Puffy Omelet from the Culinary Arts Institute (1950)

You’ve probably never heard of the Culinary Arts Institute, but in the 1940s they produced an endless stream of single-topic cookery pamphlets, like this one:

ImageNot a lot of information about the CAI or its Director (and editor of the booklets), Ruth Berolzheimer, is available.  Back in 2008, though, a Chicago reporter did some digging and learned a bit about the company, its history, and Ms. Berolzheimer.  (He also provided a link to some other documentation over here.)

On these pamphlets, the CAI’s motto was “One of America’s foremost organizations devoted to the science of Better Cookery.”  That puts it squarely in the home economics trend of the period, and as far as CAI was concerned, there were hundreds of ways to cook anything.

I have quite a few of these pamphlets now but, I confess, have not used them very much, for one reason or another.  Possibly that’s because, among things that look reasonable, they also include things like, well, this one:

Eggs in Hiding

1 tablespoon butter
1 can (1-1/4 cups) condensed tomato soup
1/2 pound American cheese, diced
6 hard-cooked eggs
1 cup cereal flakes, crushed

Heat butter and soup in top of double boiler.  Add cheese and cook until melted, stirring constantly.  Arrange halves of hard-cooked eggs (cut lengthwise) in buttered baking dish.  Pour cheese mixture over the eggs.  Sprinkle with cereal flakes.  Brown under boiler.  Serves 6.

I don’t think I’ll be trying that one any time soon.

It did, though contain a worthwhile-looking variation on the basic omelet, which we gave a try last week.

Puffy Omelet

6 eggs, separated
6 tablespoons hot water
3/4 teaspoon salt
Dash pepper
1-1/2 tablespoons butter or other fat

Beat egg whites until stiff.  Beat yolks until thick and lemon colored, beat hot water [I used hot tap water] into them and add salt and pepper.  Fold yolks and stiffly beaten egg whites together.  Melt butter in omelet pan, grease bottom and sides of pan.  Turn egg mixture into pan, cover and cook over low heat until it is puffy and a light brown underneath, then place in a moderate oven (350°F) for 10 to 15 minutes [it took a LOT less time than this] or until top is dry.  Touch the top of the omelet lightly with the finder and if the egg does not stick to the finger the omelet is done.  Do not overcook it or it will shrink and be tough.  Loosen the edges of the omelet, cut it through the center, slip a spatula or flexible knife under the side next to handle of pan, fold 1/2 over the other press lightly to make it stay in place, slip onto a hot plate and serve at once.  Serves 6.

Basically, it’s an omelet with two cooking steps instead of one.  I was quite interested to learn that somehow, my husband had never before observed the magical nature of stiffly beaten egg whites.  He was suitably impressed.

Since we cook a lot in cast-iron pans, putting the pan into the oven was straightforward.  We tried doing it in two batches, though, and discovered that the mixture has a definite tendency to start separating, so although I found I could gently fold the mixture back together again, a one-batch approach is probably best.  I rather doubt it would all fit in a standard omelet pan, though; we plan to use the big frying pan next time we make this.

The recipe actually worked quite well, though it needs fairly strong flavoring with salt and spices, or a good savory filling, because by itself the egg mixture is rather bland, like trying to eat a cloud.  But the puffiness was the point, and with cheddar cheese folded in and some paprika on top it was excellent.

Not something I’d do every day, and with all the egg beating involved it’s more of a two-person job than your typical omelet.  Definitely a success.

Image

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Two New Cookery Books for the Collection

Well, so much for regular posts … but I do have a new computer and managed to fix the scanner!

ImageBetty Crocker Cook Book of All-Purpose Baking (1942) was a purchase from the Forgotten Bookmarks guy’s “Book Per Diem” site.  It originally cost 25 cents and it’s lovely, with that gold-toned cover, color and black-and-white illustrations, ooh, and a test kitchen picture!  I love those.

Image

Top-of-the-line kitchen in 1942!  Plaid curtains!  I love the way the oven/stove alcove has a mantelpiece.

Anyway, it’s an excellent basic cook book.  It even repeats the bread-shaping instructions that work so well.  But I needed a frosting for a cake I made, so I tried one of its recipes.

 Fluffy White Icing

3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
2 egg whites
1 tsp. vanilla

After assembling utensils and ingredients and separating out egg whites, measure sugar, corn syrup or cream of tarter and water into saucepan and mix thoroughly.  Boil slowly without stirring until mixture spins a 6 to 8-inch thread when a little is dropped from spoon held high above saucepan … or until, when tested with a thermometer, temperature registers 238 to 242°.  Keep pan covered first 3 minutes of cooking to prevent crystals forming on sides of pan.  [A really good hint I never saw before.]

While syrup is cooking, beat egg whites until stiff enough to hold a point when beater is pulled out of them.  Pour hot syrup very slowly in a thin stream into stiffly beaten egg whites … beating constantly with rotary beater [or, y'know, a stand mixer!] until mixture is too stiff to manage with beater.  If working alone, pour only a bit of syrup, then beat vigorously – and continue thus.

Add flavoring, and continue beating with spoon until mixture is very fluffy and will hold its shape when piled up in ridges.  Be sure the icing is cool before adding fruits, nuts, etc.  (If icing does not set so that it will stay on the cake, add 2 to 3 tbsp. confectioners’ sugar, a tbsp. at a time, until mixture is stiff enough.)

So, this went pretty well except I should’ve used a smaller saucepan – it was really hard to get a good reading when the pan contents were so thin, and I think I overcooked it a bit.  I wound up with a thin thread of sticky hard candy on my mixer’s beater!  But the rest of the mixture went in okay, and for a few minutes I actually had really good frosting.  Then it cooled a bit too much or something, and didn’t go on the cake quite as smoothly.  However, it came out exactly like store-bought cake frosting!  Which is not so good, actually, since that means it was frothy but not all that sweet or flavorful.  Still, it represents progress in my frosting-making efforts.

Next up is a flea market find, the 1962 community cook book from the Rosary Altar Society of the Sacred Heart Church:

sacredh

I wish I knew where this church is – I’m almost certain that I’ve seen that building in person in Connecticut somewhere, but Catholic Churches aren’t really my thing as a rule.

I paid a dollar for it (and was amused by the vendor’s spiel about how generous he was being to accept my offer) and was actually going to donate it since 1962 is past my usual collection date, but I’ve read through most of it and I can’t let it go.  It’s not pretty to look at (consider the hand-drawn cover!), but it’s full of weird and interesting recipes.  Mostly baked goods, actually, with a small section of “Main Meals” and another of “Lenten Meals” (the rest being breads, cakes, pies, cookies, and miscellaneous).

I don’t know how many pages it is, because it doesn’t have page numbers.  Here’s what it looks like inside:

sacredh0001Hand-typed on an actual typewriter, and then probably turned over to a local printer to be copied (mimeographed?) and bound.  I haven’t tried any of the recipes yet, but that “Cranberry-Fluff Pie” holds me fascinated.  Could it possibly taste good, or at least be worth all the trouble of making it?  And who would come up with such a thing in the first place?

Posted in vintage cookbooks, vintage cooking | 2 Comments

Meta Makes Me Sift Bread Crumbs

You probably don’t recall my friend Meta (http://historylive.wordpress.com/2012/01/10/meet-my-new-friend-meta/), but I still have the two-volume cookbook.  A month or so ago I decided to make dinner from some version of her menus (I rarely have the ingredients on hand to follow one exactly), and wound up with this for dessert:

Cocoa Bread Pudding

1-1/2 cups evaporated milk
2-1/2 cups milk
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups sifted dry bread crumbs
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
Cream

Combine evaporated milk and plain milk in a saucepan, add butter and head to scalding.  Pour over bread crumbs, stir well and set aside.  Mix sugar and cocoa thoroughly and add to beaten egg; add remaining ingredients, continuing to beat until well mixed.  Combine thoroughly with milk and crumb mixture, and pour into buttered shallow 6-cup baking dish.  Bake in a moderate oven (350 F.) for 45 minutes, or until custard tests done (see above).  Serve hot or cold with cream.  6 to 8 servings.

So, there I was, pressing the torn-up heels of my home-made bread through my flour sifter and wondering what I’d gotten into.  I really should have done the crumb-sifting in the early afternoon, instead of in the middle of the rest of dinner prep.  But I have to admit, the results were remarkable: a light, fluffy substance that isn’t quite like anything else in my cooking experience.

After all that, I’d like to say that the results were amazing, but in fact they were only quite tasty.  I think the bread crumbs needed to be drier, I should’ve scalded the milk a little longer, and using lactose-free milk tends to make custards a bit thinner anyway.  I also think that to make it really rich the way I think of pudding, it would need to be made with cream instead of evaporated milk.  Instead it was light and custardy and chocolatey – very nice, but not something to go into raptures over.

On the other hand, I may make it again, some time when I have dry bread and the spare time.  As I said, tasty, and certainly worth the effort.

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What do you need to form a fire company (in 1837)?

Today was lovely, featuring a romp through several boxes of nineteenth-century Connecticut legislative records and lunch with colleagues (only one of whom was the one I’m married to).

The answer to the question posed in the title has several parts.  First, you needed permission from the General Assembly to establish a fire company.  I suppose a simple voluntary association could also have been workable, but members of fire companies got tax breaks, and to get tax breaks you had to be a member of a properly registered and incorporated fire company.

So actually, first you had to convince the General Assembly that there was a need for the fire company, because in those days corporations were formed by special acts of the General Assembly and they wanted to know that there was an actual need, serving the public good, for a corporation to be formed.

(My, how times have changed, eh?)

So in 1837 a number of residents of the unincorporated village of Mystic, which straddled both the Mystic River and the boundaries between the towns of Stonington and Groton, informed the General Assembly that they had

two large buildings for manufacturing purposes one Bank six Merchants stores about sixty dwelling houses and several mechanicks shops

and that was enough to convince the General Assembly that yes, Mystic should have an official fire company that could buy a fire engine and be organized to try to put out fires, should they occur.

This was not the only place that sought to set up a fire company in the papers I looked at today, but I think it was the smallest.  Possibly an interesting topic to look into someday.

Mystic, incidentally, is still there – except it’s now called “Old Mystic.”  The area that’s now called “Mystic” is considerably south of where the old firehouse once stood (the location is now a park) (see Kathleen Greenhalgh’s A History of Old Mystic, 1600-1999 (self-published in 1999)).  Neither place, as it turned out, ever grew large enough to break away from their surrounding towns and achieve separate town or city status, though the present Mystic does have a nice little cluster of late nineteenth and early twentieth century buildings.  Old Mystic, in contrast, is very rural in appearance – possibly more so than it was back in 1837.

And of course, neither place should be confused with Mystic Seaport (http://www.mysticseaport.org/), which is an excellent museum located between the two historic villages, on the Stonington (east) side.  Great place, all of it.

Posted in Connecticut, corporations, historical geography, research miscellanea | 1 Comment

Thanksgiving Report, 2012

I’m baaaack!  Six months is a long break, but I’m hoping to be a bit more active in the coming year.  I’ll try to at least post a few things about my occasional cooking adventures, some of them well after the fact.

So, for Thanksgiving this year I went with the proposed menu from “Selected Recipes and Menus” by Marian Jane Parker (see http://historylive.wordpress.com/2012/05/14/calumet-baking-powder/ and I sure hope I eventually figure out how they broke the link-insertion tool). Probably published some time in the 1920s, it goes like this:

Assorted Canapes
Turkey with Chestnut Stuffing and Giblet Gravy
Baked Onions       Baked Squash
Caramel Sweet Potatoes          Mashed Potatoes
Molded Cranberry Jelly    Celery    Olives
Orange Delight Salad
Hot Baking Powder Biscuits
Pumpkin Pie
Caramel Nut Cake
Coffee
Salted Nuts       Bonbons

In other words, a huge feast meant for a large crowd, when I was expecting a whole seven people.  But one thing I learned from last year is that controlling portions is important – guests should be encouraged to take small amounts of each dish so as not to stuff themselves prematurely.

Actually, the guests learned that from last year anyway.  It’s important to have well-trained dinner guests.

So, “Assorted Canapes” meant I had to pick some.  Two, since it’s a small crowd.  The booklet offered

Sardine Canapes

Spread sardines on slices of bread, dress with lemon juice, and garnish with rings of gherkin pickles and stuffed olives.  Bread does not need to be buttered.  A variation is to toast sardines slightly before or after spreading on bread.  With toasted sardines riced hard cooked egg may be used as a garnish.

Sardines.  I hadn’t looked a sardine in the face since a hiking trip back when I was a teenager.  I remembered liking them, but I was burning a lot of calories on that trip, so I wasn’t sure that was a useful assessment.

Nonetheless, I got a tin of sardines and spread them on rounds of fresh white bread (cut out with a biscuit cutter), garnishing them as directed except that I forgot about the lemon juice.  My dad and I were the only ones willing to try them, which was a shame: sardines are really quite tasty.

The other canapé was intended to be a reprise of one I did last year, Water Cress Sandwiches – basically egg salad with watercress in it.  Unfortunately, the grocery store did not have any watercress on hand, so it wound up being basic egg salad sandwiches (again on the rounds of white bread).  These met with more general approval from the guests.

The Chestnut Stuffing recipe I had to get from another cookbook.  I’d never eaten chestnuts before, and I was amazed by two things: how incredibly difficult they are to shell, and how sweet they are.  It’s no wonder the Victorians considered roasted chestnuts a treat!  At any rate, the stuffing just involved mashing the boiled chestnuts and adding butter, cracker crumbs, salt and pepper, and some hot lactose-free milk (originally cream).  Everybody agreed it was tasty, but (conservative tastes winning out) seemed to prefer my traditional apple-raisin-bread stuffing (cooked in the turkey on top of the chestnut mix, and thriftily using the remains of the bread from making the sandwich rounds).

Once again, I didn’t get to the Giblet Sauce.  There just never seems to be enough time for fancy gravy efforts; we wound up with my husband’s usual flour gravy.

Baked Onions I also had to find in another book.  It was a bit involved, requiring beef stock (which I made the day before) and cooking the onions once in boiling water and then again in a casserole with the stock, finally using the juice to make a gravy to put over them.  These went over quite well, but I think the creamed onions I made last year were tastier.

Baked Squash used a recipe from the same book as the baked onions, and used the really simple method of buttering the portions and sticking them in the oven for a while.  I used an acorn squash because I like those, but it came out a bit stringy.  I may have cooked them too long.

Caramel Sweet Potatoes turned out to be whipped sweet potatoes that my mom brought, saving me some precious time.

Mashed Potatoes were made by my husband according to the America’s Test Kitchen method of steaming the potatoes and then whipping them in the mixer.  Yum.

Molded Cranberry Jelly

1 qt. cranberries
1 c. water
2 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. clove
3/4 tsp. cinnamon

Place cranberries, water, sugar, cinnamon and clove in a sauce pan.  Cover and cook slowly until all the berries burst open.  Press through a sieve.  Put into individual molds which have been dipped in cold water.  Chill.  Turn out onto small individual plates and garnish with a bit of parsley.

This required some math to deal with the 12 ounces of cranberries that come in a package, rather than 1 quart.  The adjustments worked out to 3/4 c. sugar, 1/3 c. water, 1/8 tsp. cloves, and 1/4 tsp. cinnamon (and you thought you’d never need to calculate fractions after grade school!!).

Also?  This was delicious.  Even though I wasn’t able to actually unmold the jelly – I wound up just handing the molds around, one between every two plates or so.  So very tasty.  My mouth is watering just remembering it.

Celery and Olives – I never seem to get around to bothering with these.  Really, with the amount of food everybody was dealing with it’s hard to imagine anyone having room!  … but I think these menus assume a pause of some length between courses, to be filled with some nibbling.  It never seems to work out that way when I cook, though.

Orange Delight Salad

Peel oranges and remove all the white membrane.  Separate into sections, removing skin and keeping sections whole.  Peel bananas and cut into quarters lengthwise, then cut in quarters in same length pieces as orange sections.  Put the orange and banana into French dressing and let stand 1/2 hour.  Drain and arrange three sections of orange and three alternating pieces of banana to form a flower on crisp lettuce leaves.  In the center put a generous tablespoonful of pineapple cream dressing made by mixing 1 cup mayonnaise dressing with 1/2 cup whipped cream and 2/3 cup grated pineapple, well drained.

I was interested to try this, though not terribly hopeful since French dressing of the time involved some mix of paprika, cayenne, mustard, garlic, and vinegar (plus salad oil).  Unfortunately – or perhaps fortunately! – I forgot to buy the bananas several days in advance, so the ones I had around were just not going to be ripe enough to eat.  I made a generic fruit salad instead.  That was just fine (my secret is to add a generous dash of nutmeg and let it stand overnight if possible).

Does anybody need a can of crushed pineapple?  There’s still one lurking in my pantry.  *sigh*

Hot Baking Powder Biscuits

2 c. sifted flour
2 level tsp. Calumet Baking Powder [needed 4]
1/2 level tsp. salt
2 tbs. shortening
3/4 c. milk

Sift flour, baking powder, and salt three times.  Rub the shortening in with a fork or the tips of the fingers.  Add milk and mix lightly to a dough.  Turn on a well-floured board and roll or pat into 1 inch thickness.  Cut and bake in a hot oven (450 degrees F.) 12 to 15 minutes.

This recipe wasn’t noticeably superior (or inferior) to my usual drop-biscuit version.

And now, finally, we reach dessert.  Assuming you’re actually still with me.

Pumpkin Pie

2 eggs
1/2 c. sugar
1 c. stewed pumpkin [canned]
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. cloves
1-1/2 c. milk [lactose free]

Beat eggs, add sugar, pumpkin and spices.  Mix thoroughly and then add milk.  Bake in a pie crust.

Pie Pastry

1-1/2 c. sifted flour
1/2 level tsp. salt
Water
1/4 level tsp. Calumet Baking Powder
1/2 c. shortening

Sift dry ingredients, cut in shortening, add just enough cold water to hold the ingredients together.  Bake in a hot oven (400 degrees F.).

This pie crust recipe turned out a bit heavy for my taste, though perhaps I didn’t roll it out thinly enough; it also seemed a bit too stiff when I was rolling it out, which probably accounts for that.

The filling, though, was incredibly light and smooth, downright melting on the tongue – so much so that my family, who prefer a more robust pie, didn’t care much for it.  Which meant that there was plenty of “pie for breakfast” for meeee!

Caramel Nut Cake

1/2 c. shortening
1 c. sugar
3/4 c. milk
4 eggs [separated]
2 c. sifted flour
2 level tsp. Calumet Baking Powder [needs 4]
3/4 c. chopped nuts

Sift flour three times with baking powder.  Cream shortening, add sugar, gradually add egg yolks and nuts.  Add dry ingredients alternately with milk.  Fold in stiffly beaten egg whites.  Bake in 2 layers in a moderate oven (375 degrees F.).  Ice with caramel icing, sprinkle the top and sides of the cake with chopped nuts.

Caramel Icing

1-1/3 c. granulated sugar
2/3 c. brown sugar [light brown]
1/4 c. butter
2/3 c. milk [lactose-free]
1 tbs. corn syrup

Mix ingredients, add one half of butter.  Boil until a soft ball is formed in cold water.  Add rest of butter.  Let set until almost cool.  Beat until of consistency to spread.  One-half cup of nuts may be added.

This cake was amazing – light and hearty at the same time.  The icing came out a bit granular – I still haven’t figured out the exact timing on when to start beating these cooked frostings – but it spread okay and was tasty.  The guests were a bit too full to really appreciate it, though, and I think it wasn’t really what most people expect in a cake.  But I’d make it again; people really need to explore different variations on cake than “fluffy and incredibly sweet.”

The rest of the menu called for Coffee, Salted Nuts, and Bonbons.  I drew the line at actually buying some candy, and anyway (as I expected) the guests had snacked on some of the unsalted mixed unshelled nuts I had on hand before dinner.

As always, trying a bunch of new recipes was a learning experience – but a lot of fun (and hard work).  Tune in next year for the 2013 edition of Vintage Thanksgiving!

Posted in Holidays, Thanksgiving, vintage cooking | Leave a comment

Home Economics Textbook (1937)

The fact is, of late I’ve been doing the same old, same old historical stuff, or else things I can’t comment on.  So here’s a post about another acquisition for my pre-liberation domestic agenda collection.  (If you can think of another term for it, be my guest!)

At the flea market today I picked up Foods and Home Making by Carlotta C. Greer, revised edition, published in 1937.  Ms. Greer was the head of the department of home economics at John Jay High School in Cleveland – in other words, part of the home economics movement that has lost so much steam in recent decades.  Notice the nice Art Deco detailing on the radio cabinet in the cover picture, and the fact that Mrs. Homemaker is carrying along a book to read while Mr. Moneybags reads the paper and they both take tea.  Like most (if not all) of the home economics movement, this text is devotedly and unquestioningly middle class.  Consider, also, the picture on the inside cover:

The two teens, at least one of whom has recently been playing tennis (look to the boy’s left), do the washing-up while Mom relaxes in the living room, which features a shield and crossed swords over the mantlepiece.

Similarly, the back inside cover features a suit-wearing father either arriving or leaving (the clock reads 6:30), and the view through the window over the sink is of a very nice middle-class house.

One wonders how this went over in Branch Township, Pennsylvania, which is in a decidedly blue-collar coal mining region.  (How the book got from there to a flea market in Connecticut, I can’t imagine.)

On the other hand, the goal of the book (and the home ec movement generally) was to try to help people eat well and live more comfortable, pleasant, and bacteria-free lives.   The people who had the time and money to spend on this were, primarily, middle or upper class – so their ideas and standards got the press.  The fact that the truly poor (then and now) might have to choose between buying food and buying soap, and back then may have eaten with utensils carved out of wood by a family member, rarely figures in this early literature.

And yet, this book does contain a section of how to work with a wood-burning stove, and a “suggested time budget” for students that includes a category “Paid Work,” and notes that table runners or doilies are an “economical” substitute for tablecloths … along with detailed instructions for place settings that for a family breakfast included fork, knife, two spoons, butter knife, bread plate, and both a large and a small main plate.

On the gender angle, these remarks from the “To the Teacher” section are of interest in their reflection of role assumptions:

Much of the material of Foods and Home Making is suitable for boys as well as girls.  Knowledge of food selection is necessary for boys.  Stimulation of boys’ interest in home making contributes to their appreciation of home life.

And Unit 2 is called “Modern Housewifery.”  Apparently bachelors living on their own didn’t exist?  Or perhaps they could all afford to hire maids and cooks.

Such books are, of course, also full of useful information.  I don’t think I’ll be rinsing my hand-washed dishes in scalding water any time soon, but I’m sure I could benefit from coming up with a “time budget” as discussed in Ch. 16, but I’m more fascinated with the suggested one in the book.  4.5 hours of time in class, 2.5 hours of recreation and exercise, 2.25 hours of paid work, 8 hours of sleep, 2.5 hours of home schoolwork …

Wait, 4.5 hours of time in class?  A whole 2.5 hours of recreation?  Wow.  What slackers this generation were!  And yet somehow they grew up to win World War II and make the US even more economically dominant than it was in the 20s … at least, until the 1970s.  Hmm.  Were they making that wave or just riding it?

Anyway, that’s enough rambling on about class, gender, and economic trends.  Here, have a pretty picture of middle-class domesticity:

Posted in home economics, vintage cookbooks | Leave a comment

Calumet Baking Powder

Our latest trip to the Brimfield Antique Show netted me not one, but two cooking pamphlets from the Calumet Baking Powder Company – my first ones from that company.

First up, from 1931, “The Calumet Baking Book.”  With an attractive cover and 24 pages of recipes, it’s a great addition to my collection.  It also helpfully points out that it uses a standard of 1 teaspoon of baking powder to one cup of flour – which as I discussed here means that one should double the modern baking powder amounts for its recipes.

I’m also entertained by the experiment it suggests for seeing how the “double acting” part works:

Put two level teaspoons of Calumet Baking Powder into a glass, add two teaspoons of water, stir rapidly five times, and remove the spoon.  You will see the tiny, fine bubbles rise slowly, half filling the glass.  This is Calumet’s first action – the action that takes place in your mixing bowl when you add liquid to the dry ingredients.

After the mixture has entirely stopped rising, stand the glass in a pan of hot water on the stove.  In a moment, a second rising will start and continue until the mixture reaches the top of the glass.  This is Calumet’s second action – the action that takes place in the heat of your oven.

Just in case you, too, ever wondered about that “double action” part.  Plus this is a simple thing you can do in your own kitchen today!  (Assuming it works with modern double-acting baking powder.  Do let me know if it doesn’t!)

For a recipe I’m going with “Palermo Lemon Cake” – the picture looks tasty, doesn’t it?  The cake recipes in this booklet have the interesting feature of specifying how many eggs are needed, in bold type right under the recipe name; I’m not sure why.

PALERMO LEMON CAKE {1 egg}
2 cups sifted Swans Down Cake Flour
2 teaspoons Calumet Baking Powder [4 with modern powder]
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter or other shortening
1 cup sugar
1 egg, unbeaten
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
3/4 cup milk

Sift flour once, measure, add baking powder and salt, and sift together three times.  Cream butter thoroughly, add sugar gradually, and cream together until light and fluffy.  Add egg and lemon rind and beat well.  Add flour, alternately with milk, a small amount at a time.  Beat after each addition until smooth.  Bake in two greased 9-inch layer pans in moderate oven (375F) 25 minutes.  Put layers together with Lemon Filling and cover top and sides of cake with Palermo Lemon Frosting).

LEMON FILLING
1 cup sugar
2-1/2 tablespoons flour
Grated rind 2 lemons
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon butter

Combine sugar and flour.  Add lemon rind, lemon juice, and egg.  Cook until thick, stirring constantly.  Add butter.  Enough for two 9-inch layers.

PALERMO LEMON FROSTING
2 egg whites, unbeaten
1-1/2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon grated lemon rind

Put egg whites, sugar, water, lemon juice, and lemon rind in upper part of double boiler.  Beat with rotary egg beater until thoroughly mixed.  Place over rapidly boiling water, beat constantly with rotary egg beater, and cook 7 minutes, or until frosting will stand in peaks.  Remove from fire and beat until thick enough to spread.  Makes enough frosting to cover tops and sides of two 9-inch layers.

I’m thinking of making this next week – so I’ll need to buy some lemons.

The other Calumet booklet is called “Selected Recipes and Menus for Parties Holidays and Special Occasions” and has an author, Marian Jane Parker, but no definite publication date.  I think it’s from the 1920s; it refers to a 1918 USDA standard, and the foreword is signed by company president Warren Wright, who (according to Internet research) sold the company to General Foods in 1929.  The cover is split from the bottom up to the center staple and it has a number of “used in the kitchen” stains, but it’s also another snapshot of cultural and social ideas of the 1920s (or later?):

A man would say that good food, properly prepared, is all that is necessary.  But a woman longs for new culinary worlds to conquer.  She wearies of the same kind of biscuits, the cake she learned to make for her first grown-up party, the old way of serving chicken.  And she welcomes new ideas that combine simplicity and originality.  If she can pleasantly surprise her evening bridge club without spending the whole afternoon in the effort – so much the better!

The booklet offers suggested menus for various generic occasions: one o’clock luncheon, children’s birthday party, afternoon tea, buffet luncheon, evening refreshments, and afternoon refreshments.  The holidays and special occasions are an interesting assortment: Refreshments for Valentine Parties, the June Wedding, St. Patrick’s Party Luncheon, Menus for the Fourth of July, Lincoln’s Birthday Party, For the Hallowe’en Frolic (including a line drawing of an adult bobbing for apples), Thanksgiving Dinner (of course), A George Washington Party (lots of cherry recipes), and of course Christmas Dinner Plans.

Since the Fourth of July is the next featured holiday on the calendar (never mind Memorial Day, then Decoration Day, apparently), here are the proposed menus:

PICNIC SUPPER
Cold Fried Chicken
Bread and Butter Sandwiches
Pecan Rolls
Potato Chips – Pickles – Olives
Fresh Fruit – Cup Cakes
Iced Lemonade

LIGHT REFRESHMENTS
Cold Veal Loaf-Sandwiches
Pineapple and Orange Salad
Rolled Cheese Sandwiches
Buttered Rolls
Iced Punch

LUNCHEON
Melon Cocktail
Chicken Mousse
Shoe String Potatoes
Olives – Pickles
Nut Muffins – Butter
Red, White and Blue Brick Ice Cream
Patriotic Cake
Coffee

Only four of these items are actually in the booklet (Pecan Rolls, Patriotic Cake, Rolled Cheese Sandwiches, and Veal Loaf, to be precise).  Based just on the name, I’m going with

Patriotic Cake
1/4 c. shortening
1/2 c. sugar
1-2/3 c. sifted flour
1/2 c. milk
2 level tsp. Calumet Baking Powder [3.5 or 4 for modern product]
2 egg whites
1/2 tsp. vanilla
Pink coloring

Cream shortening, add sugar gradually.  Then add sifted dry ingredients with milk and flavoring.  Fold in stiffly beaten egg whites.  Color one half mixture with pink coloring and fill into a loaf pan alternating the two batters, in order to have a marble appearance.  Bake in a moderate oven (325-350 degrees F.) 35 to 40 minutes.  Cover with white frosting and decorate with flags.

This may be the cake depicted in the picture, with the pink turned into red.  If I was making this, I’d press blueberries into the white frosting to get that red-white-and-blue look for a proper “patriotic cake.”

And actually, the Rolled Cheese Sandwiches are interesting enough to quickly repeat: “Cut soft white bread in thin slices and spread with butter.  Mix cream cheese and a few chopped maraschino cherries until soft enough to spread on the bread.  Roll and tie with red, white and blue ribbons.”

There.  Patriotic enough, right?

Happy Spring!

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