A librarian friend of mine recently came across a cookbook in our collection that she felt I had to know about! It is The World’s Modern Cook Book and Kitchen Guide for the Busy Woman by Mabel Claire, published in 1932. It’s got beautiful typeset that makes you want to bob your hair, grab your heels and gloves, and hop a train into the city.
But a close look through the recipes reveals less than glamorous times for American housewives, who struggled to stretch food dollars in the midst of one of the greatest economic calamities of our country’s history. The book is full of recipes for casseroles, potluck desserts, and dishes made with cheap commodities like eggs, oats, and noodles. I wonder if the women who cooked from it thought, as I do, that it does a good job of making frugal cooking look fancy.
I began with this lovely blueberry pudding. It has relatively few ingredients and an elegant presentation. And it was delicious… there were no leftovers. If you have some ramekins, this would be an easy dish for company, especially for lunch or brunch. Plus it’s a steamed dessert (why are we modern cooks so fixated on baking everything??) so that makes for a great conversation starter!
One egg, beaten
½ cup sugar
4 tbs. butter plus ½ cup butter
½ cup milk
1 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 cup blueberries
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Place a kettle of water to boil on the stove and find the largest casserole dish you have-test to see if 4-5 ramekins will fit inside.
Cream together the 4 tablespoons of butter and sugar in a mixing bowl. Add the egg, flour and milk alternately and mix until combined.
Add the baking powder and stir until combined.
Stir the blueberries carefully into the mixture with a rubber spatula. Pour into individual ramekin’s which have been prepped with cooking spray. (My batch filled four 6-ounce ramekins).
Pour the boiling water into the casserole dish until there is about an inch or so of water in the bottom. Carefully place the ramekins inside the casserole dish. Cover the whole thing with a sheet of foil and place in the oven for about half an hour or until a toothpick stuck into the middle of one of the pudding cups comes out clean.
While the pudding is steaming, make a hard sauce by creaming the rest of the butter. Then gradually beat in the powdered sugar. Stir in the vanilla.
Serve room temperature with hard sauce and a few blueberries for garnish.