Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Pancake Day for Kids

Pancake Day is traditionally known as Shrove Tuesday and is historically a religious occasion relating to the Christian feast of Easter. In countries across the world it has become commonly known as "Pancake Day!"

The Rainbow Bakery-General Mills 2002

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Myra Breckinridge Cookbook

It's that time of the year again. Awards, Fashion and Food! It's Oscar night! Confession: I'm not much of a movie goer, although I do have a Netflix account. I'm certainly no fashionista like my daughter-in-law Kyla and quite frankly, I'm not much of an eater, either. I do, however collect cookbooks. Today, I would like to share a few recipes from a cookbook titled The Myra Breckinridge Cookbook. Now, you might just be asking yourself, who is Myra Breckinridge and why is there a cookbook named in her honor? I'll admit, when I purchased this book for a mere fifty cents at a garage sale some years ago, I had no idea who Myra Breckinridge was. "You don't judge a book by its cover" they say and I for one could never be guilty of such a thing. Besides the title containing the word cookbook, and the pittance price, there was one more important factor that lead me to buying this cookbook; Charlie Chaplin.

Now, now, before you think I'm a creature of the silent screen era, you can stop right there. I'm old, but I'm not that old, yet:) My father was a huge Charlie Chaplin fan which in itself is quite unusual, for my father that is. Sometimes, it's easy to forget just how much he enjoyed the "Little Tramp" movies. Bogie yes, the Duke; yes, Marlon Brando, yes, yes, but, Charlie Chaplin? There are those who would be surprised to learn such trivia. Actually, they may have paid to know it at one time. I however, know it, remember it, and treasure it. So, needless to say, Charlie Chaplin darning the first few pages of The Myra Breckinridge Cookbook was the deciding factor of purchase.

Who Was Myra Breckinridge?

From what I can unravel simply, Myra Breckinridge was a figment of Gore Vidal's imagination. That's really putting it simple. I do know of Gore Vidal. I have actually read a few of his historical novels, although, I have never read Myra Breckinridge which was published in 1968. Hey, I was just entering double digits around that time:) I plan on posting about Eugene Luther Gore Vidal Jr., in October. Let's get back to Myra. Myra Breckinridge was a "highly flavored" character in a best-selling book titled with the same name. Some may call it a "satirical novel" which was written in the form of a diary and made into a movie in 1970. Not one to "judge a book by its cover" or reviews for that matter, I'm not really going to get into the gist of the book or the movie, which by the way was directed by Michael Sarne. The star-studded cast included one time cocktail waitress Raquel Welch, Mae West who came out of hiding after 26 years to participate, Farrah Fawcett, John Huston, John Carradine, and other future stars to be:) I will say, this book review will give you a glimpse and since the DVD was released in 2004, you can also read a review on the movie. Let me warn you, the movie was quite controversial and rated X when it was released in 1968.

There is also a website devoted to the phenomenon of Myra Breckinridge, a blog and another review at Channel 4 that you might want to visit. Remember, the movie was rated X, eventually changed to R. According to Hackett's 80 Years of Best Sellers, there were 2,180,000 copies sold as of 1977. The book was also in print as of February, 2000.

...it is clear from numerous sources that both the novel and its subject matter have become more acceptable in recent years...The back cover of the Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics edition of Myra Breckinridge sums up the turnaround in critical opinion: "When Myra Breckinridge first appeared in print in 1968, critics were baffled, delighted, and appalled by this extraordinary comedy of sex change. Time magazine was prompted to query: 'Has literary decency fallen so low?' Now readers may well ask, Has literature ever been so witty, so provoking, so intriguing? Thirty years later Myra has become literature's most famous transsexual-after all, this is her/his/their age."The back cover of the Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics edition also describes the novel like this..."No one remains untouched by the luscious Myra Breckinridge's quest for Hollywood fame. Her job teaching Empathy and Posture at the Academy of Drama and Modeling gives her the perfect opportunity to vamp, scheme, and seduce her way into the undiscovered lives and passions of others-while trying to keep a few secrets of her own."source

Recipes a la Myra Breckinridge

In 1970, Little, Brown published The Myra Breckinridge Cookbook, by Howard Austen, long time partner of Gore Vidal and Beverly Pepper who also authored Potluck Cookery, See Rome and Eat and Glamour Magazine's After Five Cookbook. The Myra Breckinridge Cookbook was a likely spinoff since Myra was quite the film buff which is further explained in the book I am sharing today. Writer, producer, director and silent screen star Charlie Chaplin is not the only Hollywood film star encountered in the book. There are many recipes united with Hollywood films from the 1930's and 40s. It is thickly illustrated with vintage black and white photos and the recipes are arranged according to cinematic themes.

An adventuress food guide to the movies, Here is how the authors describe Myra "in her own words."

...The other feature was Cover Girl (ed note: a personal favorite of mine and Tabi's:) with Rita Hayworth and Gene Kelly plus all time favorite Phil Silvers. Before breaking into that spectacular singing, dancing production number of "Make Way for Tomorrow," they had a marvelous oyster eating scence. Watching them, I cannot tell you what a craving I, too suddenly had for oysters. I ran home after the matinee, and crying on my mother's lap, pleaded for oysters or seafood. From that day, my goose was cooked; I just had to taste whatever I had just seen at the movies. Indeed, to this day I cannot emerge from a theater without feeling hungry...This began my double profession of film critic and cook. Since then, it's been from the balcony to the kitchen. If there happened to be an exceptionally good double feature, I would be so exhausted I wouldn't know which way to turn...Naturally, I cooked and cooked and cooked. I was now ready for my first dinner party. He was an importer from Brazil whose contribution to the dinner was some newly arrived nuts from the land of the coffee bean. We went from soup to nuts. Heady with success I ventured further into unknown territories. The Good Earth, Abie's Irish Rose, An American in Paris, Andy Hardy,--all produced exquisite menus...Who knows, after reading my book you, too may turn into a Brillat-Savarin, an Escoffier, an Alice B. Toklas...or even a Myra Breckinridge...It's all there, sitting, waiting to be taken home to be transformed into a treat, but it's up to you to turn the trick. So whether you're on Main Street or Broadway, put on your walking shoes, America and join the ranks of those who care to have the very best. And if you don't find that you're a healthier, happier person, then my name isn't Myra Breckinridge.

The chapters in this entertaining book are introduced in an alluring humorous tone; garnished with vintage black & white photos. Some of "her" descriptions are down right "naughty." "Myra Breckinridge is a dish, and never forget it" she proclaims. And that dear visitor is putting it mildly. The recipes are not as glamourous as one might expect. It is more in the interpretation of the named dish rather than in the ingredients. I wish I could share the entire book with you. The recipes, although stylish, are quite adaptable. Some of the photos, are priceless!

Vidal Gore and his partner Howard lived in Italy for many years. It is said Howard Austen was a wonderful cook who was also a relaxed and adorning host. He could "whip up" a wonderful "pasta-infested dinner" in their beautiful dining room while the music played and the wine glasses were sipped, effortlessly. Charlie Chaplin, I discovered, was more than happy to share his own recipes whenever they were requested for fund raisers or for a good cause. The boiled shoe Thanksgiving dinner in The Gold Rush, is quintessential Charlie Chaplin and one of my favorite scenes. There's a wonderful website dedicated to Charlie Chaplin which explores the importance of food in his life. It is called, Charlie Chaplin . . . Allez Cuisine!!!

...Inside the cabin meanwhile, hungry and desperate, the Tramp and Big Jim celebrate "Thanksgiving Dinner," in a famous, classic feast/meal scene. The Tramp and Big Jim are reduced to starvation, so the Tramp resorts to boiling and cooking a tasty dinner for them. He chooses one of his boots [actually black licorice] as the object of their Thanksgiving dinner, taking on airs as a gourmet at a feast. He watches it cooking on the stove until perfectly simmered. He then carves the boot (splitting and cutting it like a filet), and offers the upper part to Big Jim. He pours water over it like gravy. He chews on the lower sole part, treating it like a delicacy, and he twirls the laces like spaghetti. He daintily sucks the nails, like they were the bones of a game bird, or small fishbones... source

May I present the Gold Rush, Shoestring Spaghetti Dinner menu. Spaghetti with Clam Sauce (Shoestring Spaghetti), and Filets de Sole with Grapes (Shoe-Tender Sole), which I have scanned for your pleasure. Any idea who I would prefer to win tonight???

And for dessert, Oscar Worthy Baked Spicy Brownies from The Recipe Girl 

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Marketable Flake

The Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company was founded by Will Keith Kellogg on February 19, 1906. There are those who believe the invention of Corn Flakes by W. K. Kellogg changed the way we eat breakfast forever. There were those who would disagreed...

The Kellogg Company was started in 1906, after W.K. parted ways with his brother, John Harvey Kellogg (who didn’t see the market potential of breakfast cereal). But success didn’t come easy. On July 4th, 1907, the first Kellogg plant burned to the ground. With the ruins still smoking, W.K. rushed an architect to the scene and began designing a new, fireproof plant. As always, this shy man was immensely confident in the rightness of his cause. (source)
W.K. Kellogg was an aggressive marketer of his products. His goal was to change the consumer's view of breakfast food by overwhelming them with a new world of "flaked cereal." Competition was tough. When Kellogg formed his company in 1906, there were more than forty other companies producing cold "ready to eat" cereal. For instance, C.W. Post had founded the Postum Cereal Co. in 1895, which he first started by producing a coffee substitute called Postum Food Coffee. Eventually he added Grape-Nuts (containing neither grapes nor nuts) and Elijah's Manna (re-named Post Toasties) and in 1899 he established the Battle Creek Box Company to package his foods.
Through advertising, Will Kellogg's genius shined. By 1911, the company branded with his name on every cereal box, had an annual budget of $1 million dollars for advertising alone. A portion of that money was used to light up the the roof of the Mecca Building in Time Square with the electric lights on the roof and a K which stood six feet tall. Molly Wade McGrath shares in the history of Kellogg's in her book, Top Sellers USA first published in 1983.
...When the factory doors opened for W.K. Kellogg's Toasted Corn Flake Company in 1906, there were forty-two cereal companies registered in the Battle Creek area, more than the total number of employees at the original Sanitas Food Plant. W. K.'s company became the leader among the few survivors of the early competition. To guard against any possible confusion, W. K. had his name printed on every package of Kellogg's Corn Flakes, in W. K. own handwriting style, with the explanation, "The original bears this signature."
In Horace B. Powell's biography of Kellogg published in 1956, he had this to say about Kellogg's mass marketing approach.
Mr. Kellogg appreciated the power of the new force that was beginning to be used by progressive businessmen—the force of consumer advertising. Visualizing his foods on breakfast tables in millions of homes, he knew that the entrée to these homes was chiefly through advertising.
One of Kellogg's most ambitious campaigns was launched in New York City on June 5, 1907 when W. K. ran ads in all the major New York City newspapers. "Wednesday is 'Wink Day" promised every housewife in the city who winked at her grocer on Wednesday that she would receive a free box of Corn Flakes. It was a Huge success! It convinced New Yorker's to try cold cereal at home. And, you know what they say, "if you can make it in the big Apple, you can make it Anywhere! It has been reported, that from two trainloads of cereal being delivered to the Big Apple per month, the increase went to more than 30 trainloads.
In 1910, Kellogg offered the very first cereal premium: Funny Jungleland™ Moving Pictures Book. It was available with the purchase of two packages of Kellogg's Toasted Corn Flakes. The offer continued for twenty-three years! I'm very fortunate to have a copy of the 1932 edition of the booklet in my personal collection.
I took a hop over to the Kelloggs website to see if I could find and earlier edition and look what I found!
Not only is there a terrific timeline at the website, there's also a gallery of Kellogg's advertisements that this girl finds Very Cool! Here's just one!
There are many vintage Kellogg's advertisements at the Topher's Breakfast Cereal Character Guide website. There's even a "shot" of Mrs. Tony--the wife of Tony the Tiger! On National Cereal Day in March, I'll share some Corn Flake recipes with you. For now would you mind very much if I just showed off my book? No. Good!
I don't know if you can tell from the picture but if you look real close you can see the lines which represent where the reader can change the characters by "moving" the tab to a different page.
To make things a whole lot easier, I'm just separating them the way the book falls:)
I hope you've enjoyed today's post. I must admit, it was one of my favorites!
FYI: Kellogg’s Corn Flakes were so popular at one point that the brothers ran an Apology ad asking customers to "stop buying and give your neighbor a chance." It made orders pile up even faster.
(source PDF)
revised February 2013

Monday, February 16, 2009

It's Snack Food Month!

Maybe you've heard, February is National Snack Food Month. Maybe you haven't heard, tomorrow February 17th is World Cabbage Day. What's a girl to do? Cabbage, Fritos® , or both? You decide.

Choice #1: Cabbage

Cabbage has been around for ages. Like Jennie host of Straight from the Farm, I pretty much steered away from cabbage until I was introduced, rather haphazardly, to Savoy Cabbage. Take a look at Jennie's adaption of Savoy Cabbage Slaw With Applesauce Vinaigrette, which she digresses may well be labeled a salad rather than a slaw. You too may change your mind. Jane Grigson's Vegetable Book gives this account of Savoy Cabbage:

...The name of the Savoy cabbage was introduced into the English language by Henry Lyte in his Niewe Herball of 1578. This was not an original work, but a translation of the Dutch Cruydeboeck, and the name was a direct translation of the dutch savoyekool (kool as in coleslaw, etc.) Sir Anthony Ashley, of Wimborn St. Giles in Dorset, is recorded as planting in England the first cabbages from Holland, which may have been Savoys or perhaps the white, smooth, hard packed cabbage that we still call Dutch cabbage to-day...
I wonder if the cabbage knows
He is less lovely than the Rose;
Or does he squat in smug content,
A source of noble nourishment;
Or if he pities for her sins
The Rose who has no vitamins;
Or if the one thing his green heart knows --
That self-same fire that warms the Rose?

Not only does cabbage have the "nasty" habit of being good for you, Cabbage is an excellent source of Vitamin C, some vitamin A, and contains significant amounts of the amino acid, glutamine. Glutamine is said to have anti-inflammatory properties. In its raw state, cabbage contains iron, calcium, and potassium. Cabbage is also high in vitamins B1, B2, and B3, cabbage and its family of cruciferous vegetables hold high esteem in folklore and Halloween.

An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage,
concludes that it will also make better soup.

~H.L. Mencken~

Cabbage Recipes

Have I got a recipe for you. It comes from a cookbook titled Secrets of Palm Beach Cookery published in 1987. The author, Skippy Harwood is/was food editor for the Palm Beach Daily News. I just couldn't resist including this recipe for Cabbage Crepes because, it has a distant relation to the cabbage farms of Long Island. Don't pooh pooh it until you take a look. It's surprisingly "fashionable."

The Old English name for February was "Sprout-Kale" or "Sprouting Cabbage Month, since cabbage, if properly sheltered, begins to sprout in the garden this time of the year.
"Society expects every man to have certain things in his garden.
Not to raise cabbage, is as if one had no pew in church."

The Pilgrim Cook Book (1895)

Harvesting recipes for stuffed cabbage is an easy task via the world wide web. I found a GREAT recipe @ No Fear Entertaining So, I think I will leave you with Cabbage Two Ways by Rebecca of Cooked Books, while I dip into the history of corn chips.

Choice #2: Fritos®

Gary Allen @ Leite's Culinaria has a wonderful article titled Dipping Into the History of the Super Bowl Favorite which gives some answers to "when dips for chips" became popular. Really cool...Here's the scoop:

...Meanwhile, in 1932, a young Texan name Elmer Doolin bought the rights to a variation on fried corn tortilla strips. He added an "s" to the Spanish word for "fried," and called them "Fritos® ." After World War II, Doolin's business grew to the point where he decided to sell franchises. Herman Lay's company bought the first one. By 1961 the two companies had merged, forming Frito-Lay, the largest snack-food manufacturer in the country...

Historically, The Birth of the Frito; begins in Texas. In an interview with Doolin descendants, we learn about the "secret ingredient" and a few "family" recipes one which includes chocolate!

During the Depression in the 1930s, Charles Elmer Doolin had a confectionery in San Antonio. Always an innovator, he got a bug to put some kind of corn snack on his counters. Tortillas staled, so Doolin went on a mission. At a gas station, Doolin found a Mexican man making an extruded corn chip out of masa, frying it and selling little bags of the fried corn chips. They were Fritos® , "little fried things" — the beach food of Mexico...Doolin bought the patent and 14 customers from the man and began to make the chips in his own kitchen at home, with his mother perfecting his recipe.

So who was this Mexican man who inspired Charles Elmer Doolin and his family to take the plunge? It just may be a former cafe owner by the name of Gustave Olguin who wanted to return to Mexico. That chip of info is mentioned in the Texas Monthly if you read the entire article:)

Fritos® in the Hands of the Doolin Family ...The four Doolins began making these early Fritos® in the kitchen of their home at 1416 Roosevelt Avenue. During the day, Elmer searched for high-quality corn, hand-washing it and grinding it. At night, after the family would hand-roll, thin, and deep-fry the dough made from that corn, they would pack it in five-cent bags, which Elmer would go sell throughout San Antonio the following day. The family could produce approximately ten pounds of Fritos® in an hour...

It is said, Earl Doolin the brother of Charles, converted a potato ricer to initially produce the tortilla shaped dough that would become the Fritos® chip. I did a quick search at google patents and it appears he did come up with a few later inventions which helped the manufacturing of Fritos® . I've decided to delve into those inventions at a later date. I'd much rather share a 1946 Fritos® souvenir booklet from the Texas State Fair with you.

Get Acquainted with Fritos®...The very first time you open a kitchen fresh bag of Fritos® , you'll understand why they're a universal favorite. Here are tempting golden morsels of corn, cooked to a golden brown in pure corn oil...and deliciously salted. Fritos® are inviting to look at, crisp and crunchy--just as good for you as they are good to eat...

I'm not quite sure about that claim after all, it was 1942 when the book was copyrighted.

...Trans fat was first developed in the 1940's by adding hydrogen molecules into vegetable oil, which partially hardens the oil which can be used in a variety of foods. It gives foods a better taste and extends their shelf life. Up until about 1990 it was considered safe because it was produced from vegetable oils but ongoing research soon discovered that trans fats increase cholesterol levels...source

Just in case you didn't get the message:

Food scientists began experimenting with trans-fats in the 1940's. They found that by altering the structure of some fats, they were able to increase the shelf life of packaged foods. These altered fats were called trans-fats... Examples of hydrogenated oils include shortening and hard margarine. Manufacturers value trans-fats because they increase the shelf life of food, are inexpensive, and increase the stability of flavoring agents in processed foods. Some trans-fat is found naturally in animal-based products, but synthetically produced trans-fat is much more dangerous...source

Fritos® Recipes

You can only imagine the pickings of Frito dishes in this booklet of Fritos recipes. Not only are they from 1946, they are also "souvenirs" from the Texas State Fair! If a snack is supposedly a light meal then Fritos® Creamed Cabbage may just be your desire. Or not...Hey, it's World Cabbage Day, I must include a combination. Don't you think? Anyway, this recipe appears to be very similar to everyone's favorite; String Bean Casserole topped with those canned fried onions and mushroom soup. Seriously, it sure resembles it to me.

Frito Creamed Cabbage: Cook cabbage in boiling, salted water, until tender. Drain off water and place cabbage in buttered baking dish. Cover with a white sauce made of milk, butter, and flour. Cover top of cabbage with Frito crumbs (made by rolling or grinding Fritos® ) Bake in moderate oven for 30 minutes. Note: I take moderate to mean 350 degrees:)

Every recipe in the book does not include Fritos® as an ingredient. As a matter of fact, many of the recipes simply include Fritos® on the plate. There are seasonable Fritos® recipes, and "Tangy Foreign" Frito recipes such as Italian Spaghetti and Chinese Chop Suey which don't use Fritos® at all. On the other hand, the Assyrian Frito Tamales, another cabbage dish, not only includes two cups of Fritos®, the recipes suggests serving Fritos® right along side the dish. Here's the recipe.

Well, it is National Snack Food Month, after all. What does this booklet offer as a Fritos® snack? Surprisingly, not much. May I suggest the Frito Sandwich Spread, Fritos® Au Gratin, Frito-Kett or simply the Frito Sunflower Dip.

The Frito Pie Celebrated its 75th Anniversary in 2007. Its inventor was none other than Daisy Dean Doolin. Don't tell me you don't know the legend of the Frito Pie. It's become a popular dish to celebrate on National Corn Chip Day in January. Although, Amy from the blog Dinner for a Year & Beyond celebrated National Corn Chip Day with this crispy recipe for Frito Chicken.

FYI: Doritos® tortilla chips were introduced nationally around 1966 by Frito-Lay now a division of Pepsi. Literally translated into Spanish, "doritos" means "little bits of gold."

And what's one of my favorite snack foods? Brussels Sprouts! I LOVE roasted Brussels Sprouts! For a quick snack I take frozen Brussels sprouts, coat them in olive oil and roast them in the oven until they are more than crisp. They pop in just as comfortably as any chip I know and, they taste a whole lot better not to mention calories and nutrients. If I want to get a bit fancier, I add some balsamic vinegar, just a drop, some seasoning, garlic for me, and let the sprouts thaw in the marinade. I've tried all kinds of seasonings and I'm yet to find one I don't like.


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Happy Gumdrop Day!

It's Gum Drop Day! Or is it Gumdrop Day? I'm never quite sure. The only time I've given careful consideration to the gumdrop is when it comes to CandyLand...

via Collector's Quest
"Candy Land is one of the most beloved and best known games of all time. Invented in 1948 by school teacher Eleanor Abbott, it has been played by generations of families. In the game, players go on a magical journey through fantastical lands made of candy, sweets, and ice cream: the Peppermint Forest, the Gum Drop Mountains, and the Lollypop Woods. Along the way, players encounter such iconic characters as Princess Frostine, Lord Licorice, Mr. Mint, and King Candy."(Hasbro’s 'Candy Land' Lands With Adam Sandler)

Apparently, there are those who take the gumdrop quite seriously and not only at the movies:) There are gumdrop crafters who create such things as gumdrop wreaths, gumdrop pumpkins and even gumdrop penguins, which by the way my grandson, Noah, would probably not eat. He loves penguins! Oh, okay, he might take a nibble:) For example, just feast your eyes on these glittery gumdrops.

via The Sweetest Occasion

And these vintage instructions for Gumdrop Roses, harvested from the Betty Crocker Cake and Frosting Mix Cookbook ©1966

Then, there are those who choose to use gumdrops as an ingredient in recipes. T. W. over @ Culinary Types baked up quite a colorful Retro Gumdrop Cake from 1946.

How about this Gumdrop Fudge?

via Cook With Sara

And another "creative" gumdrop bar recipe from the McCall's Cook Book ©1963

Cutting gumdrops can be a gruesomely sticky task. I found this reader's solution for "Quick Cut Gumdrops" at the Taste of Home website.

Oatmeal cookies with gumdrops are a popular treat in our house. But I’m the first to admit that chopping the little spicy gumdrops with a knife can be a sticky and lengthy job. So I came up with a faster and neater method. I simply dip my kitchen scissors in flour and snip, snip, snip the gumdrops. The process is so much quicker and cleanup’s easier, too. —Mary Guyer, Albany, New York.

I like the idea that these vintage Gumdrop Squares from the 1980 edition of the Betty Crocker Cookbook for Boys and Girls contain applesauce.

Making your own gumdrops seems to be another popular modern pastime.

The Way To His Heart
What's Cooking America

And finally, I have two more gumdrop "tricks" I would like to share with you before I "partake of my final showing for Gum Drop Day. They are both from the book titled More Joys of Jell-O published by Kraft in 1993. Gumdrop Ribbons and Gumdrop Flowers. Seriously, how cool are these Gumdrop Ribbons? (I've seen a few gumdrop flowers in my adventures but Gumdrop Ribbons? This is a first!


Now for my nightcap; a Gumdrop Cocktail!

via Rock UR Party

FYI: According to Candy USA, not only is today Gum Drop Day, it's also Chocolate Mint Day!

revised February 14, 2013

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Log Cabin Fever

~Abraham Lincoln~
Abraham Lincoln's Boyhood Home at Knob Creek

There's a frenzy of cabin fever engulfing our nation on the The National Commemoration of the 200th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln's birth. From sea to shining sea, Lincoln family home neighborhoods and historic Lincoln sites have been restored and renovated in hopes of show casing the beloved 16th President's journey from a primitive one room log cabin to the "the President's Palace" in Washington D. C. His birthplace on the site of Sinking Spring Farm is celebrating. The National Park Service will be hosting the Bicentennial Celebration of the life of Abraham Lincoln with the dedication of the restored Abraham Lincoln Boyhood Home cabin at Knob Creek. And, the museum of the Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site in Lerna, Illinois will offer an open house and dinner. I'll be serving some recipes below:)

Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site, preserves the last home of Abraham Lincoln's father and stepmother, Thomas and Sarah Bush Lincoln. The 86-acre site, which includes the reconstructed Lincoln cabin and a surrounding living history farm, is managed by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. Thomas Lincoln was born in Virginia in 1778 and migrated with his family to Kentucky when he was four years old. In 1806 he married Nancy Hanks, and three years later Abraham was born on the Sinking Springs Farm, near Hodgenville, Kentucky.

Four Coins & A Log Cabin

The Lincoln penny is also getting a new look- actually four new looks! You guessed it, one of those precious slivers of copper coins will hallmark the log cabin of Abraham Lincoln's birthplace. From the United States Mint:

Authorized by Public Law 109-145, the four new designs celebrate the bicentennial of President Abraham Lincoln's birth, as well as the 100th anniversary of the production of the Lincoln cent (penny). The new designs will be issued in approximately three-month intervals throughout the year. The first redesigned penny, which will honor Lincoln's birth and early childhood, will be put into circulation on February 12, 2009...The four designs to be featured on the reverse of the Lincoln pennies represent four major aspects of President Lincoln's life: his birth and childhood in Kentucky, his formative years in Indiana, his professional life in Illinois and his Presidency in Washington, D.C...

Log Cabin Recipes

I bet you didn't think I would pull it off but, yes indeed, it just so happens I have a beautiful Towle's Log Cabin Syrup recipe book. Not only is this booklet, which was probably published around 1937, in mint condition, it is one of my favorite designs. A die-cut. As I've mentioned before, actually quite a few times before, die-cuts have recently become my cookbook passion. Wait! It gets better! According to Pinnacle Foods,

Log Cabin® has been making authentic, maple tasting syrup for 120 years. Did you know the brand was created in honor of a true American hero? Minnesota grocer Patrick J. Towle introduced the brand in 1887, and named it in honor of his childhood hero and true American icon, President Abraham Lincoln. For all of you history buffs, you know that President Lincoln grew up in a log cabin, deep in the woods of Illinois – hence the brand name LOG CABIN, chosen by Mr. Towle to honor President Lincoln.

In their beautifully pictured, excellent reference book, Vintage Cookbooks & Advertising Leaflets, Sandra J. Norman and Karrie K. Andes devote a commemoration of their own to the creator of the Towle Maple Syrup Company.

The demand for a more economical maple-flavored syrup is what prompted Patrick J. Towle, a Chicago grocer, to create his famous Log Cabin Syrup in the 1880's...Towle experimented until he found the best blend of sugar cane with Vermont and Canadian syrup. He began selling the product in his grocery store. After sales escalated, he moved to St. Paul Minnesota where he established the Towle Maple Syrup Company in 1887...Ten years later, he began selling his syrup in cabin shaped tin containers which became the symbol of his company for many years. The idea was created from his admiration for President Lincoln and his boyhood cabin home. The empty tins were a favorite toy among children and remain highly collectible today. The business later changed its name to The Log Cabin Products Company and was purchased in 1927 by the Postum Company.

Log Cabin Recipes

Honestly, how cool is that? Unlike Thomas Jefferson and Martin Van Buren, who were "gourmets," Abraham Lincoln was a light eater. He did, however, enjoy burnt sugar cakes, corn cakes, gingerbread and Mary Todd's White Cake. Duck Taco and Presidential China is a recent post by Lori Lynn over at Taste With the Eyes. Not only does Lori Lynn share her enthusiasm for her new Presidential China, (and its Lincoln history:) she also shares her Inaugural meal and leftovers! As for me, I didn't find any of Lincoln's favorite recipes in the Log Cabin booklet. Despite the sweet challenge of choosing a recipe from this booklet, I did manage to scan four (small) pages of recipes I thought you might find "Lincoln Like." First we have, Corn Waffles, Dixie Waffles, Dessert Waffles and Apple Fritter recipes.

I couldn't resist including the recipes for Vermont Pecan Layer Cake, Vermont Butter Frosting, Log Cabin Ice Cream and Montpelier Mousse, (a dish I am assuming is named after James Madison and not already on the super highway) just in case you're looking for a new recipe to celebrate Presidents' Day on the 16th or Madison's birthday in March:)

Resources (follow the numbers)
1. The story of young Abraham Lincoln By Wayne Whipple @ google books
2.Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Celebration
3. Abraham Lincoln Online.org (Lincoln News & Information)
4. Abraham Lincoln's Parents
5. Harlan-Lincoln House Museum (Harlan's daughter, Mary, wed Robert Todd Lincoln, son of Abraham Lincoln in 1868. The museum includes artifacts from both the Harlan & Lincoln families.)
6. Abe Lincoln's Log Cabin (recipe for kids)
7. Lincoln, Homes & Haunts (images)
8. Fascinating Facts About Lincoln Pennies
9. History of Log Cabin Homes (brief news article)
10. The Restoration of America's Log Cabins Program
11. Tastiest Obama-Lincoln Comparison Ever!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Jell-O Rules Give-Away!

I'm jiggly today. I'm sure it's this blast of warm air that's making me feel this way. It couldn't have anything to do with the launch of Jell-O Week could it? Yes! in deed it could! Last year I spent so much time posting about the history of gelatin, Peter Cooper, and Abe Lincoln's fascination with gelatin, I plum got carried away. I mean really, unless you are literally digging deep into the history of gelatin and Jell-O that blog post may just fit under the heading of useless information! (resources below) Not this year. This year I'm on pins and needles just at the thought of sharing a few cookbooks from my Jell-O collection. Can you imagine how thrilled I must be to offer this Free! yes I said Free Jell-O recipe book?

But wait, there's more. The slide show of the Jell-O book I'm giving away is below. If you look very carefully, I've tried to make the images large enough for you to see) you will find it quite difficult to find a copyright date. I've looked and looked and I can't find one. Sure, it could be these old tired eyes of mine but I'm telling you, as far as I can see, it is undated. None the less, I have very good information that leads me to believe that this book below is the first printed recipe book published by the Genesse Pure Food Co, in 1904! The Jell-O Museum confirms what I also found in Col. Bob Allen's A Guide To Collecting Cookbooks published in 1990. One of my favorite cookbook reference books which Col. Allen was kind enough to sign for me; #22. Some day I am going to share a few letters Col. Allen and I exchanged back in those days...I can assure you, he knows his stuff:)

Free Give-Away

How, why, when???
How? Oh that's easy, just leave a comment that has something to do with Jell-O. Please keep it kid friendly though. I never know when my grand children are going to stop by for a visit. That's pretty much it. It could be your favorite flavor, experience, recipe, any thing that has to do with Jell-O.
Why? It just so happens, this Jell-O book is a duplicate. I do that sometimes. I get oh so carried away buying cookbooks, I wind up with more editions then one person actually needs. And, yes, I need cookbooks!
When? On Saturday, Valentine's Day, at 12:00 midnight, The Jell-O Rules Give-Away will trail off to the land of OZ. (in "The Wizard of Oz," the horse that changed colors was actually six horses sponged down with Jell-O. {source} On Sunday February 15th, National Gum Drop Day, I will announce the lucky winner right here after I give the Random Number Generator a whirl. That's all folks:)

Thru the Years with America's Favorite Dessert

No long stories here, just a few pictures from an assortment of Jell-O books in my collection. Honestly, some of the illustrations are just so purty:) Click to enlarge and, Have FUN!

Now, you didn't think I was going to leave your dessert bowl empty did you? I did a quick search in my hospitality search engine and look what GREAT recipes I found.
1. "J" is for Jeweled Jell-o
2. Cherry Almond Jell-o Cookies
3. Jell-O "Poke" Cake
4. Green Jello Salad
5. Naughty Orange Jell-o Dessert
6. Mandarin Orange Jell-o
7. Mojito Cake (Version of Lemon Jello Cake)
8. Rainbow Jell-O Cake

1. Rose O'Neill's Birthday Celebration
2. Peter Cooper in the history of Jell-O

revised June 2013

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Mixing It Up for Black History Month

There are many monthly food celebrations enveloped in February. Today, I would like to examine the patent of the "egg beater" as a tribute to Black History Month.

African American Inventions

Truth be told, I had every intention of beginning this month with a posting about the ice cream scoop. "The ice cream scoop!" you exclaim. "It's freeeeezing outside." I was going to title the post Happy Birthday to the Ice Cream Scoop because, like the can opener which was invented after the invention of the can, the prototype for the ice cream scoop, as we know it today, was invented after the invention of ice cream. I know, this stuff gets muddled once in a while. Any hoo, since this blog is a calendar of sorts, I try to coincide the days with relevance. It may be too cold outside to seriously think about scooping gallons of ice cream but, the patent was awarded to an African American by the name of Alfred L. Cralle on February 2, 1897. I missed the date, however, can you see why I wanted to wish the ice cream scoop a happy birthday? Imagine an ice cream party without a scoop. Oh, btw, Cralle was only 30 years old when he was awarded the patent.

Fact is, there are many black inventors who have contributed to the success of the modern kitchen. I'm sure with the election of our new President, Inventors' Day, which is celebrated on the anniversary of the birth of Thomas Edison, also in February will be a popular day to explore some of these inventions. However, I have chosen today for a reason. But, let's first visit a few other inventions by African American inventors.

Did you know, A. P. Ashbourne, an African American, invented the biscuit cutter patented on November 30, 1875. Certainly you have heard of chemist and engineer Norbert Rillieux who revolutionized the sugar processing industry. His patent, number 4,879 was issued on December 10, 1846. His discovery not only made an improvement to the process of sugar making in Louisiana, many other countries adopted his process in their factories. I wonder how George Washington Carver, acknowledged for his tremendous work with peanuts, would feel about the peanut butter predicament we find ourselves exposed to. In the historic timeline of truck refrigeration, there stands a place for another African American by the name of Frederick McKinley Jones. Frederick McKinley Jones is often credited with "transforming the food industry and America's eating habits with his invention of a practical refrigeration system for trucks and railroad cars." Another transportation invention associated with a black American is the invention of the first biscuit mix. It was invented by an African American porter who worked for George M. Pullman an inventor in his own right. It was also a Pullman chef by the name of Rufus Estes who wrote the book Good Things To Eat in 1911. His book of recipes is available online at the Gutenberg Project.

Mixing It Up

When it comes to kitchen appliances, there are two African American inventors credited with labor saving devices that come to mind. First, there is inventor Rufus M. Eastman who was granted a patent (November 17, 1885) for the first electric mixer (blender) powered by electric or water and Willis (Willie) Johnson who received a patent for an "Egg Beater" (U.S. pat# 292,821) on February 5, 1884. Today!

...The object of my invention is to provide a machine wherewith eggs, batter, and other similar ingredients used by bakers, confectioners, can be beaten or mixed in the most intimate and expeditious manner. The machine consists, essentially, of a main frame within which is journaled a driving-wheel and a pinion or pulley, the horizontal shaft of the latter having at its opposite ends clutches or sockets, with which are engages square or other non-circular arbors at the inner extremities of a pair of beater shafts. Theses shafts, which are armed with suitable blades, beaters, or stirrers, are journaled in cylinders that occupy detachable trays or racks applied to the opposite sides of the main frame, hooks and staples or the convenient devices being employed for retaining said racks in their proper places. As a result of this construction, either one or the other of both cylinders can be readily applied to the racks, and the latter can be coupled to the machine, so as to insure a very rapid revolution is applied to the driving-wheel, as hereinafter more fully described...

As luck would have it, there is a short article about Willis Johnson and the invention of the egg beater @ the Old Foodie. Janet wrote the article which also includes a bit of history about the first cookbook ever written by an African American, in February of 2007. It's too bad it is so difficult finding out more personal information about people such as Willis Johnson. I don't want to dig deep, I would just like to know the steps by which a man follows to create such innovation. We know he was born in Cincinnati Ohio, but when? As an African American it must have been difficult in 1884, how? And naturally, I would like to know, Why?

I'm not leaving a recipe today from one of my cookbooks. IMHO, in the spirit of Black History Month, it might be interesting to explore or perhaps create a recipe from Good Things to Eat by Rufus Estes. Why not choose one of these chocolate cake recipes, February is also Celebration of Chocolate Month!

Don't forget,  National Fettucini Alfredo Day, February 7th. Enjoy...

1. Canny Cooks (It's Canned Food Month)
2. Black Inventors and Inventions (quick list)
3. Black Inventors...Extraordinary Inventions! (quick list)
4. The Genuine Scoop
5. A Revolution in Sugar Processing
6. African American Women Inventors
7. Frederick McKinley Jones
8. George M. Pullman
9. Good Things to Eat
10. The History of the Blender
11. The Black Inventor Online Museum
12. African Americans in Food Service (an online exhibit)

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A Carrot Cake Day Recipe; Not Quite

I so wanted to post a recipe from a recipe book devoted to Carrot Cake today because, I hear it's Carrot Cake Day! Due to circumstances beyond my control, that didn't happen. Oh well, doesn't this Graham Cream Layer Cake remind you of Carrot Cake at first glance? I may be grabbing at straws here but I think it does. 

The recipe comes from 50 Delicious Desserts a book published by The National Biscuit Company in 1938. You may not be familiar with The National Biscuit Company, but I bet you've heard the name Nabisco! N.B.C. or The National Biscuit Company, according to the Kraft website, had its beginnings in 1792. I suppose this claim has a crumb of accuracy when you consider the conglomeration of companies that eventually formed Nabisco. I'm not up to untangling the corporate blend of companies whose first successful product was Uneeda Biscuits. However, I would like to share the inner contents of this booklet so you get an idea of the products offered by the National Biscuit Company in 1938.

Graham Cream Layer Cake
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
3 eggs, separated
2/3 cup milk
1/4 tsp. salt
25 N.B.C Graham Crackers
2-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup chopped pecans
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups whipped cream
Cream butter and sugar together. Add beaten egg yolks, milk, salt, and beat well. Crush crackers fine, and mix with baking powder and add to first mixture. Add 1/2 cup chopped pecans; vanilla and fold in stiffly beaten egg whites. Pour into two greased 8-inch layer cake tins, and bake in a moderate oven 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Cool. Fill and top cake with whipped, sweetened and vanilla flavored cream and sprinkle with chopped pecans.

It wouldn't be fair to celebrate Carrot Cake Day with out actually including a few carrot cake recipes especially if they are carrot cake cupcakes! Happy Carrot Cake Day!

1. The Quintessential Orange Cupcake @ Veronica's Test Kitchen

2. Carrot Coconut Cupcakes @ Treat A Week Recipes

3. Carrot Cake Cupcakes @ Taste & Tell

4. The Best Carrot Cake (and a helpful tidbit!) @ Good Eats 'n Sweet Treats

FYI: Both the CDC and Web Holidays say tomorrow is National Stuffed Mushroom Day! Web Holidays has a recipe

1. National Biscuit Company (brief history from The Electronic Encyclopedia of Chicago)
2. Mallomar Day
3. Happy Birthday Oreo!
4. Quick Links: Carrot Cake Day 2010 (includes "real" Carrot Cake recipes:)

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Look What I Did!

"The time has come," the Walrus said, 
"To talk of many things: 
Of shoes and ships and sealing wax, 
Of cabbages and kings. 
And why the sea is boiling hot. 
And whether pigs have wings." 
Lewis Carroll Through the Looking Glass

I'm heading to Pennsylvania tomorrow before the snow flies. I will return to visiting & posting on National Carrot Day on February 3rd. In the meanwhile, please take a look at the new Edible Celebrations Calendar Give-Away I've designed and let me know what you think. Happy Ground Hog Kiwifruit Day tomorrow and, Thanks, Louise