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Recipes From Yesteryear

June 6, 2011 - Al Stephenson
My wife was helping her siblings clean up her mother's house recently when she came upon an old recipe booklet. Since the front cover was missing, we had no idea when it was published. We decided that it was put together by some of the women who lived in New Riegel, perhaps members of the Rosary Altar Society. Though we did not know the era, it was obvious that it was several years ago.

There are a number of ways to prove that the book is old. One recipe called for one 10 cent package of potato chips. Good luck trying to find anything like that today. A recipe for Banana Salad cautioned that you "do not mix until ready to use unless you have a refrigerator." Now we know we are going back a ways.

Need more proof. Several businesses took out ads in the booklet. Theis Sheet Metal, Bud's Place and Huss Grocery could be reached by phone and the ad included the number. For sheet metal you could Phone 35. The grocery store could be contacted using Phone 49, and you could call Bud by dialing 50! My guess is that you would have to go through an operator and yes I do recall the days of the party line.

The ingredients were not always recognizable and the directions were suspect, but it worked for those folks. Here's what I'm talking about. A recipe for a Six Layer Dinner listed the ingredients as a layer of raw potatoes, a layer of raw hamburger, a layer of raw carrots, a layer of raw rice, a few slices of onion and a can of tomatoes. Now for the instructions. Season and bake in a moderate oven. That's it folks - no temperature, no timetable. Just put it together and watch it bake.

In addition to the Banana Salad, the booklet listed a Secret Salad, a 24 Hour Salad and one for a Liver and Egg Salad. Check out the latter. 6 chicken livers or calf liver, 3 small onions, 4 hard cooked eggs and French Dressing No. 1. That's the ingredients, now let's look at the preparation. You should "bake or fry the liver, chop eggs and liver not too fine, chop onions very fine. Mix with French Dressing No. 1, using chicken or goose fat in place of olive oil. Serve cold on lettuce leaves. Sorry, I think I'll pass on this one.

Under cookies there were recipes for Brown Cookies (seems simple enough) and Washboard Cookies. These are cookies that you should press with the tines of a fork (lengthwise, of course) to resemble a washboard. You should store the cookies in an airtight container if you want them to be "chewey" the next day.

A recipe for Quick Sally Lunn (which is coffee cake, and no I never heard of it, but that's what it said in parentheses under the title) called for the use of Calumet baking powder. I remember Calumet, but the chop suey recipe that called for the use of Show-You-Sauce had me scratching my head.

The biggest section was for cakes. There was a recipe for chocolate cake, white cake, ribbon cake, fairy cake, salad dressing cake, luscious spice cake, banana layer cake, applesauce cake, fudge cake, mahogany cake, jam cake, cocoa divinity cake, wacky cake and one that simply said CAKE. My mother-in-law had a recipe for new magic spice cake with penuche icing. Each submitter had a handwritten signature at the bottom of the recipe. There was a recipe from my wife's grandmother, further proof that the booklet has been around a while.

At the end of the booklet were a list of hints. For example: to keep nuts - place in a cold place so they won't become rancid. To keep icing and candy soft - if cake icing or creamy candy becomes hard and granular before all of it is used, put the cake or candy in a tightly covered tin box, and in a few hours the former creaminess will be restored. If very quick results are desired add a sliced apple to the box. You have to like those helpful hints.

The view from my seat suggests that my wife and I will surely try some of these recipes (we'll skip the liver thing). If they don't turn out to our liking so be it. Just reading the booklet was a joy.

On the last page of the booklet was one more recipe compliments of Mrs. Marion Kelbley. It was for Lover's Wedding Cake and here it is.

4 pounds of flour of love, 1 pound buttered youth, 1 pound good looks, 2 pounds sweet temper, 1 pound self forgetfulness, 1 pound powdered wits, 3 ounces dry humor, 2 tablespoons sweet argument, 1 pint of rippling laughter, 2 wine glassfuls of common sense. Put the flour of love, good looks and sweet temper into a well furnished house. Beat the butter of youth to a cream. Mix together blindness to faults and self forgetfulness, powdered wits, dry humor into sweet arguments, then add them to above, pour in gently rippling laughter and common sense. Work together until well mixed, then bake gently forever.


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