July 4 Amid the Pandemic

John and I spend most of our days in our home six miles from Lyons, just the two of rattling around in our big house and yard. That’s why we got really excited when our daughter and her husband and two young children told us they were coming out for a CoVID-style visit on the Fourth of July. For a few hours, our social status will be raised from “isolation” to “distancing”.

The six of us enjoyed the outdoors: on the deck, in the pool, in spaced chairs under the trees. We cooked hot dogs and had chips and cold beers and sodas. We had a grand old time!

For the kids (and the adults!) I made cookies and parceled them out in pre-wrapped small bags. These were not everyday cookies, no, they were colorful red-white-and-blue Fourth of July cookies!

These cookies begin with a really good buttery-sugar dough. Then you divide it into three parts and mix red food coloring into one and blue to another. I had a fun swirling in the colors! I used a lot of food coloring to get the colors dark.

Red, White and Blue Pinwheel Icebox Cookies
adapted from the recipe on the Just a Taste website

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt (use less if you use salted butter)
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • red and blue food coloring

Mix together the butter and sugar in an electric mixer. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat well, then add the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Divide dough into three portions. Leave one without food color, and add red and blue to the other portions, respectively. Use as much food coloring as it takes to get the colors you like, and I added a lot! I used the mixer to beat in the food coloring, and cleaned the mixer in between.

Press each of the three colors into a 4 x 4 inch square and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.


Take a 4-inch dough square and cut it in half, producing 2 rectangles. Do this with each color (blue, red, plain), so you have 6 rectangles.

Create 12 pieces of wax paper, each about 8 x 12 inches. Take rectangle of dough and put it between two pieces of wax paper, then roll the rectangle to about 6 x 10 inches (aim for ⅛ inch thick). The dough is such that you can move it around to make a true rectangle. You will have 6 rectangles between wax paper: 2 white, 2 blue, 2 red.

Take a red rectangle, still in the wax paper. Carefully pull the top layer of wax paper off. Peel the wax paper off one side of the white dough and lay it on top. Remove the wax paper.

Grab a blue rectangle and put it on top in the same way.

You can nudge the dough around a bit to get the sides of the colors to match. You may want to lightly roll the doughs to press together.

Start at the longer end of the rectangle and roll up. You will have 2 rolls. Refrigerate about 4 hours, then take them out and roll on the counter so they are round and not square.

Refrigerate again until you bake the cookies.

Slice the roll into ¼ inch thick cookies. Bake 10 minutes on parchment at 350˚.

Dynamic Duo Delights

How can you go wrong? These cookies are made with M&M’s®, peanut butter, cocoa, cream cheese, butter, brown sugar . . . these are so good they are sinful.

How did I come to make these on a warm summer day? Well, we were going up to the mountains to spend a few days with our kids and their young families. I get to be “Grandma”, and that means I get to make some cookies to bring. Yay! I perused my old cookie recipes and came upon these “Dynamic Duo Delights”. Hadn’t made them in decades. Now’s the time.

Dynamic Duo Delights

  • 3/4 cup butter plus 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar plus 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter (I used the crunchy style)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa
  • 2 cups plain M&M’s

Beat together the 3/4 cup butter, 1 cup each brown and white sugars, cream cheese, and peanut butter, then add the vanilla and eggs. Stir in flour, baking powder, and salt.

Divide the dough in half and place each half in a bowl. Add 2 tablespoons butter, 1/4 cup brown sugar, and the cocoa to one bowl of dough. Add 1 cup of M&M’s to each bowl of dough.

For each Dynamic Duo cookie, take a bit of the dough with cocoa and a bit of the dough without cocoa. Push together to form one rounded teaspoonful of cookie dough, then drop onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Continue with all of the cookies.

Bake the cookies at 350˚ for about 12 minutes, just until they are nicely browned.

Makes about 5 dozen cookies.


*The photo above is my first food-blog photo taken with my new camera, a Sony alpha 7II. Sadly, my old Sony alpha died suddenly on our trip to the Alps this summer. Good bye old-friend Sony camera. Welcome to the fold, my new full-frame Sony.

250 Cookbooks: Cookies, Step-by-Step Techniques

Cookbook #245: Cookies, Step-by-Step Techniques, the editors of Sunset Books and Sunset Magazine, Lane Publishing Co., Menlo Park, California, 1985.

Cookies cook bookI’ve saved this book for one of my last entries for this 250 Cookbooks blog because it is special to me. It was my mother’s, given to her by my brother and sister in 1986. Her notes are in it, some pages are stained with food, and many pages are falling out of the binding. I just love it!

note on title page

I like cookies, any time of the year. But especially at Christmas: I used to make tons to give away. Of my 250 cookbooks, 8 are specifically “cookies”. And if you look at my recipe index, you will see how many favorite cookies I have. Although I only rarely make cookies these days, it doesn’t mean I don’t like them!

Sunset put together a good collection of cookie recipes in Cookies, Step-by-Step Techniques. I page through carefully, admiring the photographs and looking for the recipes that Mother marked, and looking for ones I’d like to try. Actually, almost all of the recipes sound very good.

The first recipe she marked is “Oatmeal Raisin Cookies” (she marked them “Delicious”). I make a similar oatmeal cookie with chocolate chips instead of raisins, and a combination of brown and white sugar. This recipe has all brown sugar and I’m sure they would be delicious. Note that Mother didn’t stop with them “as is”, but frosted them with butter-powdered sugar frosting! (And she kept her slim figure somehow!)

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

“Brownie Date Drops” are marked “very good”.

Brownie Date Drops

She marked “Coconut Macaroons” as “not special”, and “Buttery Lemon Bars” as “Delicious”.

Buttery Lemon BarsButtery Lemon Bars

“Dream Bars” were “Delicious“. That underline means extra delicious! I smile at all of the food stains on the recipe (below).

Dream Bars

“Peanut Blossom Cookies” are marked “Delicious”. It differs from the recipe I already posted for Peanut Blossoms by having a little more peanut butter (1/2 cup) and a little less flour (1 1/3 cups). Peanut Blossoms are also in my Hershey’s Chocolate Cookbook, published in 1982, and in A Treasury of Bake Off Favorites, published in 1969.

I note the “Chinese Almond Cookies” to try, as well as “Old-fashioned Molasses Chews”. “Date-Oatmeal Cookies” are marked “not great”. I’d like to try the recipe for “Fruit Bars”, because they look like fig newtons.

The chapter I focus on for a recipe for this blog is “Wholesome Cookies”. We try to avoid cookies these days (calories), so if I do make them, I try to use a recipe that contains a lot of nutritious ingredients. I like the “Half-cup Cookies” – they call for 9 ingredients in the half-cup quantity: butter, peanut butter, brown sugar, honey, chocolate chips, nuts, coconut, raisins, and granola. The flour in Half-cup Cookies is whole wheat. Other cookies in this wholesome chapter include many of the half-cup ingredients, plus fructose (sweeter than sucrose, table sugar), bran, carob chips, wheat germ, and tahini.

I am tempted to make Half-cup Cookies right away, but instead I choose the recipe for Graham Crackers. Why? Grandson visiting. He loves to roll out dough, and we all want him to eat foods that are sort of healthy. These graham crackers are made with whole wheat flour and wheat germ and honey, and contain less sugar than most cookies. Plus, I can mix them up the day before, making less work for what will surely be a busy day.

Graham Crackers

The only change I made to this recipe is how we rolled them out. I like to use half-sheet pans lined with pre-cut parchment paper for baking cookies. So we rolled out the dough directly on to a piece of parchment and then carefully transferred the paper and dough to a half-sheet pan.

Graham Crackers
makes two half-sheet pans, about 40 crackers

  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup honey (85 grams)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour (I used whole wheat, not white whole wheat)
  • 1/2 cup toasted unsweetened wheat germ
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 cup water

In a mixer, beat together the butter, honey, brown sugar, and vanilla until creamy. Stir together the flour, wheat germ, salt, cinnamon, and baking powder. At low mixer speed, add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture alternately with the water.

Wrap the dough in plastic or put in a sealed storage container and refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 3 days.

Divide the dough into 2 equal portions. Place one portion of dough on a lightly floured board and press it out as much as you can with your hands. Transfer the dough to a piece of parchment, pre-cut to fit a half-sheet pan (a half-sheet pan is the same size as a cookie sheet). Roll the dough until it goes just past the parchment. (This is tough work! My dough was very stiff. But between the two of us, we got the dough all rolled out.) Trim the dough to match the parchment. It will be about 1/8-inch thick.

Transfer the rolled and trimmed dough and the parchment to a half-sheet pan or to a cookie pan. Cut the dough into 3-inch squares. We used a pizza cutter (a pastry wheel) and my quilter’s long straight edge tool. Then, poke each “cracker” 3 times with a fork.

(Note: we cut the dough before transferring to the pan and it was kind of tricky because the individual crackers moved around.)

Note: Easier way to roll out dough! I baked the second half of the dough a week after the first batch. The dough was very, very stiff, so I heated it in the microwave. It rolled a lot easier! I don’t think the “refrigerate at least 1 hour” step is necessary. Another trick is using a silicone half-sheet liner (I just bought my first Silpat®). The Silpat® was stiff enough to allow me to transfer the cut crackers easily to the half-sheet pan.

Bake at 325˚ for 20-30 minutes. The cookies are done when lightly browned. You might find the crackers at the edges of the pan getting too brown (mine did), so remove edge crackers when necessary. Start checking and removing browned crackers at 20 minutes.

Here are the crackers, ready to be baked:

graham crackers in panAnd here is a cooked one on a plate:

graham crackerOh yes, there are not just 3 fork pricks in this cracker! Practicing “one-two-three” with a 4 year old sometimes doesn’t work. But who cares? These were actually delicious, although not all the adults liked them. I thought they were even better the next day, but I doubt the rest of the batch lasted that long – my grandson made sure that he put all his crackers in a bag to take home. I saved this one cracker in the photo above to be sure I had one to take of picture of the next day. Then I ate it!

Successful healthy graham crackers! And a lot of fun. I gave Dzo a tiny child’s camera (that really works!) and he took a photo of the pan of cookies too.

Dzo taking photo of cookies

250 Cookbooks: Silver Anniversary Bake-Off Cookbook

Cookbook #238: Silver Anniversary Bake-Off Cookbook, the Pillsbury Company, US, 1974.

Pillsbury Silver Anniversary Bake-Off cookbookThe Silver Anniversary Bake-Off Cookbook is one of the 22 cookbooks or cookbooklets on my shelves. The publication dates vary from 1959-2000, and most were my Mother’s. Some have good recipes, and some not-so-good recipes, but they reflect Americana of late twentieth century USA.

This booklet was my mother’s, and it is of the “not-so-good” recipe sort. Why? Because I can find only 4 recipes in 80 pages of recipes that do not call for pre-packaged convenience foods. What are these products? Pillsbury Hot Roll Mix, Refrigerated Quick Crescent Dinner Rolls, Coconut Pecan or Coconut Almond Frosting Mix, Hungry Jack Au Gratin or Scalloped Potatoes, Yellow or Fudge Cake Mix or (non-branded) custard or pudding and pie filling mix. I just don’t buy that type of packaged food. I like baking from scratch, and I like choosing my own type of flour and shortening/oils. I want very few foods in my diet that come in packages with long lists of chemical ingredients.

As I go through this booklet, I note that even my mother did not mark as tried a single recipe in this book!

Here are some typical examples of the recipes in this book:

What are the four recipes that do not call for packaged mixes? That short list follows:

  • Easy Peach Spice Cake made with AP flour, sugar, spices, grated orange peel, peach or apricot preserves (I could use my own jam!), orange juice, eggs, nuts, and a frosting of powdered sugar, preserves, and butter
  • Pocket-of-Chocolate Cake (bundt cake made with sweetened condensed milk, “creme” cheese, chocolate chips, nuts, AP flour, sugar, sour cream, rum, eggs)
  • Quick Apple Spice Bars made with brown sugar, eggs, 3 chopped fresh apples, AP flour, cinnamon, 1 cup cheddar cheese, nuts, and coconut
  • Fiesta Chicken Kiev (chicken breasts cooked in the microwave)

For this blog, I choose to bake “Quick Apple Spice Bars”. Note that they have apples and cheese in them –  classic combination for apple pie. I think these bars sound good, unusual, and close to being a “healthy” recipe. (They don’t even call for butter or a cooking oil.) A side benefit is that these spice bars would be a good way to use up fresh apples (maybe those partially chewed on by a certain grandson!).

The fresh apples, cheese, nuts, and coconut in this recipe are all on our approved list of foods. Note that there is no butter or shortening in the recipe. The sugar? A no-no for us. I’ll wait to make these until we have company.

Quick Apple Spice Bars

  • 1 cup brown sugar (reduce to 7/8 cup at high altitude, over 5200 feet, like me)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups peeled, finely chopped apples (about 3 medium)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 3/4 cup chopped nuts
  • 1/4 cup coconut

Combine the brown sugar and eggs, mix well. Stir in apples. Stir together the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon, add to the sugar and egg mixture and stir only until the ingredients are just mixed. Stir in the cheese, nuts, and coconut.

Bake in a greased and floured 13×9-inch pan. Bke at 375˚ for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.

I’ll add a photo when I make these! Gotta wait for company.

250 Cookbooks: Sunbeam Mixmaster

Cookbook #228: Sunbeam Mixmaster, Sunbeam Corporation, Chicago, Illinois, Canada, 1957.

Sunbeam Mixmaster cookbook

I open the first page of this vintage cookbook and a slip of paper falls out:

original receipt

The receipt for my mother’s Sunbeam mixer! Purchased 1/23/1963 at Builders Emporium in Van Nuys California – for $20.79. The clerk wrote “as is, display”. Since it was neither Christmas nor my mother’s birthday, my guess is that she bought it for herself with “mad”  money, money she received at birthdays and Christmas. I remember this mixer in her kitchen, mixing up cakes and pie fillings and batches of cookies. Mother believed in homemade, and loved baking. So her mixer really, really got used.

I don’t know if this was her first electric mixer, or a replacement. The first electric mixers were introduced to the American public in 1910-1920, so she probably had some sort of electric mixer before. But I’m sure that this was a big step-up for her.

(I covered the history of electric mixers in my post on my own Sunbeam that I got in 1983. Please see my 250 Cookbooks post Sunbeam Deluxe Mixmaster Mixer for more on this topic.)

I will keep this booklet ony for my own nostalgia. The recipes? They all look good, but nothing stands out, I’ve seen similar recipes in the many other older cookbooks I’ve covered. But do join me in perusing some of the pages of this 1963 cookbook. First, the inside cover:

inside cover

Two pages of instructions:

directionsBasic instructions for making cakes. I like the vintage black-and-white photos:

cakesLoaf cakes:

loaf cakes

I like this next one for several reasons. First, I like the banana cake recipe. I’m not positive I have a layered banana cake recipe in my repertoire. Second, there is a discussion of what it means to “cream” the shortening and the sugar. Finally, the photo at the bottom of the page is a cake baked in a Sunbeam electric fry pan. (See this and this.)

banana cake and more

Cookies, of course!

cakesI like the following page for the kitchen counter photo at the top of the page. And the text below suggests to use a Sunbeam electric fry pan for the pan cakes, a waffle iron for the waffles, and a blender as well as the mixmaster for the meat loaf.

appliancesFinally, the back cover, showing all the available Sunbeam appliances in 1957. I made a similar scan of the back cover of Sunbeam Controlled Heat Automatic Frypan (1953), if you want to compare.

back cover

I decide to make Butterscotch Refrigerator Cookies for this blog, the ones describe in the second paragraph on the scanned “cookie” page, above, under Basic Butter Cookies. I like refrigerator cookies – I have recipes for four types in this blog so far! When cooking for just two, they are nice because I don’t have to bake up a whole batch at a time to get a few fresh cookies for dessert.

Butterscotch Refrigerator Cookies

  • 4 2/3 cups flour
  • 1 cup very finely chopped pecans
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 pound butter (1 cup or 2 sticks)
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/4 cup milk

Stir together the flour, pecans, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

Combine the butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla and beat in an electric mixer at relatively high speed for 2 minutes. Turn to low speed and add the milk and then the flour mixture gradually, beating until blended, about 3 minutes.

Turn the dough onto a work space and shape it into two rolls, each 1 1/2 inches in diameter and 11-12 inches in length. Wrap the rolls and refrigerate several hours.

Cut with a sharp knife (dipping the knife in hot water then drying might make this easier). Make the slices 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. Cut only as many as you want to bake at one time.

Bake at 375˚ on ungreased cookie sheets for about 10 minutes.

Butterscotch Refrigerator CookiesThese are tasty. I cooked them too long because I didn’t read my directions! I thought it was “12 minutes”, but it was “10 minutes”. I checked them at 12 and thought they weren’t brown enough, so I gave them another 2 minutes and they actually tasted burned. 10 minutes! They will not look real brown but will be done!

250 Cookbooks: Hershey’s Chocolate Cookbook

Cookbook #204: Hershey’s Chocolate Cookbook, Ideals Publishing Corp., Nashville, Tennessee, 1982.

Hershey's Chocolate CookbookThis is one of four Hershey’s cookbooks in my cookbook database. I can’t find the publication date anywhere in my copy, but online photos and details of the same book on Amazon claim “1982” as the date.

This Hershey’s cookbook was a gift to my mother from my aunt in 1993.

note in bookMother did not mark any of the recipes! This is unusual for her, especially for cookie, pie, and cake recipes, which include all of the recipes in this cookbook.

Many recipes in this cookbook include Reese’s® peanut butter chips. Kind of odd, for a “chocolate” cookbook. Maybe this product was newly on the market in 1982? Because of this ingredient, not every recipe in this cookbook has chocolate in it, which is disappointing! I find that “Reese’s” is (to this day) one of the Hershey brand names. Hmm. This make this a “brand name” cookbook.

As I page through this book today, I find a favorite old cookie recipe: Peanut Blossoms. Chocolate Drop Cookies sound good, but I have a similar recipe. I might like Macaroon Kiss Cookies, Crunchy Oatmeal Peanut Butter Chip Cookies, and Chewy Chocolate Wafers.

The pie and cake recipes all look good. Cocoa Chiffon-Cloud Pie is one I’ll save, since I once had a yearning for a chocolate chiffon pie and couldn’t find a recipe. Chocolate-Butterscotch Pie with Macaroon Nut Crust and Chocolate Banana Cream Pie, yum. I find “Red Velvet Cocoa Cake”, a recipe I once searched for ( I ended up developing my own recipe for this cake, baked at high altitude). Chocolate Fudge Cake? Who wouldn’t want that? Orange-Kissed Chocolate Cupcakes, where you take a section out of the top of a chocolate cupcake, fill it with orange cream, and top with a Hershey’s Kiss, yum again. In a perfect world, I’d be making and eating desserts like this every night of the week. But alas, it’s not a perfect world.

Since Mother didn’t mark any recipes and I simply don’t need more rich dessert recipes, I’ll scan in a few recipes, and then recycle the cookbook. I have kept Hershey’s 1934 Cookbook and Hershey’s Cocoa Cookbook for references to basic chocolate recipes, like brownies, fudge, homemade chocolate syrup, and hot fudge sauce.

I decide to make Cherry Chocolate Chip Cookies for this blog. Cookies are always nice for our two-person household because the dough and/or cookies can be frozen so the we don’t have to eat them all up at once. This recipe includes a shortcut for the home cook: you can make up “Basic Cookie Mix” and then use it to make five different kinds of cookies. (Later on in this chapter, there is a Chocolate Cookie Mix to compliment the Basic Cookie Mix.)

Basic CookiesBasic CookiesI’m not sure I’ll always want to make “cookie mix” and then the cookies, so I made a half recipe of the mix, then measured it. It made enough for two different types (or batches) of cookies.

Basic Cookie Mix
makes 5 cups of cookie mix, if lightly patted down

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/4 cup butter

Place the flour, the two sugars, baking powder and salt in a food processor. Pulse a few times. Divide the shortening and butter into chunks and scatter across the dry mixture. Cover the processor and pulse 10-20 times, until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs.

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Cherry Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 2 1/2 cups basic cookie mix, lightly patted into the measuring cups
  • 1/4 cup sour cream (or a bit more if needed; I think I used about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped, well-drained maraschino cherries
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (semi-sweet)
  • 1 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 15 halved maraschino cherries, well drained

Stir the basic cookie mix whit the sour cream, cherries, and chocolate chips. Shape into 1-inch balls, then roll in the nuts.

Place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Garnish each cookie with a cherry half. Bake at 375˚ for 12-15 minutes.

Cherry Chocolate Chip CookiesWow, were these ever good! Very, very tender. I realized as I made the dough that this is how I make pie crust, by first combining the flour-sugar and shortening, then blending in the wet ingredients. Usually cookies are made by combining the sugar and shortening and any wet ingredients, then adding the dry ingredients. The result of the “Basic Cookie Dough” method is that the cookies taste tender, like pie crust.

I learned how to make a very good cookie! There is always something new to learn.

250 Cookbooks: Boston Cooking-School Cook Book

Cookbook #200: Boston Cooking-School Cook Book, F. M. Farmer, Little, Brown, & Co., Boston, 1906 edition, perhaps the 1911 revised printing.

Boston Cooking-School Cook BookThe Boston Cooking-School Cook Book is my second-oldest cookbook. It was published in 1906! I hold it in my hands in amazement. The pages are a little brittle, and some of them are falling out, but it’s in pretty good condition, considering. I obtained this book from the Ruth C. Vandenhoudt house when I was in my teens. Ruth had carefully jacketed the front and back covers with canvas cloth, hand sewing the flaps to keep the cover in good condition. I just discovered the good condition of the uncovered book this week, as I gingerly pulled the jacket off the front cover to reveal the 111 year old cover in near-perfect condition (see photo above). Here is how she jacketed the cover:


Fannie Merritt Farmer is the author of my 1906 edition of the Boston Cooking-School Cook Book. I learned about Fannie Farmer when I covered my 1965 Fannie Farmer Cookbook: “Fannie Farmer, born in 1857, was raised in a family that valued education, but could not attend school because of a crippling illness as a teen. So she started cooking at a boarding house at her parents home. Her interest in cooking took her to the Boston Cooking School, where she excelled as a student and eventually became school principal.” Please refer to my post on the Fannie Farmer Cookbook for my full discussion.

When was this book published?

My copy of the Boston Cooking-School Cook Book is missing the title page – including the publication date. About 5 years ago, I put myself into “sleuth mode” to figure out when it was published. My first guess was “1936”, but no, F. M. Farmer is listed as the author of Boston Cooking-School Cook Book editions only up to 1918 (Wikipedia, Boston Cooking-School Cook Book). Thus, my book is the 1896, 1906, or the 1918 edition.

To my amazement, Google/HathiTrust has full text digital versions of the1896, 1906, and 1918 editions online. Each page of each book was digitized and uploaded to the “cloud” so that nerds like me can read the entire book. I spent quite a bit of time perusing these fascinating books, searching for clues to match the printed edition in my hands to the proper edition year.

Brownies and War, I find, are enough to narrow down my edition. Brownies as we know them – chocolate-y bar cookies – were first made in the early 1900s:

“The earliest-known published recipes for a modern style chocolate brownie appeared in the Home Cookery (1904, Laconia, NH), Service Club Cook Book (1904, Chicago, IL), The Boston Globe (April 2, 1905 p. 34), and the 1906 edition of Farmer cookbook. These recipes produced a relatively mild and cake-like brownie.” (Wikipedia, accessed 2017)

My copy of the Boston Cooking-School Cook Book has a recipe for chocolate brownies on page 495. That narrows my edition to 1906 or 1918.

A careful read of the 1918 edition showed me that it has several references to war-time recipes (The Big One, or as we know it now, World War II). Here is an example:

coffee and war

My copy does not have this same text in the coffee section. Therefore, I have the 1906 edition.

As extra confirmation, when I access Wikipedia today (2017) I find a Boston Cooking-School Cook Book entry. The entry lists the number of pages in each edition:

  • 1st edition, 1896. 567 pp.
  • 2nd edition, 1906. 648 pp.
  • 3rd edition, 1918. 656 pp.

My copy has 648 pages, and this concurs with my prior research.

Each of the editions had revisions, for instance, the 1906 version that I found digitized online is noted as revised in 1911. Since I am missing the very first pages, I can’t be certain which revision (or which printing year) of the 1906 edition I have.

First sections of this book

Below is the dedication page. It is no longer attached to the book. Note Ruth C. Vanderhoudt’s signature. As to the printed dedication, I like the phrase “scientific cookery”.

dedication page

The next page prints this quote from “Ruskin”, probably John Ruskin, a “writer, art critic, draughtsman, watercolourist, social thinker” in the nineteenth century. I really like this quote.


In her preface, Fanny Farmer writes: “During the last decade much time has been given by scientists to the study of foods and their dietetic value, and it is a subject which rightfully should demand much consideration from all. I certainly feel that the time is not far distant when a knowledge of the principles of diet will be an essential part of one’s education. Then mankind will eat to live, will be able to do better mental and physical work, and disease will be less frequent.”

Boston Cooking-School Cook Book, 1906, is so special to me that I decide to go through the entire book. This may take a few weeks!

Chapter 1: Food

“Food is anything which nourishes the body.” I can tell from her discussion of the nutritive values of different foods shows that there was a good knowledge in 1906 of nutritive value of different types of foods. Listed are proteins (she spells protein “proteid”), carbohydrates, fats and oils, mineral matter, and water. The “daily average ration of an adult requires”:

4 1/2 oz. proteid
2 oz. fat
18 oz. starch
5 pints water

4.5 ounces of protein is 126 grams. My guess is that the protein value of a food is measured experimentally today, and her 4.5 ounces means a 4.5 ounce amount of a mostly-protein food, such as a steak.

The next sections of this chapter discuss water, salts, starch, sugar, gum, pectose, and cellulose, fats and oil, milk, butter, cheese, fruits, vegetable acids (acetic, tartaric, malic, citric, and oxalic), condiments (black pepper, cayenne pepper, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, vinegar, capers [capers in the US in 1906!], and horseradish), and flavoring extracts (vanilla, almond, and lemon). I revel in the chemical knowledge of this early twentieth century woman:

“Starch is a white, glistening powder; it is largely distributed throughout the vegetable kingdom, being found most abundantly in cereals and potatoes.”

And then she give a chemical test for starch:

“A weak solution of iodine added to cold cooked starch gives an intense blue color.”

We used potassium-iodide test paper strips in the CU Organic Chemistry Teaching labs! I also like her comment on condiments:

“Condiments are not classed among foods, but are food adjuncts. They are made to stimulate the appetite by adding flavor to food.”

A big class of today’s “necessary nutrients” is not listed in this book: vitamins. What the heck, didn’t they know about vitamins in 1906? This here chemist is surprised to find that the first vitamin – vitamin A – was discovered in 1913. (Wikipedia, accessed 2017.) And this from my own blog on a 1928 cookbook describing “vitamines”: Salads, Vegetables and the Market Basket.

The book is illustrated with black and white photos. Here is the photo at the end of chapter 1:

black and white photo

Chapter 2: Cookery

“Cookery is the art of preparing food for the nourishment of the body. Prehistoric man may have lived on uncooked foods, but there are no savage races to-day who do not practise cookery in some way, however crude. Progress in civilization has been accompanied by progress in cookery.”

In 1906, cooking fuels included: kerosene, gas, wood, charcoal, and coal. (Gas ranges using piped gas were only limitedly available.) “Fire for cookery is confined in a stove or range, so that heat may be utilized and regulated.” “How to build a fire” is described in detail: Layer paper, small sticks or pine wood, hard wood, and then two shovelfuls of coal. Cover, and “strike with a match – sufficient friction is formed to burn the phosphorus, this in turn lights the sulphur, and the sulphur the wood – then aply the lighted match under the grate, and you have a fire.” The temperature of the fire is controlled with dampers.

Comment: Fannie Farmer really impresses me! She even tells us how matches work! As a woman career scientist, I love reading the work of women who came before me. I describe her writing style as “friendly scientific”.

The Cookery chapter continues ways of cooking, such as boiling, broiling, baking, braising, and frying. “How to bone a bird” and “how to measure”: teaspooons and tablespoons and measuring cups of regulation sizes were available, and she encourages their use: “Good judgment [sic], with experience, has haught some to maasure by sight; but the majority need definite guides.” Food is packed in ice to preserve it, or by a machine where compressed gas is cooled and then permitted to expand.” That’s a refrigerator she is describing. In 1906, many ways of preserving foods were used, including refrigeration, canning, sugar, drying, evaporation, salting, smoking, pickling, and packing in oil.

And more . . .

I have spent weeks on this already and have decided to publish the entry, but continue to add to it as time goes on. I have 50 more cookbooks to get through!


The recipe that I want to cook for this blog is Brownies. It seems appropriate, since my 1906 edition is the first one to print the recipe. Before that time, there were no brownies! Hard to imagine life without these goodies.

brownies recipeI made them pretty much like the recipe, except I didn’t line the pan with paraffine paper, I simply sprayed with cooking spray (with flour in it). A “square” of Baker’s chocolate is an ounce of unsweetened baking chocolate in todays packaging. A “slow oven” is explained in my oven temperature reference. They did not say how long to bake them! I baked them a little hotter than a “slow oven” at 350˚ for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick tested almost clean.


250 Cookbooks: Knudsen Recipes

Cookbook #199: Knudsen Recipes, Knudsen, Knudsen Creamery Co. of California, 1955.

Knudsen RecipesThis is the second “Knudsen Recipes” cookbooklet that I have covered. I didn’t much like the recipes in the first one I covered, the 1953 version. In fact, I couldn’t find a single recipe to try in that version! This one is a lot better. I’ll give some examples below.

But first, a review. “Knudsen” is a California dairy product company, currently owned by Kraft Foods. Knudsen-brand products are still available in California and even in some of my local supermarkets here in Colorado. In 1955, they were quite proud of their high quality and modern research facilities. Note the illustration below. A chemist (male, of course) holding a round bottom flask with a claisen adaptor and a distillation apparatus.

inner coverFacing the page of the male chemist is a photo of the cook (female, of course) using a Knudsen product. Note: “For the young bride whose kitchen ‘know how’ begins and ends with frying an egg . . . “. And this is good too: “Here you will find colorful photographs showing how to make foods more appetizing and table settings more attractive.”

first page

Knudsen Recipes begins with recipes for appetizers. I kind of like” Smoked Salmon Spread”, with salmon, cream cheese, sour cream, and onion. It would be good with crackers or small toasts. My mother put a check by several recipes in this chapter – dips for parties and other get-togethers were quite popular in our home. Most of the Knudsen dips are made from cream cheese, sour cream, maybe cottage cheese, and then canned shrimp, tuna, crab, or bacon. Most sound “okay”. (Except the dip made with cottage cheese, Bleu cheese, sour cream, olives, and peanuts. I’d never make that one.)

Dessert recipes come next. I like the recipe for “Chocolate Cream Cookies” (with sour cream) and Cream-Orange Drops (with cream cheese).

page 9

There is a cup cake recipe with cottage cheese in the batter I might like to try. “Boston Brown Betty” is an apple-crisp type of dessert with cream cheese and graham crackers – sounds good. Mother tried the “Quick Raisin Pie”:

page 8

On to main dishes. “Liver Loaf” with liver, salt pork, bread crumbs, and cottage cheese doesn’t sound good to me, but it illustrates how popular organ meats used to be. The page below illustrates some of the main dishes: canned macaroni and cheese with milk, cottage cheese and hamburger;  stroganoff with cottage cheese and cream cheese rather than sour cream; a shrimp dish with canned shrimp.

page 23The “Crab and Shrimp Bake” (below) is made with cooked shrimp “cut in bits’ and crab meat, cottage cheese, sour cream, celery and onion and green pepper, and potato chips. I don’t know, does it sound good to you? I do think I’d probably like the “Chicken-Noodle Mix”.page 19

Below is another page of main dish recipes. Note the “Baked Potato” recipe. Haven’t seen this recipe for awhile – baked potatoes with sour cream and chives. That was always a standard at our house and was often offered at restaurants. In fact, when they’d ask if we wanted butter or sour cream and chives, we’d say “both”. I think we sometimes made a mix of butter, sour cream, cream cheese, and chives (or green onions) to put over baked potatoes.

page 34

In the middle of the book is a page of menus for the family and entertaining (typical 50s “the woman belongs in the home” slant). Next is a section on dieting:

page 42

The next page is “Menus for reducing”. Example, for lunch, you get 6 celery rings (celery with Bleu cheese, cream cheese, and sour cream), a small glass of buttermilk, one soda cracker, 1/2 teaspoon of butter, one cookie, and coffee with half-and-half. Egads! you could skip the silly single soda cracker and the sugary cookie and have something whole grain instead, and put skim milk in your coffee! Where is the protein, except in the milk products? And note the low-calorie recipes at the bottom of the page, with the 243 calorie peanut butter pudding (vanilla pudding mix, peanut butter, and cottage cheese).

page 43I like this excerpt below: “But first, you must learn the language of calories, a language anyone can pick up quickly.”

page 44

One more comment on this dieting section. I would have thought that yogurt would be in a dieting plan. But no recipes in the book include yogurt, although it is included with the Knudsen products on the back cover:

back cover

After the menu planning and dieting sections, Knudsen Recipes goes to salad recipes: molded salads with cream cheese and cottage cheese and fruit, avodados with cottage cheese, broccoli with cream cheese. Not many of these recipes interest me, other than as nostalgia.

I like the page below for two reasons. For one, I like the illustration of the housewife. For two, I like the table of “oven temperatures”. Many times I have run across a recipe in an older cookbook that says simply “cook in a hot oven” or the like. This table will help me convert old recipes to current oven settings.

page 62

If you would like to see more of this cookbook for yourself, I found a digitized copy of this book on the HathiTrust.org site: the record and the full digitized view.

I decide to make “Chocolate Cream Cookies” for this blog. The scan of the original recipe is above in this blog, page 9. Below is my updated version of this recipe.

Chocolate Cream Cookies
about 6 dozen

  • 1/2 cup butter (I used salted butter)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate, melted
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 3/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

Cream the butter and the sugar on high speed. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until well mixed. Add the chocolate, and then the sour cream; mix in on medium speed. Combine the dry ingredients and add slowly until all of the flour is incorporated. Add the nuts and mix in.

Drop dough from a teaspoon onto a baking sheet. (I used a sheet of parchment in my half-sheet pan.) Bake at 375˚ for 8-12 minutes.

Here are my cookies. I took them to share at my Lyons Garden Club meeting.

Chocolate Cream Cookies

These cookies are very good! Kind of a subtle chocolate-y flavor in a soft cookie. The sour cream does make these cookies stand out amongst all the other chocolate cookies I have made.

I baked the first batch as directed at 425˚ for 10 minutes. I could smell them burning and sure enough, the bottoms of this first batch were burned. I lowered the oven to 375˚ for 10 minutes for the rest of the cookies. I suggest peeking at the first batch at 8 minutes though, as all ovens vary a bit.

I made the dough for these and kept it in the refrigerator, making cookies “as needed”. As the original recipe states, you could probably freeze the dough with success.

250 Cookbooks: Baker’s Book of Chocolate Riches

Cookbook #175: Baker’s Book of Chocolate Riches, General Foods Corporation, Golden Press, NY, 1983 (second printing, 1985).

Baker's Book of Chocolate Riches cookbook

I have three Baker’s cookbooks on my shelves. In blog post #118, I enjoyed looking through the 1932 one, Baker’s Best Chocolate Recipes, largely because it is so old. My other Baker’s cookbook is Baker’s Chocolate and Coconut Favorites, 1977.

I once tried the brownie recipe in this 1985 Baker’s Book of Chocolate Riches, and the recipe is exactly the same as the 1932 version! Good recipes hold up for years.

Fudgy Brownies recipe

This 1985 Baker’s Book of Chocolate Riches is definitely a cookbook I will keep. I know that each cookie, pie, cake or dessert recipe would cook up great. It’s one of my go-to books for when I need a good dollop of chocolate.

For this blog, I decide to make Crackle-Top Cookies. I’ll keep a few at home, but take most to a potluck meeting I have tonight. (Along with a bottle of wine, what is better than chocolate and wine!)

Crackle-Top Cookies recipeThis recipe is very similar to my recipe for Chocolate Chews. The differences are that this recipe has less flour, adds cinnamon, uses brown sugar instead of white, and has more nuts. Plus the baking time: these are cooked 20 minutes instead of 10 minutes.

Crackle Top Cookies
makes about 5 dozen

  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 2/3 cups brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 squares unsweetened baking chocolate, melted
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2/3 cup chopped nuts
  • powdered sugar

Mix the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.

Beat the shortening with a mixer, then beat in the brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla, then stir in the chocolate and mix well.

Add the flour mixture alternately with the milk, beating after each addition until smooth. Stir in nuts.

Chill a few hours in the refrigerator. Shape into 1-inch balls, then roll each in powdered sugar. Bake at 350˚ for 10 minutes if you like chewy cookies, or 20 minutes if you like crisp cookies. (My recommendation is 10 minutes.)

Crackle Top CookiesThese are excellent! I cooked the first batches 20 minutes, and I thought they were too crisp. The last batch I cooked only 10 minutes, and they were soft and chewy. We like the soft and chewy ones a lot better!

250 Cookbooks: Menu Magic in a Nutshell

Cookbook #170: Menu Magic in a Nutshell, Diamond Walnuts, California Walnut Growers Association, 1950.

Menu Magic Diamond Walnuts cookbook

I have to admit something: the photo above is not mine. The cover on my booklet is missing, but I found the above photo online. This booklet is currently sold on the Etsy site for $12. The seller claims the book was published in 1950, and authored by cook(s) at the Good Housekeeping Institute.

Who buys these old booklets? Vintage books are used in scrapbooking or decoupage. Or maybe someone lost their old copy, or simply like walnut recipes!

My mother liked walnuts This was her booklet, and I think she used it a lot. You can see how beat up the first page is:

Menu Magic in a Nutshell

It’s fun to read, isn’t it? Note it refers to the name “Diamond” branded on each nutshell. It took me a moment to remember: walnuts used to be available only in the shell. We used to spend hours shelling walnuts for Mother. In California, you could even pick your own walnuts off the trees, still in the soft skin that covered the hard shell. One birthday or Mother’s Day, us kids picked a whole bunch and shelled them all for Mother. By the time they were shelled and wrapped as a present and opened on the special day, the entire lot was wormy. Boy, that’s an old memory.

Today I buy shelled walnuts in bulk or bags. I always have some in the freezer, ready to add to muffins and breads, salads and desserts.

Let’s see what this vintage cookbook has to offer. Mixed Fruit and Walnut Salad has pineapple, dates, orange, banana, grapes, and walnuts, and is served over lettuce. Sounds pretty good to me. Diamond Chicken Salad adds walnuts to chicken, celery and mayonnaise salad. Yummy. There are several molded salads that were so popular in the 50s and 60s. Desserts are next: Brown Betty, Apple Walnut Tapioca, Raisin Walnut Pie, Walnut Peach Shortcake, Apricot Caramel Shortcake, Danish Apple Pudding, and Apple Crumb Pie all sound good. Mother marked “Prune Whip” as “good“. (Prune Whip is a meringue dessert with stewed prunes and walnuts.) She also liked Walnut Sticks, a bar cookie made with brown sugar, eggs, and walnuts. Just about all of the cookies and cakes look good to me!

Main courses? You can include walnuts with apples and sweet potatoes, or walnuts in turkey dressing, or in meatballs. The meatless walnut loaves do not appeal to me, though. Finally, candies: Divinity (Mother marked it “good”), Uncooked Fudge, and Sugared Walnuts. Looks like I’m missing pages 23-30. Sad, because the index tells me those pages included the bread recipes.

Well, I guess I’m going to have to keep this little “cookbook”. Maybe I’ll find the rest of this booklet someday.

For this blog, I choose to make Ice Box Cookies. I like refrigerator cookies because I can always have them on hand to bake up fresh, and I can bake just a few at a time. Mother marked this recipe with her notes, so I know they are “Good”!

Ice Box Cookies recipe

I like brown sugar, so I am going to up the amount of brown sugar and decrease the amount of white sugar. Mother noted, and then crossed out, that there is too much flour in this recipe. I’ll add the flour very gradually and use the mixer to combine it in.

Ice Box Cookies
makes about 4 dozen

  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Cream the shortening and sugars for several minutes. Add the egg and beat in well. Mix in the walnuts and vanilla.

Stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add gradually to the creamed mixture. (Do not add all of the flour mixture if the dough no longer holds together.) Remove from the mixing bowl and, with your hands, press the dough into one solid mass, then form it into a couple 1 1/2-inch logs. Wrap each log in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 48 hours.

Cut into 1/8-inch slices and bake 7 minutes at 425˚.


My dough was too dry. I should have paid attention to my mother’s first note. In Colorado, I know from long experience that flour is very dry here. Next time I’ll use 1/4 cup less flour, though. They were kind of crumbly to slice before baking.

But are they good?

Ice Box CookiesYes! These are sweet, crisp, and tasty. I had one, and wanted more!