250 Cookbooks: McCall’s Cook Book

Cookbook #220: McCall’s Cook Book, by the Food Editors of McCall’s, McCall Corporation and Random House Inc., 8th printing, NY, 1963.

McCalls Cook BookThis treasure is my mother’s copy of my book of the same name, as covered in my 2016 blog post. The cover on her book is yellow, and mine green. She took better care of her copy – didn’t have to tape the back binding together.

Inside the front cover, she scotch-taped several bits of useful information. One is a newspaper clipping from a Q/A article on can sizes. In the early twentieth century, cans were sold by sizes “No. 2, No. 10, No. 203” etc. Her clipping translates those values into weight and volume values. (Of course, nowadays we just google for an answer.) She also clipped  a table of weights and measures for fruits and nuts, and a table of food volumes before and after cooking. And tucked in with these tables is a “how much equals how much?” for fruits and vegetables.

Yup, she used this cookbook as a reference. I remember that she always put the exact amount of each ingredient called for in a recipe. If she had a couple tablespoons from a can of olives left over after measuring, those olives did not go into the bowl.

Mother inscribed these words on the page opposite the title page:

McCalls inscription

I page through the book looking for more of her notes. I come to the Quick Breads chapter, which begins:

“It’s hard to buy these sweet breads, so if you want to serve them, you’ll have to make them. Use them when you entertain, particularly at afternoon teas or luncheons when a fruit salad is the main course.”

Today we can buy quick breads in coffee shops and markets. Like banana bread. Mother marked “Banana Bread” in her edition of McCalls Cook Book.

banana nut bread and date nut breadI have about 3 or 4 banana bread recipes – I rotate through different versions, but most of my recipes call for vegetable oil – this one uses butter or margarine instead. Might be interesting to try. Seems I often have ripe bananas to use up!

The next recipe she marked is for “Perfect Muffins”. I like the introduction to muffns: “These are absurdly easy to make. What is known as the ‘muffin method’ – that is, adding all the liquid ingredients to all the dry – is often used for other quick breads and for simple cakes, as well.” Perfect Muffins is a basic recipe that can be modified – eight different suggestions are listed on the following pages. I like the way she circled “11” on the number of muffins to make; she also changed the baking time and temperature.

Perfect Muffins recipe

I continue paging through. My goodness, her book is in such better condition than mine! She put a red check but no comments next to a recipe for sour cream in pancakes – I’d like sour cream in pancakes too. The recipe pages for “McCalls Basic White Bread”, a yeast bread, look well used. She thought the Honey-Whole-Wheat Bread was delicious. Mother must have made homemade pizza, although I never remember her cooking it. She liked the McCalls recipe for homemade crust. Plus, she tucked several magazine-clipped recipes for pizza sauce inside the book. These sauce recipes are similar to the ones I found on SeriousEats a few weeks ago.

She thought the Old-Fashioned Applesauce Cake was “delicious”. I’ve used this recipe too; I sometimes made this cake into cupcakes, too. In fact, I think I’ll make it again soon, it is a very good cake. Especially with icing! Peanut Butter Pinwheels sound really, really good (she marked them “delicious”). I never remember having one of these cookies: a peanut butter dough rolled out, spread with chocolate, rolled into a log, sliced into cookies.

PeanutButterPinwheelsOn the recipe Chili Con Carne in Red Wine, she commented it was “Pretty good, kinda runny”. I think she served it with the suggested Polenta Squares, a recipe later in the book, because she commented at the polenta squares “Good – I like it”. This makes me chuckle. I too like tomato-based sauces over polenta. I just discovered home-cooked polenta a few years ago. My dining partner sort of likes it, and I can imagine my father felt the same way. So her “Good – I like it” is a sort of rebellion. (I had no idea she ever tried a polenta dish.) She liked the deep fried Corn Fritters, but thought the Chili Con Carne only “fair”.

Now we get to desserts. Looks like she tried the Chocolate Roll with Mocha Filling. Not enough filling, she wrote, and suggested to double the recipe. She thought the French Apple Cobbler “delicious!”.

In the Eggs, Omelets and Souffles chapter, she tried the Scrambled Eggs a la Suisse and thought them “pretty good – but not great”. This is a brunch egg dish. I had another surprise when I found that she made and liked the cheese souffle. Just like pizza, I never remember her making souffles. Eggs Benedict get a “delicious”.

Pickled beets get a “delicious”, and Rolled, Stuffed Flank Steak gets a “delicious!” written in red and underlined. She made some changes in the Corned Beef and Cabbage recipe.

The Pies and Small Pastries chapter comes next. Why it is not with the “Dessert” chapter reminds me that this cookbook has an odd organization (I noted this when I covered my own copy). She tried the Fresh Apricot Pie and has notes on the number and size of apricots she used, plus a note that she cut them in quarters instead of slicing.

In Salads and Salad Dressings, she liked the Raw-Spinach Salad. In the Sandwich and Sandwich Filling chapter, she thought the Hot Crabmeat-Salad Sandwiches “just so-so”. In Sauces and Gravies, she marked “Mock Hollandaise Sauce” as “very good”. This sauce is used for Eggs Benedict in an earlier chapter. In Vegetables and Potatoes, Eggplant-and-Tomato Casserole is marked “very good” and “Paul likes”. She liked Amelia’s Potato Pancakes and Honey-Spice Acorn Squash. And in the Leftoverschapter, Pork Chop Suey is marked “Very good”, and she adds “Serve with dry Chinese noodles”.

This brings me to the end of the book, and all of the recipes she marked. I certainly enjoyed going through this cookbook of hers. Brought back lots of memories.

And now, what to make for this blog? I decide on the “Perfect Muffins” (a scan of the recipe is above). I make a lot of muffins, but don’t pay exact attention to the proportions of flour, sugar, liquid, and shortening. Perfect Muffins gives just that: correct proportions. You could use this recipe to make any flavor of muffin – though I doubt it will work when large amounts of wet fruits (like bananas or apples) or vegetables (like carrots or sweet potatoes) are added. But if you want to add dried blueberries, or maraschino cherries, or nuts or spices, or some other interesting ingredient that catches your eye, Perfect Muffins is a great start. I consider it part of my ever-growing knowledge of muffin making.

I choose the variation of Perfect Muffins that adds raisins and oranges. I made them just like the recipe, except I took Mother’s advice and used her altered baking temperature and time.

Perfect Muffins with Raisins and Orange
makes 11

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange peel

Stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and raisins in a large bowl.

In another bowl, combine the milk, vegetable oil, egg, and orange peel; whisk to combine.

“Make a well” in center of flour mixure (I rarely “make a well”, but this is the way the traditional directions for combining wet and dry ingredients read). Pour in milk mixture all at once, stir quickly, just until the dry ingredients are moistened. Do not overmix! Batter will be lumpy.

Fill muffin cups just slightly more than half full.

Bake at 375˚ for 20 minutes, or until they test done with a toothpick.

Basic Muffins with Raisins and OrangeThese muffins are cake-like, or cupcake-like. The muffins I make are usually packed with bananas or apples or carrots, or whole grains, so to us, they tasted “less-healthy-than-usual”. Although, after my first bite of one of these muffins, I just wanted . . .  more!

250 Cookbooks: Knudsen Recipes

Cookbook #212: Knudsen Recipes, Knudsen, Knudsen Creamery Co. of California, 1958.

Knudsen Recipes cookbook

This is the third of my mother’s “Knudsen Recipes” cookbooks that I have covered: 1953 was the first, 1955 the second.

I like this edition because it is very much like the 1955 version. Again, the first page illustrates a male chemist in the lab. This time he is dripping something from a big round separatory funnel into a round bottom flask. If he adds much more solution, it will definitely overflow. Plus, why is the lower flask suspended? He is not heating that flask, and it would make more sense to have it on a solid surface, and to use an erlenmeyer flask. (The organic chem lab teacher in me never quits.)

scientistAnd as in the 1955 edition, it is a woman who is doing the cooking, or at least reading the cookbook.

cookThe first section is Appetizers and Spreads. Mother marked several: Crab Meat Canapes, Salami-Julienne Spread, and Cheese Onion Balls. These are all made with cream cheese, cottage cheese, and/or sour cream, with additions of canned or frozen products. During the 50s, and especially during the cocktail hour, these types of appetizers were a mainstay of American cookery.

appetizersHere is a photo of some of the appetizers:

Next is Salads. Mother put a check mark on “Carrot and Red Cabbage Salad”. I thought about making this salad, since I like the combination of carrots and cabbage, but this recipe has more sour cream than I think I’d like. A “Full Meal” salad mixes leftover cooked meat with canned or fresh vegetables and a lot of cottage cheese and sour cream. Not for me. Nor are the molded salads. I guess this whole chapter is just not for me!

In the Main Dishes chapter, most of the recipes use about a cup of sour cream and/or cottage cheese per recipe. “Spaghetti with Beef in Hampshire” is a dish of steak, herbs, canned mushrooms, canned tomato soup, Worcestershire sauce, and sour cream, cooked and served over spaghetti. “Spaghetti Cheese Pie” is cooked spaghetti spread in a pie pan and covered with bacon, mushrooms, eggs, cheddar cheese, and cottage cheese and then baked. Both of these typical homey 50s recipes might taste good, but just aren’t the way I cook today. “Baked Potato, The Great American Dish” – baked potatoes with sour cream and chives – was also in the 1955 edition of Knudsen Recipes.

Right in the middle of the Main Dishes chapter I find a recipe for “Cherry Muffins”. Why here? I really don’t know. But I like the recipe, because I am always looking for new muffin recipes and this one has cottage cheese (protein and calcium) in the batter along with a can of tart red cherries (tart cherries are supposed to be good for you). Note all of the recipes on the page below: they are good examples of the type of recipes in this cookbook.

main dishes

Perhaps Cherry Muffins were meant to be served with supper, or on a buffet, as in the photo below. The muffins are in the lower right hand corner:

main dishes

Also in the Main Dish chapter is the following recipe for “Zucchini Dollar Cakes”. I think the recipe sounds kind of good. And it might come in handy in late summer, when all those zucchini squashes are out there.

zucchini dollar cakes

In the Vegetables chapter, most of the vegetables are heavily sauced. Except “Broccoli in Almond Sauce”, which has just a little sour cream. But it calls for frozen broccoli. I prefer a little seasoning on lightly cooked fresh vegetables. I do like the idea of adding cottage cheese to mashed potatoes, one of the other recipes in this section.

Desserts and Sweets is the best chapter for recipes that include sour cream and cream cheese, in my opinion. We expect desserts to have calories, and getting those calories from milk products might be better for us. Examples are: “Cream Cheese Pie”, “Cheese Cake”, “Viennese Apple Strudel” (with cream cheese, butter, and a lot of apples), and “Sour Cream Boston Cheese Cake”. I am marking “try” on the recipe for “Hampshire Sour Cream Spice Cake”, with cottage cheese, sour cream, and lots of spices. It is baked in a bundt pan.

The closing pages of Knudsen Recipes include lists of menus, ideas for using Knudsen products for “weight control for better health”, and a table of calories in a few foods and recipes in this cookbook.

caloric quotaNext is a rave for all the good things about yogurt, hoop cheese, and milk. “Looking for New Ideas? Ways to use cottage cheese” lists a page of ideas. The following one is my favorite. “The men like this with old-fashioned hot potato salad.”

“Looking for New Ideas? Ways to use sour cream” is next, and here is my favorite from that list. “Gourmets babble?”

And that’s the book. I decide to make the “Cherry Muffins” for this blog. Here is the recipe (again):

Cherry Muffins recipeThe first issue I need to address in baking these muffins is the “2 cups prepared biscuit mix”. Biscuit mix, or “Bisquick”, was a staple in American kitchens in the 1950s. It is still available today. Should I purchase a box of Bisquick to make this recipe? I think not. I have no other use for it, and in general, I like cooking from scratch, so that I know my ingredients. Luckily, at some time in the recent past I had copied from the web search results for a substitution for biscuit mix:

“For each 1 cup biscuit mix (like Bisquick) called for in a recipe, use 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon vegetable shortening.”

I decide to use a combination of unbleached all purpose flour and whole wheat pastry flour, and to use butter instead of vegetable shortening. Also, the cottage cheese I have is very salty, so I am going to cut down the amount of salt. Below is my version of “Cherry Muffins”.

Cherry Muffins
makes 12

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (you can use all purpose flour instead)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter, preferably unsalted
  • 1 cup (one can, 13 oz.) tart red cherries, unsweetened, the kind used to bake cherry pies

Combine the flour(s), baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.

Put the egg in a good sized bowl and whisk it a few times. Add the sugar, milk, cottage cheese, and melted butter. Mix well.

Chop the drained cherries. These cherries will be very wet and soft, and I didn’t get them totally drained. No problem, just scoop them into the bowl with the wet ingredients.

Combine the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients and stir just until mixed. Put into 12 muffin cups. Bake at 400˚ 20-22 minutes, until golden brown and test done with a toothpick.

Cherry MuffinsThese were a lot better than I expected! I was concerned that the cherries would not lend enough flavor to the muffins, but I was very wrong. Also, I often use vegetable oil in muffins, but used butter in these. Same calories, but what a difference in texture! These almost taste like pie crust.

Success! I was able to use healthy ingredients, like tart cherries and cottage cheese, to make delicious morning muffins. Probably current and future readers will find nutritional problems with my recipe, as opinions and science are in flux. But for now, I will enjoy my semi-healthy muffins!

250 Cookbooks: General Foods Cook Book

Cookbook #180: General Foods Cook Book, General Foods Corporation, NY, NY, 1932.

General Foods Cook Book

Mother would have celebrated her 100th birthday this week. She loved celebrations! In her honor, I choose her vintage General Foods Cook Book to cover for this blog.

General Foods Cook Book was one of Mother’s textbooks when she attended Woodbury’s Business College from 1934-36. She would have been 18-20 years old at the time. On the inside cover are several notes about due dates for assignments, oven temperature notes, and some calculations. I remember from family history that she had attended this business school, perhaps more of a “secretarial” school. Obviously, since she had this General Foods Cook Book as a text book, she took a course in “home economics”. The culture of the time and place encouraged young women to stay at home and run their household, as their vocation, sort of like a business. I tell you, my mother, a traditional stay-at-home mom, would have been an excellent business woman! Our household ran smoothly, and she was a fast typist and great at keeping books and records.

Woodbury’s Business College, founded in Los Angeles in 1884, was one of the first institutions of higher learning in Los Angeles, and also one of the first colleges in the West to admit women. At its beginning, Woodbury’s offered bookkeeping, commercial law, and telegraphy studies, it eventually expanded to fashion and inerior design and business administration, and by 1969 offered an MBA. In 1974, the school name changed to Woodbury University.

My mother would have attended Woodbury’s while it was located in downtown Los Angeles. She wasn’t married to my father yet, so that means she had to travel about 30 miles from Covina to attend classes. I have no idea how she made the trip, by car? train? bus? What was it like in the mid-1930s in the LA area? Wish I had a time machine.

By the time I was born, our young family was living in Burbank. In 1985, Woodbury’s re-located to Burbank, on the old Catholic school campus known as Villa Cabrini. So many times as a child or teen I passed the Villa Cabrini school – and now it is the home of the college my mother attended, so long ago.

As you can tell, this cookbook has a lot of meaning for me. I definitely will keep it, if just for the memories!

General Foods Cook Book teaches young women how to run their household like a business, promotes General Foods products, and has a lot of recipes. The best way to tell you about this cook book is to let you read a few pages.

page 1

page 2page 3

The first sixth of this cookbook is a cross-refernce called a “Subject Index”. This index is an ingenious way for an organized cook to plan the requisite “three meals a day” using what they have on hand and the situation or the meal they are planning. Here is a sample page from this section:


After the Subject Index is a chapter entitled “General Foods Corporation”:

“Most of you know General Foods Corporation. At least, you know its products; for many of them are old friends, kept regularly on the pantry shelf, and used nearly every day – Jell-O, Minute Tapioca, Swans Down Cake Flour, Maxwell House Coffee, Baker’s Chocolate, Baker’s Coconut, Calumet Baking Powder, Grape-Nuts, Postum, Certo, and many others.”

“These foods were not always in one family, of course. The building of this company, operating some forty-five plants, and distributing over seventy different products, is one of the romances of modern business.”

General Fooods was established by Charles Post in 1985 in Battle Creek, Michigan. His poor health led him to experiment with food products, and out of his research Postum Cereal was developed, then Grape Nuts and Posts Bran Flakes. (Wikipedia has more information on the history of General Foods.) At the time of General Foods Cook Book’s publication, 1932, the company’s products included: Maxwell House Coffee and Tea, Sanka, Postum Cereal, Baker’s Cocoa, Post Toasties, Grape-nuts, Swan’s Down Cake Flour, Calumet Baking Powder, Jell-O, Minute Tapioca, Baker’s Unsweetened Chocolate, Baker’s Coconut, Certo (pectin), Log Cabin Syrup, and Diamond Crystal Shaker Salt. The energy value of each of these foods is discussed, as well as the proper way to store them. Later sections in this book discuss “how to provide an adequate diet” using General Foods products.

Page 89 caught my eye. I smile at Mother’s note to herself: “read”.

page 89

The rest of the book is recipes. I took a long time turning the pages and reading the old recipes, reading my mother’s notes. I spent two weeks on this cookbook – instead of the usual one week – for this blog. Some things cannot be rushed.

I decide to buy a box of Grape-Nuts and make two recipes for this blog. First, Grape-Nuts Orange Muffins. Note my mother’s writing on the left hand side: “every girl makes muffins”.

page 130I’ll also make “Grape-Nuts Brown Betty”:

page 242

Each recipe will require a few changes for successful baking in my own “modern” kitchen. But I am confident in my cooking skills and I know I will do the proper adjustments.  I learned both how to cook and to love cooking from my mother.

I am thankful to her every day of my life. Happy 100th, Mother. Wish you were here to enjoy these with us, your ever enlarging family.

Grape-Nuts Orange Muffins
makes 11 big or 12 smallish muffins

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2/3 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup orange juice (or, the juice from one orange plus enough milk to make 3/4 cup)
  • grated rind of one orange
  • 1 cup Grape-Nuts cereal

Stir together the flour and baking powder, set aside.

Use a mixer to beat the butter, then add the sugar and eggs and beat well. Mix in the orange juice and rind. Add the flour mixture and mix only until just combined.

Fill 12 (or 11, if you like them bigger) muffin cups and bake at 400˚ for 18-20 minutes, until they are lightly brown and test clean with a toothpick.

Grape-Nuts Orange MuffinsGrape-Nuts Brown Betty
serves 4-6

  • 4 largish apples (I used granny smiths)
  • 1/4 cup granulated (white) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon (I used more because I love cinnamon)
  • 5 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup Grape-Nuts

Peel and slice the apples. Place in an 8×8-inch baking pan. Mix the 1/4 cup white sugar with the cinnamon and pour over the apples. Mix in with your hands, then let stand about a half hour to macerate the apples.

Beat 4 tablespoons of the butter with a mixer, then add the brown sugar and cream well. Add the flour and the Grape-Nuts and mix well (the mixture will be crumbly).

Dot the macerated apples with the 1 tablespoon butter. Spread the Grape-Nut mixture over the top. Cover with foil and bake at 350˚ for 30 minutes, then uncover and bake another 15 minutes.

Serve warm with ice cream.

Apple Brown BettyBoth recipes were delicious!

250 Cookbooks: Encyclopedia of Cookery, Volume 8

Cookbook #174: Encyclopedia of Cookery, Vol. 8, Moi-Pec, Woman’s Day, Fawcett Publications, NY, 1966.

Encyclopedia of Cookery Volume 8

I have a set of twelve Encyclopedia of Cookery volumes and this is the eighth of that set – I covered the first seven in previous posts. I’ve enjoyed all of them so far! This volume covers curious and helpful information about foods from moi(sten) to pec(an).

I begin my recipe and curiousity search on the first page. “Molasses” is the entry following “moisten”. I learn that molasses made from sugar cane. When we were in Costa Rica, we saw a demonstration of how they press sugar cane to get out the juice:

volcano region moonshine

But in Costa Rica, that sugar cane juice became moonshine! To make molasses, the cane juice is boiled down to a thick mass of syrup and crystals of sugar. Next, the brew is strained to isolate solid sugar crystals and syrupy liquid. The syrup from this first boiling process is sold as “light molasses”. “Dark molasses” results from a second boiling/straining of the syrup and “blackstrap molasses” results from a third boiling/straining. Light molasses can be used as a syrup on pancakes; dark molasses is less sweet (and darker in color) and is used in baking and candy making. Blackstrap molasses is generally used as cattle food – or as a health food. Molasses was the most widely used sweetener in America until the Civil War.

I like molasses, but none of the recipes in this section intrigue me. So I go on to moussaka (mid-Eastern eggplant casserole) and muffins (surprisingly – no recipe there I liked) and a Mushroom Cook Book. Wow, I’d love to make “cream of mushroom soup”. It would be delightful in a casserole instead of the over-processed canned mushroom soup that we get in the stores. (Someday.)

The Near Eastern Cookery section brings back memories of our trip to Turkey. Nesselrode? I remember it from childhood, but I think it was an ice cream. Perhaps it was:  I learn that “nesselrode” refers to an iced pudding made from egg yolks, sugar, cream, chestnuts, orange peel, currants, and candied cherries.

The  article “New England: Character and Cookery” was written by Louise Dickinson Rich. I find a recipe in this section for muffins using molasses called “Anthelias’ Sour-milk Gingerbread Cupcakes”. Could make those. Still, I search on for a recipe to make for this blog.

“Noodle” derives from words meaning “food paste”. In “Norwegian Cookery”, I find recipes for marzipan (from almonds, sugar, and egg whites), Puss Pass (a lamb stew), and cold cherry soup, made from fresh cherries (including ground pits), sugar, water, and lots of sherry.

Nutmeg, nutrition (interesting to read a 1966 view of this topic), and oatmeal. Oleomargarine was first prepared in 1870 by a French Chemist, Mège-Mouriès from beef oil, milk, and water, with annatto for coloring. Oleo derives from “elo” (oil) and margaric acid (an animal fat). Annatto seeds are used today in anchiote paste, a deep red seasoning from Mexico.

Olive oil should be “golden or straw yellow”, and “greenish oils are inferior”. My staple, green extra virgin olive oil, is not even mentioned! Next, oranges and oregano. An essay on “Outdoor Cooking” by Craig Claiborne and one on “The Delectable Oyster” by James Beard. Pancakes are the oldest form of bread and are made around the world. Oriental versions of pancakes have been made for “untold Oriental ages”. Next, pasties (meat pies) and a Pastry Cook Book.

“Patty” is a “small, round, flat mass of food dough, cereal, potato, or other vegetable, ground meat fish, poultry, or nuts”. Hmmmm.

Peas, a Peach Cook Book, peacock (yes, people eat them), peanuts, peanut butter – Peanut Butter Muffins! Pears and pecans finish off this volume.

I want to make Peanut Butter Muffins. I haven’t made muffins with peanut butter in them for years!

Peanut-Butter Muffins recipe

I decide to leave the jam out of the muffins, add a bit more sugar, and combine the wet ingredients with a mixer, but otherwise will follow the recipe.

Peanut Butter Muffins
makes 10 muffins

  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons wheat germ
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/4 cup (2 3/8 ounces) peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup milk

Stir together the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and wheat germ. Set aside.

Using a mixer, beat the egg. Mix in the shortening, then the peanut butter, then the milk. Stir in the dry ingredients only until the mixture is moistened.

Fill 10 mufffin cups (each should be 2/3 full). Bake at 400˚ for 20-22 minutes.

Peanut Butter Muffins

These tasted very peanut buttery, but were a little dry. With a lot of jam on them, I really enjoyed them. But looking at the original recipe, these are more like scones: the shortening and the peanut butter probably should be “cut in” with a pastry blender. I was reluctant to do this because it would be so messy! But mixed as in the original recipe, these might have been sort of flaky, like pie crust or scones.

I found my old recipe for “Super Chunk Muffins” in my index card recipe file. I’ll make them soon and let you know if I like them better. This old recipe also calls for using a pastry blender to cut in the butter and peanut butter.

Super Chunk Muffins
makes 12 muffins

  • 1 cup oatmeal (quick)
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk

Stir together the oatmeal, flour, sugar baking powder, and salt. Cut in the peanut butter and margarine with a pastry blender to fine crumbs.

Mix the eggs and milk, stir into flour mixture. Fill 12 muffin cups.

Optional: mix 1/2 cup oatmeal and 2 tablespoons butter and sprinkle over the batter.

Bake at 400˚  for 20-25 minutes.

Super Chunk Muffins

250 Cookbooks: Cookies, Cakes ‘n Muffins

Cookbook #167: Cookies, Cakes ‘n Muffins, Kraft Kitchens, Chicago, Illinois, circa 1958.

Cookies Cakes 'n Muffins cookbook

A mystery presents itself as I open Cookies, Cakes ‘n Muffins. What is the publication date? All it says is “The Kraft Kitchens, Chicago, Illinois”.

Sleuthing-me sets out on the internet. When did “Kraft” first emerge as a company name? Wikipedia tells me that James L. Kraft started a cheese business in Chicago in the early 1900s, and his brothers joined him to form “J. L. Kraft and Bros. Company” in 1909. By 1923, the Kraft brothers company was part of the National Dairy Corporation. In 1969, National Dairy changed its name to Kraftco Corporation. In 1976, its name changed to Kraft, Inc.

This all led me to think that since the booklet was produced by “The Kraft Kitchens”, it must have been produced after 1976. But the illustrations are much older-looking than the 1970s era:


Kind of like the era of the TV show “Father Knows Best”. A necklace and all dressed up as the mom works in the kitchen? Definitely the 50s or the 60s. (“Father Knows Best” ran from 1954 to 1960.)

Maybe the phrase “Parkay margarine” will help me figure out the date. No, that clue is no help. Except: the “butter” sales line of the 1973 commercial is not in this booklet. So my booklet must be before 1973.

(An aside: A famous 1973 commercial claims Kraft’s Parkay tastes like butter: “A housewife looks at a square box of Parkay in her kitchen and says ‘Parkay’. In a rather comical voice the box of Parkay says ‘butter’, they go back and forth until she tries a taste of it and she says “butter” so the square box of Parkay says ‘Parkay!'”)

Then this catches my eye:


Kraftco transferred to Glenview, Illinois, in 1972. So I think I am right that this cookbook is pre-1970s. But hey, there is no zip code in the address! Aha, a clue! When did zip codes become part of US addresses? Wikipedia informs me that zip codes were introduced in 1963, became mandatory for 2nd and 3rd class mail in 1967, and thereafter were soon adopted generally. Before zip codes, postal “zones” were used, thus explaining the “Chicago 90″ in the address.”

Therefore, this booklet was definitely produced before 1963.

To further narrow down the publication date, I googled “photo Parkay margarine”. This pulled up a lot of photos of Parkay margarine packages through the years. One package looks just like this illustration on the back of Cookies, Cakes ‘n Muffins:

Parkay photo I follow the photo that looks like my cookbooklet to the page of origin. The photo is a Kraft’s Parkay Advertisement in Ebony Magazine, November, 1959.

My conclusion: this booklet was published sometime in the late 1950s. I add with confidence the publication date of “circa 1958″.

Whew. Now, to the cookbook contents: recipes. They are okay but pretty similar to recipes in other books. And, there aren’t many. Also, I like to use butter rather than margarine. The only reason I might keep this cookbook is that it is “vintage”.

I decide to make “Orange Muffins” for this blog. I will use butter instead of margarine, and cut down the amount of baking powder – 1 tablespoon just seems like too much! The recipe says it makes 12 muffins, but as I fill my muffin pan with batter to my usual “2/3 full” per muffin cup, 8 good sized muffins was all the batter allowed.

Orange Muffins
makes 8 good sized muffins, or 12 smallish ones

  • 1/3 cup butter (use margarine if you prefer)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon orange rind
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 cup milk

Cream the butter and sugar, then add the egg and orange rind. Stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Combine the milk and orange juice. Add the flour mixture alternately with the milk-orange juice mixture, mixing well after each addition.

Fill muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake at 400˚ for 15-20 minutes.

Orange MuffinsThese are very good. Cake-like, but not too sweet for breakfast.

250 Cookbooks: Recipes from Donna’s Board

Cookbook #164: Recipes from Donna’s Board, Sierra Cahuenga District #15, 1980-1981.

Recipes from Donna's Board cookbookThis little community cookbook was compiled by Lorraine Moore, the vice president of the Sierra Cahuenga District Women’s Club Board in 1980-81. Donna Smith – “Donna’s Board” – was the president at the time. My mother was a member of the Sun Valley Women’s Club, one of the clubs in the Sierra Cahuenga District. I remember her talking about going to those meetings for years, and I think she served for a time as secretary – she was an excellent typist and great at organizing. The California Federation of Women’s Clubs is still an active service organization, although the Sun Valley chapter no longer exists.

What jumps out at me the most when I open the pages of Recipes from Donna’s Board is THAT IT IS IN ALL CAPS! Since it was written in 1980, I know it must have been prepared on a typewriter. Someone sure liked the ‘caps lock’ key.

The recipes are interesting. Lura Lovick, a friend of my mother’s, contributed Date Nut Bread. I’d like to make the Green Chile Cornbread and the Poppy Seed Strudel. The Fresh Apple Cake with Good Frosting sounds good too, although I’d leave off the frosting.  Over half of the book is desserts! “Mom’s Applesauce Cake” sounds like a recipe that I used to make, but lost. Sun Valley Woman’s Club contributed Yum Yum Cake and Chicken Florentine. “No Name Dessert” is made from butter, soda crackers, chocolate chips, coconut, and sweetened condensed milk – sounds weird to me. Baked Chicken Sandwiches sound particularly yucky: you mix mushroom soup with chicken, put between crustless white bread slices, dip in egg, then roll in crushed potato chips before baking. The casserole recipes abound with canned soups. Several molded salads are included, food favorites of the 60s and 70s. The Beef Stroganoff has cream cheese in it as well as sour cream. I’d like to try the Tostada Quiche.

I decide to try Donna’s Carrot Cake for this blog. Carrot cake is a standby of many American cooks – at least those of us who grew up in the second half of the twentieth century. The basic recipe has lots of eggs, sugar, oil and carrots. Sweet and delicious, especially with cream cheese frosting! Some versions of carrot cake include pineapple, as in Donna’s recipe (below), but I have never made that type before. I like Donna’s version because it also includes coconut (love it) and walnuts (a bit of nutrition).

Donna's Carrot Cake recipe

I decide to make half of this as “muffins” to qualify this treat as breakfast food. The other half of the batter will go into one 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan. I research cooking times using a favorite online reference. I skip the “buttermilk syrup” topping. Since the muffins cooked better than the loaf, I’ve written this recipe as “muffins”.

Carrot Cake Muffins
makes 24 (but yes, make a half recipe and 12 muffins if you wish)

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 8-ounce can crushed pineapple
  • 2 cups finely grated carrots
  • 1 cup chopped nuts
  • 1 cup flaked coconut

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

Beat the eggs with the oil and sugar until fairly light. Add the buttermilk and vanilla and mix again. Add the flour mixture and mix just until all the flour is incorporated. Stir in the pineapple, carrots, nuts, and coconut.

Spoon the batter into 24 muffins cups. Bake at 350˚ for 30 minutes, or until they test done with a toothpick.

Donna's Carrot Cake Muffins

Well, these were absolutely delicious! They have enough sugar in them to make me want “more, more, more!” But hey, they are dense with carrots and nuts and pineapple in them too, good healthy foods . . . I only had one for breakfast even though they called to me for awhile.

This batter is really dense, which is probably why the loaf that I cooked was a little un-done in the center, even after careful toothpick-testing. If you prefer loaves, cook the batter as two 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaves at 350˚ for at least 55-60 minutes.

250 Cookbooks: Blue Ribbon Malt Extract

Cookbook #145: Blue Ribbon Malt Extract, Premier Malt Products, Inc., Peoria Heights, Illinois, 1951.

Blue Ribbon Malt Extract cookbook

How did this booklet get into my collection? I am clueless. I just wrote a couple posts about bagels and touched on the ingredient “malt syrup” – so not surprisingly, Blue Ribbon Malt Extract caught my eye when I searched for a book to cover this week.

What is malt syrup? I found online that malt syrup is (generally) made from barley. The barley is soaked in water just until it sprouts and then it is dried – a process called malting. The sprouting process develops several different enzymes that break starches into sugars.  Malt syrup is mostly the sugar maltose, along with complex carbohydrates and a bit of protein (and some vitamins, see below). It’s about half as sweet as sugar.

The opening section of Blue Ribbon Malt Extract reads:

“Blue Ribbon Malt Extract is a valuable addtion to the diet, and a delightful means of bringing new taste to everyday cooking. Its use in bread, for instance, will decrease the leavening time, and produce a larger, lighter loaf of better texture, deeper crust, and more appetizing appearance. Bread and other goods baked with Blue Ribbon Malt Extract will also keep their freshness and tastiness much longer.”

Except for bagels, I’ve rarely seen malt syrup called for in breads. And, I don’t remember malt syrup being touted as a health food supplement. But sure enough, wikipedia states that it was used as a nutrition enhancer for children in England in the first half of the twentieth century. It tastes better than cod liver oil (given for the same purpose) but it tastes a lot better. A tablespoon serving has 10% RDA niacin, 6% vitamin B6, and 6% riboflavin (source: WolfAlph). (In The House at Pooh Corner, malt syrup was Tigger’s favorite food!)

In all the recipes in this book, only a small amount of malt syrup is called for, like teaspoons and tablespoons. Please carefully study the photo below, taken from this cookbook, of a can of Blue Ribbon Malt Syrup:

Malt Extract

3 pounds of malt syrup in a can! Now, that’s a lot when you use so little for each recipe or for nutrition! What did people do with all that malt syrup?

Beer. The answer is beer. I figured this out by googling “malt syrup” and finding almost all of the hits leading to homebrewing sites. I also liked the following, a current review of this book on Amazon:

“If you wrote to the Blue Ribbon company [in the 1950s] and asked for recipes, they would send you this [book] . . . wonder of wonders, a few weeks later you would get a letter. The envelope had no return address. You opened it up, and there was a single typed sheet with home brew recipes. That was what you really wanted. You could then happily brew to your heart’s content.”

During prohibition, people used malt extract in their recipes for homebrew. Note that this book was published in 1951, decades after prohibition was repealed: homebrewing was still illegal in the US until 1978. The company that produced Blue Ribbon Malt Extract had to keep a low profile. (Modern Pabst Blue Ribbon beer is connected with Blue Ribbon malt extract. If you want to read more: Premier Malt Products and Pabst Blue Ribbon.)

Back to my cookbook, Blue Ribbon Malt Extract. I decided to make Bran Muffins for this blog post.

Bran Muffins recipe

I searched local stores and found malt syrup at Whole Foods (but nowhere else):

Barley Malt Syrup

Since I want a good feel for the flavor of malt syrup in baked goods, I decided to use 3 tablespoons of the syrup instead of just 1 teaspoon. The jar of malt syrup says to use 1 tablespoon less liquid for each 4 tablespoons of malt syrup in a recipe, so I have adjusted the recipe for this amount.

Malt Syrup Bran Muffins
makes 8 muffins

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup wheat bran
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons malt syrup (60 grams)
  • scant 3/4 cup milk (measure 3/4 cup and remove 1 tablespoon)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Mix the flour, bran, paking powder, and salt and stir together. Blend the sugar, egg, malt syrup, milk, and oil and whisk until well mixed. Combine the wet and dry ingredients just until mixed.

Fill 8 greased muffin cups with the batter. Bake at 425˚ for 15-18 minutes.

Malt Syrup Bran Muffins

The original recipe said to drop into “a well greased muffin tin”. I assume that means 12 muffins, but as I filled the muffin cups, I decided that 8 muffins was the proper amount. No time was specified; I tried 20 minutes and I think it was a little too long. I incorporated these changes in my version of this recipe, above.

And how did these taste? I broke one open right out of the oven and devoured it. The fragrence and taste of the malt syrup was subtle but definitely there. I found these to be really filling. I ate one before a workout and believe they gave me lots of energy! I really enjoyed these muffins.

But my husband? “They taste like sawdust.” Sigh. You will have to judge them for yourself.

Apple Coconut Muffins

Instant favorite: A muffin recipe from the Whittier Wildcats Cookbook, this week’s 250 Cookbooks blog entry. These muffins are oh so good! They pack a full cup of coconut and a cup and a half of apples into 12 muffins. I added some cinnamon and used fresh nutmeg.

I think these are really “cupcakes”. Too rich to be called “muffins”. Maybe a little whole wheat flour will assuage my conscience.

Here is the original recipe:

Apple Coconut Muffins recipeBelow is my version:

Apple Coconut Muffins
makes 12 muffins

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (or use regular butter and skip the additional salt)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg (freshly ground if possible)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup shredded sweetened coconut (this weighed 3 1/2 ounces on my scale)
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped, peeled apple (for me, this took 1 1/2 large apples)

Prepare 12 muffin tins in your favorite fashion.

In a mixer, cream the butter, sugar, and vanilla.

Stir together the flours, baking powder, salt, and spices.

Whisk together the eggs and milk.

Add the flour mixture alternately with the egg mixture to the creamed mixture, blending after each addition only until just combined. Stir in the coconut and apples.

Bake at 350˚ for 30 minutes or until they are light brown on top and test done with a toothpick. Cool in pan at least 15 minutes before removing to cool on a wire rack.

Apple Coconut MuffinsBe sure to let these cool before removing from the pan. I tried getting one out after only 5 minutes and – oops! It fell apart. So of course I had to taste it. And then go back for more. Addicting!

250 Cookbooks: Whittier Wildcat Cookbook

Cookbook #121: Whittier Wildcat Cookbook, Whittier School Community, 19??.

Whittier Wildcat Cookbook“I have no idea where this book came from” reads my cookbook database. Nowhere in this book is a publication date. It is a “community cookbook” –  compiled by the teachers, parents and students at an elementary school. (Here is the first community cookbook covered in this blog.) The introductory page thanks “Mary West-Smith” for typing all of the recipes on her word processor, so my guess is that it was produced in the mid-1970s.

“Whittier” at first calls to mind the city in Southern California. But no . . . “Whittier” is also an elementary school in Boulder, Colorado. A school on Pine and 20th.

Well, this all is starting to make sense. We lived in a dumpy old house on Walnut, full of character (and characters), for a couple years in the mid-1970s. We called the house “Walnetto”. What times. The Whittier school was just a couple blocks from Walnetto. Perhaps a child or parent was going door-to-door with this cookbook and I bought it from them? Quite likely.

And yes I googled this book. I found a couple references that confirm it was published in Boulder, Colorado – and the publication date is unknown. I could purchase it through AbeBooks.com for $22.90 (!).

Time to settle in and read. The recipes? Pretty good. Good homey main dishes for families (Pot Roast Breckenridge and Stayabed Stew). Salads for potlucks (7-Up Salad and Coco-Cola Salad). Breads and cakes and cookies and pies (Dump Cake and Turtle Cake and Monkey-Face Cookies). Many look so familiar they could have been in my own mother’s recipe box. Some are treasured family recipes:

WWfamfav1WWfamfav2Some are international recipes:

WWintl1And special treats! Little kids contributed some of the drawings and recipes.

WWkids1WWkids2WWkids3WWkids4WWkids5WWkids6I am going to make a Mexican chicken casserole for this blog. The cookbook has two similar recipes:

WWMexCassRec1WWMexCassRec2(I also have a recipe for this casserole in my own collection – but I decide not to look at it until I am done cooking a Wildcat one.)

Below is a combined version of the Whittier Wildcats recipes, with a couple small modifications of my own.

Note: This casserole is a good way to use up leftover cooked chicken, but if you don’t have any around, cook one large boneless chicken breast for this recipe.

Mexican Chicken Casserole 1
serves about 4

  • 1 1/2 cups chopped cooked chicken
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped (optional)
  • 6 corn tortillas
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 can green chiles (4 oz.)
  • 1/2 cup green chile salsa (optional)
  • 6 oz. grated cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • chopped fresh cilantro to taste

Mix the chicken with the garlic and some chopped cilantro and a little kosher salt and rub it all together. (This step is optional, but adds a good zip of flavor.)

Mix the cream of chicken soup with the chicken broth.

Put a little of the chicken in the bottom of an 8×8-inch baking pan. Layer with half of the tortillas. I cut the tortillas in half and layered them like this:

Mexican Chicken preparation(I put another piece of tortilla to fill in the hole in the middle but I wanted to illustrate my method.)

On top of the tortillas, add half of the remaining chicken, half of the onion, half of the soup-broth mixture, half of the green chiles, half of the green chile salsa, half of the cheese, and a sprinkling of cumin.

Add another layer of tortillas, then top with the remaining ingredients. Put a little cilantro on top for flavor and color (if you like cilantro).

Bake at 375˚ for 35-45 minutes, until the whole top is bubbly (check the center).

Mexican Chicken CasseroleThis was a huge success. The garlic, cumin and cilantro perked up the original recipe(s) but did not overwhelm the dish. I baked for 30 minutes, but it wasn’t hot in the center yet, so I modified cooking time to 45 minutes.

Now it’s time to look at my own version of this recipe. Turns out I have two: one pretty much like the Whittier versions, except it adds chopped green pepper and a can of “Rotel” tomatoes with chiles; one calls for the addition of garlic, cumin, chile powder, and canned red enchilada sauce.

Which recipe do we like best? I think this new version without any red sauce at all!

250 Cookbooks: The Bread Basket

Cookbook #119: The Bread Basket, Standard Brands Incorporated, 1941.

The Bread Basket cookbook“‘Baking day’ isn’t on the American housewife’s calendar any more. For at her bakery or grocery . . . fresh every day . . . is a profusion of breads, rolls, cakes and pastries that’s one of the world’s wonders.

“How tempting they are . . . how delicious . . . how cheap . . . and what a world of work they save!

“But there are times when women like to run up a batch of rolls of their own, or try their hand at a coffee cake, just to see if they can still do it!”

So begins this delightful 1941 cookbook. I smile as I turn the pages.

The breads in this cookbook are all yeast breads, and Fleischmann’s yeast is specified in every recipe. (Standard Brands was formed in 1929 by J. P. Morgan by a merger of Fleischmann’s and four other companies. In 1981, Standard Brands merged with Nabisco to form Nabisco Brands, Inc.)

The copy right has expired on this cookbook, so I am going to share with you a few of my favorite pages. Let the book speak for itself!

page 2page 3Bagles! And yes, the recipe below is for “bagels”, as we spell it.

page 9page 12Corn Meal Muffins recipeI always google my cookbook titles. This time I find the Fresh Loaf website has reproduced a later version of The Bread Basket. The cover is the same, the layout is the same, but the content is different and refers to war rationing.

This was one of my mother’s cookbooks, but she didn’t make any notes in it, nor are their food stains. She must have got it soon after she was married.

I decide to make “Corn Meal Muffins” for this blog. The original recipe is in the picture just above. I think it might be interesting to use yeast as the leavening in corn muffins instead of baking powder! I hope they turn out.

A couple notes. The recipe calls for “scalded milk”. This is simply milk heated to just below boiling. This kills any bacteria that might interfere with the yeast and/or the taste of the bread. With today’s pasteurized milk, most (but not all) cooks consider this an unnecessary step.

“1 cake of yeast” probably means a 2 ounce cake of wet, compressed yeast. Although caked yeast is supposedly still available, I haven’t seen it in years, so I will use my usual active dry yeast. According to the Red Star website, 1/3 of a 2 ounce yeast cake is equal to 2 1/4 teaspoons of dry yeast. I am making a half recipe, so I should use 3 3/8 teaspoons of dry yeast. (I actually used 1 1/2 teaspoons yeast but would use more next time.)

Yeast Corn Muffins
makes 10

  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 7/8 cup cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons dry yeast (note added later: too yeasty, so 1 1/2 teaspoons is my suggestion)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cup flour

Scald the milk, then stir in the butter until it melts, then stir in the cornmeal. Add the brown sugar and salt. Let cool to lukewarm, then stir in the yeast, egg, and flour.

Grease a muffin pan (you will only need 10 of the muffin cups). Fill each muffin cup half full. Let rise one hour, until light.

Bake at 375˚ for 22 minutes (or until they test done).


These turned out great! Unlike baking powder muffins, these did not crumble and fall apart a lot as we ate them. They were rough and chewy! The flavor was perfect. I think these might also be good with some cooked corn off-the-cob stirred into the batter. (Maybe with green chiles and chopped red bell pepper too.)

Here are the muffins just after I put the batter into the muffin pan:

just into panHere they are after an hours’ rise. They look a little lighter or higher:

risenAnd here they are baked:

bakedThese weren’t really tall muffins, but this might be my mistake. I made a slight calculation error and only used 1 1/2 teaspoons yeast instead of 2 1/4 teaspoons. Next time they might turn out higher – but they were dang good as is! I liked them split and toasted and spread with cream cheese and jam:

muffin with jam