October 31, 2007

Architectural Persuasion

Hood's Cook Book Number Three (not dated, circa late 1800s, 32 pages) is but one of the thousands of household booklets and recipe pamphlets published during the 19th and early 20th centuries that promoted patent medicines and other health remedies. Back then, visits to the doctor were not as common as they are now and many people turned to these types of products to cure themselves of their health-related issues.

The most successful of the many products manufactured by the C. I Hood & Co. Apothecaries was Hood's Sarsaparilla. Their product, made from the Sarsaparilla root, was used as a tonic and blood purifier. As noted inside, if you were suffering from maladies such as Scrofula, Salt-Rheum, Catarrh, Biliousness, Headache, Dyspepsia or any other blood disease, this was the product for you.

Hood, as both manufacturer and publisher of this pamphlet, sought to increase consumer confidence in their product in several ways. Customer testimonials and the constant repetition at the end of each recipe with the product name and it's positive effects were two of the methods used.

Another angle was to use the construction of their new office and factory as a means to convey a good solid public image of the company. They used the architecture of their facility as a selling point, trying to demonstrate to consumers that they were modern and thorough in their pursuits. The rear cover has an engraving of their new laboratory, with an extensive description in the front of the book.


It may truly be said that the new Laboratory of C. I. Hood & Co., in Lowell, Mass, is already one of the prominent landmarks of the city. Residents of the thriving municipality, in showing visiting friends the places of interest, with great local pride point to the Laboratory of C. I. Hood & Co. as
of the wonderful success of the greatest blood purifier of the age, Hood's Sarsaparilla. The new building is in a location which can hardly be surpassed. The lot of land, which embraces 70,000 square feet, is situated on Thorndike Street, near the heart of the city, on a high elevation; fronting on the east, the beautiful South Common, the largest of the city's BREATHING PLACES; adjoining, on the south, the expansive and well-kept grounds of the Middlesex County Jail, which is one of the most substantial and finest stone buildings in the country; overlooking on the north, the elegant residence and beautiful gardens of Mrs. Paul R. George; and touching, on the west, the line of the Boston & Lowell Railroad, from which a branch track is run directly to the rear of the Laboratory, sothat freight facilities are all that could be desired. The building is in full view of all passenger trains running over the railroad between Boston and Montreal, and is viewed and commented upon daily by thousands of passengers.
is in size 100 x 50 feet, four stories high, of brick, and constructed in as thorough and substantial a manner as the ledge upon which it rests. It is apparent to the most casual observer that it is constructed without regard to gaudy display, but for the purpose of doing business, thoroughly, quickly, conveniently, and well. Inside the building everything is found to be arranged with this object in view. The basement of the building is used for storage, reception of freight, and shipping by rail; connected with the basement, but in a separate building, is a boiler room, in which is a 40-horse power boiler used for heating, power of the elevator, etc. The first story is used for a printing office, storage of packed goods, and shipping by express. On the second floor are rooms for bottling and packing; a large counting room, where fifteen or twenty clerks, having charge of the
advertising and other branches of the business, are employed; and an elegantly fitted up private office. Electic calls communicate with every desk, and there are speaking tubes to all parts of the building. On the third floor is a large room for the massive tanks holding the Sarsaparilla. There are in actual use, six tanks, having a capacity of 90,000 bottles. On this floor there is also a bindery, where the printed sheets for the celebrated
Hood's Latest, Hood's Item, and other publications are folded and bound; and also rooms for the manufacture of Hood's Tooth Powder, Hood's Olive Ointment, and Hood's Vegetable Pills. The fourth floor is devotd to the manufacturing department or laboratory, and the storage of roots, herbs, etc. Everywhere the utmost neatness s observed; and the excellent system of the proprietors is closely adhered to.
is used in the manufacturing proesses, and from the first, there has been a constant, determined, and successful effort to make every bottle of Hood's Sarsaparilla as perfectly reliable as though it had been specially compounded by an expert pharmacist from a physician's prescription.

A brief sketch relating to Hood's Sarsaparilla will be found on the third page of the cover of this Cook Book, an an engraving of the Laboratory is given on the fourth page.

Hood's Sarsaparilla is sold by all druggists. Price $1 a bottle; six for $5. One Hundred Doses One Dollar."

The last paragraph is similar to the blurbs that are at the end of each recipe.

Did this inspire confidence in consumers back then? I don't know--it must have or so many manufacturers wouldn't have used this method.

I know that I am appreciative of Hood's use of this method over one hundred years later. By being able to read the detailed description of their factory in such detail, from this pamphlet, I can get a better picture in my mind of what their factory and offices must have been like back then.

Would I be impressed or swayed by such a description today? I doubt it, because I'm way too skeptical of any advertising these days.

Here in Houston they're building hospitals and other medical-related facilities almost at a faster rate than they're building new houses. I wasn't much impressed with the press concerning a new community hospital out in the western suburbs last year. It described in detail all of the new, state-of-the-art facilities and, finally, the price tag of $93 million.

What I mostly think about now when I drive past there is that somebody has to pay for this new building. And that somebody is probably consumers and their insurance companies.

Truth be told, since we probably didn't really need yet another hospital (a clone of the one 5 miles away and of the one five miles away from that one), I'm probably more inclined to go someplace that's already paid for.

October 30, 2007

Worcester Salt Cook Book

The Worcester Salt Cook Book (not dated, 27 pages) has the slogan "It takes the Best to make the Best" on the front of the booklet and at the top of each page. Worcester was also the maker of Ivory Salt, which featured an elephant as its trademark. The slogan is also seen on some of the Ivory Salt advertising.

The Worcester Salt Company had factories in Silver Springs, New York and Ecorse, Michigan, with offices in New York City. At the time of this printing, the the NYC location was 71-73 Murray Street. A postcard view is shown below of the Silver Springs plant.

I believe this recipe booklet was published sometime between 1929 and 1933. Inside there is a reference to a medical periodical published in November 1928 and there was another recipe booklet (same title, different cover and content) published in 1933.

This booklet is made up of recipes (for soups, fish, meats, vegetables, salads, baking, desserts and a few miscellaneous items such as Pepper Relish and Applesauce) and also several pages which explain other uses for Worcester Salt--in the kitchen, for one's health, and around the house.

A recipe from the Vegetables Section:


Bake potatoes without using the oven. Save gas expense and avoid an overheated kitchen and get the same delicious baked potato flavor by boiling potatoes in their jackets in a very strong salt solution. Add a half a cup of Worcester Salt to each quart of water and boil 45 minutes, for medium sized potatoes. Do not puncture jackets and they will become firm and crusty when removed from the water. The potato can then be easily removed from the skin at the table. Just try potatoes this way once, and you will be simply delighted with the results.

Whew...that is a LOT of salt.

The manufacturer also attempts to educate the consumer and allay any misgivings about the sanitary conditions of processed food. In this instance, in the rear of the booklet, they describe how their product is processed. This was a common practice during this era as more and more foods were being processed in large factories using new technologies.

"Water is piped into the earth, where Mother Nature has placed salt deposits. The water dissolves the salt and then the salt brine is pumped up, purified, and filtered. It is then passed into vacuum evaporators where it forms into crystals. As the crystals are formed they drop to the bottom of the evaporator.

The salt crystals are then placed in continuous centrifugals where most of the moisture is removed. The salt is then transferred to rotary driers where it is thoroughly dried.

The screening process follows, which grades the salt crystals according to their size. After being uniformly graded the salt is packed in sanitary paper lined barrels, bags, and moisture proof cartons.

From the time the salt brine is pumped from the wells until the salt is packed in sanitary containers, Worcester Salt is not touched by hands.

Each process is absolutely sanitary and every precaution is taken to maintain the utmost degree of purity."

Fairs and exhibitions were used to expose consumers to new advances in agriculture, science and technolgy. The last page shows that Worcester Salt recieved "Highest Awards" at the Worlds Fair in Chicago; the American Institute in New York; the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo; the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis and the Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco.

A United Profit Sharing Coupon came with every package of the Worcester Salt products. United Profit Sharing Coupons was a coupon redemption system much like trading stamps. These coupons were given away with a variety of different products. There were catalogs (shown to the left and above) published showing the premium gifts that could be had by saving and redeeming the coupons.

October 26, 2007

Admiral Electric Ranges

Not all old recipe booklets were published by the food companies. Appliance manufacturers also published their share of recipes in the instructional guides that came along with their new refrigerators, stoves, mixers and other modern kitchen helpers. Most kitchen appliance manufacturers had their own test kitchens and home economists, just as the food manufacturers did.

How to Enjoy your Admiral Range (undated, 96 pages) is one such booklet that was published by the Admiral Corporation. Although the booklet isn't dated, I would guess that it was put out sometime in the late 1940s or early 1950s. Magazine advertisements from the mid-1950s that I have show later models than the ones found in this book.

This booklet was for the Admiral Electric Range Models S-0, S-1, S-2 and S-3. Although the features varied from model to model, some of the various features of these ranges were Flex-O-Heat units, a pop-up unit that could be used as a deep well cooker or as a fourth surface unit, a pastry oven, automatic timers, broilers, storage and warmer drawers, and an appliance outlet.

Although in the front of the booklet it states that "the recipe sections are limited," the recipes do take up about 60 pages, almost 2/3 of the entire booklet.

The recipes were for dishes that could be prepared on the top of the stove (surface units) and in the oven(s). They cover the usual recipe category range, from Appetizers and Beverages on down to Vegetables. There are some color illustrations included with the recipes. Aside from one color illustration of the Model S-3, the rest of those that pertain to the operation of the stoves are shown in black and white.

I've included here the pages that show three of the models (click the images to enlarge) and illustrations of the rotisserie and deep well cooker.

People with vintage appliances are often searching for these original booklets. Some people like the look of the older appliances. Many like the durability and believe that older models are superior in workmanship and quality to their modern counterparts.

Years later, I still lament the loss of my grandmother's 1930s Chambers gas range that was sold along with her house. I loved that stove and wonder who has it now. Friends and relatives insisted that it was "too heavy to move" and pretty much thought I was crazy for wanting it. Hopefully it wasn't removed to the junk heap.

There are several interesting online resources for vintage stoves. One is devoted solely to the Chambers brand. Be sure to check out The Old Appliance Club too. The whole place is a goldmine of information and a great resource.

October 24, 2007

La Choy Chinese Cookery

The oldest and most well-known brand of Oriental food products in the United States is La Choy. La Choy Food Products got it's start from two men in Michigan who had the innovative idea of selling canned bean sprouts. The eventual growth and success of the company "sprouted" from this single product.

Since the company's inception in 1922 it has gone through many changes, both in ownership and in the number and variety of products offered to consumers. The La Choy brand is currently part of the ConAgra family.

Throughout the years millions of copies of their recipe booklet, The Art and Secrets of Chinese Cookery, have been published. Offhand, I know there were editions published in 1937, 1943, 1949, 1954, 1958, and 1962.

It's easy to see the progress and changes made by the company when one examines the various editions.

The two editions from 1954 (30 pages) and 1962 (30 pages) were published while under the ownership of Beatrice Foods. The booklets are quite similar, sharing many of the same recipes and basic content format, although the covers are different. Most of the recipes that are similar were updated and sometimes the names of the recipes were slightly changed. New recipes were added. The 1962 vesion contains dessert recipes which were absent from the version published in 1954.

Both booklets have some of the prepared recipes shown in color photos and as always, the food photography improved with the passage of time. The dishes shown in the 1962 version are a little nicer in appearance than those shown in the 1954 version.

Both booklets have small black and white illustrations of the La Choy products with a product description on the bottom portions of the pages. These descriptions also sometimes vary a bit.

The rear page of both booklets show black and white photos of the La Choy Archbold, Ohio plant. The results of the expansion of the Archbold facilities, which began in 1955 and reached completion 1958, can be seen by comparing the two photos. The 1962 photo shows how the floor area of the plant was expanded to encompass seven and one-half acres. (Did you know that you can click on the image to reveal the full-size image?)

One product that both booklets, and many of the recipes, have in common is the La Choy Brown Gravy Sauce. It was used in many of the dishes, and was basically what differentiated the Chop Suey recipes from the Chow Mein recipes in these booklets.

In the past, I have received several emails and phone calls from people looking for a source from which this Brown Gravy Sauce could be purchased. The bad news is that this product is no long being manufactured. Accord to a La Choy CSR, this product was discontinued sometime around 1997.

Naturally, people seek a way to improvise so they can continue to use some of their old recipes which call for this product as an ingredient. Perhaps these old recipe booklets can provide some clues:

In the 1962 edition, the following is found under the Serving Ideas for the Brown Gravy Sauce:

"La Choy Brown Gravy Sauce is rich in Soy Sauce and monosodium glutamate. It adds a wholesome, meaty color in addition to enhancing the flavor and nutrition of a basic gravy recipe. Chop Suey, roast pork, roast beef, baked beans, brown bread, spiced cookies, gingerbread, etc. all have a more appetizing appearance when prepared with Brown Gravy Sauce. The ancient Chinese used to call it "thick" Soy Sauce and along with Soy Sauce, it was one of their two basic
More clues to the ingredients of the Brown Gravy Sauce can be found under the product description:

"La Choy Brown Gravy Sauce is a thick, full-bodied, bead molasses type product that serves many purposes in the kitchen. It consists mainly of parts of corn, sugar cane, soya beans, wheat and monosodium glutamate. It is essential for coloring and sweetening Chop Suey or Chow Mein and many other Chinese dishes."

Bead molasses is similar, but not the same as, a light molasses. It might be possible to find Bead Molasses in an Asian grocery or a supermarket that sells ethnic foods, or perhaps in a health food store. One brand, Dynasty, used to be available on Amazon, but doesn't appear to be at the time of this writing. I did notice other Dynasty brand Asian products at the local Super Wal-Mart.

The La Choy CSR suggested to me the following as a substitution for the Brown Gravy Sauce, although she stressed several times that this was not a La Choy kitchen "tested" recipe. At least they have tried somewhat to accomodate their consumers who are missing this product.


For a 5 ounce bottle, combine 1/2 cup corn syrup (light or dark) and 1/2 teaspoon La Choy Soy Sauce.

Corn syrup? Should I be surprised? This suggestion did come from a processed food manufacturer after all.

I'm not against corn syrup in general, but I don't see why they think it has to be an ingredient in practically every single processed food.

Do you like those commercial Asian salad dressings that are so popular now? Can you say Corn Syrup? Yes, folks, we are pouring corn syrup on our salad greens and loving every bite of it.

At least Molasses sounds like it's healthy and good for us.

October 22, 2007

Cox's Gelatine

Cox's Gelatine Recipes (1920, 32 pp.) is a plain little cooking pamphlet with the cover the only portion given over to any decoration. There are no illustrations inside, a striking contrast to modern promotional cookbooks where the luscious photography stimulates our senses and calls for us to scramble for our pots and pans. The colors of the cover mimic those found on the red, white and blue checkerboard packaging that the brand was known for.

The Cox Gelatine Company was located at 546 Greenwich St. in New York City. (Just for fun, to see what was at this address today, I looked to see if there was a Google Maps Street View. The potentially-privacy-invasive and much debated Street View, however, comes up blank on this corner.)

The paper on which the pamphlet is printed is rather fragile and I'm surprised that this cookbook is in such good condition after 87 years. The cover is made of a different type paper (what kind?--I'm no paper expert, I only hoard it) and is slightly stiffer than that of the interior pages. I would surmise that this copy wasn't used much in anyone's kitchen.

"The Checkerboard Package" made four pints of jelly. At the time this pamphlet was published the box was sold only in this one size. Each box contained two envelopes of the powdered gelatine, with each envelope enough to make two pints.

The product was actually manufactured in Scotland and imported into this country. J & G Limited Company began manufacturing powdered gelatine in 1842 in Edinburgh and they opened an office and warehouse in New York at 100 Hudson St. in 1845. In America they were called the Cox Gelatine Company.

Their Scottish origins would account for their trademark, a figure wearing a checkered kilt, bearing a gelatin mold in his(?) hands, which is shown on the rear cover of the pamphlet.

Cox's Gelatine could be used to make jellies (both savory and sweet), puddings, frozen dishes, ice cream, gelatine salads, candies, as well as an ingredient in other miscellaneous dishes such as soups, glazes and cake frosting. There's also a small section with recipes suitable for invalids and infants.

An alphabetical index is found in the rear, making it easy to find any of the 122 recipes. A couple of the recipes with unusual-sounding names are Popcorn Pudding (a pudding made with chopped popcorn) and Cherry Moss (a gelatine mold). There's another pudding made with the dubious combination of stewed prunes and diced bananas and an intricate and time-consuming recipe for a watermelon mold.

On the use of Cox's Gelatine in Soup, they write:

"French soups, so much esteemed, have for their basis a considerable quatity of Gelatine. They stimulate the flow of the gastric juices, thus preparing the stomach for the reception of solid food, and as they contain much Gelatine, they have a soothing effect on the nervous system".

I chose the following recipe from the booklet partly because it's the onset of the Texas citrus season and also because it's mindful of past times when people made more candy of this type at home than they do today.


1/2 envelope Cox's Gelatine
1-1/2 cups (3/4 pint) confectioners' sugar
8 tablespoons cold water
1/2 tablespoon corn or golden sirup
4 tablespoons grapefruit juice
Yellow color

Put one-half cup of the confectioners' sugar and four tablespoonfuls of cold water into a saucepan; when dissolved, add corn sirup, bring to a boiling point, add Gelatine mixed with remainder of water, grape fruit juice and a few drops of yellow color. Sift remainder of sugar into a bowl, pour hot mixture into center, and allow it to cool. Work it with a wooden spoon until smooth. Spread mixture into a layer one inch thick in a wet pan, allow it to harden, cut into squares and roll in sugar.

Will this recipe work today? I don't know--it's difficult and hit-or-miss making candy here on the Texas Gulf Coast where the high humidity more often than not leaves homemade candy a sticky mess. But in my mind, I can easily picture a crystal bowl filled with charming little individually-cellophane-wrapped pieces of yellow grapefruit flavored candy.

October 19, 2007

Cook Book Coupon

I do love to find the original order forms for old cookbooks. Shown below is a nice example of one from the Washburn-Crosby Co. in Minneapolis, Minnesota for the Gold Medal Cook Book.

"We hope our many customers will not think the GOLD MEDAL COOK BOOK merely an advertisement of GOLD MEDAL Flour, for such is not the case. The book has a well designed cover and contains 75 pages, substantially bound. The latest edition is provided with a silk cord in one corner, making it possible to hang the Cook Book in a convenient place. Over 750 recipes are treated fully and kept strictly up-to-date. The demand for these books is large and we hope you will send for your copy promptly. Write your name and address on the other side of this Coupon and send us the Coupon and ten cents in cash or stamps and we will mail book at once."
Washburn-Crosby Company later became part of General Mills.

October 15, 2007

Please Follow Directions

West Bend Aluminum Co. began marketing Flavo-Seal, a line of waterless cookware, in 1932. Recipes and Instructions for Waterless Cooking (1947, 22 pp.) was an instruction and recipe book for their Flavo-Seal de Luxe Aluminum Ware.

The booklet describes the virtues and potential uses of the various pieces of the de Luxe line and gives a few recipes suitable for each individual utensil. The utensils addressed are the One Quart Sauce Pan, Two Quart Sauce Pan, Three and Four Quart Sauce Pans, 10- Inch Covered Skillet, Griddle-Broiler-Server, Dutch Oven Roaster and the French Fryer Insert.

One of the major selling features of the de Luxe line was its heavy weight. It's mentioned a lot.

"The above illustrates clearly the difference between triple-thick aluminum and the ordinary aluminum cooking utensils. This heavy, armor-weight with thick walls and thick flat bottom distributes the heat evenly and quickly. It also prevents burning of food."
In the section for the 10 Inch Covered skillet is the special advice on how to prevent warping:

"Never apply excessive heat to the utensil -- follow directions as given above. After taking cooked food from the hot utensil, never put cold water directly into it until the utensil has cooled to room temperature. If it is necessary to place water in pan after cooking, use hot water only."
On page 22 instructions are found in regards to Care and Cleaning. For those who neglected to follow the advice given on page 13 in regards to warping the following helpful advice is given:

"Place flat wood block on bottom of utensil, either outside or inside depending on way the pan is warped (see sketch below). Then use hammer to restore original flat bottom."

This advice may provide the explanation of the often-seen rounded dings in the bottoms of old aluminum skillets. Some folks probably didn't use the wooden block as directed.

Edited to Add: What is Waterless Cooking?

Waterless cooking is a method of food preparation which cooks foods in their own natural juices and moisture, with little or no added water. This method cooks rapidly at lower temperatures and retains more of the original minerals, vitamins and nourishing elements. It causes the simple foods to be more appetizing and palatable--more of the natural flavor, color and firmness is retained. Food shrinkage is minimal. The lids of the cookware are designed so that they form a seal when the natural juices begin to evaporate and no liquid escapes.

The cookware can be used for boiling, stove-top roasting, pan-frying, oven roasting, for cooking frozen foods, in place of a double boiler and for poaching. In most cases, modern waterless cookware is made from stainless steel rather than aluminum.

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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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October 12, 2007

Excellent Recipes

A week ago I was sweltering in the heat and humidity while tending the antique booth at Blue Hills.

This morning there was the tiniest bit of fall in the air. I was begging for an excuse to be outside as lovely fall days are scarce and fleeting in southeast Texas. Here and gone before you know it.

I rarely stop at any of the garage sales around town as very seldom do I find anything of interest (to me). However, I stopped at several today because the weather was so nice.

I did find a treasure, and one that was quite touching, at that.

At one house, a quick look through a cardboard box shoved underneath a table revealed a plain, brown clasp envelope nearly hidden between several run-of-the-mill cookbooks.

In my experience, neglected, plain, brown envelopes stuffed with paper are always promising.

When I pulled the envelope out of the box, I noticed the words "Excellent Recipes - worn out cook book" written in pencil on the rear side.

Inside the envelope I found the very tattered remains of 199 Selected Recipes (1927, 64 pp.) by Sarah Field Splint.

Miss Sarah Field Splint was the Editor of the Food Department of McCall's Magazine when this little cookbook was first published in 1925. This was one of several booklets published by Procter & Gamble promoting the use of Crisco, which they had introduced to consumers in 1911.

It was a sad looking little thing. Ragged edges. Missing it's cover with no sign of the staples that once held the pages together. Blue dampstains of unknown origin marking every single page. Fountain pen ink, perhaps. Pages detached and stuck back together again all willy-nilly. Sporting spots from grease and spots from being stored in an unairconditioned space. Bent and creased page corners. A few tears here and there.

Poor little cookbook. Someone practically loved it to death, yet still couldn't bear to throw it away. So they put it in this envelope for safekeeping. It didn't belong to the lady having the garage sale--I asked. "A friend," she replied vaguely, much more interested in arranging a pile of decrepit old shoes to their best advantage.

I believe the original cover of this booklet looked like the one shown here.

Perhaps you're wondering now. Which recipes did the previous owner consider "excellent"? The two recipes below are the ones where the pages are the most heavily spotted from use (yes, old food stains) and which also rated penciled checkmarks. Appropriate, too, considering the quickly approaching holidays.


Plain Pastry
2 cups cooked and strained pumpkin
1 cup milk
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1-1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
3 egg whites

Line a pie pan with Plain Pastry and pinch with fingers to make a fancy edge. Mix the pumpkin and milk together. Add the beaten egg yolks. Add the sugar, mixed with the cinammon, clove, ginger, nutmeg, and salt. Mix well. Fold in the stiffly beaten egg whites. Turn into the pie pan. Bake in a quick oven (450 degrees F.) 10 minutes, reduce heat to hot oven (375 degrees F.) and bake 20 minutes longer or until the filling is firm.


2 cups flour
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 cup Crisco
Ice water

Mix and sift flour and salt. Cut in the Crisco with a knife. Add only water enough to hold the ingredients together. Do not knead. Chill thoroughly. Divide dough into 2 parts and roll out thin a a slightly floured board. Line a pie pan with one-half the pastry. Pinch pastry with the fingers to make a fancy edge and prick bottom and sides with a fork. Bake in a very hot oven (460 degrees F.) 10 to 15 minutes. For a 2 crust pie, line pie pan with pastry, put in a filling, cover with top crust and bake as directed for pies.

If a less rich pastry is desired, use only 1/2 cup Crisco.


Close behind these two, displaying additional heavy usage (more food stains) are the pages containing recipes for the Yeast Breads and Quick Breads--breads, muffins, biscuits, popovers, cornbread, nut bread and coffeecake. This lady was a busy baker.

In the booklet, Miss Splint speaks her piece regarding Pastry and Crisco:

"Two important principals underlie pastry making. They are short and easily remembered. In colloquial language they are, "Keep the water out" and "Get the air in." In other words pastry that is made with too much water is tough and hard, while pastry that is kneaded and prodded and crushed beneath a rolling pin makes a fine substitute for shoe leather.

So when you make pastry use the smallest amount of liquid that will hold the ingredients together.

Closely related to the question of liquid in pastry is the amount and kind of shortening used. Generally speaking, the less water and the more shortening the flakier the pastry will be. A soft, moist shortening has almost the effect of liquid on pastry, making it tough and rubbery.

For this reason, Crisco, which becomes hard when kept for some time in a cold place, is the ideal shortening. Instead of melting and contributing its share of moisture to the dough, it remains in tiny pieces which melt only in the heat of the oven and produces the much desired "shortness"."

Did I really need to add a tattered old cookbook to my collection when I know I have a nicer copy of this very same booklet around here somewhere? Yes. Yes, I did. Sometimes the history we seek from these old cookbooks is found in the ones like these.

The ones with heart.

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October 11, 2007

Baking Powder Double Take

I randomly pulled a handful of cookery pamphlets off a shelf this morning in search of some inspiration for my blog post.

In my pre-coffee haze, the top two booklets in the pile caused a double take on my part because the titles were so similar.

How to Save Eggs by Using Dr. Price's "Cream" Baking Powder (1919, 22 pp.) and 55 Ways to Save Eggs (1923, 22 pp.) were both published by Royal Baking Powder Co. and are nearly identical in their content.

Why do two different products have the same recipe booklet? The answer was simple and easily found in A Guide to Collecting Cookbooks by Colonel Bob Allen.

"By 1915 the Price Baking Powder Company was acquired by the Royal Baking Powder Company and continued manufacturing Dr. Price's Cream Baking Powder."
Looks like Royal found a way to squeeze a litle more from their advertising budget by generating a new cover and replacing the Royal Baking Powder name for the Dr. Price's name in all references to the the product.

Small, insignificant changes to a few of the recipes and slight wording changes in the introduction are the only noticeable differences between the content of the two booklets.

"When eggs are high priced, a considerable saving can be made if fewer are used in baking, and Royal Baking Powder, a cream of tartar powder, used in place of the eggs omitted. Many housewives are taking advantage of this great saving, and are using these recipes, thus saving the eggs for omelets and other purposes and, at the same time, having their customary delicious breads, muffins and cakes as well.

In nearly all recipes in which eggs are used, the number may be reduced one-half or more, and excellent results obtained by using a small additional quantity of Royal Baking Powder, about a teaspoon, in place of each egg omitted. The recipes in this booklet illustrates how this may be done.

Expert cooks have tested these recipes and the delicious products that have been made without eggs, or with one or two eggs when more were used in the Old Way, have shown how the small additional quantity of Royal Baking Powder in place of each egg omitted effects a substantial savings and at the same time produces sweet, appetizing food.

Many comparative tests of the quality and costs of foods made at home with Royal Baking Powder and those purchased in the bake-shop, have demonstrated that food made at home is not only of better quality and more economical, but will keep fresh longer. Also there is the added advantage of knowing that the ingredients used are healthful.

The tables of ingredients under the Old Way show by comparison the saving in eggs, shortening and other expensive ingredients by the New Way. The directions apply to the New Way."

The next-to-last paragraph is still true close to a century later. Cooking at home, no matter how you do it, all from scratch or with the help of convenience foods, is still more healthful and inexpensive than dining out or purchasing pre-prepared foods.

Buck the trend. Prepare a homemade meal today.

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October 10, 2007

Arm & Hammer Soda

If you happen to come across any current promotional material for ARM & HAMMER, you'd have difficulty guessing that the company wanted you to use their baking soda as an ingredient in your baking. Instead, you're much more likely to see the familiar red and yellow box sitting on a shelf in a refrigerator being used to absorb odors.

In the early years of the product's history, the use of bicarbonate of soda by home bakers was heavily promoted through magazine ads and by the distribution of millions of recipe booklets.

The booklet shown at the left, Book of Valuable Recipes (1917, 32 pp.) was published in numerous editions for almost 100 years. The 70th Edition is shown here. Many other recipe pamphlet titles were published besides this one. As home baking declined due to the increased use of convenience foods, their advertising began to focus more on the use of baking soda as cleaning and personal care products.

There are many recipes (41 in all) in the booklet including the one below. Note that lard is used for frying and the storage method is in a stone crock.


1 cup Sugar
1/2 cup thick sour Cream, or soft Butter or Lard
5 to 6 cups flour
2 Eggs
2-1/2 cups sour Milk or Buttermilk
1 rounded teaspoonful Arm & Hammer Soda
1 teaspoonful Mace or Nutmeg

Beat together the sugar, eggs and thick sour cream or soft butter or lard. Pour in the sour milk or buttermik and Arm & Hammer Soda. Then mix very lightly with the sifted flour. For flavor use mace or nutmeg. This dough should not be very stiff and not worked much, otherwise the crullers will be tough. Roll out a half inch thick cut in the shape desired and let raise a few minutes, until the lard gets well heated. When raised and brown on bottom, turn with a fork. The fat must sizzle when you put a few drops of water in it. Otherwise it is not hot enough. These crullers will keep fresh for a week in a stone crock.

Although primarily a booklet of recipes, Church & Dwight didn't neglect to include other information in the pamphlet they thought might be useful to the consumer. The 70th Edition included a Perpetual Calendar inside the front cover covering the years 1908 through 1919.

Another section admonishes thrifty and efficient consumers not to waste money buying Baking Powder and includes several pages of fine print dedicated to convincing them that Soda was better.

The rear of the booklet contains Kitchen Weights and Measures and includes the gill measurement "4 gills equals 1 pint". As a unit of measurement in the U.S., 1 gill is equal to 4 fluid ounces. This term is not used anymore but can often be found in older cookbooks.

Timetables for for boiling, baking and broiling meats and vegetables are shown on another page. Common vegetables at that time included asparagus, beets, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, green corn, lima beans, onions, parsnips, peas, potatoes, spinach, spring beans and turnips. Meats seem to encompass chicken, corned beef, ham, mutton, pot roast beef, turkey, fish, beef ribs, goose, steak, grouse, quail, squabs, venison, veal, ducks and partridge.

Three pages are devoted to other various uses of Arm & Hammer Soda--in cooking, for the farmer, for the home nurse and "here and there about the house."

There are also four pages of tiny print devoted exclusively to matters pertaining to the United States Postal Service. This information includes both domestic and foreign postage rates and categories of service, the money order system, and postal regulations. Why this information is included, I don't know. I can't see any food manufacturer giving over one inch of advertising space today for the USPS unless big bucks change hands.

Indeed, their website today is a maze of clean-and-deodorize this and clean-and-deodorize that, be it your home, car or body. Scaring us to death about germs seems to be the name of the game ($$$) now. One has to dig a little deeper to find anything related to baking. I guess they figure that their marketing job is mostly "done" in the cooking department.

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October 06, 2007

Heinz Salad Dressings

I can get no further than the Salad Dressings chapter in Salads - A Recipe Book by Heinz (1956, 96 pp.) before I start to question whether or not I'll like any of the recipes in this cookbook.

Some of the salad dressings that the Heinz Test Kitchens have concocted appear to be just a hodgepodge of numerous Heinz products.

Most of the recipe variations to their Basic French Dressing don't sound very appetizing to me:


1/4 cup Heinz Vinegar
3/4 cup salad oil
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar

Combine ingredients. Shake vigorously. Chill. Shake before serving.


To 1/2 cup Basic French Dressing, add 3 tablespoons Heinz Hamburger Relish. Makes 2/3 cup.

To 1/2 cup Basic French Dressing, add 2 tablespoons Heinz Chili Sauce. Makes about 2/3 cup.


To 1-1/3 cups Basic French Dressing, add 1/3 cup minced onion, 1/3 cup sugar, 1/3 cup Heinz Tomato Ketchup and 2 tablespoons Heinz Worcestershire Sauce. Beat until well blended. Makes 2 cups.

To 3/4 cup Basic French Dressing, add 2 tablespoons minced parsley, 2 tablespoons minced onions, 1/4 cup chopped, cooked beets and 1 hard-cooked egg, chopped. Makes 1 cup.

I had to stop at the Mayonnaise recipe that calls for 1 teaspoon Heinz Prepared Mustard. They should have called it Mustard Mayonnaise (not a flavor combination that I'm personally fond of) straight off.

Sometimes I'm really grateful for the twenty feet of supermarket shelf space dedicated to commercially-prepared salad dressings.

I'll examine the rest of the book later. Perhaps I shouldn't be perusing a salad cookbook at 6 a.m. anyway.

I do like the 1950s era servingware and tableware shown in the illustrations.

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October 01, 2007

New Duncan Hines Exhibit

A comment tonight from marissa on my Old Restaurant Recipes post from last month brings to my attention the fact that a new museum exhibit about Duncan Hines has opened in his hometown of Bowling Green. There's no telling how many times I might have whizzed by BG on I-65 without knowing of the exhibit's existence otherwise.

My last stop in the lovely city of Bowling Green was to a Firestone tire store and the visit lasted about an hour. Thank goodness for the nice AAA tow truck driver who towed me, my packed-to-the-hilt car, my cat and my bird twenty-something miles from where I was stranded on the side of the highway.

Now that I know that the exhibit exists, I can't wait to see it and I'll be sure to include it in my travel itinerary. You can get a nice preview of the "Recommended by Duncan Hines" exhibit at the Kentucky Museum here. Be sure and check out the photographs.

I like visiting food-related places. And sometimes I really, really, really love AAA.

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