

Cheddar and/or Monterey Jack cheese, sour cream and avocado for garnish.

In crock pot, combine all ingredients except cilantro and garnish. Cover and cook for 6-8 hours.

To serve: spoon into deep bowls and garnish with cheese, sour cream and avocado as desired. Tortillas or chips may be served on the side.

I did modify the recipe a bit, using some previously prepared pinto beans rather than canned, a larger can of tomatoes than that called for, and I substituted a Mexican green squash (the proper name escapes me at the moment--it looks rather like zucchini). I also prefer to use little strips of fried corn tortillas instead of sour cream as the garnish. Love to drop those crispy little pieces on top of the hot soup just before each spoonful.

There's a cookbook available from the Hatch Chile Co. called The Hatch Chile Cookbook (1998, 5th edition). No picture of the cover, sorry. Their website indicates you can order it from their online store, although I couldn't find it, but you might be able to find a used copy.

December 09, 2007

Nestle Sweet Treats

As regular as clockwork, come November and the grocery stores set up their special displays where all the ingredients they hope you'll buy for your holiday baking are made more accessible. You know the displays I'm speaking of. They're in the dairy aisle or up front near the cash registers, maybe over in produce.

Every year these displays are always loaded with packages of Nestle Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels along with nuts and marshmallow creme and disposable tinfoil baking pans. The sales of semi-sweet morsels must skyrocket this time of year.

Sweet Treats - Recipes from Nestle (not dated, 20 pages) tells a bit about the history and origin of these very familiar morsels and the cookie that became famous.

The Tale of the Toll House Cookie

"Approximately forty years ago Mrs. Wakefield, the proprietress of a country inn, The Toll House Inn, at Whitman, Massachusetts was the discoverer of the now famous Toll House cookie. Mrs. Wakefield had taken the Butter Drop-Do, an American cookie, probably the earliest ancestor of the Toll House cookie and added a new ingredient. The new ingredient was the semi-sweet chocolate bar. Mrs. Wakefield cut the bar into small pieces dropping them into the batter expecting them to melt. To her surprise, they stayed deliciously firm. And so a new technique in chocolate cookery was born.

The discovery of the Toll House cookies took New England by storm. The Nestle Company Inc., who made the semi-sweet chocolate bar started producing a chocolate bar scored for easy division into tiny sections and accompanied by a special chocolate chopper. Later Nestle made the chocolate into separate little pieces, ready to slip right out of the package into the cookie dough and called them semi-sweet real chocolate morsels.

Today, as every homemaker knows, the semi-sweet real chocolate morsels that were created expressly for the authentic Toll House cookies now make hundreds of quick and easy semi-sweet chocolate treats. Truly, the Tale of the Toll House cookie is not only legendary, but one of the many amazing milestones in the American food industry."
Although this recipe book is not dated, it practically screams 1970s. The predominant color throughout the book--on the cover, the pages, the illustrations--is brown or close shades thereof. Country kitchen antiques, also very popular in the 70s, are used as props, intermingled with the cookies, bars, cakes, pies and ice cream.

The cookie jar featured on the cover and in one of the interior illustrations cans still be found and was most likely offered as an advertising premium by Nestle.

I though these cookies would look nice on a holiday cookie tray. They're shown in the image directly following the recipe.


2 cups unsifted flour
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sifted confectioners' sugar
1 measuring teaspoon vanilla extract
1 6-oz. pkg. (1 cup) Nestle Semi-Sweet Real Chocolate Morsels or 1 6-oz. pkg. (1 cup) Nestle Butterscotch Morsels
1 measuring tablespoon shortening
1/2 cup finely chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, combine flour, butter, confectioners' sugar and vanilla extract; mix until thoroughly blended. Shape into 2" logs, using a measuring teaspoonful dough for each. Place on ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake at: 350°F. Time: 10-12 minutes

Cool completely. Melt over hot (not boiling) water, Nestle Semi-Sweet Real Chocolate Morsels or Nestle Butterscotch Morsels and shortening; remove from heat. Dip one end of each cookie into melted morsels. Roll in nuts. Chill in refrigerator until firm (about 1 hour).

Makes 6 dozen 2" logs.

I'm always partial to recipes with pecans. Pecans make everything taste better! These bars are shown in the bottom center of the image immediately following the recipe.


Cookie Base:
1 cup unsifted flour
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 measuring teaspoon baking soda
1/4 measuring teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter, softened

1 11-1/2 oz. pkg. (2 cups) Nestle Milk Chocolate Morsels
2 eggs
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 measuring teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 measuring teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped pecans, divided

Cookie Base: Preheat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, baking soda and salt; mix well. Cut in butter with pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Press evenly into greased 13"x9"x2" baking pan.

Bake at 350°F. Time: 10 minutes

Pour topping over cookie base; sprinkle with 1/2 cup pecans.

Bake at: 350°F. Time: 20 minutes

Cool; cut into 2" x 1" bars.

Topping: Melt over hot (not boiling) water, Nestle Milk Chocolate Morsels; remove from heat. In small bowl, combine eggs, brown sugar, vanilla extrct and salt; beat 2 minutes at high speed on electric mixer. Add melted chocolate; mix well. Stir in 1/2 cup pecans.

Makes 4 dozen 2" x 1" bars.

I had a stovetop cast iron waffle maker once that looked similar to the one in this photo. That sucker was heavy.

More kitchen stuff and the infamous Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies shown here:

December 08, 2007

Seasoning with Carol French

Carol French was the spokesperson for the R. T. French Company and appears in many of the French's promotional cookbooks and magazine ads. A very Betty Crocker-like portrait of her is shown here.

The R. T. French Company was located in Rochester, New York at, appropriately enough, 64 Mustard Street.

The company once produced a full line of seasonings, spices and extracts. In Seasoning Makes the Difference (1951, 32 pages) Carol shows how "humdrum everyday foods can be transformed into dining delights" with these products.

The recipes in the cookbook are presented with menu suggestions along with an accompanying photograph of each meal.

The cover photo shows the Seafood menu: Baked Stuffed White Fish, Duchess Potato, Paprika Butter Sauce, Asparagus-Mustard Hollandaise Sauce, Tossed Green Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing, Chiffon Cake with Lemon Filling. Check out the fish tableware accessories--aren't they cute?

Economy Casseroles That Taste So Good! shows a Frosted Ham Loaf, Spanish Rice, a Tossed Salad and a California Prune Cake with Orange Creme Frosting.

The menu for a Back-yard Buffet includes Baked Beans, Make Your Own Sandwich Tray, Molded Potato Salad, Hot Dan Salad Dressing, Deluxe Cole Slaw, Molasses Cookies and Fruit Punch. That luncheon meat doesn't look very healthy but they do have a selection of four kinds of bread.

The menu for the Boiled Dinner - A New England Favorite is a "Wow" Cocktail, Toasted Wheat Wafers, Corned Beef with Vegetables, Savory Mustard Sauce, Garlic Bread and Apple Crisp with Hard Sauce. The beets are part of the vegetables and were cooked separately from the others. Gracious, look at the fat on that corned beef!

Club Luncheon Menu: Tomato Bouillon, Curried Chicken Salad encircled with Fruit, Cinnamon Rolls, Refrigerator Dessert

Pickles and Relishes With Homemade Flavor are shown on the rear cover. Mustard Pickles, Pickled Onions and Cucumber Pickles are shown in those nice old canning jars.

If you're a collector looking to complete your collection of vintage French's spice tins and bottles, you might find the following list useful. The French's spice and seasoning products used in this cookbook were: French's Basil, French's Parsley Flakes, French's White Pepper, French's Currie Powder, French's Rum Extract, French's Vanilla Extract, French's Pepper, French's Food Color, French's Almond Extract, French's Celery Seed, French's Savor Salt, French's Onion Salt, French's Whole Cloves, French's Cayenne, French's Onion Granules, French's White Pepper, French's Nutmeg, Frenmch's Marjoram, French's Pepper Flakes, French's Celery Flakes, French's Cream Tartar, French's Garlic Powder, French's Onion Flakes, French's Paprika, French's Saffron, French's Onion Salt, French's Dill Seed, French's Seafood Seasoning, French's Onion Powder, French's Thyme, French's Rosemary, French's Marjoram, French's Garlic Salt, French's Ginger, French's Whole Black Peppers, French's Bay Leaf, French's Sage, French's Orange Extract, French's Apple Pie Spice, French's Brandy Extract, French's Vanilla and French's Lemon Extract.

Also used in some of the recipes are French's Prepared Mustard, French's Worcestershire Sauce, Colman's Mustard, French's Instant Potato and Good Luck Pie Crust Mix.

December 06, 2007

Del Monte Mexican Food

Quick & Easy Mexican Recipes from Del Monte Kitchens (1979, 22 pages) is a small colorful pamphlet that contains twenty-one recipes.

At the time of publication Del Monte had an entire line of canned and bottled Mexican food products which included:

Enchilada Sauces (mild and hot)
Jalepeno Chiles (whole and sliced)
Yellow Chiles
Taco Sauce (mild and hot)
Burrito Filling Mix
Hot Tomato Sauce
Refried Beans (regular and spicy)
Green Chiles (whole and diced)
Salsa (Roja and Picante)
Spicy Pinto Beans

All of these products are shown on the rear cover in a color drawing. The product list has color coded heat levels of Mild, Medium and Hot.

The recipes are simple and easy, just as the pamphlet title indicates. The ingredient lists for the recipes range from five to ten ingredients each with most of them being the canned products. Each recipe easily fits onto the 5 x 3-1/4 inch page.

Mexicali Chicken
Jalepeno Bean Dip
Enchilada Casserole
Rice Elegante
Huevos Salsa Picante
Tempting Tacos
Frijoles Con Queso Casserole
Mexican Oven Omelet
Sopa De La Casa
Celestial Chicken
Chicken Enchiladas
Tortillas Rellenas
Texas Style Chile
Vegetable Beef Casserole
Tamale Pie
Ranchero Bake
Sour Cream Nachos
Mexican Spicy Bean Soup

I'm not giving a recipe since they don't make the products anymore, although the ingredients could easily be substituted with those of another brand. However, the recipes are nothing spectacular and really nothing we haven't seen anywhere else.

In the rear of the pamphlet there's a tear-off form with an invitation to join the Del Monte Mexican Food Club (exclusively for Del Monte Mexican Food Product Users).

A yearly fee of $1.00 entitles you to receive by return mail:

Introductory Gift
A Membership Certificate (suitable for framing)
A Quarterly Newsletter containing speical food preparation news from and about other members, Plus tips on how to enjoy preparing Mexican food even more.
Outstanding bargain values on superb Mexican cookery items and accessories, available only to members.

I don't know what happened to the Del Monte brand of Mexican food products. The year this recipe pamphlet was published was the same year that Del Monte was acquired by R. J. Reynolds. That acquisition may have had something to do with the disappearance of the products.

The colors of the pamphlet and the product packaging are very similar to the colors of the Old El Paso brand of Mexican food products. They're so similar that I keep thinking that I must have seen the Del Monte products on the grocery shelves recently, but I know that I haven't. Just goes to show that there's something to all the research that goes into brand packaging and brand recognition.

I wonder if the Mexican Food Club ever got off the ground. I don't recall ever seeing anything else related to it except for this form. Perhaps someday when I get around to digging through all of my miscellaneous ephemera, I might come across something.

Did anyone ever actually join the Del Monte Mexican Food Club? I wonder what the Introductory Gift was?

December 05, 2007

Pressure Cooking with Presto

The National Pressure Cooker Company of Eau Claire, Wisconsin had been manufacturing industrial-size commerical and later, home-size, pressure canners for thirty-four years before it introduced the smaller sauce-pan style model which was marketed under the brand name "Presto".

The National Presto Cooker (Model 60) Recipe Book (1946, 112 pages) is an example of the type of recipe and instructional book that came with these smaller size pressure cookers in their earlier years.

In 1946, the saucepan-style Presto pressure cookers were available in two models: the Model 40, which was cast from a magnesium-alluminum alloy and the Model 60, which was pressed from extra heavy rolled aluminum. Both models were the 4-quart size and were identical except for the materials they were made of.

The Model 60 could be used to cook a wide variety of food: cereals, soups, vegetables (fresh, dried and frozen), meats, fish and seafood, poultry and wild game, combination dishes, breads and desserts, fruits, sauces and baby foods. They could also be used for the steam processing deemed necessary by the FDA for the home canning of meats, most vegetables and other non-acid foods. For large quantity canning it was suggested that the larger Presto pressure canner be used.

The earlier booklets had colorful covers and both black and white and color illustrations inside. They went into great detail about how to use the cooker, providing many different illustrations and explanations on the different parts, and extensive time tables for the different types of food. This book has plenty of recipes as well as the information needed for caring for the parts of the cooker and an illustrated parts list for replacement pieces. Back then, a replacement sealing ring cost 25 cents and an over pressure plug cost ten cents.

The benefits of using the Presto cooker, referred to as a "modern cooking marvel," is discussed in the front of the book, a portion of which is shown below.

"A PRESTO COOKER saves time, saves food flavors and color, saves vitamins and minerals and saves cooking fuel--while preparing the tastiest of foods."
These benefits suited the needs of the home cooks of the Depression and World War II years. Presto was one of the factories who switched to war work, temporarily ceasing production of their aluminum pressure cookers, as did many other factories, during World War II.

Fast forward fifty-eight years and see how dramatically the recipe and instruction book has changed. Presto 4- and 6-Quart Pressure Cookers Instructions and Recipes (2004, 64 pages) is a plain little black and white booklet. Although the instructions and few line drawing diagrams pertaining to the operation of the cooker seem adequate, I don't think they are as nice or as thorough as the earlier presentations. There are recipes for cooking soups and stocks, seafood, poultry, meats, vegetables, dry beans and peas, grains, and desserts.

Unlike the earlier version, the newer booklet has no illustrations of the food. The booklet does contain time tables, but they are not the colorful variety of previous years. The benefits of the cooker mentioned in this booklet have changed a bit to reflect our current lifestyles:

"The pressure cooker is perfect for the way we live and eat today. It's ideal for preparing many of the lighter foods that help keep us healthy and fit. It preserves flavors and nutrients, tenderizes leaner cuts of meat and, best of all, it cooks foods three to ten times faster than ordinary cooking methods. And, it's even possible to cook several foods in the pressure cooker at the same time without flavors intermingling."
You can see how Presto shifted the emphasis of the benefits of cooking with the pressure cooker around a bit. And, overall, there's not much selling of the product going on in these pages now.

Another type of Presto publication was The Official Presto Pressure Cooker Cookbook (1996, 205 pages). This was a hardcover book over twice the size of the others with 8-1/2 x 10-1/2 inch glossy pages and was quite different from the traditional booklets included with the purchase of the cookers.

This book contains a brief overview of the Presto cooker history and talks about how, after years of preparing convenience foods and experimentation with gourmet type foods, people were ready to return to the foods they remembered from the past.

"In this return to culinary roots, millions of pressure cookers were put back on the range. They were ideal for creating the kinds of food everyone suddenly craved: real, hearty, home-cooked meals made fast and without a lot of fuss.

Busy cooks discovered that no other cooking method or fancy kitchen gadget (including the microwave oven) was more efficient at saving, time, money, and energy. And no other method could create old-fashioned favorites with more authenticity or with more satisfying results.

Now, in the nineties, nutrition has become the latest national obsession..."
This cookbook contains very little in the way of basic instruction on how to actually use the cooker. It does contain full page color photos of some of the prepared dishes. There are a few recipes one might remember from the past, but the majority of the recipes, with names like Peasant Garlic Soup, Hot-Sour Pork with Tofu, Indian Lamb Curry, Chilorio, California Chicken with Artichokes, Linguini with Calamari Sauce and Savory Mushroom Bread Pudding, are quite different from those basic ones found in the instructional booklets.

Did you know that you could cook a cheesecake in the pressure cooker? Well, you can. There are three different varieties to choose from.


2 tablespoons margarine, softened
1/2 cup vanilla wafer crumbs
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup mini semisweet chocolate pieces
1/4 cup chopped pecans
2 tablespoons finely chopped glace fruit and peel
2 cups water
1/2 cup sour cream or sour half-and-half
Ground cinnamon

Line 1-quart souffle dish with aluminum foil; coat with margarine. Mix wafer crumbs and 1 teaspoon cinnamon and press on bottom and halfway up side of dish. Beat cream cheese until fluffy in small bowl. Beat in ricotta cheese and sugars. Beat in eggs. Mix in flour, vanilla and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Stir in chocolate pieces, pecans and glace fruit. Pour into souffle dish. Cover dish securely with aluminum foil. Place cooking rack and 2 cups water in 4-or 6-quart pressure cooker. Place souffle dish on rack. Close cover securely. Place pressure regulator on vent pipe. COOK 40 MINUTES, at 15 pounds pressure, with pressure regulator rocking slowly. Let pressure drop of its own accord. Remove cheesecake and let cool in dish on wire rack. Refrigerate 8 hours or overnight. Remove cheesecake from dish by lifting foil. Carefully remove foil. Spread sour cream on top of cheesecake. Sprinkle lightly with cinnamon.

It's interesting to look at the differences in all these publications. I much prefer the earlier versions and although I fully appreciate all the safety features of the newer model pressure cookers, I find the no-frills black and white booklet visually uninspiring. If you're experienced with pressure cookers and are looking for more-than-basic dishes to prepare, you might like the variety of recipes found in the 1996 version.