I find surprising comfort in cleaning.
Cleaning out Stuff.
Pile discard repeat.
Pile discard repeat.
I also believe good intentions are often rewarded,
by unexpected discoveries.
So much to my surprise and delight, when ransacking the basement with glee, I uncovered a shoebox with no distinguishing characteristics other than a musty smell.
A relish of a relic. A passage to the past good enough to eat and worth several weeks of fond memories and laugh out loud contents.
Regardless of the wrappings, it was a gift.
A gift to be shared.
For inside the musty dusty shoebox, lay a pile of cookbooks.
Church cookbooks published in the 1940’s and the 1950’s. A selection of cooking brochures. A collection from my mother-in-law’s kitchen cabinets. Pages dog eared, stained from an errant spill, notations in the margins...
Card Club loved this.
Substitute marshmallow cream for powdered sugar.
Avis’s Coffee Cake very good. Served today. Good response.
Entries starred in red ink,
and additional recipes torn from the newspaper,
tucked in between the pages.
Bread, Blend, Chop, Cream, Dredge, Fold, Glaze, Knead,
Marinate, Mince, Scald, Simmer, Stir
Pages and pages of recipes, from appetizers, to soups, to salads, main dishes, quick suppers, and of course, desserts.
Relax and let me take you back in culinary time.
I promise you will enjoy the ride.
Let us begin with the Titles.
The spectacularly descriptive leave nothing to the imagination titles.
Veal Surprise. Busy Bee Lunches. Rustic Ham Loaf. County Fair Cake. Heavenly Hash. Seafoam Salad. Bavarian Weiner Bake. High Hat Meatloaf. Ginger Fruit Cocktail. Bacon Bars. Bologna Bake. Chicken Liver Stroganoff. Cake Kabobs. Men’s Favorite Tossed Salad. Peanut Butter Pudding. Divinity Puffs. Tuna Pie. Porcupines. Pierre’s Meat Ball Pancakes. Creamed Dried Beef With Green Peas. Sour Chicken With Brown Flour Gravy. Apple Cinnamon Candy Salad. Lemon Cottage Cheese Salad. Snack In A Sack. Picalilli. Russian Rocks.
And one of my personal favorites.
You Name It.
Next up the list of ingredients.
Lard, scalded milk, B.P. (baking powder), canned cream of mushroom, chicken, and tomato soup. Carloads of cans. Not to mention THREE ESSENTIAL MUST HAVES...Crushed cornflakes, Creamy Cottage Cheese, and Cheese Cheese Cheese, American only please.
Oh and Jello. Box after box after box of lime, lemon, cherry, and orange Jello to pair supernaturally with cans of sweet syrupy mandarin oranges, peach slices, pear halves, and maraschino cherries. Until I turn the page and read the most amazing combinations and concoctions involving, Jello, 7-Up, Cottage Cheese and chopped carrots, marshmallows, and even peas. Yes, Peas.
How much you ask? How many cups or tablespoons or pounds or ounces?
Ah, fear not, as each cookbook has an index of abbreviations, equivalent measurements and weights, can size, sugar syrup temperatures from very soft ball to brittle and crack. Even the infamously well known then, and rarely used now...
1 gill=1/4 cup
8 qts. =1 peck
4 pecks=1 bushel
I am about to include for your reading enjoyment two recipes that tickled me, and that I must confess I have made, eaten and served.
1 lb. ground cured ham
2 lb. ground beef
2 and 1/2 c. milk
2c. crushed crackers or cornflakes
2T. chopped onion
1 tsp. liquid smoke
salt and pepper
Form into balls and brown on all sides.
Add one can tomato sauce and steam for one hour.
For a sweeter version add brown sugar to the mixture.
2 sticks oleo
3 cups flour
3 cups sugar
5 large eggs
7 ounces 7-Up
Beat together and bake at 325 for 1 to 1 and 1/2 hours.
I spared you, saved you, and now must startle you as I was startled by the Ultimate Recipes from my newly discovered Recipe Treasure Trove Blast From the Past.
The names speaks for themselves. I am withholding the complete recipes as I have a feeling these may be toxic to your health.
SPAM POTATO CASSEROLE
WESTERN MEATBALLS FOR TWO NOODLE SURPRISE
I do wish you could be sitting here with me, so I could share the wisdom, the advice, the supplemental pages of suggestions cleverly inserted throughout the books to provide not only food for thought, but food for the soul.
Beauty tips usually involving mayonnaise in some format.
Cleaning tips involving mayonnaise as a polishing agent.
Stain removal. Left by overuse of mayonnaise.
Even marital advice. How to please your mate by preparing all his favorite menu items, illustrated as the cooking mate poses delicately at the table, shirtwaist dress accessorized with a freshly starched and ruffled frilly apron. Move over Donna Reed, Mrs, Brady and the honorable Mrs. Barbara Cleaver. Readers take heed. Save your marriage.
Wear panty hose and heels before serving.
Take heed and laugh at will. But what occurred to me as I read through the pages and the notations were the names. The names of real life women proudly submitting their recipes for publication.
Their Recipes for Comfort.
Comfort offered in perhaps a more comforting time, when folks actually planned a meal, thumbed through cookbooks, shopped, diced and prepped, with the intention, the sincere heartfelt attention to a meal to be consumed, lingered over at the breakfast, lunch or dinner table with family or friends.
A soul satisfying simmer of conversation,
please pass the platter,
sharing and exchanging of the details of our lives.
Nothing says I love you more than a home cooked meal, a batch of freshly baked cookies, a loaf of bread hot from the oven, or a slice of homemade cherry pie.
Good intentions followed by even better deeds,
seal the deal.
I would be remiss in not acknowledging the authors of the cookbooks.
You should thank ME for not sharing some of the final photos of the finished products.
As they say on the TV ads for pharmaceuticals...
this may result in severe gas or bloating.
I prefer to leave you with a quote attributed to an anonymous source, but of course someone MUST have said it sometime...so I will repeat it here because it seems so very well said and comforting.
“If you are too busy to laugh,
you are too busy.”
Go forth and turn your good intentions into good deeds.
Bake your favorite casserole.
Don't forget the creamed soup,
cornflakes, or cottage cheese.
Skip the kale, just this once.