Pecan Cookies And Sinks

And the connection between the pecan cookies and the sinks, is…?

- It is apparently National Pecan Cookie Day (it is also National Banana Day, which I am celebrating over on my other blog. Cueing the shameless plug!)

- I found a good recipe in Mabel Claire’s 1932 opus, The World’s Modern Cookbook.

- Mabel is a little bit obsessed with showing, via black and white photographs, just what you need to have a perfect kitchen, the right supplies to cook with, and seven thousand kinds of mops to clean up afterwards with. She does not, however, show a picture of delicious cookies, pecan or otherwise.

- So we will have to use our imaginations – or else come up with some of these cookies. To wit:


3 egg whites
1 cup powdered sugar
3 Tb flour
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
3 drops vanilla

Beat the egg whites stiff. Add the softed powderred sugar gradually. Fold in the flour. Add the vanilla and chopped nuts. Drop in spoonsful on a buttered cookie sheet or pans. Bake 15 minutes in a moderate oven (350 degrees) until a delicate brown. makes 3 dozen macaroons.

There you go!

I know, I know – I haven’t done that many recipes lately, and as for the retro cookbooks…same thing. I actually prefer baking recipes and strange recipes (also, of course, strange baking recipes – which is why I adore the Pillsbury Bake Off series).

Also I really, really love retro ads. You may have noticed! New things to come though – not sure what, yet. Stay tuned! Oh, and have a good rest of the weekend – I’ll see you tomorrow! I’m off to think of something good to post then…

The Potato Volcano

IMG_0004 The Potato Volcano

Let’s all say that five times fast!

That sure was fun…wasn’t it? Oh, well. Never mind – making and eating the Potato Volcano will be even more fun.

This is from a 1937 home economics text called Foods and Homemaking, by Carlotta C. Greer (who was the Head of the Department of Home Economics at John Hay High School in Cleveland, Ohio, in case you are interested).

It is an “interesting dish” all right: take a pile of mashed potatoes and mush them down in the middle. Then beat up an egg with a teaspoon of water and pour it into the crater. Then you bake the whole thing at 500 degrees until “the points of the potato are browned.” Fill ‘er up with Welsh Rabbit (cheese sauce) and decorate as follows:

When you have completed this interesting dish, the Welsh rabbit will suggest the lava of a volcano; the pimiento, fiery rocks; the sprigs of parsley, the shrubs that dare to grow at the base of this turbulent mountain.

This is very nearly poetry – epic poetry! The shrubs that dare to grow at the base of this turbulent mountain!

I didn’t know that shrubs did dare to do that. Or anything, really. Shrubs are pretty tame and suburban. You won’t see the Knights Who Say Ni doing their landscaping anywhere near a volcano.

Or a potato.

Another Heinz Culinary Triumph

IMG_0001 Heinz cookbook ca 1939 IMG_0002 Heinz cookbook ca 1939

The people at H.J. Heinz in the 1930s, they were poets. Listen to this:

“A salad! – lovely name!…The very word refreshes – like suddenly coming upon a mountain spring, sweet and clear and cool. Dip deep into its beauty. Find for yourself the wonders of vegetables, fruits, golden oils and condiments when combined with an understanding touch.”

Somebody overdid a little on the martinis at lunchtime, methinks.

Anyway, they also promise that every meal can be a culinary triumph if you use their recipes. Well, I have one here that utilizes the wonders of of the butter of peanuts, and the golden beauty of the banana. Get ready for a culinary triumph beyond compare! -


1 medium jar Heinz Peanut Butter

For immediate use, select fruit which is firm but with the skin well speckled with brown. For cooking, or if fruit is to be kept on hand for several days, choose those with an all yellow skin. Bananas should never be placed in the refrigerator.

For this salad, peel the bananas and cut in halves lengthwise. Spread one half of the banana with a generous layer of the Panut Butter and cover with the other half of the banana. Place the whole banana in a bed of crisp lettuce and garnish with a spoonful of Mayonnaise.

“Any substitution of ingredients will alter the flavour of the salad!” they caution at the bottom of the page. Like if you had an apple and peanut butter. Or a banana and honey. Or maybe just a nice green salad with cucumbers and things. I guess that would alter the flavor – or flavour, as this is a Canadian Heinz cookbook.

Having said all that, leaving out the mayonnaise would be a good idea.

Monkey Glands and Whiz-Bangs: Some 1930s Cocktails

IMG jimmy ciro's ca 1930

This little book is caled Cocktails by Jimmy Late of Ciro’s London, and this site says that the book was first published in the US circa 1930. The Ciro’s in Hollywood opened in 1939, was a celebrity favorite in the 1940s and 1950s,and the Byrds liked it too, as they played there in 1964. By that time the LA Ciro’s was a rock club.

Of course, Prohibition in the US lasted from 1920 until 1933, so Jimmy would have been assuming that you either had your own speakeasy, or that you lived up in Canada, or that you had some secret source of liquor.

Jimmy recommends that you shake your cocktails as long as you possibly can and then after you have exhausted yourself in this aerobic fashion, to slug them down right away: “All cocktails are at their best immediately after making and shuld be taken as soon as possible.” Especially if the police were at the speakeasy door!

The Preface writer had probably had a cocktail or two before sitting down at the typewriter. You can just hear him chortling at his own jokes, of which there are nearly as many as cocktail recipes in the book.  He writes that this book will be as useful as “the family cook-book” because it will ensure that “even a child of five may prepare his (or her) favorite beverage without the necessity of running to ask daddy ‘Please, what is a jigger?’”

The Preface also says that you can certainly use a bathtub to mix your drinks if you like – or a teaspoon, if you are more moderate. Just use Jimmy’s scientific ratios and “the result will save you the endless bother of taking trips to Europe.” Haw haw!

Jimmy liked grenadine (orange-flavored) and orgeat (almond-flavored) syrups but he also enjoyed a little gum syrup. You could get all of them “at al first-class grocery and provision stores.” As long as they didn’t ask what you were doing with all the drinks ingredients! Also, as we puzzle over the subtle difference between groceries and provisions, we may also wonder what is gum syrup. Could it possibly contain – gum? Well, gum arabic, originally, which gave it a creamy feel, but generally gum syrup was a simple sugar/water or sugar/water/egg white concoction. Here is a link to a recipe for it.

There are a lot of cocktails crammed into this small book, many with amusing names. And there are some strange toasts at the back, covering everything from bad puns to condescension to women.

Ink Street: 1 part Irish Whisky,1 part Orange Juice, 1 part Lemon Juice.

Monkey’s Gland: 1 part Dry Gin, 1 part Orange Juice, 1 dash Absinthe per cocktail, Grenadine to taste.

Whiz-Bang: 2 parts Scotch Whisky,  1 part French Vermouth, 2 dashes Absinthe per cocktail, 2 dashes Orange Bitters per cocktail, Grenadine to taste. Squeeze a piece of lemon peel on top.

And after you have made your Whiz-Bangs and Monkey Glands, in between shaking and drinking them (and remember, you do not have much time to mess around here!) you can whip off a quick little toast, such as:

“Hips that touch liquor will never fall down.” [Huh?]

“In through the teeth/Over the tongue/Look out, stomach/Here I come.”

“Here’s to you, my dear, and to the dear who’s not here, my dear
but if the dear who’s not here, my dear, were here, my dear,
I’d not be drinking to you dear, that’s clear.”

I would most definitely need a drink after the last toast, I fear.

Cox’s Gelatine Recipes, 1930

IMG cox gelatine 1930

I hadn’t known that there was any other kind of gelatin except Knox, but here’s its rhyming rival, Cox, “used by good housewives since 1845.” Knox gelatin came along in 1896, so it was the latecomer.

There is a special section for “Recipes for Use with Mechanical Refrigerators,” but if you still had an icebox, that was all right too, you just couldn’t make Frozen Apple Cream or Maple Fig Mousse.

I have got two recipes for you – a strange one, because those are fun, and a really good one – those are also fun, plus you might even want to make those kind.

I doubt that you will want to fill your sandwiches with the following, however:

Mint Filling For Sandwiches1 tablespoon Cox’s Gelatine
4 tablespoons cold water
25 fresh mint leaves
4 tablesppons boiling water
1/8 teaspoon salt
Few drops green color
1 cup thick cream, whipped
2 tablespoons sugar
Unbuttered bread or crackers
Mix Gelatine with cold water. Cut mint leaves into small pieces, put them into a cup and add boiling water. Cover and soak thirty minutes, strain, pressing hard. Dissolve Gelatine over fire, add sugar, mint, water, salt, color, and cool. Fold in cream and turn into a shallow wet mold. When firm, turn out carefully, cut in thin slices and put between bread or crackers.

Not that it would be awful, just a little bit odd. But I would hold out for the Grape Fruit Lozenges, personally. I love the word ‘lozenge’ – despite its cough-droppy association. According to Wikipedia the word lozenge has been used in a medical context, i.e. the throat lozenge, since about 1530. The word comes from the French word for rhombus, “losange.”

Grape Fruit Lozenges

1 tablespoon Cox’s Gelatine
1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
8 tablespoons cold water
1/2 tablespoon corn or golden syrup
4 tablespoons grape fruit juice
Yellow color
Put one-half cup of the confectioner’s sugar and four tablespoonfuls of cold water into a saucepan; when dissolved, add corn syup, bring to the 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.

Wouldn’t this be lovely with pink grapefruit juice (and maybe a bit more fruit juice and less water), and tinted pink?

The Cracker Box

IMG universal cookbook

Here’s something fun to do on a rainy day, or any time you have too much time on your hands. This is from The Universal Cookbook (1938), “issued by the Universal Life Assurance and Annuity Company” of Winnipeg, Manitoba. It was written for them by Mrs. Olive Kyle, who graduated from the Fannie Farmer Cooking School in Boston. If you wrote a letter to Mrs. Kyle in care of the Universal, they would see that she got it and give it her “prompt attention,” which I think is quite sweet.

Cracker Boxes For Salad

Spread narrow salted crackers with creamed butter, sprinkle with paprika. Place in cool oven until butter is absorbed. Dip ends of crackers in a syrup made of 2/3 cup sugar and 1/3 cup water boiled to crack stage. Fasten three crackers together to form box, place on lettuce covered plate. Turn salad into box. I would definitely have to write to Mrs. Kyle about this one. I don’t think she could give me prompt enough attention though – she lost me with the fastening three crackers together with sugar syrup. Maybe we had better ask Fannie Farmer, too.

Lady Goldenglow Cake

Today’s offering is inspired by The Old Foodie who has declared this week to be Retro Cake week, and has posted all sorts of marvellous old cake recipes. Culinary Types has got a gorgeous Gum Drop Cake post up, and I said to myself: that is just the sort of thing I would like to do!

This recipe is from a book called Any One Can Bake, “Compiled by the Educational Department of the Royal Baking Powder Co., 100 East 42nd St., New York City” in 1933. There are step by step black-and-white photos to show you how to mix stuff in bowls, and lovely colored drawings of the finished products.

They say in the introduction that:

It is our hope that this book may be taken into a quiet corner for sincere reading. It should prove as interesting as the newest romance because what is more fascinating than the secret of producing unusual dishes and serving them daintily and appropriately?

Well, quite.

Lady Goldenglow Cake

1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
grated rind of 1/2 orange
1 egg and 1 yolk
2 1/2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
4 tsps Royal Baking Powder
1 cup milk
1 1/2 squares (1 1/2 oz.) chocolate, melted

Cream shortening, add sugar and orange rind. Add beaten egg yolks. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt and add alternately with the milk; lastly fold in one beaten egg white. Divide batter into two parts. To one part add the melted chocolate. Put by tablespoonfuls alternating dark and light batter, into three greased and floured layer cake pans. Bake in moderate oven 375 F, twenty minutes.

Orange Chocolate Icing

3 Tb melted butter
3 cups confectioner’s sugar (powdered will not give as good results)
2 Tb orange juice
grated rind of 1/2 orange and pulp of one orange
1 egg white
3 squares (3 oz.) chocolate

Put butter, sugar, orange juice and rind into bowl. Cut pulp from orange, removing skin and seeds, and add. Beat all together until smooth. Fold in beaten egg white. Spread this icing on layer used for top of cake. While icing is soft sprinkle with unsweetened chocolate shaved in fine pieces with sharp knife (use one-half sqaure). To remaining icing add 2 1/2 squares (2 1/2 oz.) unsweetened chocolate which has been melted. Spread this thickly between layers and on sides of cake.

Makes one three-layer cake (nine-inch pans).

Dark chocolate and orange are a natural match, aren’t they? This sounds really good if you like things like Terry’s Orange. Or Baskin-Robbins Mandarin-Chocolate Ice (don’t know if they still make this, I remember it in the seventies). And how can you resist a cake with such a charming name?

Macaroons Made Easy

Some of my favorite cookbooks are the promotional ones that various companies put out (and they still do, especially for cookies, around Christmas) to get the Little Woman to buy that brand of lard or spices or to use Jello in some revolting casserole (I am making that up, of course – unless I find evidence to the contrary, in which case I will let you know).

Here are a few nuggets from a 1938 booklet called “Baking Made Easy” by the folks at the Robin Hood Flour Mills (Ltd), who had mills all across Canada. Still do, in fact I use their flour for baking myself, although that in itself does not make the baking any easier. Here’s a link to their website. They appear to have been bought by Smucker’s who make all that jam and jelly (guess it sort of goes with the bread, now they just need peanut butter). They started in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan in 1909. And they count among their assets a pickle plant, which pleases me for some reason. I like pickles. Though not with bread and jam.

Anyway, the “Baking Made Easy” book is full of wonders. There is a black and silver label on the inside front cover, proclaiming that it “is not an ordinary advertising Cook Book” (could have fooled me!) but “a specially prepared baking guide” with photos of people making the stuff. In other words – an ordinary advertising Cook Book, with black and white snapshots of disembodied hands mixing up stuff in bowls.

Most of the recipes are what you would expect – bread, pie, popovers, a few thousand sponge cakes. But the Oat Macaroons looked a little more promising, and here they are:

Oat Macaroons

Cream 1/2 cup of butter and add 1 cup of sugar. Cream until light. This will be in bowl #1.

In a second bowl beat 2 eggs until light and add to the butter-sugar mixture. Then add 2 tsp vanilla.

In yet another bowl! combine 1 cup of you-know-who’s flour, it cannot be any other kind, with 1/2 tsp salt and 2 tsp baking powder. Then add to first mixture.

Finally add 2 cups of oats made by the you-know-who’s of the flour, and then drop teaspoonfuls of this, an inch apart, on greased cookie sheets.

You can sprinkle them with chopped nuts or coconut but I would leave them alone, personally.

Bake at 350 for 12 to 15 minutes and, well – that’s it, really.

Note: Obviously I didn’t copy the recipe out word for word. I am still boning up on the whole copyright issue, though I gather from the helpful articles on this in Wikipedia that most stuff pre-1964 is fine provided they did not reapply in the last 28 years for a copyright renewal. And I think we’re safe here but I am rephrasing here anyway.

I am going to stick to pre-1964 cooking and household books and ephemera for now, much as it pains me to leave out my beloved Holiday Inn Cookbook and the Alice’s Restaurant Cookbook (by Alice, natch) but – we’ll see. And if anyone knows more, please let me know!

And as I get on with the scanning (am complete utter novice) will add in all the groovy photos and kitschy line drawings. For now we will admire the photo of macaroons I got from Wikimedia Commons, ignoring the chocolate chips and coconut, and imagining all that lovely Robin Hood oatmeal (and flour!) in its place.