December 15, 2008

Cookies and Crafts

Gift Box Butter Cookies (undated, 32 pages) is one of my very favorite holiday booklets because it combines baking and crafts.

The crease down the center of the booklet indicates to me that it probably came packaged in a bag of Pillsbury flour during the holidays.

I believe the booklet was probably published around 1963 because of the two mail-in cookbook offers found inside.

One offer was for a Nestle cookbook, Perfect Endings, which was published in 1962. It was a hardcover book with a spiral binding and it featured chocolate dessert and beverage recipes.

The other offer was for The Pillsbury Family Cook Book, available in a Deluxe Ring Bound Edition, which was published in 1963.

Pillsbury's Best Flour isn't the only brand name product featured in the booklet. The recipes also called for the Pillsbury Cookie Decorator, Nestle's Morsels, Brer Rabbit Molasses, Sun-Maid Raisins, Sunsweet Prunes and dairy products from the American Dairy Association.

The gift boxes were meant to hold cookies and were made with a variety of items that could be found around the house. They were held together and decorated with a Modeling Mixture made with Pillsbury flour.

I loved this sort of crafty thing when I was a kid (still do). I was always pestering the adults, wanting to "make" something. Although I don't remember ever seeing this particular booklet, I do remember my grandmother making us kids "paste" out of flour and water, as well as a play-dough mixture made with salt and flour and food coloring. She had a drawer in her corner cabinet that held scraps of paper and junk mail that we could use for our playtime activities. My cousins and I entertained ourselves for many hours with these simple things. The only thing battery-operated we had to play with at her house was that flashlight she kept next to her bed.

There are quite a few cookie recipes inside: butter cookies, press cookies and cookies from some of the Pillsbury Bake-Offs are just a few of them. They're all illustrated in color along with the different gift boxes.

This Butter Churn was made from an oatmeal box:

The Scotchy-Chocolate Shop was made from a cardboard box and decorated with candy canes and peppermint sticks:

Didn't every kid, at one time or another, make a container of some sort decorated with glued-down macaroni and spray painted with gold paint? These Cookie Compotes were made from metal cans, coffee cans and oatmeal boxes using the center tube from a roll of waxed paper as the base:

This Santa's Boot was made from an oatmeal container and corrugated cardboard, decorated with cotton and elbow macaroni:

This Sugar and Spice Shop was made from a small cardboard box and decorated with sugar cubes and the Pillsbury Cookie Decorator:

The Carousel Shop was an oatmeal box covered with the Modeling Mixture and spray painted silver, further adorned with red ribbon and animal cut-outs:

There are some old product illustrations in here as well. The frosting-in-a-can, this brand known as the Pillsbury Cookie Decorator:

A bottle of Brer Rabbit Green Label Molasses:

Packages of Sun-Maid Raisins and Sunsweet Prunes. Check out the box lid of the gift box with the Cookie-Villa built on top. How much do you think that weighed?

There are also some other ideas for seasonal decorations, in the rear of the booklet, made with the Modeling Mixture; things such as Christmas Tree Ornaments, Place Cards, a Snow-Man (made from an oatmeal box) and Mobiles made from coat hangers.

These are the directions for making Candles:

Cover jelly glasses or any glasses with thin layer of Modeling Mixture, page 3. If desired, a picture may be pasted on glass first. Bring mixture to edge of picture. Decorate and paint as desired. Dry in oven. Fill 1/2 to 3/4 full with melted old candles or paraffin. When almost hard, insert old candle or wick.

As kids, we made a lot of candles in tin cans using old, broken wax crayons.

The last page of the booklet had a mail-in offer for the Mirro Cookie Press. It was advertised as a Regular $2.25 value for only $1.00. What a bargain! There are still quite of few of these old aluminum cookie presses around today.

The Brer Rabbit Molasses picture in this booklet also reminds me to tell you about one of the kinds of cookies I baked last week, the Great Aunt Ruth's Gingersnaps from my last post. I've never been a fan of ginger cookies, or molasses for that matter, but in the spirit of cooking from an old recipe I chose to make these one day.

I'm really bad when it comes to analyzing recipes and so forth, but it was apparent, even to me, that there wasn't a lot of sugar in this recipe compared to some of the cookie recipes we use today. I didn't think that the entire bottle of molasses I used made that much difference to the sweetness either.

I'm also usually a failure when it comes to rolling out dough of any type or making cut-out cookies, but with this dough it was surprisingly easy to do. I followed the directions exactly, choosing 350 degrees as my moderate oven heat, baking them for 10 minutes exactly, and they cooked perfectly.

My first bite left me with the impression that they didn't taste like anything. I reconsidered, however, after finishing an entire cookie, at which time I decided that they did taste like something--ginger and molasses. They just weren't very sweet. My father tested the next two and told me they didn't taste like anything. The other person around here (who only likes Chocolate Chip Cookies and Snickerdoodles) politely spit them out. It's the ginger, he claimed.

I decided to see if it was a generational thing (my father excluded--he doesn't really eat sweets), so I took several of the cookies over to the retirement community where my gardening friend lives. He's 84, so he would have been eating cookies made from these type recipes when he was a young man.

And I was right. He thought they were great. He's been around for looking for more, and even though I was going to wait until closer to Christmas to give them out, I've been doling them out to him, one bag at a time, from the freezer. At this rate, I'm going to have to make another batch.


At 9:27 AM CST, Blogger T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

Great fun! I think we had the same kind of childhood. My mom just dropped off a set of Nutcracker finger puppets I made in 1969!!

At 10:08 AM CST, Blogger Kathy said...

T.W. - Hooray for your mom for keeping those puppets around! I'll bet you're glad she did.

At 9:15 PM CST, Blogger P-Dot said...

Hi Kathy,
I just got back from a potluck here at the "home". We are a mixed age group from 62 to 80+. I mentioned your blog and what type of cookbooks you collect and away the conversation went. It was, "I have Pet" and "I have Knox" and so on. You would have been drooling if you had of been there. Just thought I'd let you know you were being discussed tonight.
Pdot aka Penni

At 5:07 AM CST, Blogger Kathy said...

P-Dot - So that's why my ears were burning!

At 4:52 PM CST, Blogger Rochelle R. said...

That booklet is one of my favorites. It is one of the first I collected when I was a young teenager. I probably did get it from my Moms flour bag. Many years ago I made one of the flour paste things by putting it on a metal cookie tin, don't remember the details though. My husband collects cookie books and I have noticed also that some of the older recipes don't have much sugar and seem rather plain. They don't call for lots of add ins like a lot of recipes today do.

At 7:04 AM CST, Blogger Kathy said...

Rochelle - I guess over time we just started adding more and more sugar to the recipes and now that's what we're used to so that's what tastes "right". Some of the new recipes practically make my teeth hurt looking at the number of add-ins to a single recipe: M&M's, chocolate chips, coconut, condensed milk, all in one recipe, on top of the regular sugar. I figure they're just trying to sell more product. :-)


Post a Comment

<< Home