The Will and the Mysterious Jewel Chest

In 1893 the Charlier family was in need of a legal translator, because when Madame Charlotte Roulez Charlier died in New Jersey in that year, she left about $50,000 and a “unique” will that no one, according to the New York Times, was able to understand. This may have been partly because the will was in French and needed a good translation, or because of other difficulties. The New York World reported that even 6 years after her death lawyers had not yet been able to “unravel” the will. She was described as a “fortune teller” by the papers, and some said that her large fortune had been earned by her clairvoyant career – though her family said that she only did this as an amusement, not for money. In any case, a legal translator would have been an excellent idea, because the estate was not settled for many years.

Wikimedia Commons

Her heirs were her children, two of whom lived in New Jersey and then there was her son, who nobody had seen for 20 years. He was in South America “in bondage,” said Madame’s will. She added that she had had a dream which predicted that this son would turn up in New Jersey 8 years later and claim his share of the inheritance. Unfortunately, it seems that he actually drowned when “his vessel, a sailing ship trading at South American ports, disappeared years ago and was never heard of again.”

What particularly intrigued me about her estate was the old chest filled with incredible jewels. The chest was brought over from Brussels when Madame came to America. The Buffalo Evening News reported that:

In it were found half a dozen rugs, several gold lockets, two boxes of rare Brussels lace, two gold watches, bracelets by the dozen, diamond earrings, amethyst and turquoise jewels, loose diamonds, rubies, pearls and other gems, gold and silverware, religious emblems, rosaries and medals, rich old shawls, silk handkerchiefs, and a piece of silk imported half a century ago, but never made up.

The chest also included the famous  diamond buckle that Madame said was made out of the hilt of a sword presented to her father, the Court Physician, by Louis XV. The buckle was made out of 26 large diamonds, was attached to a belt “inscribed with cabalistic characters [and] was supposed to give Madame prescience.” Dr Roulez’ “heavy gold medal” was in the chest, too, “for his part in the discovery of vaccination [sic].” The chest was put into a bank vault after “being brought by carriage to Elizabeth, [NJ].” I wonder what happened to it.

“Mme Charlier’s Will,” New York Times, Mar. 23, 1893.
“Anna Charlier, Heiress, Interviewed at Washtub,” New York World, Jun. 18, 1899.
“A Chest of Jewels,” Buffalo Evening News, Apr. 10, 1893.

An Economical Recipe

[A post that roams all over the place...even I didn't know where we were going to end up!]

Have you ever looked at some of the glossier house and home magazines and wondered how anyone was supposed to afford all that fancy stuff? Check out this Martha Stewart appetizer, for example. Easy to make, yes. But all those ingredients are going to cost you plenty. And I don’t really have time to chase down pink peppercorns and marinated feta cheese, either.

Anyway, back in 1887 people were thinking the same thing. Two women wrote in to the Ladies’ Home Journal and Practical Housekeeper about this very issue. Mrs. H.R. wrote that she had subscribed for 2 years but “I have never seen anything written for poor people. All house decorations, cooking receipts and other suggestions seem to be written for women with more money than I have.” Oh, Mrs. H.R., I know just what you mean when I flip through those glossies at the drugstore!

And An Old and Pleased Subscriber asks for cake recipes “that would not require eight, eleven and six eggs.” Fair enough, right? I wouldn’t want to make a cake with six, eight or eleven (eleven!) eggs in it, either.

So Eliza G. Parker, the editor responsible for the section of the paper with the title “The Practical Housekeeper” (that’s ironic!) thought she’d better pony up a few practical dishes for the complainers. Mrs. H.R. got a bunch of recipes for horrid things like Brain Croquettes and Tongue on Toast. That’ll teach her to whine about how the Journal was slanted towards the idle rich. But the Pleased Subscriber was rewarded with a recipe for Creole Cake. And since I’ll take any cake over a brain croquette, thank you very much, I am going to pass on the instructions on how to make it: 

Creole Cake

Beat the yolks of two eggs with a cup and a half of sugar and two ounces of butter together until very light, add a cup of cold water, a cup and a half of flour, beat until smooth, add the stiffly beaten whites of two eggs, and a cup and a half more of sifted flour with a teaspoonful of baking powder (if strong [i.e.. has a high gluten content], I use Dr. Price’s Cream Baking Powder) and a little grated nutmeg. Mix well and bake in a moderate oven until done.

 Louisiana King Cake

Most Creole Cake recipes I’ve seen have lots of interesting things in them – everything from Armagnac and prunes to chocolate and coffee, or a very rich fruit cake. The most famous Creole Cake is King Cake, which is made for the feast of Epiphany and is also served at Mardi Gras. It usually contains a small trinket (a bean or a little baby doll) and the person who gets the trinket in their slice is the King or Queen for the day, but it also means they have to buy next year’s cake. It would be ideal if the trinket was money, really. Or else they could just make the economical recipe from 1887 and call it a day.

A Theatrical Cigarette Card

Wikimedia Commons

I have always liked illustrated Victorian advertising cards. As you know, I love old ads of any kind, but there is something special about those that show a little glimpse of what the world looked like a century or two ago. The cigarette card on your right takes us to the Old Bowery Theatre, at 165 Bowery in New York. There are people walking by and coming out of the nearby restaurant, and poster boards propped on the theater steps, telling which plays were on at the moment.

Cigarette cards were first printed in the 1870s, and by the end of the 19th century they were popular to collect.  You could find series of cards depicting everything from  popular sports heroes and actresses, to scenic places or even illustrated riddles.

The Bowery Theatre, as you can see, had a splendid facade with very tall, rather pinkish columns – somewhat out of place sandwiched between the more modest structures on the street. It opened in 1826, with room to seat 3,500 people;  it was the largest theater in the United States at the time.

By the late 19th century the Bowery had changed hands several times and had been home to various immigrant theatrical groups. It burned down in 1929, and wasn’t rebuilt – in 1944, the site was bought for a future gas station. And today at 165 Bowery there is a shop called  Mandarin Dynasty (I looked on Google Maps). It sells “European Crystal Chandeliers” and is housed in a plain, postwar four story block – without a single majestic pink column to be seen.

Illustrated cigarette cards are a thing of the past now, no longer an interesting innovation. In our time, things like the eCigarette are innovative. The electronic cigarette, which delivers nicotine in a flavored liquid, in small amounts; electronic cigarette side effects may include slight sore throat or dry mouth at first, but there is no tobacco in them. Brands such as green smoke are often used by smokers trying to quit, as a helpful way of weaning themselves off of smoking. That is something no one in 1826 would have been able to imagine.

Some American Pie

Whitman: thinking of pie?
Garfield: yes, pie would be great! 

In the 19th century, way before Don McLean’s song about it, there was definitely a thing called “American pie.”

People in the US were known for their devotion to that particular kind of flaky pastry, so much so that it was even eaten for breakfast, sometimes.  In 1887 one writer noted that when he met the poet Walt Whitman, Whitman insisted that everyone should eat his favorite dish “solid American pie, washed down with the strongest of strong tea…Inquiry elicited the fact that pie was the main pabulum of Whitman’s life.”* And Thomas Jefferson Murrey writes in Valuable Cooking Receipts (1877): 

It seems to be a cardinal belief [in Europe] that no meal is furnished here without a superabundance of pie; that, even at the best inns and restaurants in New York, Boston and Philadelphia, pie is devoured at breakfast, luncheon, dinner and supper; that no American would sit down to a table where he could not see plenty of pie; that all the States are closely connected and bound together by a prejudice in favor of pie; that it was love of pie rather than force of patriotism which, in the civil war [sic - not capitalized], preserved the Union. 

I have found a few unusual pie recipes to include – not apple pie, though since we have just had the 4th of July that would be appropriate. Instead, let me share recipes from two states – Ohio and Arizona. 

Why these two? That would be in honor of Jacob Bromwell Inc., who make delightful retro kitchenware such as the All-American Flour Sifter, which will assist you in making a pie crust (or any other sort of baking endeavor, really) and the lovely Golden Era Pie Plate, in which to place said crust. Jacob Bromwell was originally located, you see, in Cincinnati, Ohio, but is now based in Tempe, Arizona.

Garfield Pie was an old Ohio specialty named in honor of Ohio-born President James A. Garfield:

GARFIELD PIE

Combine in a bowl 2 cups stewed sour apples, 1 tablespoon flour, 2 beaten egg yolks, 1 tablespoon melted butter, the juice of half a lemon, and sugar to taste. Bake in a single crust, then when it is almost done, cover with meringue (I suppose this is where you use the 2 egg whites you have lying around from when you needed the yolks) and put it back in the oven until it has golden edges.

ARIZONA GRAPEFRUIT PIE
And from Arizona, a pie that asks the culinary question: if you can make lemon pies and orange pies, why not a grapefruit one?

First you need to make and bake a single pie crust. Then set it aside and make the custard:

Sift ½ cup of flour (using, perhaps, the Bromwell Designer Flour Sifter) and then resift this with 1 cup of sugar and ½ teaspoon of salt. Combine this with 2 beaten eggs and then add in 1 ¼ cups scalded milk. Cook all of this over hot water (in a double boiler, that is) until smooth and thick; stir it a lot. Then add ½ cup grapefruit juice and cook for 10 more minutes. Take it off the heat and stir in 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Pour this into that baked pie shell you have nearby (you do have it nearby, right?) Place 1 cup of grapefruit sections on the top and sprinkle with ½ cup of brown sugar. Run it under the broiler (on low) until the sugar caramelizes and the grapefruit is a little bit browned. Let it stand until is has cooled down, then serve.


Jacob  Bromwell and Co., 1886

Jacob Bromwell Inc. has been making things since 1819. In the 19th century (and in Cincinnati) they made sieves, pans, buckets and brushes. Since then they’ve been specializing in kitchenware, cookware for camping, fireplace items and other goodies – all made with old-fashioned care, and with a lifetime guarantee. I love the style and quality of their products and I think you will, too.  

Note: Both pie recipes are from America Cooks, by Cora, Rose and Bob Brown (New York, 1949). I rewrote them a little as some of the recipes are so very much of a certain vintage that they hardly tell you anything except a list of ingredients. This is not the fault of the Browns or anything, though.

*Robert Williams Buchanan, A Look Round Literature (1887), p. 343.

And the wonderful old engraving of Jacob Bromwell Inc. (then called Jacob Bromwell and Co.), on your right, is from an 1886 book entitled Leading Manufacturers and Merchants of Cincinnati.






A Sofa Bed In the Trees

1871 advertisement (Wikipedia)

If you were to visit Washington, D.C. in the spring of 1884, and it was a hot day, you might want to go out just north of the city to visit a 45 year old gentleman called Mr. Hayward, who was a respectable Pension Office clerk. But here was a man with a different lifestyle indeed: he lived in a tree house. A New York Times reporter went off to check out this unusual domicile in April 1884, being “desirous of ascertaining what could induce a man to build himself a residence in a tree.”

Mr. Hayward explained that ever since contracting some unnamed disease in the Civil War, he needed to keep cool in the summer. So in 1883, he put up a tent in his back yard. But then he worried that a “tramp” would steal it, or that it would leak during a good rain. So he stuck the tent in a tree on Mount Pleasant*, having first got permission (they don’t say from who). Well, he didn’t stop at a tent: he built a whole tree house: a 12 by 7 1/2 foot platform built between two large trees, an A frame, and a tent over the whole thing. Instead of a sleeping bag, Mr. Hayward enjoyed the comfort of one of the modern sofa beds (modern for then, of course) such as you see on the left in the 1871 ad. Not quite as comfortable as the modern beds of today, which as you can see, are wide and sleek-looking, just right for an airy contemporary bedroom – but better than real camping, wouldn’t you say?

Rock Creek Park (Wikipedia)

Mr. Hayward had some more modern furniture up in his tree house, too: a nice carpet, a wooden chest, a wash-stand, a rocking chair, a looking glass and even an oil stove (for warmth, not to cook on – he ate his meals at an obliging neighbor’s). Over the door he had the American flag and an engraving of General Ulysses S. Grant. He called the place Airy Castle, and stayed there all year round (hence the oil stove, for winter). When the Times man interviewed him, Mr. Hayward had just bought some land nearby, also on Mount Pleasant, and was about to start building Airy Castle 2.0 – this time in an “octagon shape.”

I will try and find out some more about Mr. Hayward and his tree castles and when I do, I’ll come back and tell you some more about him (and them). I like to think of him up in a tree, lounging on his tufted, incongruously fancy Victorian sofa bed, listening to the wind and “the birds singing all around me.”

[Source: "A House in the Tree Tops," New York Times, April 20, 1884.]

*Mount Pleasant is now a neighborhood in Washington, D.C. – it was a “streetcar suburb” back in the 1880s, and it’s also home to Rock Creek Park (not founded until 1890), where I imagine the trees for the tree house were located. The article refers to the slopes of an actual Mount Pleasant, which must be one of the “wooded hills” mentioned in the National Park Service link above.

Cross-the-Road Chicken: A Culinary Riddle

Cross The Road Chicken Life Nov 6 1970

Oh look, the most unfortunately worded ad, and the worst-named dish, of 1970. This ad was in Life, not – you won’t be surprised about this – in Ms. Magazine.

First, let’s insult women:

Tomato aspic on limp lettuce leaves may go down okay with the ladies. But when a man comes home, he wants to eat.

So before you delicate ladies start chewing on aspic and soggy lettuce leaves, tie on a frilly apron and start making some real food for the man of the house. Since men “don’t take hours over a hot green pea like you do,” you ought to use frozen veggies.  Yes, well. I don’t really want to know about men and a hot green pea, do you? I thought not.

And why oh why do they call it Cross-the-Road Chicken? Does Birdseye want us to think about running away from this dish? Are you supposed to tell riddles and jokes while you serve it? And if the chicken is indeed on the other side of the road, how are you even supposed to make this?

NYPL

The road-crossing chicken first turned up in a riddle in 1847 in the New York City magazine The Knickerbocker. There really were chickens running around New York back then – not right downtown, and they weren’t crossing Broadway to see some shows, but people did keep them. In 1867, for example, a person signing themselves W.J.P. wrote a letter to the New York Times complaining of all the “flocks of chickens and herds of goats” running wild in the city streets – and crossing any roads they liked – mainly on the East Side, he wrote, above 20th Street.

Surely this is not the mental image Birdeye had in mind, but it does spring to mind. Springs and runs and generally makes a person not want to have anything to do with this dinner menu.

And what in the world is in the Mason jar down at bottom left? Never mind, I do not really want to know.

A Walk With Miss Hartley

Let me start with you upon your promenade, my friend, and I will soon decide your place upon the list of well-bred ladies.

That’s an invitation that’s impossible to resist, is it not? Especially if we get to peek at this List of Well-Bred Ladies after we come back from the walk. And also at the List of Ill-bred Ladies. (I believe I know which list I’ll be on, given Miss Hartley’s reactions – well, you’ll see).

Miss Florence Hartley (author of The Ladies’ Book of Etiquette, published in 1876) desires me to convey to you exactly how you should Conduct Yourself in the Street. It’s very important, you see, because a lady “is never so entirely at the mercy of critics…as when she is in the street.” Clearly, Florence doesn’t know my old sociology professor. Or some of my relatives. Or those girls in my dorm that year when…Oh, never mind. Let’s just learn how to walk down the street.

Green Walking Dress 1840s NYPL
I did so wear a green dress! (NYPL)

First, your dress. Not that scarlet shawl, with a green dress, I beg and – oh! spare my nerves! you are not so insane as to put on a blue bonnet. That’s right. If you wish to wear the green dress, don a black shawl, and – that white bonnet will do very well.

All right, fine. The green dress it is. And the black shawl and white bonnet. Oh, and two aspirin. I seem to be developing a slight headache. I can’t imagine why. 

What are you doing? Sucking the head of your parasol! Have you not breakfasted? Take that piece of ivory from your mouth!

Sorry, ma’am. You rushed me away from my oatmeal so we could go walking immediately, do you not recall? I do not treat my parasols like lollipops as a rule, you know. I just wanted to see what you would say. 

Why did you not dress before you came out? It is a mark of ill-breeding to draw your gloves on in the street. Now your bonnet-strings, and now – your collar! Pray arrange your dress before you leave the house!

Oh, please let me just put on my gloves, Miss Hartley. I didn’t know it would be so cold out. Just look away for a second while I do. Please.

Walking Dress 1815 NYPL
Parasols up, everyone!  (NYPL)

Do not walk so fast! you are not chasing anybody! Walk slowly, gracefully! Oh, do not drag one foot after the other as if you were fast asleep – set down the foot lightly, but at the same time firmly; now, carry your head up, not so; you hang it down as if you feared to look anyone in the face! Nay, that is the other extreme! Now you look like a drill-major, on parade! So! that is the medium. Erect, yet at the same time, easy and elegant.

Ugh, I’m exhausted. How long will this walk take, anyway? 

Now, my friend, do not swing your arms….Take care! don’t drag your dress through that mud puddle! Worse and worse!

Oh look, I think I’ll just run across the street.I really did enjoy our little walk, but… 

Stop! don’t you see there is a carriage coming?…You can run across? Very lady-like indeed!…Wait until the way is clear and then walk slowly across.

Do not try to raise your skirts. It is better to soil them. (You were very foolish to wear white skirts this muddy day). But you told me to wear the green dress, therefore I am wearing green. Not white. Oh, never mind, I give up. I am going to just hide behind my parasol here. I won’t chew on it, I promise. I just need a little break from - 

Don’t hold your parasol so close to your face, not so low down. [Sighing] Yes, ma’am, I am just raising the parasol now.

NYPL

Uh, oh, here comes a gentleman. With an umbrella. Now what do we do, Miss Hartley, ma’am? Please? Oh yes, yes; I see. I see.  Let me just boil this down a little, though. You are getting hysterical, I fear:

1. If you meet a gentleman in the rain and he has an umbrella, and he will walk you to where you’re going, that is OK. But don’t “deprive” him of the umbrella if he’s going the other way. And if he is a stranger – no no, do not accept the umbrella offers of a stranger! However:

2. While you’re chatting about umbrellas to gentlemen friends – keep walking! “Never stop to speak to a gentleman on the street.” Why? Because it looks shady, that’s why! As if you are hanging around on the street. Ahem. Not ladylike at all. And likewise:

3. Do not “stop to gaze in the shop windows. It looks countrified.” Also it looks as if you are waiting for someone. Very shady indeed.

But wait: there’s more. Don’t cut anyone by not speaking. Unless they are on the other side of the street. Then you do not acknowledge them. Even if they are gentlemen with umbrellas. And remember -

 Fare,yes; hoop skirt, no (NYPL)

Oh, never mind. Look, there’s an omnibus! Thank goodness for that. Goodbye, Miss Hartley, I think I’ll just walk in a ladylike fashion – but quickly, you know – over to the bus and - 

If you wish to take an omnibus or car, see that it is not full. If it is do not get in…It is best to carry change to pay car or omnibus fare, as you keep others waiting whilst the driver is making change, and it is apt to fall into the straw when passing from one hand to another.

Oh, I don’t care what (or who) falls into the straw by now! Thank you very much, Miss Hartley, and farewell. Oh, and by the way: do you not know that it is terribly rude to keep shouting advice in the street?

The Balm of Thousand Flowers

Balm of Thousand Flowers ad, Mormonism by John Hyde 1857How would you like a skin beautifier that you could also use as a toothpaste and a shaving cream? Impossible! you might say. And if I told you that this amazing balm was made out of the essential oils from 1,000 different flowers – you wouldn’t believe it, right?

Right. Because – not surprisingly -  it wasn’t. And it probably wasn’t the best idea to brush your teeth with this balm, either.

Balm of Thousand Flowers was manufactured in New York in the 1850s and was to be used as a breath-freshening and tooth-whitening toothpaste – or as a shaving cream – oh, and if you had any left over you could put it on your face and “beautifying the complexion.”  You could purchase it at W.P. Fetridge’s, opposite the great white marble Stewart’s department store in New York City.

Naturally, you were to beware of imitations. In fact, in 1857 the case of Fetridge vs. Wells was heard in new York. Mr. Fetridge wished the court to issue an injunction against a Mr. Wells for manufacturing “Balm of Ten Thousand Flowers.”* The court denied Fetridge’s case, “on the ground that the dear public had been deceived into thinking the article actually contained the multitudinous balms indicated by the name, when in fact a few essential oils was the nearest approach to the floral wealth represented” [Albany Law Journal (1887, p. 279)]. A Dr. Fontaine made Balm of Thousand Flowers, too, though he appears not to have been dragged into court by Mr. Fetridge.

Indeed, said Dr. A.W. Chase of Ann Arbor, Michigan. No need to go all the way to New York! He knew just how to make the famous Balm of Thousand Flowers. You won’t be surprised to learn (as the New York courts in 1857 knew, too) that you did not need a thousand flowers to do so, either. And so will you, very soon, because I am going to give you his recipe. Of course, once you see the recipe, you most likely will not want to make or use the stuff. But you will know it, all the same.

Dr. A.W. Chase was the author of Dr. Chase’s Recipes for Everybody, which went through a lot of editions (mine is the 1865 edition). He stuffed his book full of recipes for everything from medicines to paints to cakes and pies to household cleansers. And if you had horses around, he could tell you how to cure them of whatever ailed them.

This is Dr. Chase’s recipe for Balm of Thousand Flowers:

Deodorized alcohol 1 pt.; nice white bar-soap 4 oz.; shave the soap when put in; stand in a warm place until dissolved; then add oil of citronella 1 dr.; and oils of neroli [bitter orange]and rosemary, of each 1/2 dr. It is recommended as a general perfume; but it is more particularly valuable to put a little of it into warm water, with which to cleanse the teeth. [Dr. Pierce's Recipes for Everybody, 1865, p. 280]

A writer in 1914 called Balm of Thousand Flowers “a cosmetic which in spite of its high sounding name was a liquid soap consisting of grease and lye.” Not very ethereal – or safe -  at all. I think I’ll stick to Colgate, thanks.

*See here for an 1861 advertisement for Imperial Rose Balm, which is said to contain “Balm of Ten Thousand Flowers.”

No Chignons in the Ice Cream, Please

NYPL Summer Ball Dress 1872
Ball dress, 1872 NYPL Digital Gallery

May I introduce Miss Florence Hartley? She is the author of The Ladies’ Book of Etiquette and Manual of Politeness which was published in 1876. But her – well, Miss Hartley, I must be honest, though polite of course – her very saucy way of admonishing and telling us what to do is really amusing. On another occasion, I will have to tell you what she says about how to dress to go out walking, it is quite rude!  In general, really, her advice is sometimes rather…well – and I mean this very respectfully, Miss Hartley -  challenging.

Take, for instance, some of her rules for how to behave at a ball (we are watching Pride and Prejudice again just now and so ballrooms are much in my mind). Miss Hartley’s admonishments are in italics:

Avoid confidential conversation in a ball room. It is out of season, and in excessively bad taste.

But don’t be too loud either, that’s just vulgar…

Dance as others do. It has a very absurd look to take every step with dancing school accuracy, and your partner will be the first one to notice it. 

In other words, don’t be too good at dancing. On the other hand, you’re not supposed to be bad at it either. Right?

Once you stop dancing and think about refreshments (yum, refreshments!) things can take a decided turn for the (even) worse:

Never go into the supper-room with the same gentleman twice. You may go more than once, if you wish for an ice or glass of water (surely no lady wants two or three suppers), but do not tax the same gentleman more than once, even if he invites you after each dance.

I suspect that he may want two suppers, and is thinking that you are all kinds of rude for not just coming along. And what if you really did want seconds? I guess you could go hunting for snacks with some other guy. But then the servants in the supper room would all be like: oh, her again. And that would not do. I guess the most polite thing to do is to make sure you pack a few horehound drops in your reticule.

Snack time is not the trickiest part of a ball, though. Badly placed hairpins are:

Be very careful, when dressing for a ball, that the hair is firmly fastened, and the coiffure properly adjusted. Nothing is more annoying than to have the hair loosen or the head-dress fall off in a crowded ball room.

Well, isn’t that the truth? Especially if you’re trying to get back into the supper room for a little dessert. I think that the very definition of annoying is having your chignon fall off and land in the middle of the ice cream.

Tureen Tricks

Sealtest Kitchens back of book 1954Back when this blog was over at WordPress, this picture was my first header image. It’s taken from the back of a 1954 cookbook called 641 Tested Recipes From the Sealtest Kitchens, and the uniformed ladies are helping the blonde Hyacinth Bucket (dressed for her kitchen work in pearls and print dress) make some of those 641 recipes.

How they hit on the magic number 641 will remain a mystery forever. But I suspect that it involves normal recipes that you throw Sealtest dairy products at. Then you see what happens, and give the final product a name like Lazy Day Salad Loaf (a terrible oblong involving cottage cheese, sour cream, ketchup and gelatin).

The test kitchens were “far more than a laboratory. They are actually a series of kitchen units duplicating conditions as found in the modern American home.” Yes, right down to the cabinet-topping murals of what look like carrots emerging from a badly-tilled vegetable patch. And who doesn’t get dressed up in a nurse’s uniform to cook up a few tricks in a tureen?

Wellington's Tureen Life Dec 29 1952Several of the 641 Tested Recipes are in the sub-category known (only to Sealtest) as Tureen Tricks. These involve mixing cans of soup together with some Sealtest milk in a soup tureen and seeing what you get. The word “tureen” comes from the French “terrine,” an earthenware dish. It came to mean a large, deep serving dish with a lid, usually used for soups or stews. They could be quite decorative and were meant to sit on the table and look fancy.

And when (not if: when) you run out of milk, you can try something called Surprise Tomato Soup. To execute this culinary trick, you heat up tomato soup and then throw in a lot of Sealtest cottage cheese. You have to be careful or else it will curdle. Sounds great, doesn’t it?

The tureen in the photo belonged to the Duke of Wellington (picture from Life, Dec. 29, 1952). No tomato surprises in that tureen – the Duke of Wellington would not be pleased. At all.