250 Cookbooks: Healthy Home-Style Cooking

Cookbook #83: Healthy Home-Style Cooking, Classic Pillsbury Cookbook, The Pillsbury Company, 1989.

Healthy Homestyle CookingThis pamphlet-cookbook offers “a contemporary healthful approach to light, sensible and delicious eating.” I can imagine myself 25 years ago, hungry, dieting, waiting in the supermarket check-out line, paging through this cookbook and seeing a few ideas for light meals or desserts.

Most recipes in this cookbook shave off calories by employing low-calorie butter or low-fat milk products. Portion sizes are very small. For instance, Choco-Lite Brownies are only 70 calories each, but that’s because an 8-inch square pan of brownies is cut into 24 pieces. Lots of fresh fruits and vegetables are used in these recipes, as well as whole grains. That’s good.

Today I don’t find much inspiration in the recipes in this cookbook, so I will recycle it. For this blog, I decide to make the “Whole Grain Yeast Waffles” and “Strawberry Syrup”. Oddly enough, this recipe is in the Lively Main Dishes and Light Meals chapter. The lead-in to the recipe says “the batter can be made in advance to make hectic morning breakfasts a snap!” Guess since you make them at night, they are listed with main dishes. Hmm.

Waffles with Strawberry SyrupI have been making a similar yeast-leavened waffle for years; it differs a bit in that it uses fresh milk, no cinnamon, and only all-purpose flour. I like the idea of whole wheat flour in waffles, so I’ll try this new version. And strawberry syrup – I’ll make that too! What a treat this will be for a Wednesday morning.

Whole Grain Yeast Waffles
makes 8-12 waffles

  • 1 tablespoon yeast
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup instant milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (I used a bit more)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 eggs

Mix the yeast, water, and sugar and let stand a few minutes. Meanwhile, stir together the flours, instant milk, cinnamon, and salt. Beat the eggs lightly, add the oil and vanilla, then stir into the flour mixture along with the yeast-sugar-water mixture. Mix until well-blended.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Cook the next morning in a waffle iron. My batter was a bit thick for my waffle iron, so I thinned it with a bit of milk.

Strawberry Syrup
makes a little over a cup of syrup

  • 16 ounce package frozen strawberries
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup

Put the frozen strawberries in a large bowl and microwave on high for about 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes. The strawberries will come to a boil and soften.

Let the berries cook a bit, then strain through cheese cloth or a chinois. Keep pressing the strawberries through the strainer with the back of a spoon. This takes awhile! You should get about a cup of juice.

Put the strawberry juice in a pan and add the sugar and corn syrup. Bring to a boil and boil one minute. If you prefer, you can put the berry-sugar-corn syrup mixture in a medium bowl and microwave about 4 minutes (until it comes to a boil) and then microwave one more minute.

Here’s my first waffle with strawberry syrup. I couldn’t wait – I took a bite before I crossed the kitchen to the table!
Waffle with Strawberry SyrupComments

The waffles were very good, wheat-y and hearty. And they were easy: no mixing in the morning, just quick waffles. I made them a bit thicker, because the batter only yielded 8 waffles. That makes them 225 calories each.

The strawberry syrup – the strawberry syrup! My thick syrup tasted just like very good strawberry jam. It was great on waffles, and I would love it on ice cream.

A couple drawbacks to this syrup. It took some time to strain and made a total mess of a lot of utensils:

messy sinkAs I stated in my version of this recipe (above), I cooked the syrup in a pan instead of the microwave. Isn’t it lovely?

strawberry syrupThe other drawback to this syrup? It is high in calories. The nutrition information for this recipe states: “Variables in this recipe make it impossible to calculate nutrition information.” That’s weird. I went online to Nutrient Facts and found the calorie content of sugar and corn syrup, and used the calories on the bag of strawberries to calculate that the full batch of syrup has about 1200 calories, and considering my volume, that’s about 75 calories per tablespoon. And I used more than one tablespoon. It is so good I could lap this stuff up.

I haven’t used corn syrup in ages. I was a bit concerned that it contained high-fructose corn syrup, but no, it says right on the package, “no high-fructose corn syrup”.

So the waffles and the syrup are great, but that’s because they are not exactly low-calorie. The cookbook failed me as a low-calorie source, but did not fail to give me a tasty and nutritious meal.

250 Cookbooks: Encyclopedia of Cookery, Vol. 1

Cookbook #9: Woman’s Day Encyclopedia of Cookery, Vol. 1, A-Bea. Woman’s Day, Fawcett Publications, NY, 1966.

Encyclopedia of Cookery

This is the first in a series of 12 food encyclopedia volumes. They were my mother’s, so I will not part with them. But that’s not the sole reason that I now want to keep them.

Printed encyclopedias. Outdated tools? Today my first impulse when I have a question about (for instance) different types of apples, I open a web browser and enter my search terms. A plethora of links appears almost instantly, and I quickly scan the information that random people have uploaded to the internet. I have a (probably correct) answer, and then I jump to another website, or another task. That tidbit of information was fleeting. I probably will never see it again.

The web gives us quick answers, but we miss something, we miss the permanence of the written page. Print-published authors take a lot of time gathering their information, checking their facts, editing the text, polishing their photos. The next time I open this particular encyclopedia, the same information will be there, in my hands.

And when I took some time with this encyclopedia, which by definition gives “information on many subjects”, I found it full of not only information, but unexpected treats.

Let’s start with abalone, the first entry. This mollusk is described, including availability, calorie content, and basic preparation. Then several recipes are listed. This is the basic layout throughout the volume. Some information is dated, e.g., for abalone: “In the US, the fresh shellfish is limited to California. The law prohibits its shipment fresh to other parts of the country.” Interesting! It’s no longer true, but years ago, you could only have fresh abalone in California. The next entry is acorn squash, again with description and recipes. I learned that aioli is a thick sauce flavored with garlic. Definitions of the cooking terms “a la carte” and “a la grecque” and “a la king” are given, along with related recipes.

Then I came to a section titled “American Cooks are Good Cooks”. This section takes up a full third of the volume! I began reading the three page introduction to this section, written by a woman named Sophie Kerr. I’m sharing a few parts of this article so you, too, can enjoy it.

“A lot of talk goes round now and then to the effect that American cooks are way behind cooks of other lands when it comes to producing a first-rate meal, and that American food in general lacks the elegant subtlety of foreign dishes. I don’t know who started this nonsense, but nonsense it is, and it should be labeled so in large black letters. Actually, there is a great tradition in American cooking, and thousands of women have come to respect and perpetuate it.”

“. . . every housewife had her treasured recipes, which she wouldn’t give away even to her dearest friends. Those were the days of bake sales for church and charity, when the knowing ones lined up early to get some of Mrs. S-and-So’s pocketbook rolls, or Mrs. Whosis’ white cake with almond frosting, or Mrs. Query’s green-apple custard pie, and if the supply was gone when they got there, they screamed like Indians.”

Screamed like Indians! Boy, no one would write that today.

“Early in the 1900’s there appeared a new school of thought among American cooks. This was the era when careers for women were opening up in business and in the professions and arts, so certain groups, perhaps a little oversold on career stuff, proclaimed that it was menial to cook and that women now, for the first time, had their chance to come out of the kitchen. These groups made a noise considerably larger than their numbers warranted; but they did effect a slight hush-hush about recipes and good eating in general and particular. They said it wasn’t intellectual to be interested in food, and, of course, no woman likes to be publicly labeled as unintellectual. American cooking took something of a beating during this dark period; but it is cheering to remember that, in spite of all the shouting against them, there were plenty of sensible women who simply laid low and cooked better and better, confident that the tide would eventually turn.”

Enchanting. Sophie Kerr’s essay is followed by a collection of recipes from all fifty states. None of them caught my eye to try—Denver Sandwiches, Squaw Corn, Campfire Trout, Topeka Fried Chicken, Iowa Farm Ice Cream—but it’s interesting reading and has lots of photos. In fact, the entire volume is illustrated with full- and half-page photos, as well as drawings and decorative page borders.

I am going to remember this encyclopedia the next time I want to look up information about a particular food item or term. I know I’ll not only find the information I need, but also a history lesson, and maybe a chuckle or two. It’s an excellent source of historical recipes from the first half of the twentieth century in the US. However, I don’t find the cookbook very useful when searching for a recipe, because of the organization. Who would think to look for a recipe for green beans in the “A” section, under “Sauce Amandine”, in the almond section? (In the encyclopedia’s defense, though, a detailed index at the back of the last volume helps.) Another drawback is that the recipes were written before the invention of modern kitchen conveniences: immersion blenders, food processors, and microwave ovens to name a few.

beans amandine

I decided to cook a recipe from the “Apple” section. I chose Apple Butter. Why? Well, as often happens, what I cook is determined by what needs to be used in my freezer or on my shelves. A couple months ago we were leaving for vacation and I had a lot of apples that wouldn’t keep until our return. So I cored them and cut them in chunks and froze them, thinking I’d make applesauce someday. Combined with a few aging apples on my counter, they would be great for apple butter.

I modified the recipe from the Encyclopedia of Cookery (below) quite a bit.

Apple Butter

I wanted to use my slow cooker, and I didn’t want to strain the apple mixture. Instead, I chose to blend the cooked mixture, so that I could incorporate all the flavor and fiber of the apple skins. I added ginger and nutmeg because I like apple butter spicy. Consulting one of my crockpot books and a couple online recipes to determine cooking times, I came up with a more or less original recipe, entered below.

Apple Butter

If possible, use a mixture of sweet and tart apples. This recipe makes 12 4-ounce jars.

  • 4-5 pounds unpeeled apples (about 10-12 apples), stemmed and chopped roughly
  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon allspice* (see note below)
  • 3/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • juice of 1/2 lemon

Combine all of the above ingredients (except the lemon) in a slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for about 10 hours. (This is convenient to do overnight.) At this point, you can let the mixture cool and process in batches in a food processor. Or, you can use an immersion blender to puree it right in the slow cooker.

Apple Butter in Crockpot

(At this point I feel like a witch stirring her brew. Witchery, cookery . . . why is this cookbook series the encyclopedia of cookery? No wonder I feel so at home. Here is my blog entry from five years ago, back when I was a practicing witch . . . ahem, chemist . . . )

With the lid off, turn to temperature to high and cook for 1-3 hours, stopping when the apple butter is the thickness you prefer. And taste it, adding more spices if you like. I added the juice of half a lemon to lend it a little zip. It took 2 hours for my apple butter to come to the thick spreading consistency that I like.

The apple butter will keep in your refrigerator for up to a month. I decided to can it in small 4 ounce jars to keep and to give away.

jarsI sterilized 12 of these cute little jars in boiling water, then filled them with the hot apple butter. Then I closed them with hot canning lids and set them upside down on the counter to cool.

apple butter cooling

The whole process took awhile and it really made the house smell like apples and cinnamon, especially during the overnight cook. It was all worth it! This apple butter turned out very good, and we are still enjoying it, on toast, peanut butter sandwiches, and sweet potato biscuits (cooked as per this recipe but with half the baking powder).

Note: Allspice’s definition is conveniently in the same encyclopedia volume: