Swan’s Down Easter Egg Cake, ca. 1953

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On my search for vintage Easter recipes, I came across this ad from 1953 from Swan’s Down for an Easter egg-shaped cake.

Cake ad from 1953.

Cake ad from 1953.

Sold!

(Actually, Swan’s Down has a whole section of old ads on their site-I’m thinking a Swan’s Down vintage cake ad series is in order!)

Swan’s Down cake mix is no longer manufactured, but you can use any cake mix in this recipe. It’s a perfect example of that 1950′s fixation with packaged foods that were easy to make. Because it’s so simple, it would be a fun baking project with kids!

Cheap yellow cake mix!

Cheap yellow cake mix!

You bake it like any other cake.

You bake it like any other cake.

Ingredients

One box yellow cake mix
One container chocolate frosting
One container white/vanilla frosting
One small bag jelly beans
1/2 cup flaked coconut
green food coloring

Instructions

Bake the cake in two 8 inch cake pans according to the package directions. Cool completely and remove from pans.

Commercial cakes contain too much leavener and tend to "dome."  Trim off the top to create a flat surface.

Commercial cakes contain too much leavener and tend to “dome.” Trim off the top to create a flat surface.

When cake is cool, cut each cake layer in two about 1/4 inch off center, making 2 large half-circles and 2 smaller half-circles. If the tops of the cake layers have “domed”, trim the dome off so the layers are flat on both sides.

Cut the layers in half, slightly off-center.

Cut the layers in half, slightly off-center.

Place these 4 pieces together, cut side down and with the smaller half-circles on the outside, with frosting between each layer to stick them together and form an egg shape.

Frosted and ready to be stacked.

Frosted and ready to be stacked.

Trim the rounded edges of the half-circles to make a more uniform egg shape.

Trim the layers to make a uniform egg shape. This can be tricky-trim a little bit at a time.

Trim the layers to make a uniform egg shape. This can be tricky-trim a little bit at a time.

Cover the mound with frosting.

Cover the whole mound with chocolate icing.

Cover the whole mound with chocolate icing.

Decorate with extra white and tinted frosting, jelly beans and any other Easter themed candy of your choosing.

Tint coconut green for the grass at the bottom of cake.

A fun addition to your Easter feast!

A fun addition to your Easter feast!

Enjoy!

Old-Fashioned Peanut Butter Easter Eggs

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My brain has transitioned to Easter and all it’s culinary delights-ham, deviled eggs, salads, and candy.  I have an insatiable sweet tooth, so any holiday where baskets of candy are distributed is a good holiday in my book!

I was searching for easy candy recipes when I came across this unusual mixture on the internet. I can’t find a date for it… but the weird, secret ingredient – mashed potatoes- gives us a clue that helps me to date it to before 1940.

I love these!

Mashed potatoes are found in many baking and candy recipes before the 1940′s, as they were a common binding agent.  It sounds strange. I was so worried that the taste of the potato would show up in the eggs! But if you mash it well, it blends right in and you don’t even know it’s there!The secret ingredient! The secret ingredient!

I admit, this step felt weird but the potatoes disappear in the peanut butter.  Magical!

I admit, this step felt weird but the potatoes disappear in the peanut butter. Magical!

Make an egg shape...

Make an egg shape…

Dipping into the chocolate.

Dipping into the chocolate.

One note-this recipe contains a raw egg white. If you feel uncomfortable about it, you can use powdered egg white substitute OR meringue powder (watch to make sure there’s no added sugar). You can also substitute any nut butter! DO NOT substitute instant mashed potatoes for the real thing-they just don’t work as well.

These eggs are really easy to make and delicious. You can decorate yours to match the season, if you like!

Ingredients

One medium potato, peeled and cubed
One 18 ounce jar (or 2 cups) creamy peanut butter
One egg white, beaten until foamy
1/2 cup margarine
16 ounce package of confectioner’s sugar
12 ounce bag chocolate chips OR half a package (six blocks) of chocolate bark

Instructions

Place the potato in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer 15 minutes or until tender. Drain and mash until no lumps remain. Set aside and let cool.

Mix peanut butter, egg white, and margarine in a bowl. Add half the confectioners sugar, mix, and then continue adding sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, until the mixture is stiff and holds a shape when pressed but is not dry or crumbly (I used about 3/4 of a bag).

Mix in the cooled potato.

Cover mixture and refrigerate at least two hours.

When the mixture is well chilled, melt the chocolate chips or the chocolate bark in the microwave. Take a spoonful of the peanut butter mixture, shape into an egg, dip it with tongs or a spoon into the chocolate, and set the covered egg on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper.

Do this until all the peanut butter is gone. If you want to add sprinkles, do so immediately after dipping the egg in chocolate. Let them sit until the chocolate is set. Store in the refrigerator.

As good, or maybe better, than Reece's!

As good, or maybe better, than Reece’s!

Enjoy!

Julia Child’s Homemade Mayonnaise

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There’s a scene in the movie “Julie and Julia” where Julia and her Mastering the Art of French Cooking co-authors are discussing the task of creating a fool-proof mayonnaise recipe that housewives can duplicate. They’re trying to make it easy, but their angst makes it seem like it must be a difficult recipe to duplicate. Thus, I vowed never to try it.

Until I did.

Julia Child's Mayo

It happened rather simply. I had six egg yolks left after a weekend of baking recipes that contained egg whites.  I hate waste.  I could feed them to my dog, but that felt like it wasn’t the frugal thing to do.

I remembered the mayonnaise recipe. I felt adventurous. I just decided to do it.  Nike would be proud.

It turns out, making mayonnaise isn’t exactly difficult-it just takes a lot of time.  If you don’t have a KitchenAid mixer or a stand mixer, it will also take a lot of muscle power. Fortunately, I have Babs and a book to keep my occupied during the half hour mixing process. Use a medium speed on your mixer while incorporating the oil.

Homemade mayonnaise is SO. MUCH. BETTER. than store-bought mayo. I can hardly believe I waited this long to make it. I’m not a huge mayo fan, but I find I am using it more now that I have my little plastic container of homemade bliss. It’s rich and creamy and doesn’t taste like plastic.

Thanks, Julia!

Thanks, Julia!

If I can do it, you can do it! This recipe comes, of course, from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, published in 1961. It makes about a cup of mayo. I’ve included some videos to help you, as it really is necessary to show the process of incorporating the oil into the yolks.

It starts with three egg yolks and a mixer.

It starts with three egg yolks and a mixer-although I kept thinking about how Julia did the beating of the yolks and the oil by hand… ouch!

Julia has some extra tips with her recipe.
1.) Temperature: Mayonnaise is easiest to make when all ingredients are at normal room temperature. Warm the mixing bowl in hot water to take the chill off the egg yolks. Heat the oil to tepid if it is cold. Make sure your egg yolks are at room temperature.
2.) Egg Yolks: Always beat the egg yolks for a minute or two before adding anything to them. As soon as they are thick and sticky, they are ready to absorb the oil.
3.) Adding the Oil: The oil must be added very slowly at first, in droplets, until the emulsion process begins and the sauce thickens into a heavy cream. After this, the oil may be incorporated more rapidly.
4.) Proportions: The maximum amount of oil one U.S. Large egg yolk will absorb is 6 ounces or 3/4 cup. When this maximum is exceeded, the binding properties of the egg yolks break down, and the sauce thins out or curdles. If you have never made made mayonnaise before, it is safest not to exceed 1/2 cup of oil per egg yolk.
5.) REFRIGERATION: After several days under refrigeration, mayonnaise has a tendency to thin out, especially if it is stirred before it comes to room temperature.

Ingredients

3 egg yolks
3 tablespoons lemon juice, divided
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups olive oil

Instructions

Warm the mixing bowl by running it under warm water. Dry and add egg yolks, beating for 1-2 minutes, until they are thick and sticky.

Add 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice, the salt and the mustard. Beat for 30 seconds.

Time to add the olive oil

Time to add the olive oil

The egg yolks are now ready to receive the oil. Add it a teaspoon at a time while beating the mixture constantly. Watch the oil and not the sauce. When the egg yolks have absorbed the oil, add another teaspoon-and not before!

Keep doing this until you have added 1/3 to 1/2 cup of the oil. At that point, you’ll see the sauce thicken and you can take a deep breath, because the “crisis” point is over. If you are beating the sauce by hand, you can rest for a second. Then keep adding the oil, one to two tablespoons at a time, blending thoroughly after each addition.

When you have added all the oil, beat two tablespoons of boiling water into the sauce to keep it from curdling.

Season to taste with wine vinegar, lemon juice, salt, pepper, mustard, curry, or any other spice you like.

Thickened up and ready for sandwiches!

Thickened up and ready for sandwiches!

If the sauce is not used immediately, scrape it into a small bowl and cover it closely so a skin will not form on its surface.

Enjoy!

Julia Child's Mayo

Williamsburg Baked Bread Pudding, ca. 1742

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I’ve had a notion for quite a while now that I’ve wanted to try making a vintage bread pudding.  It must be all the cold weather we have endured here because, to me, bread pudding sounds comforting and warm. It’s also one of those dishes that I’ve spotted in nearly every vintage cookbook I’ve bought or browsed-so the hardest part of picking which recipe I would recreate was sorting through all the possibilities!

Beautiful, easy, simple, and frugal.

Beautiful, easy, simple, and frugal.

Bread pudding is a frugal dish and, according to Foodtimeline.org, dates to Medieval times. It was probably created by frugal cooks who didn’t want to waste even a few slices of bread, no matter how stale it was. So they soaked it in milk, stirred in some fat and eggs and something sweet, and baked, boiled or steamed the whole concoction until it was ready to eat. There are so many variations of the recipe that you could probably make one a day for a year!

First boil your milk, then add the bread.

First boil your milk, then add the bread.

I finally landed on this recipe, which was originally printed in a book called Compleat Housewife by Mrs. E. Smith, published in Williamsburg, Virginia in 1742. It’s a baked version, super easy to mix up, and it’s wonderfully flavored by the addition of real, grated nutmeg. If you’ve only ever used nutmeg from a jar, you don’t know what you’re missing. The difference between jar nutmeg and grated nutmeg is akin to the difference between dried basil and basil fresh from the garden. It’s so fragrant and wonderful!

The unassuming nutmeg. It doesn't feel soft, but a zester will work just fine to turn this boring looking gem into fragrant nutmeg!

The unassuming nutmeg. It doesn’t feel soft, but a zester will work just fine to turn this boring looking gem into fragrant nutmeg!

The milk, bread, butter, eggs, sugar and nutmeg.

The milk, bread, butter, eggs, sugar and nutmeg.

It's ready to be baked!

It’s ready to be baked!

You can use any kind of bread to make this-even leftover buns! I used half a loaf of gluten-free bread. The bread really provides the structure but the taste is hidden by the spices, eggs, and butter. It makes a great dessert-cover it with glaze or jam if you like, sprinkle it with sugar, or eat it plain with tea.

Ingredients
2 cups milk
1/2 loaf of bread or 1/2 package of buns, broken into small pieces or crumbled, if possible
2 whole eggs plus one egg yolk
1/2 of a nutmeg, grated or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried nutmeg
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter

Instructions
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and coat an 8 x 11 inch baking pan with cooking spray.

Place the milk in a heavy saucepan and bring it to a boil. Add the bread, eggs, nutmeg, sugar and butter and stir it until well combined. Pour the whole mixture into your greased pan and bake for 35 minutes or until the pudding gets a brown, caramelized look to it and is bubbling around the edges. Bring it out of the oven and let it cool for 10-15 minutes to allow it to firm up a bit and then enjoy!

How it looks after it cools.  Time to slice it up!

How it looks after it cools. Time to slice it up!

Coffee Cake, ca. 1889

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I recently volunteered to help provide food for my church’s Coffee Hour-a time in between services where the congregation can socialize over percolated java and a wide variety of baked goods.  Sounds like heaven, right? I volunteered for two big reasons. I love to bake-and I love to test some vintage recipes before a larger crowd than my normal circle of family and co-workers.

So last Sunday, I brought three trays of goodies-a very modern white chocolate chip oatmeal cookie and a flourless chocolate cookie, plus a big tray of vintage coffee cake. I liked this recipe because it’s not anything like the modern version of coffee cake-which often resembles a giant sticky bun, covered in cinnamon, brown sugar and glaze and usually topped with nuts-not that there is anything wrong with that kind of cake!

I thought I’d do a little research into the genre. Foodtimeline.org says that in his book, Listening to America, “Stuart Berg Flexner claims it wasn’t until 1879 that the term “coffee cake” became a common term. Historic American cook books and newspapers support this claim.” Their research, and my own, seems to suggest that until 1890, most recipes were like the one I baked-heavy on molasses as a sweetener and including a large amount of coffee as the liquid. Just before the turn of the century, we start to see recipes that transition to include more sugar, some cinnamon, and in some cases yeast. The evolution appears to be from a cake that *contains* coffee to one that is *eaten* with coffee.

For fun, I invite you to try this recipe-the granddaddy of coffee cake! It comes from the Cloud City Cookbook, published in 1889. It appeared to go over well with the church crowd… when I came back to clean up, a trail of crumbs were left on the tray.

This recipe is super easy. You just put a bunch of ingredients in your bowl and mix!

This recipe is super easy. You just put a bunch of ingredients in your bowl and mix!

The batter looks kind of like brownie batter and smells like gingerbread.

The batter looks kind of like brownie batter and smells like gingerbread.

Delicious!

Delicious!

Ingredients
2 whole eggs, plus the whites of two more eggs
1 1/2 cup molasses
1 cup sugar
2 cups raisins
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup cold coffee
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon all spice or apple pie spice
4 cups flour
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2-4 tablespoons milk

Instructions

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease two loaf pans and set them aside.

Mix eggs, molasses, sugar, raisins, butter, coffee, salt, baking soda and all spice in a large mixing bowl. Add flour gradually, continually mixing to combine.

Divide the batter between the two loaves. Bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely.

When the loaves are cool, make the frosting by mixing the powdered sugar, vanilla and 2 tablespoons milk in a small bowl until smooth. If the frosting is too thick, add the extra milk by the tablespoon until its pour able. Pour the frosting over the two loaves and allow to harden.

Serve and enjoy-with coffee!

Serve and enjoy-with coffee!

Cut and serve with coffee! Enjoy!

Little House on the Prairie: Fried Chicken

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This recipe is my homage to a specific food-related memory I have from the Little House on the Prairie television series. Remember the lunch buckets Ma sent to school with Mary and Laura? The props masters chose tin buckets, covered with a piece of cloth. A strange, food-obsessed child, I always wondered what a mother in that era would have packed in a bucket! Then, during one episode, I remember Laura plops herself on the steps of the school house and pulls out… a piece of fried chicken.

In “These Happy Golden Years”, Laura writes about a dinner of fried children served with the first new peas and potatoes of July. The acid-saltwater bath, originally a butchering practice, makes a beautiful brine that adds juiceness to the meat. I used chicken tenderloins because they cook more evenly, but you can certainly use any cut of the bird, with or without bones, including pieces of whole chicken.

You may be tempted to add spices to the flour-don’t. Shake and Bake has sold us all on the false notion that the breading makes the fried chicken. The real flavor comes from the meat and the fat-and this recipe ensures that both of those elements are top quality!

First make a brine with salt and vinegar...

First make a brine with salt and vinegar…

Then cover it with water and let it stand in the frig for at least an hour.

Then cover it with water and let it stand in the frig for at least an hour.

Once the fat is hot in the skillet, dredge your chicken through plain flour and fry!

Once the fat is hot in the skillet, dredge your chicken through plain flour and fry!

KFC doesn't have anything on Ma Ingalls!

KFC doesn’t have anything on Ma Ingalls!

Ingredients

Three to 3 and a half pounds of chicken (if using whole chicken, cut into serving-size pieces)
One tablespoon kosher salt
Two tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2/3 cup flour
Four tablespoons butter
Four tablespoons shortening OR oil (I used olive oil)

Instructions

At least one hour before frying, put the chicken pieces in a large bowl with a cover. Sprinkle the salt and vinegar over the pieces and then cover them with cold water. Place in refrigerator and let stand until it’s time to fry.

Place flour in a pie pan and heat the fat (butter, shortening or oil) in a skillet over medium heat until it’s hot but not smoking. Meanwhile, drain the chicken pieces on a paper towel. When the fat is ready, dredge the chicken through the flour and then place in the skillet. Fry until the pieces are thoroughly browned. My tenderloins took five minutes on each side-larger pieces, especially those with bones, will take longer. If you are doing larger, bone-in pieces, once they’ve browned you can reduce the heat and simmer the pieces with a lid in the skillet another 10-15 minutes until the meat is no longer pink OR you can transfer the pieces to a baking dish and bake them at 350 degrees for 15 minutes until they are cooked through.

The finished product. Delicious!

The finished product. Delicious!

Enjoy!

Little House on the Prairie: Molasses On Snow Candy

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Last week when I began my series of Little House on the Prairie recipes, many of my friends and readers were kind enough to share their favorite food memories from the book series. One of them mentioned the following passage from Little House in the Big Woods, and recalled that it was a recipe they’d always wanted to try.

“Ma was busy all day long, cooking good things for Christmas… One morning she boiled molasses and sugar together until they made a thick syrup, and Pa brought in two pans of clean, white snow from outdoors. Laura and Mary each had a pan, and Pa and Ma showed them how to pour the dark syrup in little streams on to the snow. They made circles, and curlicues, and squiggledy things, and these hardened at once and were candy. Laura and Mary might eat one piece each, but the rest was saved for Christmas Day.”

Prompted by my own memories of that description and with an abundance of snow available in my yard, I decided to try it! I’m using The Little House Cookbook by Barbara Muhs Walker, published in 1979, as my source.

Delicious fun!

Delicious fun!

There are three things you need to know about this recipe. 1.) It’s easy and quick, a great project to share with your children. 2.) It’s messy and you’ll need to brush your teeth after you eat it. 3.) If you don’t like the taste of molasses, you probably won’t like the end product. It’s like nothing I’ve ever tasted from a modern candy store. I loved it… but I realize it’s not for everyone!

Pans of snow!

Pans of snow!

It sort of looks like tar to begin with...

It sort of looks like tar to begin with…

My own "half-pint" did most of the work.

My own “half-pint” did most of the work.

At a full boil now...

At a full boil now…

My daughter, concentrating on pouring slowly!

My daughter, concentrating on pouring slowly!

A hardened piece!

A hardened piece!

Ingredients
1 cup dark molasses (I used Blackstrap)
1/2 cup brown sugar
Snow (!)

Instructions

Fill two pans with fresh snow and leave outside to keep chilled until you’re ready to pour the mixture. I used two oversized pizza pans to hold my snow.

Meanwhile, decide which container you’ll use to store the candy and cut several pieces of wax paper, one for the bottom and several for the layers of candy, depending on the size of the container.

Combine the molasses and brown sugar in a medium-sized saucepan (Use non-stick if you have one). Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium high and continue to cook, stirring constantly to avoid burning.

After five minutes of this, test the mixture by dripping a few drops from a spoon into a small glass of very cold water. If it dissolves or mixes with the water, keep cooking and test again every 2-3 minutes with fresh, cold water. You want the mixture to quickly form a hard ball and drop to the bottom of the glass. It took my mixture about 10 minutes of cooking to reach this stage. You can also use a candy thermometer to test the mixture, which should be 245 degrees F.

Remove from heat and pour into a pitcher with a nice spout-I had a batter pitcher which worked perfectly.

Fetch the pans of snow and the cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Working as quickly as you can, begin pouring the mixture in thin streams onto the snow. It takes a bit of practice to keep from pouring a huge gob onto the snow but once you get it, you can form lots of neat patterns with the mixture. I liked doing spider-web type circles. The mixture will harden quickly once on the snow. When it’s hard, remove, pat it as dry as you can with a paper towel and place it in your container. Store in the refrigerator or freezer.

Dark, rich candy that's truly a taste of the frontier!

Dark, rich candy that’s truly a taste of the frontier!

Enjoy!

Little House on the Prairie: Heart-Shaped Cakes

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My love of all things historic can be traced to one, monumental television series-Little House on the Prairie. As a little girl, I savored each weekly episode featuring Melissa Gilbert’s iconic portrayal of “Half Pint” and her adventurous family on the American frontier. Michael Landon made the time period seem idyllic, even with all the tragedy of natural disasters, illness, and death.

It’s no surprise that my love of TV series led to me to read Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books and, consequently, to fall in love with those too, although for a different reason. The more in-depth descriptions of home life and food preparation always fascinated me!

I hadn’t really thought about Little House for a while but then this winter arrived. I live in Southern Ohio, and many natives are shocked by the snowfall and cold we’ve endured this year. I’m not really phased by it-I grew up in the northern Great Lakes region of the state. So when someone referred to this year’s snow and cold as “The Long Winter”, it made me think of Laura’s book of the same name, the unending blizzard she endured and… led me to decide on a Little House series of recipes!

I’m using The Little House Cookbook by Barbara Muhs Walker, published in 1979, as my source. Barbara does a fantastic job of pulling the description of food preparation from the books and translating them into practical recipes. She also reprinted the Garth Williams illustrations that I love from the book series.

My first recipe is from Laura’s description of Christmas in Little House on the Prairie, though I thought this would be appropriate considering the impending arrival of Valentine’s Day.

Little House Cakes

“The stockings weren’t empty yet. Mary and Laura pulled out two small packages. They unwrapped them, and each found a little heart-shaped cake. Over their delicate brown tops was sprinkled white sugar. The sparkling grains lay like tiny drifts of snow. The cakes were too pretty to eat. Mary and Laura just looked at them. But at last Laura turned her over, and she nibbled a tiny nibble from underneath, where it wouldn’t show. And the inside of that little cake was white!”

It’s a wonderful example of how Laura treasured things we take for granted now-white sugar and white flour, and a handmade cake in her stocking.

It's easy. First, mix the dry ingredients..

It’s easy. First, mix the dry ingredients..

Work in some butter or shortening, your choice.

Work in some butter or shortening, your choice.

Make a well and add buttermilk.

Make a well and add buttermilk.

Make it into a dough ball...

Make it into a dough ball…

Roll it out into a circle...

Roll it out into a circle…

Cut them out and place on baking sheets!

Cut them out and place on baking sheets!

Ingredients
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of ground nutmeg
1/4 cup butter or shortening, chilled
1/3 cup buttermilk

Instructions
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda and nutmeg. Cut in the shortening or butter until the mix resembles course crumbs.
Make a well in the center and add the buttermilk. Combine with flour. If the dough is too dry, add buttermilk by the tablespoonful until you have a consistency of dough that you can roll out.
Roll the dough into an eight inch circle on a surface dusted with flour. Cut with a heart-shaped biscuit cutter. Re-roll and cut, until all the dough is used.
Place on parchment-lined cookie sheet that’s been greased with cooking spray. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the cakes are puffy and slightly browned.
Remove to cooling rack and either sprinkle with sugar or allow to cool completely and frost. You can also eat them plain or with jam. They’re slightly sweet and light-a great tea biscuit!

Enjoy the finished product with a Little House book and a nice cup of tea!

Enjoy the finished product with a Little House book and a nice cup of tea!

Enjoy!

Good topped with sugar, frosting, jam, or plain.

Good topped with sugar, frosting, jam, or plain.

1950′s Housewife: Chocolate Oatmeal No Bake Cookies

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Before I researched this post, part of my tribute to my mother-in-law and her fellow 1950′s housewife cooks, I had a sneaking suspicion that one could trace the emergence of “no bake” cookies to coincide with the arrival of processed convenience foods. I was both right and wrong!

Foodtimeline.org says recipes for no bake cookies emerged around the time of the depression, using ingredients like butter, honey or sugar as glue to keep the ingredients together.  But in the 1950′s, the category exploded as products like margarine, Crisco, and their counterparts hit the market.  The whole no-bake catergory is so fascinating, I actually could easily do a whole series on no-bake cookies (comment if you’d be interested in that!)

But I digress. My husband tells me these cookies were a staple in his mom’s kitchen (he is not a fan!). But my girls and I LOVE them.

Don’t be afraid when you’re mixing them together-they appear to be too runny to ever stick together and form a shape. Have patience, they will bind and you’ll have a delicious treat that doesn’t require you to turn on your oven.

Cooking the ingredients in a pan!

Cooking the ingredients in a pan!

Bringing it to a boil...

Bringing it to a boil…

Adding oats and peanut butter...

Adding oats and peanut butter…

And on the pan to set up. They look runny but don't worry!

And on the pan to set up. They look runny but don’t worry!

Ingredients
2 cups sugar
4 teaspoons cocoa powder
1 stick margarine or Crisco (8 tablespoons)
1/c cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups oats
1/2 cup peanut butter

Place waxed paper on a surface nearby for cooling the cookies.

Combine the sugar, cocoa powder, margarine or Crisco, milk and vanilla in a large pot and bring it to a boil. Boil for one minute. Add the oats and peanut butter and stir until well combined.

Drop by the spoonful onto the wax paper and allow to set up (about one hour, longer if the weather is warm. You can put them on cookie sheets into the frig to speed the process).

Delicious, like a peanut butter cup!

Delicious, like a peanut butter cup!

Serve and enjoy!

1950′s Housewife: Ham Loaf

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I continue my tribute to my mother-in-law and the cooking evolution of the 1950′s housewife with this dish-a favorite recipe among my husband’s family.  It’s an easy weeknight dinner requiring no spices or fancy ingredients. We often make this after any holiday that leaves us with leftover ham (like Easter!). Just cut the ham into chunks and shred them in your food processor.

Cut ham into chunks to shred for the loaf.

Cut ham into chunks to shred for the loaf.

I’ve made one change to the recipe. It calls for just a cup of cracker crumbs but it’s so moist that I make it with two cups, or about one whole sleeve of Ritz crackers.

I usually run the crackers through the food processor and set them aside before I shred the ham.

I usually run the crackers through the food processor and set them aside before I shred the ham.

The topping tastes much like barbecue sauce. The loaf is really delicious-served with a side of potatoes, you really get a picture of a wholesome, 1950′s dinner.

There is actually a second version of this recipe in my cookbook. It has no topping but is basted with a sauce of 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup vinegar, 1 cup brown sugar and 1 teaspoon dry mustard and then is served with heated cherry pie filling. (!) I leave it to you to decide which version to try!

Mix the loaf...

Mix the loaf…

Put it in a loaf pan...

Put it in a loaf pan…

Mix the sauce...

Mix the sauce…

And spread it on the loaf to bake!

And spread it on the loaf to bake!

Ingredients
1 1/2 pound ground ham
2 eggs
1 cup ketchup, divided
1/2 cup milk
2 cups (one sleeve) of crushed Ritz crackers
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon yellow mustard

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the ham, eggs, 1/2 cup of ketchup, milk, and the crackers in a large bowl until well combined. Spoon mixture into a loaf pan.

In a small bowl, combine the remaining 1/2 cup of ketchup, brown sugar, and mustard. Spread evenly over the meat.

Bake for one hour.

Delicious dinner!

Delicious dinner!

Enjoy!

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