250 Cookbooks: Hamilton Beach Automatic Heat Control Appliances

Cookbook #113: Hamilton Beach Automatic Heat Control Appliances, Hamilton Beach, Racine, Wisconsin, Division of Scovill Manufacturing Company, circa 1970 (no date in booklet).

Automatic Heat Control Appliances CookbookI found my old electric fry pan while organizing my cooking stuff in the basement. I wavered between putting it on the “definitely toss” or the “maybe recycle” pile for several weeks. I haven’t used this fry pan in years, one reason being is that it is missing the little metal circle that enables you to set it at a particular temperature.

Then I found this instruction/recipe booklet: Hamilton Beach Automatic Heat Control Appliances. (Is is one of the “ccok books” listed in my database.) That inspired me to give this appliance one last meal to cook for us!

I carry the fry pan upstairs and wash off the dust and cobwebs. The bottom of the bottom has a small layer of burned-on fat, but I don’t bother scrubbing it off. The top looks like it is water-spotted, but it doesn’t clean up with an SOS pad.

electric fry panThis unit has three pieces: the lid, the fry pan, and the plug-in thermostat. Thus, you can clean the pan by first unplugging the thermostat, then immersing the pan in water to clean. I note a patent number on the plug-in thermostat:


This US patent was granted in 1961 to G. E. Sorenson for an “Electrically heated device with plug-in thermostat”. (Patent page.) The timing makes sense; I acquired this fry pan about 1969-71. I remember my college roommate making sukiyaki in it. The booklet tells me that the plug-in thermostat also works with a griddle and a saucepan (I had neither).

I decide to make “Chicken Tetrazzini” on page 42 of the booklet. But how am I going to set the temperature?  Hmmm. There is a photo of the dial on the cover of the booklet. Maybe if I scan it?

HB dialOkay – now I’ll print the above and cut it out and tape it to the thermostat. Cool, it works! I’m ready to make the tetrazzini.

Chicken Tetrazzini recipeI will make a half-recipe. Instead of American cheese, I will use regular cheddar cheese. For cooked peas, I will use frozen peas, straight from the bag. Elbow macaroni – !!! – none in my pantry! I don’t feel like driving back to town, so I substitute whole-grain cavatelli. I did pick up pimientos yesterday – I was surprised to find them canned at Sprouts. Pimientos are less prevalent these days than they were in the 1970s. I usually substitute red bell peppers. According to Wikipedia, a pimiento is a chili pepper that is smaller and a bit more sweet and succulent and aromatic than a bell pepper.

Below is my version of Chicken Tetrazzini. I used the electric fry pan, but any stove-top pan could be used.

Chicken Tetrazzini
serves 3-4

  • 1 slice bacon, chopped fine
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 2 tablespoons pimiento (or use chopped red bell pepper)
  • 1 cup cooked chicken, cut into chunks
  • 3/4 cup frozen peas
  • 2 tablespoons slivered almonds
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth (you may need more)
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • olives and parsley (optional)
  • 4 ounces (dry) elbow macaroni (can substitute another type of pasta)

Cook the bacon in a skillet or sauce pan. (I used the electric fry pan set at 325˚.) When the bacon is crisp, add the onion and green pepper and stir until softened. Lower the heat and add the pimientos, chicken, peas, almonds, chicken broth, and cheese. Cover and cook for about 15 minutes. If the mixture gets too dry, add a bit more chicken broth.

Meanwhile, cook the macaroni in salted boiling water. Drain, then add to the chicken mixture. Lightly mix and heat. If you like, add a few olives and some parsley. Serve!

ChickenTetrazziniWe both liked this! It’s tasty and easy.

I’ll keep my electric fry pan. It would be good for the Stylish Meat Balls I made last week, because it is a large pan and maintains a low heat setting. I’m sure I’ll find other uses now that I have rediscovered it.

250 Cookbooks: Rice – 200 Delightful ways to serve it

Cookbook #112: Rice – 200 Delightful ways to serve it, Southern Rice Industry, New Orleans, LA, 7th edition, 1937. Prepared by the home economics department of the Southern Rice Industry, New Orleans; recipes tested and approved by the Home Economics Department of Louisiana State University (Director: Beth Bailey McLean).

RiceCB“The set table must appear balanced. Dishes must be so placed that no spot is crowded, no side or end is over-balanced with dishes. All the lines on the table should go across or lengthwise of the table. A diagonal line attracts attention, and should be avoided. Therefore, the handles of dishes, bread-and-butter spreaders, oyster forks, salt-and-pepper sets, must follow this rule. If round doilies are used, the threads should also be placed parallel to the edge of the table, not on a diagonal. All dishes, linen, and silver must be placed to follow this rule, or the effect is one of carelessness.”

This is the delightful advice from page 11 of Rice. Yes the book has many recipes for rice, but I enjoy the glimpse into 1930s Americana even more.

table settingMy copy of Rice is almost 80 years old but is in excellent condition. I am not sure whether this cookbook was my mother’s, her mother’s, or from the “Ruth C. Vandenhoudt” house (relatives of my father’s mother). It doesn’t look like it was ever used: no writing or food stains.

As the title states, this book contains 200 recipes for cooking with rice:

“For this book, we have selected recipes that are usable in every section of the United States. Some of the rice recipes are excellent for the main dish in the low cost diet. Other rice recipes are ideally suited to the most elaborate menu in the high cost diet.”

Rice waffles, muffins, fritters; codfish and rice omelet, rice with poached eggs, cheese soup with rice, cream of rice soup, crabs with rice, Mexican and Uruguayan rice, rice loaves, jambalaya, risotto, baked rice and cheese, luncheon salad, rice pudding, rice and raisin pie . . . and more. The recipes are dated, but I’ll be able to adapt at least one of them for this blog.

More Americana, on “Types of Table Service”:

“The English, or family type, is the one most suited to the average family where there is no maid or cook. In this service, all the food is served att he table by the host and hostess, instead of being brought in from the kitchen in individual servings. The hostess of today would do better to perfect this type of service, rathere than to attempt the more formal types.”

 “Rules for Waiting on a Table”:

  1. Food dishes and soiled dishes from the last course must be removed.
  2. Clean dishes and food for the next course must be placed.
  3. This exchange must be done quietly and quickly.
  4. There should be no unsightliness or appearance of great haste.
  5. There should be no display of dishes or silver.
  6. There should be no unnecessary trips to and from the kitchen.
  7. Always consider the comfort of those at the table. Do not make them fear an accident because of the clumsiness or carelessness of the waitress.

I TOTALLY FAIL! If I serve you food, you may be fearing an accident because of my clumsiness!

Okay, enough levity. For this blog, I decide to cook “Stylish Meat Balls”.

Tomato soup? Was there really canned tomato soup in the 1930s? Yes, apparently so. In 1897 a a chemist at  Campbell’s named Dr. John T. Dorrance “invented” Campbell’s Soup as we know it. His idea was to take the water out of the soup, thus selling it in a smaller can and for less money. Here is a little on the history of Campbell’s Tomato soup and on the soup can design.

I do keep canned tomato soup in my pantry, but mostly for making French dressing. For Stylish Meat Balls, I want to make my own tomato soup. I consulted Cooks Illustrated, and modified their recipe for “Ultimate Cream of Tomato Soup”. Below is my version of this recipe.

Uncanned Tomato Soup

  • 1 (28 ounce) can whole or diced tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 large shallots or 1 small onion, chopped fine
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • salt to taste
  • 1tablespoon flour
  • 1 cup chicken stock

Drain the tomatoes; reserve the juice. Pat the tomatoes dry, then place them on a half-sheet pan lined with parchment. Sprinkle the tomatoes with the brown sugar. Bake at 450˚ until the liquid evaporates and the tomatoes begin to color; do not let them char. Remove from oven and let cool.

Heat the butter in a pan and add the shallots (or onions). Cook until they soften, then add the tomato paste and a little salt. Cook a few minutes, then add the flour and cook, stirring constantly for about 30 seconds, until the flour is incorporated. Stir in the chicken broth, the reserved juice from the can of tomatoes, and the tomatoes that were roasted in the oven. Let simmer about 10-15 minutes.

If you have an immersion blender, use it to blend the hot soup. If not, let it cool a bit and then blend it in batches in a blender or food processor. If the soup is too thick for your taste, thin it with water or chicken stock.

The soup is ready to eat at this point, or you can add a few tablespoons of cream. I tasted it without cream and said “yum”. But we didn’t eat it as soup, I used it in the “Stylish Meat Balls”.

Stylish Meat BallsBelow is my recipe for Stylish Meat Balls. Note that the original recipe says to shape into “small balls”, but also note that it says it makes 10 meat balls. For 1 1/2 pounds of meat, that’s 2.4 ounces per meat ball. I consider those large meat balls. When I made the recipe, I made about 16-20 meat balls, and they were bigger than the meat balls I usually make.

Stylish Meat Balls
serves 4-6, depending on appetites

  • 1/2 cup rice
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground meat
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground pepper
  • Uncanned Tomato Soup (recipe above)
  • 1 tablespoon grated onion (this is very good)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped green pepper

Mix the rice, ground meat, salt and pepper. Form into about 16-20 meat balls.

Heat the tomato soup. (I suggest a very large flat pan, so that the meat balls can rest in a single layer in the pan.) Add the meat balls, cover, and cook over very low heat for about 45 minutes. If you cook this too hot, it WILL stick to the bottom of the pan and burn. Check it frequently as it cooks and add a little water if it gets too thick.

Serve the meat balls – and the sauce in which they cooked – over rice or noodles. I served mine over brown rice with cooked mushrooms and fresh basil:

Stylish Meat BallsMy Stylish Meat Balls got the comment “these are better than your usual meatballs”. I liked them too! The rice inside the meat balls keeps them moist. (They are kind of like inside-out Pearl Balls!) They definitely earned a “yum” from me.

250 Cookbooks: Cookies, Brownies and Bars

Cookbook #111: Cookies, Brownies and Bars, Classic Cookbooks, The Pillsbury Company, Minneapolis, MN, 1991.

Cookies Brownies Bars CBIf you have a great memory, you will recognize the photo above. I have already covered this cookbook on this blog. But, that was my copy, and this is a copy that I sent my mother. Since I had entered both into my cookbook database when I stopped at 250 cookbooks, I have to cover it again! My obsessive-compulsive rules, my blog.

I sent this copy of Cookies, Brownies, and Bars to my mother. On the first page, she wrote “from Patty Christmas 1991”. Before I mailed it, I hand-wrote “good” and “great” on many of the recipes, and Mother added her own notes. I’m going to hold onto this cookbook just for that. It makes me smile, a little sadly perhaps, and it brings back memories.

For this blog, I decide to make a very chocolate-y brownie: “German Chocolate Saucepan Brownies”. I used to make these a lot when the kids were around to eat them. I wrote on the recipe: “DELICIOUS”. For me to write in all caps is unusual – it’s like shouting – and means these are stupendous brownies!

German Chocolate Saucepan BrowniesI make these just like the recipe.

German Chocolate Brownies


  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 4-ounce bar of German’s Sweet Baking Chocolate
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 cup coconut
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Heat the oven to 350˚ and butter an 8×8-inch baking pan (I use a glass pan).

Melt the butter and chocolate over low heat. Take off the heat and stir in the sugar and vanilla, then add the eggs and mix in well. Mix the flour with the baking powder and salt, then add to the chocolate mixture. Spread into the prepared pan.

Bake at 350˚ for 18-26 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Take out of the oven and turn the oven to high broil (you can leave the oven rack in the middle of the oven).

While the brownies bake, prepare the topping. Mix the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and milk, blending well. Then, add the coconut and pecans.

Use a small spoon to drop dollops of the topping on the brownies until the brownies are just about covered evenly. Gently spread the topping until the brownies are covered.

Place the brownies under the broiler. Broil for about a minute: WATCH CAREFULLY! The topping can brown pretty quickly, so don’t leave the area!

Remove the brownies from the oven and cool. It’s best if they are completely cool before you cut them.

German Chocolate BrowniesDELICIOUS!

250 Cookbooks: Cooking of Provincial France

Cookbook #110: Cooking of Provincial France, M. F. K. Fisher and the Editors of Time-Life Books, Time-Life Books, NY, 1968. Foods of the World series; seventh printing, revised 1969, reprinted 1976. (Note: Julia Child is credited as a consultant for Cooking of Provincial France.)

Cooking of Provincial FranceThis book is an unexpected pleasure. M. F. K. Fisher turns out to be “Mary Francis Kennedy Fisher”. I had never heard of her, so I looked her up online. According to Wikipedia, she was one of the preeminent American food writers of the twentieth century. A website devoted to her life and works is a good online resource for this interesting writer.

My first clue that I will like this writer is her introduction to Cooking of Provincial France. I always associate French cooking with heavy, rich sauces. Apparently Fisher had come up against the same prejudice:

“When I stopped in Scotland with my young children after a long stay in Provence, elderly and rather insular friends exclaimed in wonder at how well we seemed to be, ‘in spite of those dreadful thick rich concoctions covering everything and making one bilious, not to mention gouty.'”

She goes on to explain how French provincial cooking differs from grand or haute cuisine. “French provincial” is the cuisine cooked in country kitchens. Fisher writes: “haute cuisine stood or fell upon its essential stocks, and on the five basic warm sauces: espagnole, veloute, bechamel, tomato, and hollandaise.” In contrast, “most dishes that come from country kitchens make their own juices, right in the casseroles in which they are cooked and often without any need of the strainings, the additions, the final touches intrinsic to a great chef’s unfaltering performance.”

Fresh herbs, vegetables, dairy products, eggs, and meats are the mainstay of French provincial cooking. As I leaf through the pages of Cooking of Provincial France, I find myself planning an entire meal to cook. Definitely my type of recipes! (Especially since I recently read The Big Fat Surprise and have been incorporating more butter and full-fat milk products in our diet.)

M. F. K. Fisher

Much like my experience with The Cooking of China, a Foods of the World cookbook I covered in a previous blog post, I have discovered another fascinating woman culinary author from the mid-twentieth century.

Fisher was born in Michigan in 1908 and grew up in Southern California. Her family was “highly literate” and she was writing poems as a young girl. In college, she met Al Fisher; they married and soon moved to France for several years. She learned to love the people’s food of France: cooked in home kitchens with fresh ingredients. She loved to write, she loved cooking – so she combined her two passions as a food writer. Her first book, Serve it Forth, was published in 1935. Her last was published in 1992.

From this web site, I learn: “Mary Frances contributed to their income by working in a picture-framing shop that sold pornographic postcards. She read books and, inspired by an Elizabethan cookbook she discovered at the Los Angeles Public Library, she began writing essays of her own on cooking.” Also from this web site: “Her first book, Serve it Forth was so unlike other ‘women’ writers on the subject of cooking that many critics thought it was written by a man.”

I like her style of writing, her prose, her sense of humor. Her essays are a mixture of memoir, travel, and culinary tales. I checked out a compilation of her works from the library, “Art of Eating”, and am enjoying the read.

(If you like, you can read a few pages of her 1937 book Serve It Forth on Google Books.)

What to cook?

I am caught first by the recipe for French onion soup. I don’t believe I’ve ever made it! Time to try. Fisher’s version begins with cooking the onions slowly until they are nice and brown, then adding beef stock. (The recipes in this book for chicken and beef stocks are almost exactly like my own self-evolved stock recipes for the same.) The soup is topped off with a crust of bread, cheese, and a run in the oven.

Okay, soup to start my meal. Now I need something to go with the soup. Luckily this book is brimming with good recipes. I’ll make French bread for sure.

Main dish? Something light like fish. But sauced. How about a nice aioli (garlic mayonnaise) over halibut? And a vegetable or two. How about artichokes? I also like the spinach-ham stuffed mushrooms, held together with a bechamel sauce. (The recipe is titled Champignons Farcis, or “baked stuffed mushroom caps”.)

For dessert, I choose clafoutis aux cerises, or cherry cake. This is sweet cherries baked in an eggy batter with lots of vanilla.

So I settle in early on a rainy Saturday to begin the bread. I cooked (played?) off-and-on all day on my French provincial dinner. Everything came out perfect.

As my official recipe from this book for this blog, I’ll write up only the French onion soup. Here is the recipe:French Onion Soup RecipeI made it almost exactly like the above recipe, except for downsizing to serve just two people.

Soupe à l’Oignon
French Onion Soup
serves 2

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 pound onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • up to 1 quart beef stock, preferably homemade


  • 2 1-inch thick slices of French bread
  • olive oil (to brush bread slices)
  • 1 garlic clove, split in half
  • 1/2 cup shredded Swiss or Parmesan cheese, or a mixture thereof

Melt the butter with the oil in a saucepan. Stir in the onions and salt and cook, uncovered, over low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes. They will become a rich golden brown if you have the patience to do this step carefully.

browned onionsSprinkle the browned onions with the tablespoon of flour and stir for several minutes. Add about 3 cups of the stock slowly, with stirring. Simmer, covered, for about 45 minutes. Add more stock if the soup is too thick, and adjust the seasonings.

While the soup is simmering, or even earlier in the day, make the croûtes, or toasted bread slices. Put the 1-inch thick bread slices in a 325˚ oven for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and drizzle or brush each side of the slices with olive oil. Put them back in the oven (preferably with the side that used to be up now down) and bake for another 15 minutes, until they are lightly browned. Remove from oven and rub each slice with the cut garlic clove.

Divide the soup between two ovenproof soup bowls. Put a croûte on top of each and sprinkle with the grated cheese. Bake for 10-20 minutes in a 375˚ oven. If you like, as a last step, put the soup bowls under a broiler for a couple minutes to brown the tops.

French Onion SoupThis was yummy. I kept the amount of cheese a bit low and we liked it that way. I’ll make it again! Here’s a photo of the bread and vegetables I prepared for the second course:

veggies and breadThe rest of the meal  – the fish with aioli and the cherry cake – tasted great but were not terribly photogenic.

Bon appetit!

250 Cookbooks: The Complete Book of Food Counts

Cookbook #109: The Complete Book of Food Counts, Corinne T. Netzerk, Dell Publishing, NY, NY, 1988.

The Complete Book of Food CountsI previously discussed one of my calorie reference books: Calories and Carbohydrates by Barbara Kraus. The Complete Book of Food Counts is quite similar; it lists calories, carbohydrates, protein, cholesterol, sodium, fat and fiber of over 8000 foods. Many of the entries are brand-name items (and today you can get their nutrient values on the package). Entries for beef are kind of hard to decipher: are the meats weighed before or after cooking? (This book is still in print: a 9th edition was published in 2012.)

I plan to keep one or two of my calorie-counting references, so I’ll put The Complete Book of Food Counts through a trial run of calculating the number of calories in a recipe.

What recipe? I decide to cook another recipe from the Sunbeam Deluxe Mixmaster Mixer cookbook. Why? I just got the vintage replacement bowl in the mail and want to use it! Here is the recipe for “Applesauce ‘n Oatmeal Loaf”:

Applesauce Oatmeal LoafHere’s my vintage mixer mixing, for the first time in years!

Sunbeam Mixer mixingThis bread turned out tasty and wholesome. A bit too wholesome, though! It is kind of dry and heavy, and I doubt I’ll make it again. It did serve its purpose though as a change-of-pace breakfast bread. And, it serves the purpose of testing my book’s usefulness in looking up calories.

Calories in this bread

Here are my results, from The Complete Book of Food Counts and my trusty internet site, Nutrient Facts.

Netzerk’s book Internet source
1 1/2 cups flour 600 675
1 teaspoon baking powder 4 0
1 teaspoon baking soda 0
1/2 teaspoon salt 0
1 teaspoon cinnamon 6
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg 6
2/3 cup brown sugar 529 547
2 eggs 158 140
1/2 cup butter 813 810
1 cup raisins 488 490
3/4 cup walnuts 578 585
1 1/2 cups oatmeal (cooked) 210 195
1 cup applesauce 106 130 (slices)

Comments on calorie results

As you can see, the calorie values quite similar from both sources.

Time: Netzerk’s book 9 minutes 45 seconds. The internet search on Nutrient Facts took 10 minutes.

Ease of Search:  It was almost as easy to use this book as to use the internet, even though there are a lot of extraneous (brand-name) listings to fish through in the book. I was surprised that the times for both searches was about the same. I was also surprised to find the calorie counts for baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg in the printed book. Neither source listed dry oatmeal (the value from Quakers Oatmeal box was 450 calories total).

Conclusion: The Complete Book of Food Counts is a decent calorie counter book. I will keep it for those times we are without power!