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.


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: Elam Biggs Favorites

Cookbook #178: Elam Biggs Favorites, Elam Biggs, Grass Valley, CA, 2009.

Elam Biggs Favorites cookbook

We stayed at the Elam Biggs Bed and Breakfast Inn while visiting family in Grass Valley in 2009. The breakfasts there were amazing! Fruit, juice, eggs, sausage or ham or bacon, and breakfast pastries, served at a fancy table setting. All homemade and wonderful. It was so pleasant to sit and chat with other guests as Elam showed us his card tricks. The rooms are ornately decorated with antiques. A great stay!

I couldn’t resist buying one of the little booklets of breakfast recipes that they offered. Seven years later, though, and I haven’t cooked a single recipe from this booklet. The reason is that they are a little more calorie-laden than we usually have for breakfast (when not on vacation). Elam Biggs Favorites has sat on my shelf as a souveneir of our visit, rather than as a “cookbook”.

There are only eight recipes in this booklet, so it won’t take long to decide which to make for this blog:

  • Dutch Babies (my chosen recipe, below)
  • Corn Flake Potatoes (hash browns, mushroom soup, sour cream, cheese topped with cornflakes and baked)
  • Breakfast Omelette (butter, eggs, flour, baking powder, green chiles, cottage cheese, Jack cheese, baked in the oven)
  • Stuffed French Toast (sourdough bread, cream cheese, raisins, milk, eggs – start the night before)
  • Brunch Enchiladas (flour tortillas rolled around ham, onions, green chiles, and cheese, topped with eggs and half-and-half and baked – start the night before)
  • Scalloped Corn (canned corn, butter, eggs, sour cream, corn muffin mix)
  • Overnite Strawberry French Toast (bread soaked in eggs and milk overnight, next morning put strawberries and bananas in a pan and cover with the soaked bread and bake)
  • Elam’s Eggs (cheese and eggs baked in a ramekin)

I decide to try “Dutch Babies”. These are Dutch pancakes, or pannenkoek. Many versions are available on the web – basically, they are a mixture of eggs, milk, and flour poured into a hot buttered pan and baked. They puff up and then fall, leaving the edges fluffy and the middle gooey and rich. You can serve them with powdered sugar or fruits or syrup. I found 4 clipped Dutch baby recipes in my old “clips” database – and noted that I made them once and loved them. They have always intrigued me, but they rarely fit into our eating pattern. Time to change that!

Below is my adaptation of Elam Bigg’s recipe for Dutch Babies.

Dutch Babies
serves 2

  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup butter

Put the eggs in a blender and blend about half a minute. Then, with the blender open, add the milk and then the flour and blend another half a minute. This batter can rest a while if your pan is not yet ready.

Choose a pan that holds 2 quarts and is at least 2 inches in depth. Add the butter and heat the pan in a 425˚ oven until the butter melts.

Remove the hot pan from the oven and pour in the batter. Put it right back into the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until puffy and the edges are well browned.

Here is my Dutch baby right out of the oven:

Dutch Baby

As it cooled the middle fell (as expected). As soon as it was cool enough to eat, we cut chunks and smeared them with fresh peach jam and enjoyed. Very eggy and very buttery. I think you could use less butter (and save a few calories), but this Dutch baby tasted great as is!


Elam Biggs’ directions for other sizes of Dutch babies:

  • 4 eggs, 1 cup milk, 1 cup flour, 3 quart pan
  • 5 eggs, 1 1/4 cup milk, 1 1/4 cup flour, 4 quart pan
  • 6 eggs, 1 1/2 cup milk, 1 1/2 cup flour, 5 quart pan
  • ramekins or any size pan: fill one-quarter full with batter

250 Cookbooks: Healthy Home-Style Cooking

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

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

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

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

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

Whole Grain Yeast Waffles
makes 8-12 waffles

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

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

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

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

Strawberry Syrup
makes a little over a cup of syrup

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

250 Cookbooks: Knudsen Recipes

Cookbook #53: Knudsen Recipes for greater food value. Knudsen, Knudsen Creamery Co. of California, 1953.

Knudsen RecipesKnudsen is a California dairy product company. Currently it is owned by Kraft Foods. When I grew up in our Southern California home in the 1950s, our milk, cottage cheese, sour cream and other dairy products were usually the Knudsen brand. My mother acquired three pamphlet-cookbooks from Knudsen; this 1953 one is the oldest of the three.

This is the first cookbook I’ve come to in which I can’t find a single recipe to try. A coffee cake using prepared biscuit mix and no spices; cream cheese cookies with a lot of butter and watercress; codfish and cottage cheese casserole; casserole a la tuna; chipped beef rarebit; summer soup with chopped cucumbers and cooked beets in a cold mixture of buttermilk and sour cream: I say yuck just reading the titles. Oddly, a recipe for fried bananas is in the main dishes category. Who could trust a book like that? Many recipes are overly laden with butter and sour cream.

The cookbook stresses the health benefits of dairy products, especially yogurt, hoop cheese, and buttermilk, and includes a calorie chart that’s a whole two and a half pages long.

My mother tried the raisin pie and marked it “pretty good”. That’s the only recipe she tried from this book. One more than I’ll try!

Here is the recipe I consider about the worst in this book – Wiener Cheese Floats:

Wiener Cheese FloatsTo satisfy my obsession with cooking a recipe from every cookbook that I cover in this blog, I will share a couple of my own long-time breakfast recipes that are variations on two recipes in this book: Cheese Blintzes and Cottage Cheese Omelet.

Cheese BlintzesWhen I have leftover crepes, I often make something very similar to these blintzes for breakfast. I call them Cottage Cheese Crepes. This is a one-person recipe:

  • 2 crepes
  • 1/4-1/2 cup cottage cheese
  • cinnamon to taste

Heat a non-stick pan, then wipe it with a small amount of oil or spray with non-stick spray. Spoon cottage cheese down the center of each crepe and sprinkle with cinnamon. Roll them up and cook in the pan until lightly browned on both sides and the cottage cheese is melting. Sprinkle with more cinnamon if you like. (Note that I skip the sour cream and butter in the Knudsen recipe, lessening calories.) I drizzle my cooked crepes with a little lite syrup.

Cottage Cheese CrepesThe Cottage Cheese Omelet calls for separating the eggs, combining the yolks and cottage cheese, then beating the whites and folding in the yolks/cottage cheese.

Cottage Cheese OmeletI make something a whole lot simpler using the same ingredients. I take an egg and mix it with 1/4 cup cottage cheese and cook the mixture like scrambled eggs. I have these about once a week, and have for years. I’ll call them Cottage Cheese Scrambled Eggs.

  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup cottage cheese
  • green onions, chopped (optional)

Heat a non-stick pan; brush with a little oil and wipe clean. Break the egg into a bowl and add the cottage cheese (and onions if you wish). Mix with a fork, then pour into the heated pan and cook until the egg mixture sets.

I like to serve these with a muffin and some orange juice. Sorry the photo is kind of crummy. It was very early, and pre-coffee, and I wanted to EAT! No time to play around with camera settings.

Cottage Cheese Scrambled EggsAnd the muffin? That’s my own recipe for banana muffins.