This past weekend, I braved the inferno of my great aunt and uncle’s attic to stash a few items. While I was up there, I got sucked into an Antiques Roadshowesque vortex and started poking around in musty old boxes that have been sitting around since Uncle Bill and Little Billie passed away back in the 1990s.
Inside an old shoe box I found a stack of papers, and I was fascinated to find that some of them were recipes and cooking-related pamphlets. Why, my aunt, who was the teeniest person I ever knew and who never seemed to cook much more than canned green beans, had a recipe collection of her very own! I always thought she’d rather smoke cigarettes than eat anything (she used to request a piece of pie or cake “so thin you could read through it”).
She seemed to be particularly attracted to dessert recipes. As I looked through the newspaper and magazine clippings and tried to decipher some of the instructions written by hand in pencil on yellowing paper, I discovered some pretty interesting things.
The coolest is probably a 1930 Rumford Baking Powder recipe card that contains instructions for 25 different baked goods, from Rumford biscuits to date muffins.
It’s actually a card within a card, and in order to see what quantity of ingredients you need for each recipe, you simply slide out the inner card until the recipe title and quantities line up with the open space in the outer card (see pictures below; it’s rather difficult to explain in words).
I also found recipes for:
* White fruit cake
* Chocolate sundae pie
* New England clam chowder
* Vegetable chowder
* Honey date bars
* Coconut devil’s food cake with coconut marshmallow icing
* Coconut butterscotch pie
* Plantation marble cake
* “Fritters with a future”
* Salted walnuts
* Jellied fruit and walnut salad
* Walnut maple cake
* “Cold” slaw
* Cake icing (this one had my grandma’s name on it)
* Potato salad
* Orange drop cakes
* Cornmeal muffins
* A mystery baked good (No title and no flour listed in the ingredients, but I’m dying to figure out what it is)
I plan to type them all up when I can find the time, but I’ll share the recipes for “cold” slaw and “fritters with a future” here today.
If you’d really like to see any other recipe in particular, leave a comment on this entry and I’ll get it transcribed for you. I can’t promise these will turn out because they’re so old, but it’s worth a try.
Finally, I’ll tell you what the mystery recipe says and see if any of you would care to guess what it was for:
(written by hand)
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 cup of milk
If sweet milk is used, use baking powder (2 spoons)
1/2 tsp. nutmeg and a little cinnamon
1 whole egg
1 tsp. of salt
Mix egg, sugar and nutmeg.
Then mix in [wetting? wet ingredients?] and mix till stiff.
Roll until about 1/2 inch thick.
Put in VERY HOT grease.
Fritters with a future (clipped out of some sort of magazine)
1 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
3 apples, pared, cored and sliced thin cross-wise
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg (beaten)
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. melted Crisco
Mix and sift flour, baking powder and salt. Add egg beaten with milk. Mix well, stir in melted Crisco and lemon juice, then fold in apples.
Drop by slices into deep hot Crisco (360 to 375 degrees F, or when inch cube of bread browns in 60 seconds). Fry to golden brown (about 2 minutes). Drain on unglazed paper. Dust with powdered sugar to serve as a dessert. Serve plain with meat.
Other fruit and berries (the juice is used instead of the milk) can be substituted. You can omit the sugar and use cooked left-over vegetables with the same batter. There’s no end to the things this batter will “dress up.”
“Cold” slaw (written by hand)
Shred your white cabbage fine and [drop? prop? keep?] it on ice for two or three hours. To three cups of cabbage add a cup of shopped celery, one onion minced fine, a green pepper, and a half cup of mixed pickles cut up fine.
Pour over it a cup of French dressing and put it in ice box until serving time. Then stir in 2/3 cup of mayonnaise. Garnish with hard boiled eggs.