250 Cookbooks: Sunbeam Cooker and Deep Fryer

Cookbook #188: Sunbeam Cooker and Deep Fryer, Sunbeam Corporation, Chicago, Illinois, 1952.

Sunbeam Cooker and Deep Fryer cookbookMy Sunbeam deep fryer spends most of its time down on a shelf in the basement. It is greasy and old and just the thought of deep-frying sends fears of high calorie food into my healthy eating plan. Even though I read (and mostly believed) The Big Fat Surprise by Nina Teicholz, I am reluctant to deep fry foods. But I must cover this cookbook, and so I’ll just have to indulge a bit!

This booklet, Sunbeam Cooker and Deep Fryer, definitely belonged to my mother. I am not sure how I acquired my deep fat fryer – whether I got it new or as a hand-me-down or bought it myself or received it as a gift.  Introduced in 1952 as both a deep fryer and a cooker, this appliance pre-dated the introduction of slow cookers into the American cooking culture. It’s likely my Sunbeam deep fryer is almost as old as I am. Now that’s scary!

Sunbeam fryer introductionThe Sunbeam Cooker and Deep Fryer booklet advises the cook to use solid vegetable shortening, such as “Spry”, a product I discussed in my blog entry for the 1942 cookbook Good Cooking made Easy, Spry, the flavor saver. (Crisco® is now the common brand-name solid shortening.) The Sunbeam Cooker and Deep Fryer booklet directs cooks to re-use shortening by lifting the little bits of food from the warm shortening, and then allowing it to cool and solidify. The shortening can even be stored right in the fryer. (Well, I’m not going to do that.)

The booklet begins with recipes for coated and deep fried chicken, pork chops, liver, hot dogs, fish, shrimp, oysters, and clams. Next are fritters and croquettes, from apple and banana fritters to tuna or macaroni and cheese croquettes to french toast. “Appetite-teasers” include fried pigs in a blanket, liver sausage bonbons, salted nuts, and French fried pop corn.

Doughnuts are next (more on that later!).

Breaded and deep fried vegetables is the next section: cauliflower, tomatoes, mushrooms, onions (I’ve made these), sweet potato balls, and potato cakes. I have used this deep fryer to make french fries many many times, but I only occasionally indulge in french fries nowadays. When I do, I use the method in this booklet, because it’s the best! First, you peel and cut potatoes into half-inch “fries”, then soak them in hot water for about 30 minutes. Next you drain and dry them, carefully lower into 375˚ oil for 5-7 minutes, until the potatoes are tender but not brown, and then lift the basket out of the hot oil (this step can be done an hour or so before serving the fries). Just before serving, you heat oil to 390˚ and re-fry the potatoes until browned and crisp, about 3-5 minutes. Serve at once.

The final section section in the Sunbeam Cooker and Deep Fryer booklet covers “cooking” rather than deep frying, including bean, chili, stew, ribs, and soup recipes. You can even use “Your New Sunbeam” as a steamer, or a bun warmer (!).

For this blog, I choose a recipe for doughnuts. I will do this on a morning when we have company to enjoy this rare treat! Doughnuts can be made from a quick-bread dough or from a yeast dough. After frying, doughnuts can be topped with sugar or frosting – I think we all know about the variety of doughnut toppings!

Here is an add for a demonstration of the Sunbeam Fryer at Conrad’s, from The Dispatch, Lexington, NC, Friday, March 6, 1953 (article reference).

fryer ad

Before I begin my doughnuts, I must clean my deep fat fryer. It is in shameful shape.

fryer before cleaningCleaned up, it doesn’t look a whole lot better. Some of the paint came off before I realized it was happening.

cleaned deep fryerBelow is the scanned-in recipe for Old Fashioned Doughnuts in the Sunbeam Cooker and Deep Fryer booklet. I can tell from all the grease splashes that I have used the doughnut recipe before:
Doughnut recipe

I prepared two different types of dough: one that used baking powder as a leavener (Old Fashioned Doughnuts) and one that uses yeast (Glazed Yeast Doughnuts, from a website). I prepared both doughs the day before, so that my morning could be simplified.

Old Fashioned Doughnuts
makes about 2 dozen

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix eggs, sugar, and shortening in a mixer for about a minute. Add the buttermilk and vanilla.

Stir together the dry ingredients, then add to the wet mixture, blending (and scraping the bowl) until the mixtures are completely combined.

Chill the dough 2 hours (or overnight).

Roll the dough out on a floured board until about 1/3-inch thick. Cut out doughnuts with a floured doughnut cutter.

Slide each doughnut into 375˚ oil. Fry until the doughnuts rise to the top and begin to brown on the under side. Turn, fry other side. Fry about 4 or 5 at a time; takes about 2 1/2 minutes each.

(Fry doughnut holes too.) Sugar, sugar-cinnamon, dip in powdered sugar/water, vanilla glaze and then you can dip in coconut or chopped nuts.

I also want to make raised doughnuts. The recipe for these treats in Sunbeam Cooker and Deep Fryer states to use your favorite yeast sweet roll dough recipe, and after the dough rises, roll out and let rise again before frying. Well, I want doughnuts for breakfast, and do not want to get up at the break of dawn to start these! Luckily a google search found a recipe for raised doughnuts that you start the day before in a breadmaker, store the dough overnight in the fridge, and then rise the dough only a short time before frying. The sweet yeast dough recipe is similar to my own, so I decide to use this recipe.

Glazed Yeast Doughnuts
makes about 2 dozen

I used this online recipe: Glazed Yeast Doughnuts for the Bread Machine on AboutFood.com.

Comments

I rolled out the Glazed Yeast Doughnuts dough first, assuming it would take a half hour or so to “wake up” the yeast. I even found my ancient “doughnut cutter” to form the doughnuts. It’s a biscuit cutter with an optional doughnut-hole cutter that can be added to the center.

formed doughnutsHere are the doughnuts cooked and glazed. I found out on the next batch that it helps to keep the glaze hot so that it covers the doughnuts better. These look a bit sloppy, but they tasted delightful!

doughnutsI cooked the “Old Fashioned Doughnuts” too. They were sweeter with a nice hint of spices. I recommend both recipes!

250 Cookbooks: Ryzon Baking Book

Cookbook #138: Ryzon Baking Book, Marion Harris Neil, General Chemical Company, 1917.

Ryzon Baking Book cookbook1917! This was my grandmother’s cookbook. She turned the pages when my mother was only one year old. On one page there are crayon marks: Could they have been made by Mother? On another page my grandmother wrote some math calculations. She was good at math.

The book is a bit water-wrinkled with a few sugar stains (and crayon marks) but otherwise in pretty good shape. It’s hard-covered, unusual for an advertising booklet. “Price $1.00” translates into $20.24 in today’s inflated dollars. Another blogger wrote about this cookbook too: The History of Food and Drink Collection, What’s Cookin’ @Special Collections.

“Ryzon”, what’s that? Ryzon was a brand of baking powder sold for a few years in the early twentieth century.

What is baking powder? It is a chemical mixture that makes breads and cakes “rise” in the oven. It is called a “leavening agent”. Before baking powder, yeast was used to leaven breads and cakes. In a mixture of flour and water, yeast ferments, and on baking, the mixture releases carbon dioxide, putting little bubbles in the mixture and the bread rises. Yeast-risen breads and cakes tend to have a distinctive yeasty flavor.

Baking soda is another leavening agent. It is sodium bicarbonate, a weak base that can be found in natural deposits. When baking soda is mixed with water, flour, and a small amount of an acidic ingredient like sour milk or vinegar, it too releases carbon dioxide on heating and causes breads and cakes to rise. Baking soda was used by the ancient Egyptians for paints; by the mid-eighteenth century it was used for baking. Baking soda breads tend to have a distinctive flavor of their own because one ingredient must be sour.

Baking powder was introduced to the cooking public in the mid-nineteenth century. It is a dry mixture of baking soda and a weak solid acid. This acid can be one of several phosphate or sulfate compounds:

  • monocalcium phosphate
  • sodium aluminium slufate
  • potassium bitartrate (potassium hydrogen tartrate, or cream of tartar)
  • monosodium phosphate
  • sodium acid pyrophosphate

Cornstarch is added to the weak base-weak acid mixture to keep the two from combining (and reacting) on storage. The cornstarch also keeps the baking powder from clumping. Percentages: baking soda 30%, weak acid 5-25%, rest is cornstarch.

Baking powder gives virtually no flavor to baked goods (although some may argure this point, see the next paragraph) and bakers don’t have to include an acidic ingredient in the batter. It is simple to use because you don’t have to wait for a dough to rise. That’s why breads leavened with baking powder/baking soda are called “quick breads”.

Cooks are often picky when it comes to their choice of the weak acid used in the baking powder product they use. Some don’t like aluminum-acid containing baking powders because the aluminum lends baked goods a metallic taste; some believe aluminum is not be good for your health.

Some baking powders are “double acting”, meaning they contain two different weak acids, one that starts acting as soon as water is added and one that doesn’t act until it is heated in the oven.

Ryzone was a single-acting baking powder: it used only monosodium phosphate. The Ryzon Baking Powder cookbook claims that phosphate baking powders are the most desirable. One section raves about the purity of their monosodium phosphate and the cleanliness of their factory and workers.

What kind of baking powder do I use? I generally use whatever brand my local supermarket sells. Currently I have an open can of Clabber Girl Double Acting baking powder in my cabinet. The acids in this brand are sodium aluminum sulfate and monocalcium phosphate. I also have a new can of Bakewell Cream (purchased from King Arthur Flour) that includes only the weak acid sodium acid pyrophosphate (although they claim it is double acting).

All this might be boring to you, but for me – as a chemist and as a cook – I liked reviewing a baking process I use all the time.

Here are some take-home lessons to help our quick bread baking:

  • When using baking powder or baking soda, you always need to get the batter in the oven as soon as possible so the little bubbles don’t escape before your bread or cake is baked. (You probably have 10-15 minutes.)
  • Baking soda is the choice when you use sour milk (buttermilk) or yogurt in the batter.
  • Recipes often call for a combination of baking soda and baking powder. This is because double acting baking powder gives an extra “umpf” when the batter is heated.
  • Baking powder is a less-concentrated leavening agent than baking soda because it has a filler (cornstarch). It is 30% baking soda, while baking soda is 100%.
  • Be careful not to use too much baking powder, because if it is not all used in the baking process, it might lend a metallic taste to your baked good.
  • If you are out of baking powder but have cream of tartar, you can substitute: mix two parts cream of tartar with one part baking soda.
  • Rule of thumb: use one teaspoon of baking powder per cup of flour in a recipe that does not have an acidic ingredient.
  • Rule of thumb: use 1/2 teaspoon baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda per cup of flour and cup of buttermilk.

I decide to make Ryzon Gingerbread for this blog (and for us!).

Ryzon Gingerbread RecipeNote the bit of history in the above clip: “Gingerbread is probably one of the oldest forms of cake known. It has certainly been known since the fourteenth centure, when it was made and sold in Paris.”

I have always liked gingerbread, but I don’t make it a lot. In fact, I don’t even have a “go to” recipe for plain old gingerbread (I do make a great Apple Gingerbread Cobbler). This Ryzon recipe has lots of molasses in it, which is considered a healthy-ish sweetener. (I am surprised at how many of the recipes in this Ryzon cookbook are called “health breads” and have whole wheat flour in them.) And it has nutritious raisins and nuts. The recipe calls for “a shallow pan” – I chose a 9-inch square pan and it worked fine. A “moderate” oven is 350-375˚ – I chose 375˚. Below is my version.

Hearty Gingerbread

  • 1 cup molasses (340 g)
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup nuts
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 eggs

Combine the molasses, butter, sugar, and water in a pan and heat gently (with stirring) on the stove until the butter melts. Remove from heat and let cool.

Butter and flour a 9-inch baking pan (or a 7×11-inch pan). Heat the oven to 375˚.

Combine the nuts and raisins on a cutting surface and chop roughly. (You can, of course, chop them in any way you like.) Add the nut/raisin mixture to the molasses mixture. Stir together the baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and flour and then add it to the nut/raisin/molasses mixture. Beat the eggs and add them too.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake at 375˚ for 40-50 minutes, until it is nicely browned and pulls away from the sides of the pan.

GingerbreadI really enjoyed this gingerbread. Gingery and molassesy. And dense with nuts and raisins. We had it for dessert with cool whip. It’s also good for snacking during the day, and for breakfast!

Note: after writing this post, a friend alerted me to posts on the Serious Eats blog on baking powder and baking soda. Excellent discussions.

I liked the way the book lay open on the counter:

open Ryzon cookbookI also like the page that describes how to measure a level teaspoon and the two inside-cover pages from the back of the book that talk about the General Chemical Company factory.

RyzonRyzonRyzon

250 Cookbooks: Hershey’s Cocoa Cookbook

Cookbook #124: Hershey’s Cocoa Cookbook, Hershey Chocolate Company, Western Publishing Company, Inc., USA, 1979.

Hershey's Cocoa CookbookCAN I REALLY HAVE SOMETHING THIS GOOD FOR BREAKFAST? Boy, that was my first thought as I took a bite of Chocolate Banana Bread early this Friday morning. This recipe that I tried from Hershey’s Cocoa Cookbook is a definite keeper!

Each and every recipe in this small cookbook features cocoa – the unsweetened powdered chocolate form of chocolate. I think I always passed over this book thinking it’s “just another chocolate cookbook”. But no, the recipes are all from scratch, and I always have cocoa in my pantry because it keeps so well. And this cookbook has all the basics: cakes (including red velvet cake), cupcakes, cookies (brownies), candies (fudge), pies (cocoa chiffon pie), frostings, sauces (classic cocoa sauce and hot fudge sauce), and beverages (cocoa from scratch). Plus many interesting recipes I’ve never seen before, like the Chocolate Banana Bread.

The back cover of Hershey’s Cocoa Cookbook states that this cookbook was “free!”. It probably came with a new box of cocoa. Today, I found it for sale online for about five dollars.

I chose this banana-based quick bread because as so often happens in the summer, I had very ripe bananas that needed to be used. I added the suggested raisins too. Here is the original recipe.

Chocolate Banana Bread recipeI decided to use unsalted butter rather than the shortening. And I added raisins. I felt that the batter would fit better into an 8×4-inch loaf pan (and I was correct). Instead of cutting in the butter with a pastry blender, I used a food processor. I used an immersion blender to mash the bananas because I like to get them really smooth. Below is my version of the recipe.

Chocolate Raisin Banana Bread
makes one loaf

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 2-3 ripe bananas – enough for 1 cup mashed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup raisins

Lightly grease an 8×4-inch loaf pan and heat the oven to 350˚.

Put the flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a food processor and pulse a couple times to combine. Cut the butter into half-inch chunks and add to the top of the dry ingredients. Mix with 6-10 short pulses, until the mixture is in coarse crumbs. Do not overmix.

Mash the bananas by hand or use an immersion blender – whatever is your favorite method. Make sure the bananas measure to about 1 cup when mashed. Add the eggs and mix in well.

Combine the wet and dry ingredients in a bowl and add the raisins. Mix only until blended. Pour into prepared pan and bake at 350˚ for 55-60 minutes, or until it tests done with a toothpick.

Chocolate Banana Raisin BreadThis dense, moist chocolate bread is delicious. It’s not overly sweet. The chocolate almost (but not quite) masks the bananas. I really liked the raisins. I really like this bread.

Breakfast though? Yeah, sometimes. It was also really good with vanilla ice cream and a little chocolate syrup for dessert. Yum any way or time you eat it!

250 Cookbooks: Sunbeam Deluxe Mixmaster Mixer

Cookbook #108: Sunbeam Deluxe Mixmaster Mixer, Instruction and Recipe Book, Sunbeam Appliance Company, 1983.

Sunbeam Deluxe Mixmaster cookbookI dug this little book out of the “instruction booklet” pile because . . . well, because I am organizing my kitchen storage area in our basement and found my old Sunbeam mixer. But, it’s missing both of the bowls that came with it. Shall I toss the mixer? Can I still find replacement bowls for this old appliance? Maybe I can find the model number in this instruction booklet to help me locate the bowls.

First: Does this mixer still work? I plug it in and – yes! The motor whirs!

Sunbeam MixmasterI search the Internet for “Sunbeam Mixmaster”. I soon realize that my mixer is not “old”, it is “vintage”! I place a bid on eBay for a bowl, and then followed some links on the history of Sunbeam Mixmasters.

The first electric mixers were introduced to the American public in 1915-1920. Sunbeam mixers were introduced in the early 1930s, after Ivar Jepson joined the Chicago Flexible Shaft Company. Jepson was a prolific inventor, and thanks to his inventions, the company did well even during the great depression. He was with the company – which changed its name to “Sunbeam” – until 1967. He is known as “Mr. Sunbeam”.

(There is a Yahoo group called “We Actually Collect Electric Mixers”, or WACEM.)

Here is an article on the vintage history of Sunbeam Mixmasters, written by a collector. Retro Kitchen Mixers is another good read. This one helps mixer-owners determine which model from 1930-1967 they own.

My mixer, alas, is from the 1980s and I can’t find the model number anywhere, it is neither in the instruction book, on the mixer, nor online. Luckily I only need a bowl, and the one I got through eBay fit my mixer. (I won the bidding! The used bowl cost $10 plus shipping.)

So my old Sunbeam is up and running again. I don’t really know why I replaced it with a new KitchenAid. Perhaps I was using it for kneading bread and it just wasn’t powerful enough for thick doughs. I remember one of the Sunbeam beaters collapsed while making Turtle Brownies and I had to order a new one.

I have decided to keep this 1980s mixer because it is: Vintage!

Since I have the Sunbeam Deluxe Mixmaster Mixer recipe booklet in my hand, and since it is entered in my database of 250 cookbooks, I decide to cook one of the recipes for this blog. There are only about 40 recipes in this cookbook, most of them are good old American basics. I decide to make Banana Nut Bread, partly because I have plenty of ripe bananas on hand. This Sunbeam version of banana bread is different from my usual recipe in that it has butter in it and a lot of brown sugar. Perhaps the extra sugar is not great for our health, but it sounds yummy!

Banana Bread recipeBanana Bread (from Sunbeam)
makes one 9x5x3-inch loaf

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 2 large, ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Put the flour, salt, and baking soda in the large bowl of an electric stand mixer and mix on low for a few seconds to combine. Add the sugar, butter, eggs, buttermilk, bananas, and walnuts. Mix on medium to medium high speed until thoroughly mixed, scraping sides of the bowl as necessary.

Pour the batter into a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan. If your pan is non-stick, you probably don’t have to grease it. If not, grease and flour the pan.

Let stand 20 minutes. (This is an unusual step; I did let it stand but I don’t think it’s necessary.)

Bake at 350˚ for 60-80 minutes, until it tests done with a toothpick.

Banana BreadThis was excellent banana bread. Nice and sweet!

250 Cookbooks: Bake It Easy Bake-Off Cook Book

Cookbook #67: Bake It Easy Bake-Off Cook Book, 100 winning recipes from Bake-Off® 24. Pillsbury, 1973.

Bake-Off 24 CookbookYet another Pillsbury Bake-Off Cookbook. So far I’ve done four Bake-off years: 1964 (Cookbook #4) and 1959 (Cookbook #10), 1963 (Cookbook #27), and 1966 (Cookbook #61). I refer you to the 1964 blog post for a more thorough discussion of these booklets. I had to guess at the publication date for this one: I have the silver (25th) anniversary cook-off booklet published in 1974, and this one is the 24th, so I figure it was published in 1973. There is a table in this book listing the winners of the 1949-1973 Bake-Offs. Inflation note: this one cost 89¢.

Was this my mother’s? I’m not sure. Neither of us wrote in it.

This 1973 cookbook reflects the influence of the 60s, when recently introduced packaged mixes were the rage, and also the 70s, when hippies and “health food” nuts like me were cooking with whole grains and such. Roughly a third of the recipes in this bake-off cookbook are from scratch (and call for “healthy” ingredients), the rest use hot roll mix, biscuit mix, crescent rolls, or frosting and cake mixes. The oddest recipe is this one for cookies: 1 package Pillsbury Coconut Pecan Frosting mix, 2 cups peanut butter, 3 eggs, 2 teaspoons vanilla, and 1 cup sugar; mix and drop onto cookie sheets to bake.

I was able to find several good recipes in this cookbook. The recipes I like (and noted for future reference) call for ingredients like bananas, apples, carrots, bran (Crunchy Bran Cornbread), whole wheat flour, wheat germ, and yams (Golden Yam Drop Cookies!). I decided to try: Apple-Carrot Quick Bread.

Apple Carrot BreadAren’t there just tons of recipes for carrot bread, and apple bread? Always with slight variations. I have my favorites, but sometimes it’s fun to try something a little different. Grated apple in a bread gives a different texture than, say, applesauce or apple chunks. Lemon extract? I don’t keep that around, so I’ll use grated lemon peel (lemon zest). I decide to use coconut (not nuts), and I’ll use regular shredded (angel flake) coconut rather than the big coconut slices that I like for granola. I am going to add vanilla, since I like it a lot. But I’ll hold off on my usual cinnamon and nutmeg, sometimes it’s nice to have a change in spices.

I will use butter in this recipe; if you want to make this “healthier”, use a vegetable oil. You could also use whole wheat pastry flour to boost nutrition and fiber. “Whatever you like”.

Apple-Carrot Quick Bread

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups peeled, shredded apples (I used 2 granny smiths)
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrot (about 1 medium carrot)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup coconut (you can used chopped nuts instead)

Blend the butter, eggs, and sugar using an electric mixer. Mix in  the apples, carrots, vanilla, and lemon zest.

Stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add to the blended mixture and mix only until just blended. Add the coconut and mix briefly.

Grease an 8×4-inch loaf pan on the bottom only. Pour in the batter and bake at 350˚ for 50-60 minutes.

Note: at my 5300 foot altitude, I reduced the baking powder and baking soda to 7/8 teaspoon each, and baked at 365˚ for 50 minutes.

Comments

Yum! This bread is so good. I wanted more, more! I’m glad I used lemon zest, and grated apples. I used it for a morning breakfast bread: I like to think that calories in the morning are worked off, so sometimes I splurge a bit. And this bread packs a few nutrients in it. Bottom line: it tastes great!

Apple Carrot Bread

250 Cookbooks: Country Cakes

Cookbook #48: Country Cakes, A Homestyle Treasury. Lisa Yockelson, Harper and Row, Publishers, New York, 1989.

Country CakesIt’s good to be back to my cooking blog! The townspeople of Lyons, and myself in the Lyons outskirts included, are beginning to recover physically and mentally from the September flood. Time to again take up my favorite pastimes.

And what a sweet way to do it: Country Cakes! This book was a present from my aunt and uncle to my mother for Christmas, 1989. My mother always wrote these remembrances on the inside cover of her cookbooks. It’s almost Christmas again, and I smile thinking of my mother.

I first picked this cookbook from the shelf looking for a recipe for a very rich cake to make on a small scale for one of our good meals during the holidays. You see, both our kids are off in other parts of the world this Christmas, and our own brothers and sisters are in California and Hawaii. So there’s just us two. But it’s still Christmas, and we can eat something very, very rich on Christmas, that’s the rule.

To my surprise, this cookbook does not have many over-the-top rich cake recipes. Instead, it has recipes for a lot of cakes that are right up my healthy alley. Apples, bananas, nectarines, blueberries, sweet potatoes, carrots, raisins, and nuts abound as ingredients in Lisa’s recipes. Sure, the cakes are still high in calories, but they pack some nutritional punch. On the downside, the recipes call for butter rather than a “healthy” oil, and are generous with it; they use regular flour instead of whole wheat. On the upside, these cakes will taste great.

Each day, you should eat at least a bite of something that makes you stop whatever you are doing and say “wow!” That’s my new year’s resolution.

Mother tried and liked “Chocolate Pan Cake with Chocolate Fudge Frosting”. This is one of the recipes in the book that is very rich. (But it’s not my choice for this blog.)

Chocolate Pan CakeChocolate Pan CakeThe book has a cute layout, with each recipe covering two pages, decorated with illustrations. Each recipe is introduced with a friendly note.

Almost each cake in this book is made with a basic procedure: “the fat, usually butter, is beaten for several minutes before a measure of sugar is added in stages and thoroughly combined; eggs and flavorings are then mixed into the batter completely; finally, a sifted or stirred  mixture, which contains leavening and salt and any spices being used, is added to the batter alternately with a liquid, such as milk, buttermilk or cream.” I learned this method in my mother’s kitchen, and every from-scratch cake baker to this day still uses it. Easy as cake!

The categories of cakes in this cookbook include: back porch cakes, coffee cakes, traveling cakes, upside-down, cakes, pound cakes, fresh fruit picnic cakes, little cakes, and cake and ice cream. I want to try the Marbled German Chocolate Cake, Coconut Layer Cake, Peach Upside-Down Cake, Blueberry Gingerbread, Raspberry Coffee Cake, Banana Coconut Coffee Cake – and more!

I had a sweet potato lurking in my potato bin that was asking to be cooked, so I decided to try the “Walnut-Sweet Potato Coffee Cake”. Instead of a rich dessert cake, this should be a sweet, moist and fragrant treat for these cold holiday mornings.

Walnut-Sweet Potato CakeWalnut-Sweet Potato CakeI would call this a “quick bread” rather than a cake. The distinction? In my mind, I think of quick breads as breads baked in a loaf pan and intended for breakfast or snacking. But I won’t quibble.

This recipe calls for a 10 x 3 1/4 x 3-inch loaf pan. I have tons of loaf pans, but none that size. I went to a local kitchenware store and couldn’t find one there either. A quick web search pulls up only 10 x 5-inch loaf pans. (Why did the author choose such an unusual pan?) So, I did a volume calculation and decided to use an 8 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan, although I knew this size might be a touch too small.

 Walnut-Sweet Potato Coffee Cake


For the cake:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (freshly grated if possible!)
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (if you use salted butter, cut the added salt in half)
  • 1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated orange rind
  • 1 cup cooked sweet potatoes, pureed (I probably used 1 1/4 cups)

For the topping:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Cook the sweet potato and mash or puree it; measure 1 (generous) cup. Lightly grease and flour a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. Turn on the oven to 350˚.

Sift (or stir) together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and ginger.

Combine the topping ingredients, crumbling the mixture together with your fingers until the butter is broken own into small bits. Set aside.

Melt the 4 tablespoons butter and place it in a large bowl. Use a spoon or a hand mixer to beat in the sugar and the brown sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, blending well after each. Add the milk, vanilla, orange rind, and sweet potatoes. Stir in the flour mixture and the 1/2 cup walnuts.

Turn the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the top, pressing it gently down into the batter.

Bake at 350˚ for about 45 minutes, or until it tests done with a toothpick or cake tester. Let cool in pan at least 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack (see my note on inverting the cake in my comments).

Walnut-Sweet Potato Cake

Comments

This coffee cake is delicious. I baked it in a smaller loaf pan, though, and the topping fell off when I inverted it onto the cooling rack. It did not look pretty! In my version of the recipe, above, I suggest using a larger loaf pan and pressing the topping into the batter before baking. And then, after cooking, carefully cover the cake with perhaps foil while inverting it to get it out of the pan.

I might try this in a square pan next time. That way, I could serve it right out of the pan and avoid the inverting step. A crumbly topping is always going to fall off when a cake is inverted! Another option is to skip the topping and cook it in a smaller loaf pan. Tough decision, because the cinnamon-walnut-sugar topping gives a burst of flavor, making me say “wow!”.

 

250 Cookbooks: Just Peachy

Cookbook #45: Just Peachy Peach Cookbook. Judith Ann Bosley, L. E. B. Inc., Boise, Idaho, 1993.

Just Peachy CookbookThis cute little cookbook is one of my favorites. For the shape and the title and the memories, probably more than the recipes. I bought it at the fruit stand in Lyons back in the 1990s, when there used to be a fruit stand in Lyons. Each July through September, the fruit stand purveyors regularly brought peaches over the pass from their orchards on the western slope (of the Rockies), peaches that were tree-ripened and delicious. Peach varieties ripen at different times, so first we’d get flamin’ furies, then redhavens, reginas, rozas, red globes, suncrests, and finally cresthavens. That was the sad time, because it meant the season was at its end.

I love peaches. Mostly I like them plain and natural. So juicy that you have to go outside to eat them. This year, I searched out the best Colorado peaches at county Farmers Markets and natural food stores. My first were in August. They greeted me with their aroma early one Sunday morning:

peachesOf course I bought more than we could eat right away (that’s just the way I am) but that doesn’t worry me. When I get too many, it’s time for a peach fest: peaches over ice cream, peach cobbler, peach pie, peach crisp, peach jam, and peach muffins. Thanks to my Just Peachy cookbook, I have added a new recipe to my peach repertoire: Peach Bread. That recipe is below.

Just a few quick notes on the other recipes in this cookbook. Many are for desserts that I probably won’t make, but I noted and might try recipes for: coffee cake, oatmeal muffins, peaches and pork tenderloin with cilantro in tortillas, peach glazed cornish hens, peach chutney, and peach butter.

Here is the peach bread recipe that I am basing my own on. This photo illustrates the cute layout of the book:

Peach Bread RecipeI am cutting the recipe in half, substituting brown for white sugar, and using half whole wheat pastry flour instead of all white flour.

Peach Bread
makes one 8×4-inch loaf

  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 small eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup chopped fresh peaches (2 or 3 peaches)
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or use all all-purpose flour)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts

Beat the oil with the sugar a minute or two on high, then add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla, then mix in the peaches with the mixer on low.

Stir together the dry ingredients, then add with the nuts to the batter, mixing on low speed and only until all of the flour is incorporated.

Bake in a greased and floured 8×4-inch loaf pan for 1 hour or until the bread tests done. Let cool a few minutes in the pan before removing to cool on a wire rack.

Peach BreadThis was excellent . . . enough said.

Peach BreadNote added June 2014:

I had some nectarines that needed to be used in cooking. So, I made this recipe for Peach Bread, substituting nectarines for peaches and baking as muffins. It made 8 muffins, and I baked them for 22 minutes at 375. Very good!

Favorites: Patty’s Zucchini Bread

Zucchini BreadIt’s late summer, that time when gardeners discover huge zucchinis and plot how to get rid of them. No, I am not a gardener, I was on the receiving end in this monster zucchini transaction. We were headed off for a camping trip and needed a breakfast bread, and I had a hankering for zucchini bread. So both my problem and my gardener friend’s problem was solved.

My only zucchini bread recipe was in my dessert document as “Sherry Zucchini Cake”. It was cooked in a bundt pan and had an optional thin vanilla frosting. I always thought of this zucchini cake as zucchini bread, since I used to cook it in mini-loaf pans to give away at Christmas time, back in the 1990s. Just to check, I went online and found that most zucchini bread recipes are just like my zucchini cake recipe, but none of them had sherry or lemon in them. They are missing out on all that flavor!

This week, I wanted a more nutritious loaf, so I substituted whole wheat for some of the white flour. I thought brown sugar would make it even better, so I tried that too. I worked out the baking times for loaf pans instead of a bundt pan. So, I think I can call this successful recipe “Patty’s Zucchini Bread”.

Patty’s Zucchini Bread
makes 2 8×4-inch loaves

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 cup oil
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla (use a good vanilla)
  • 2 tablespoons sherry (dry or sweet)
  • 2 cups grated zucchini
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped nuts
  • 1 cup raisins

Grease and flour 2 8×4-inch loaf pans and preheat the oven to 325˚.

Combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt; set aside. Beat together oil and sugars. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and sherry. Stir in flour mixture. Add zucchini and lemon peel, stir to blend. Fold in nuts and raisins.

Turn into the two prepared loaf pans. Bake at 325° 55-60 minutes, or until it tests done with a toothpick. Let stand in pans 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool.

250 Cookbooks: The Soybean Cookbook

Cookbook #25: The Soybean Cookbook, Adventures in Zestful Eating. Dorthea Van Gundy Jones, ARC Books, NY, Fourth ARC Printing, July 1971. ©The Devin-Adair Company, 1963. Soybean CookbookI pull The Soybean Cookbook off the shelf, and sigh at the images that flash through my mind: a much younger version of me gleefully boiling pots of soybeans, trying to get them cooked soft enough to eat, and then trying to get them seasoned into a hot chile so we could stand eating them. The picture of myself that comes to mind is me as the crazy chemist in tattered blue jeans in the kitchen of our trailer. Well I was a crazy chemist, but this is me as a crazy kitchen chemist. I was determined to make those soybeans palatable. And I knew I wanted to do this because one of the current health-fads was the soybean: high in quality protein and other nutrients and perhaps able to stave off coronary disease and maybe even cancer.

Eventually I gave up trying to cook whole soybeans. Much to the relief of my partner, I’m sure. By the time our kids came along, soybeans were no longer a staple in my kitchen.

I take the small paperback that is The Soybean Cookbook to my favorite chair and settle in. What the heck can I find to cook from this cookbook? Perhaps to avoid looking at the soy recipes, I start reading the title page, prefaces, and the chapter on the history of soybeans. Hey, there is a mystery here!

Mildred Lager and Dorothea Van Gundy Jones

On the book’s title pages, the author is given as Dorothea Van Gundy Jones, the copyright date is 1963, and my copy is the 4th printing, 1971.

Two prefaces come after the table of contents. The first preface is titled “preface to the first edition” and the author is “Mildred Lager”. Who is Mildred Lager? She is not listed on the title page.

The second preface is titled “preface to the revised edition” and the author is Dorothea Van Gundy Jones. She does not mention Mildred Lager in her preface.

Hmm.

The first chapter is titled “History of the Soybean”. The author writes: “The father of one of the authors, T. A. Van Gundy, became interested in the nutritional value of soybeans while attending the World’s Fair in San Francisco in 1915, where they were featured in the Oriental exhibits.”

Okay, so Dorothea Jones admits that the book has more than one author, who I figure must be Mildred Lager.

Time to google “Mildred Lager”. Here is what I found.

Mildred Lager (1900-1960) was one of the pioneers of the natural foods and soyfoods movement in Los Angeles. She encouraged soybean use through recipe books, a heath food store, and a radio program. She also was the president of the Health Food Dealers of Southern California and the vice-president of the National Dietary Association. (Reference, SoyInfo Center website: Mildred Lager – History of Her Work With Soyfoods and Natural Foods in Los Angeles.)

A little digging on the SoyInfo Center reveals:

  • 1960 Jan. 25 – Mrs. Edwin S. Jones (Mildred Lager), age 59, dies at her home at 4114 Warner Boulevard, Burbank, California. She leaves her husband, Edwin S. Jones.
  • 1960 Aug. 7 – Edwin S. Jones (age 69) marries Dorothea Van Gundy (age 57). It is her first, his third. They revise and update Mildred Lager’s books, then both work hard for many years to keep them in print – in part as a source of family income.

So Mildred Lager’s married name was “Mrs. Edwin Jones”, she died in 1960, and a half year later her husband married Dorothea Van Gundy. More from the SoyInfo Center:

“After Mildred’s death, in August 1960, Ed Jones married Dorothea Van Gundy, a former sweetheart, and encouraged her to revise Mildred’s soyfoods book and bring it out under a new title, The Soybean Cookbook, which subsequently became a best-seller.” “In 1981 Mildred’s fine book The Useful Soybean, was very difficult to find (it should be reissued), but The Soybean Cookbook was widely available.”

Mystery solved! Mildred Lager wrote The Useful Soybean which fell out of print, and Dorothea revised and updated it as The Soybean Cookbook. I think it’s fitting that she includes Mildred’s preface and it all makes sense now.

(Reference: Mildred Lager: Work with Soyfoods in Los Angeles – download the entire book here.)

Interesting points from the prefaces

Here is a quote from Mildred Lager’s preface in The Soybean Cookbook:

“For many years I had the privilege of being on a crossroad of nutrition, working with every phase of the healing art. That was when soybeans were literally thrust upon me. I experimented with them as a food, secured various soy products for special diets, made up recipes, and taught the use and cooking of soybeans when they were practically unknown. In 1942, when the beans came into the limelight as a war emergency food, a collection of my recipes was published under the title of 150 Ways To Use Soybeans. In 1945 McGraw-Hill published my complete book on soybeans, their story as well as recipes, called The Useful Soybean.”

Note the publication date of Mildred Lager’s first soybean cookbook: 1942. My previous post in this 250 Cookbooks blog was about Aunt Jenny’s odd cookbook praising the merits of Spry, a solid vegetable shortening, a book also published in 1942. Two totally different takes on war-time cooking. (I’d go with the soybeans as the best choice for nutrition.)

Mildred Lager continues:

“I believe that proper nutrition and common-sense living are man’s best medicine. I also believe that science cannot equal the Master Chemist and that therefore natural foods are better than the refined.”

Master Chemist! I love that! By the capitalization, we all know (hint, hint) who or what she is talking about. And the “chemist” reference speaks to me in itself, as that was my career. (Besides being a cook/witch stirring a bubbling pot.)

Dorothea Van Gundy Jones’ preface does not speak to me as does Mildred’s. She writes that new methods have been worked out for removing “too-positive soy flavor”, and adds that no pepper or hot spices are included in the recipes because of their “irritating effect on the delicate tissues in the digestive tract”. (This tells me why I don’t like many recipes in this book: I like spicy foods.)

What I learned

The “health food craze” in the US did not begin with the hippies in the 60s. The pioneers of healthy eating were at work long before the first young man grew his hair long, before the first young woman burned her bra.

Soybean history

If you have a real interest in the history of the soybean, by all means go to the SoyInfo Center, an amazingly comprehensive and accessible website (accessed 2013). The bullets listed below are only the topics discussed by the authors in the chapter on soybean history.

  • Soybeans are one of the oldest crops grown by man. They are mentioned in Chinese records from  beyond 2000 BCE.
  • Although the authors give 1804 as the year that soybeans were brought to the US, the SoyInfo Center differs, stating that the earliest known references to soyfoods in America were by Samuel Bowen. He brought soybeans to Georgia, where they were first planted in 1765. (SoyInfo Center)
  • W. J. Morse is sometimes called the “father of the soybean”. (SoyInfo Center)
  • J. A. LeClerc, a research worker connected to the USDA, helped promote soybeans.
  • In 1920, the American Soybean Association was organized.
  • Henry Ford saw the possibility of the use of soybean plastics in the automobile industry (SoyInfo Center)
  • T. A. Van Gundy is the father of Dorothea Jones. Mr. Van Gundy developed palatable soy products and went into business selling them. (SoyInfo Center)
  • H. W. Miller was a missionary doctor in China soy milk and infant feeding (SoyInfo Center)
  • Clive M. McCay, a professor of nutrition at Cornell Univeristy, and his wife “did much research and experimental work to find palatable ways of incorporating soybeans into the American diet. They made a real contribution in popularizing this little-known and highly valuable protein food.” (SoyInfo Center)

The recipes

Okay, I have stated that I am not a fan of cooked whole soybeans, but the book uses products other than whole beans, such as tofu, ground beans, sprouted beans, soy flour, and soy milk, with recipes from salads to desserts. Surely I can find something to cook, some recipe to try.

I frown at recipe after recipe. Soybean burgers and loaves, soy souffle, soy-stuffed bell peppers, tofu casserole . . . all with very few seasonings other than salt, pepper, and MSG (!). Finally, in the baked good chapter, I find a recipe for “Fruit Nut Bread”. Soy milk and soy flour are used in the batter for this yeast-leavened quick bread. It’s low in fat and high in protein. I’m going to add cinnamon to it, though!

soy flour

this soy flour is simply “powdered soybeans”

reciperecipeFruit Nut Bread

  • 1/2 cup soy flour
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 pkg. dry yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (or shortening: you can use Spry!)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup soy milk (plain or vanilla-flavored)
  • 1/2 cup dates, chopped
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts)
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange rind

Mix the flours, yeast, salt, and cinnamon.

Cream the vegetable oil and sugar; add the egg and then the soy milk, mixing well. Add the fruits and nuts and orange rind, then add the dry ingredients and mix well.

Place in a well-oiled 8″x4 1/2″ loaf pan. Bake at 350˚ for 50-60 minutes, until it tests done with a toothpick.

Fruit Nut Bread

The loaf is a bit broken and lopsided, but it tasted really good. We had it at breakfast, and it’s a lot like a fruit cake. It’s dense, but flavorful. No one would guess that it has soy in it. And it’s full of protein while being relatively low in fat. A slice of this bread along with a scrambled egg and milk kept my appetite at bay for hours.

I thought it odd to add the dry, undissolved yeast to the batter and cook the bread immediately. Throughout The Soybean Cookbook, yeast is used in this manner instead of baking powder or baking soda, and I don’t understand why. Author’s preference? Anyway, if I try this again, I would dissolve the yeast in a little of the soy milk, warmed, then add it to the batter. Then I would let the loaf rest in a warm place to rise until it lightens a bit before baking. That way, it might be lighter and less dense.

Fruit Nut Bread

 Shall I keep this book?

I am going to keep the book, but mostly for its historical value. I don’t mean it’s worth any amount of money, it’s that it was one of the important books that helped incorporate soybean products into American cuisine.

I decided to go on a field trip and find how many soy products I could easily find at three local markets. Tofu was easy to find, it’s everywhere. I like tofu, plain or in stir fries or added to breads. Soy milk, too, is prevalent, both shelf-packaged and refrigerated. I bought a carton of fresh vanilla-flavored soy milk and found that I really like it. There is also soy coffee creamer. And soy ice cream. Soy flour was only in 2 of the 3 stores that I searched. All three stores had edamame (green soybeans) in the frozen section; I’ve had edamame before, but had forgotten about it. I brought some home and put a handful in a soup and it was great. I picked up some tempeh and tried it; I’m not much of a tempeh fan. I had to really search to find dry soybeans, but did find them at the third store. Soy crisps! I like these little high protein crackers that stave off hunger. (Beyond the mentioned soy products, I’m sure if I looked at the labels of packaged foods, I’d find soy listed as an ingredient in a lot.)

This has been a good exercise for me. I started this blog thinking that I was no longer a “soybean nut”. But I was wrong. I may not begin with whole soybeans, but I use soy products all the time. And now that I have rediscovered soy, I plan to re-incorporate soy flour, milk, and edamame into my weekly breads and meal plans.

Mildred Lager would be proud.

old soybeans

This dusty jar of soybeans has been on my soffit for probably 20 years – I thought to look up there when I was looking for dried soybeans – crazy me – they were hiding in plain sight!