Wednesday, June 12, 2024



My 10 year old checks on the status of the bread pudding. There was a lot of stale bread, and we can’t waste wheat in wartime!  The Kaiser high-fives his friends whenever an American wastes food.  

Sunday, June 9, 2024

String Bean and Potato Soup, aka “Sadness Soup”

 Most For Your Money Cookbook (1938)

“Thrifty Europeans, who, as a rule, live better than we do on less, claim that we throw away more than we eat, and that comes too close to the truth to be any comfort to our intelligence. But even if we won't stop wasting and listening to the siren call of radio experts who sell us foodless food, blown up bran at half a dollar a pound and readymixed gingerbread that costs more to make than the finished cake would be at an honest baker's, we certainly can stretch the food dollar by countless culinary tricks, all of which are appetizing, healthful and interesting.”

Life isn’t all cake and sweetbreads!  Sometimes it is the Great Depression.  The unique feature of this cookbook is that the recipes in each section are ordered from cheap to merely thrifty.  This is merely the second cheapest soup in the book. 



In 1 tablespoons butter slowly cook a minced onion, but do not let it color. When tender add a tomato, either fresh or canned, and stir until it thickens. Then add the liquor in which about a pound of green beans have been boiled, and the water from 4-5 potatoes with a little of the potato, well mashed. Season with salt and pepper and pass all through a sieve. Reheat and serve.

The water in which almost any green vegetable has been boiled may be used in this manner. 


Verdict: This soup isn’t bad!  It isn’t good either. It is… warm. I’m almost positive that in a blind comparison between this and water of the same temperature, I would be able to tell which one was soup. Probably. There’s definitely vitamins in there. It will help fend off scurvy. Husband and both girls agreed it was definitely orangish colored, and probably tasted different to water. The girls lovingly renamed this “Sadness Soup” or “Soup of Sorrows,” which I am sure is an affectionate nickname. The dog got a little bit (not too much, because salt), and decided to stop licking the dishwasher door interior in favor of it, so. There you are!  

Tuesday, June 4, 2024

Good White Cake with Gelatine Frosting (1893, 1900)

 Cooking for Profit: a new American cookbook adapted for the use of all who serve meals for a price, by Jessup Whitehead (1893)

The White House cookbook : a comprehensive cyclopedia of information for the home; containing cooking, toilet, and household recipes, menus, dinner-giving, table etiquette, care of the sick, health suggestions, facts worth knowing, etc. (1900)

The first of these books is unique because it is not intended for private homes, but people who are trying to make a living. As such, it suggests sneaky tricks to maximize profit while maintaining customer health and happiness. Think if you have seen any of these nowadays….  Examples: 

1.) Lots of fish have a whole bunch of names. Collect these, and when you have a glut of one particular sort, just pick a different one of its names for the menu every day, so people think they are getting something new and fancy. 

2.) Do not skimp on bread!  Always make really good bread no matter what, because then people will fill up on bread, which is cheap, and not eat lots of the expensive stuff. 

3.) When using expensive fruit like berries for fillings, use mostly apple cut with just enough juice and berries to make it colored and flavored. 

The real best part of the book is the running account of the author’s feud with her neighbor Mrs. Tingee, a rival and frenemy. 

My custard pies are big and fat — three big cups of custard in each one, and there is room to dive down deep in them; but this! Oh, Mrs. Tingee how could you! It is only the ghost, the shadow, the skeleton of a custard pie. […]Her custard pie is primped and crimped around the edges, but there is nothing of it. It consists of a sheet of bottom crust about as thin as paper, with a yellow layer of custard about as deep as a sheet of blotting paper upon it.

Mrs. Tingee also has something against Italians. 

 “I never could understand,”said Mrs. Tingee, one day, "how the Italians can be so poor, as the papers say they are, and yet eat so much macaroni as the papers tell us they do : I should think it would break them up buying eggs to cook it with.”

How dare they eat pasta!  They are too poor to eat pasta, even homemade! They are probably just pretending to be poor, to trick decent people, when here they are splashing out on a couple eggs shared between the whole family!  OUTRAGEOUS.

I had 5 egg whites leftover from when my daughter made ice cream, so a no-fuss white cake recipe (that doesn’t mind a little bit of egg yolk contamination) seemed just the ticket!  I put in some raspberry flavoring and the last little bit of raspberry jam in the jar.  The #1 most common cake frosting in cookbooks of this era is raw egg white with powdered sugar, or a couple variations of the same.  As raw eggs are not quite The Thing nowadays for safety reasons, I was glad to see the author recommend an alternative gelatin recipe.  It was kind of chonky and gelatinous (which…makes sense), but her recommendation of putting it in a warm place (in this case, a microwave for about a minute and a half) worked like a charm.  This coating should prevent the cake getting hard and gross for a few days!  

 609— Good White Cake.

A great deal of the fuss and labor some people go through every time a white cake is to be made is altogether needless : to prove it try this easy cake and be surprised that it can be put together so quickly. 

2 cups sugar — a pound.

1 cup melted butter— 1/2 pound.

10 whites of eggs.

1 cup milk.

2 teaspoons baking powder.

1 teaspoon cream tartar.

6 cups flour — 1 1/2 pounds.

Put the sugar and melted butter into the mixing pan along with the whites, not whipped, then take the wire egg beater and beat them together a minute or two; add the milk, powder, cream tartar and flour and some flavoring extract if you choose, and beat it up with a spoon thoroughly. The more it is beaten the whiter and finer the cake. If there is no cream tartar handy use the juice of a lemon. Makes nearly 4 pounds; costs 34 cents. Ought to be frosted the easy way. No. 3; or, with frosting that will slice without breaking. No. 635.

635— Cake Frosting without Eggs.

It is not necessary to have white of eggs to make cake icing or frosting. A better kind of frosting that will not break when the cake is sliced, is made of either dissolved gelatine or powdered gum arabic. They need only be dissolved in boiling water to make a mucilage like the common bottle mucilage in thickness, then beat up sugar in it just the same as with white of eggs. It is quicker to make than the egg kind and is extremely white. If too thick on the cakes, set them in a warm place and this kind of frosting will run down smooth and flossy. There is a powdered kind of gelatin called granulated, that is very good for this purpose.

GELATINE FROSTING. [White House Cookbook]

Soak one teaspoonful of gelatine in one tablespoonful of cold water half an hour, dissolve in two tablespoonfuls of hot water; add one cup of powdered sugar and stir until smooth.

Before heating: clumpy and mucusy

Verdict: Not a bad cake at all!  Kind of dense, more so than than when one whips the egg whites separately to stiff peaks, but not a problem.  It rose a lot in the middle, which made it donut shaped in the Bundt pan, so possibly better in a loaf pan. I made half the recipe and baked it at 350 F. for 45 minutes. All agreed the frosting was better than the stuff from a jar from the store, but not as good as say, buttercream. It’s somewhere between a powdered sugar/water glaze and a frosting, and it does give a beautiful glossy sheen. 

Sunday, May 26, 2024

Berry Roll (1916)

 The Myrtle Reed Cookbook (1916) 


Sift two cupfuls of flour with two teaspoonfuls of baking-powder. Work into it a tablespoonful of butter and mix to soft dough with a cupful of milk. Roll into an oblong, cover with berries, sprinkle with sugar, roll up, fasten the edges and bake or steam, basting with syrup to which a little butter has been added. Serve hot with any preferred sauce.

Upon noticing my strawberry patch blooming, I thought it might be a good time to burn through some of the frozen strawberries in my freezer from 2021.  Then I noticed I was somehow out of white sugar?? How does that happen?!  

It was at this point that I noticed faults in the containment pastry, and spent about 30 seconds patching

Patching efforts were insufficient. Also I forgot to baste with buttery syrup. 


Quick run-down on Myrtle Reed: she was a romance author and poet, who died tragically from suicide in 1911. She once wrote, “The only way to test a man is to marry him. If you live, it’s a mushroom. If you die, it’s a toadstool.”  Her estate was divided between eight charities she had been patron of during her life. During her funeral, her flat was robbed of everything valuable. Her cookbooks were published after her death. The one linked above is written in a  dryly humorous style that makes me think she must have been fun.  

Verdict: This is indeed a simple and quick dessert!  It took me about 10 minutes to put it together, and about 30 minutes at 350 F.  It’s kind of dry, but that makes it soak up sauce better.  Melted ice cream, in this case!  It’s pretty much biscuit with berries and sauce inside.  Husband, two girls, and I all liked it, and felt that it would be a welcome, if stodgy, addition to a meal. Youngest Child hid under the table and gnawed on the heel slice like a squirrel. 

Friday, May 24, 2024

Rhubarb Jam (1948)

 Inglenook Cookbook (1948 Ed.)

Rhubarb Jam

5 C. Rhubarb 

1 lb. Orange slice candy

5 C. Sugar 

Cut the candy in pieces. Cook until thick. Stir to prevent scorching. Seal while hot. —Mrs. D. L. Thompson, Marshalltown, Iowa 

Note: Use extreme caution when canning vintage recipes. Always use recipes that have been tested by trusted sources, which here means people with a lab and oversight, not your grandma.  Err on the side of using vintage canning recipes fresh  

My rhubarb plant is lush and ready to help

It was at this moment that I regretted my choice of vessel

But it was fine. 

Verdict: It’s great!  If you, like me, enjoy 1.) rhubarb and 2.) orange slice candies, you will love it.  It is kind of like rhubarb with a zing or orange sherbet or orange soda.  It’d be easy to make a cheap shot at how sugary it is because there’s literally candy added, ha ha, but those jokes are a little silly to anyone who has made jam. You know what jam is?  It’s sugar. With some fruit in it. It’s just spreadable candy, so you might as well put pre-made candy in it and give it a head start. Mrs. D. L. Thompson of Marshalltown, Iowa, your creativity intrigued me, and you followed through with a great product.  I bet you’re in heaven now, where you belong for gifting this recipe to the world. 

Be sure to chop the orange slices pretty small, because although you might think they will melt, they do not at this temperature. 

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Apple Custard (1916)

 Myrtle Reed Cookbook (1916)

In the last few years, I worked for a while for Extension Services, providing information on how to feed yourself and your family a nutritious diet on a limited income. One thing I was always on the lookout for was recipes that used stale bread, as our local food bank always gets SO MUCH day- old bread!  This recipe is a great match for SNAP-Ed, as is cheap and contains fruit, dairy, protein, and could use whole grains if you used whole grain bread. It is even low fat and low sugar!  


Sweeten four cupfuls of stewed and mashed apples with half a cupful of sugar, two tablespoonfuls of butter, and the juice and grated rind of a lemon. Add half a cupful of water, two eggs well beaten, and two cupfuls of bread crumbs mixed with one tablespoonful of flour. Add a cup of milk, heat well, turn into a buttered baking-dish, and bake for forty minutes in a moderate oven. Serve with Hard Sauce or with sugar and cream.

Modernized Apple Custard
4 C. Unsweetened applesauce 
1/2 C. sugar 
2 T. melted butter 
1/4 C. Lemon juice OR grated rind and juice of 1 lemon 
1/2 C. water 
2 eggs 
2 C. Breadcrumbs, preferably from stale bread 
1 T. Flour 
1 C. Milk 

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Mix together all ingredients, and pour into greased baking dish. Bake 40 min., or until just set. Serve with sugar and cream, or just straight up. 


Verdict: Both I and the kids thought that at first glance, it looked like cat sick. Husband hasn’t come home yet, so we will have to see what he thinks later. One must acknowledge this, that it is just not photogenic. What it is, though, is a refreshing, cool, appley delight!  I liked it, the kids liked it.  It is good without cream and sugar, but that does make it better. It’s just a nice, simple, light dessert. I bet that babies and toddlers would adore it, which sounds like a criticism, but it isn’t.  If you added vanilla and spices and things it would be fine, but I don’t think it really needs it. The flavor is just “apple.”  And that is enough. 

Update: Husband thought it tasted like “slightly thicker applesauce.”  Make it for yourself and decide who is right!  (me)

Friday, May 17, 2024

Banana Cream (1916)


The Myrtle Reed Cookbook [1916]


Peel five bananas and rub through a sieve with five tablespoonfuls of powdered sugar and a tablespoonful of lemon-juice. Add half a package of gelatine which has been soaked and dissolved in a little milk, and when cool, but not set, fold in a cupful of cream whipped solid. Mould, chill, and serve with whipped cream


I used a blender instead of a sieve, and about half a cup of milk total (cold to bloom the gelatin, hot to melt it).  

Verdict: pretty good!  I really thought the banana was going to go all brown and ick, but it stayed a nice, pleasing banana color. I used half a tablespoon of kosher gelatin, but it came out veeeeery soft and mousse-ish. Ideal for chilling and serving in individual dishes, but if I were to mold it again, I would bump it up to a full tablespoon. The banana and powdered sugar and unsweetened whipped cream was just the right amount of sweetness. 

I found a good source of discount red-band bananas, so expect many banana recipes to come!  

Bonus recipe:


Directions are given on the package the cocoa comes in. If not, buy another kind.

Update: Donut the cat was a big fan. Yes I know cream isn’t actually good for cats, we shoo’d her off.