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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Cookbook Wednesday | An Old Fashioned Christmas

By the time you’re done reading today’s Cookbook Wednesday post, my Christmas cards and gifts should be on the way to their destinations; hopefully. I have no one to blame but myself. I’ve been a slacker lately. Well, kinda. Actually, I’ve been “playing” in the kitchen, trying to learn how to add some pizazz to this blog of mine for the new year (a new font would be nice) and just plain ol’ being lazy! It seems my sparks are flying in so many directions I can’t keep my mind on just one thing. This too shall pass:)

An Old-Fashioned Christmas

Let’s talk about An Old Fashioned Christmas published by the folks at Time-Life Books in 1997. I’m a huge fan of Time-Life Books and believe me when I tell you, this book does not disappoint. Just look at this Table of Contents.

Pretty impressive, don’t you think? This book has all a girl could ask for and then some. The tone of the book sings deck the halls with decorations, crafts and of course festive foods. I had a difficult time choosing what to highlight out of this wonderful book especially since Bellefonte, the first place I lived when I moved to Pennsylvania, just celebrated their 33rd Annual Victorian Christmas. I only live about 20 minutes away but I just didn’t make it this year. Harry’s wife Ruth told me it was an experience right out of Charles Dickens.

Bellefonte Victorian Christmas

There are wonderful chapters on both Pennsylvania Celebrations and Victorian Celebrations in An Old Fashioned Christmas but, I’ll need to share them another time. Today I’d like to share a few pages in the book dedicated to Louis Prang, a German immigrant who came to America in 1850, who is often referred to as the “Father of the American Christmas Card.”

Louis Prang Christmas Cards
It’s widely accepted that the first Christmas card was printed in London in 1843, when Sir Henry Cole hired artist John Calcott Horsley to design a holiday card that he could send to his friends. But it was Boston-based printer Louis Prang who introduced the Christmas card to the American public…Prang published his first Christmas cards for the American market in 1875. Their popularity was immediate. By 1881, he was reportedly printing five million Christmas cards a year. Prang’s earliest cards were simple flower designs with the words “Merry Christmas.” Later cards often featured more traditional holiday motifs, some of which were adorned silk fringe, cords and tassels.(New York Historical Society)
Louis Christmas Cards
Louis Prang, one of the founders of the Dixon Ticonderoga Company, was born in 1824 in Breslau, Silesia (present day Poland). He studied printing and dyeing techniques in Bohemia before immigrating to America in 1850. Prang developed a four-color printing process known as chromolithography in the 1860s. Prang's system was the first workable system to reproduce color in print. He used chromolithography to reproduce great works of art for classroom use. Prang set up a workshop in Boston, Massachusetts in 1860 and began to produce the first colored cards. Most of his business at first was to reproduce masterworks of art and maps for use in classrooms.
…It was the American public’s fascination with Civil War territory disputes, battles and troop movements coupled with the lack of newspapers’ ability to print photographic images which provided Prang with a unique opportunity to put his skills to use. He manufactured some of the first mass produced maps with red and blue lines, which illustrated troop movements and positions of opposing forces on the battlefields. It allowed those on the home-front to track troop advances and retreats through victories and defeats throughout the war…(Louis Prang, "Father of the American Christmas Card" Presented by the Sandusky Library, Sandusky, Ohio

Mr. Prang's greeting cards ranged in prices from 50 cents to $15 each (remember this was the 1800s). Here’s more of his story from the pages of An Old Fashioned Christmas.

It just wouldn’t be Cookbook Wednesday without a recipe now would it? There are oh so many recipes to choose from in the Holiday Baking section. I finally decided on this recipe for Sweet Potato Swirl Bread. It’s swirled with cocoa!

Sweet Potato Twirl Bread
Doesn’t it look yummy?
Sweet Potato Twirl Bread
If you would like to see more of Mr. Prang’s work, the Boston Public Library has over 1,400 pictures on their flickr pages. That’s where I found this cute little girl holding Holly dated between 1861-1897.
Prang Christmas Card
Next week will be the last week for Cookbook Wednesday for this year. I have joined the Linky website for future linky parties so be prepared for a few blog hops in the future:) If you would like to share a cookbook for Cookbook Wednesday, we would love to have you join us. Just grab the logo and enter below. Louise
Cookbook Wednesday Logo
Resources
1. Prang & Co's Art Publishing House in Roxbury, Mass in 1873
2. Printer Louis Prang Issued 'Checks’
3. A Prang Christmas Chromolithograph
4. World’s oldest mass-produced Christmas card in SMU collection

72 comments:

  1. Dear Louise,
    I was still up so I thought to check your blog and Cook Book Wednesday was there! Fabulous post. I did not know some of the info you gave us on the Christmas card and Mr. Prang. I will have to look at Mr. Prang flicker pages. Always learn something new from your blog. The recipe you have looks yummy and I love the idea of the sweet potato with the cocoa. Never had that combo before. The Victorian Christmas must be so lovely to see. It would bring you back to a time that was long lost. I personally love that era. My bedroom is all Victorian.Thank you so much for sharing...Hope that you and Marion are well, and have an enjoyable rest of the week.
    Dottie :)

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    1. Hi Dottie,
      I was quite intrigued by the sweet potato cocoa combo as well. I would love to try it one day. I have only been to Victorian Christmas twice since living here. It is really something special especially when you get to visit the Victorian houses that are open to the public. You would LOVE it! Perhaps next year...

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  2. Louise, the beautiful pictures are enough to make my knees weak! Gosh, X'mas is just a week away! Well, I'll be flying off to review more awesome hotels so it's no cooking for me this year. Certainly look fwd to your cooking tho........ xoxo

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    1. Oh, I don't know Shirley my cooking may just be a few cookies and a roast chicken. I wouldn't mind reviewing a few hotels at all!!! Have FUN!!!

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  3. Those Time Life cookbooks were great...I have a huge orange one called Picture Cookbook. Sounds ghastly, I know, but it has some of my favorite recipes in it. Think you can get a copy used for under $2 at amazon.

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    1. I don't think I've ever seen that one Barbara. I'll be on the look-out...

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  4. So, is that why it's named Bellefonte? I've never known. I figured some French folk settled there and named it "Pretty something-or-other".

    Your Time-Life cookbook looks packed full of everything. I do wonder what differentiates a Connecticut Christmas from any other northeastern Christmas, however, having lived there!

    My Cookbook Wednesday will be up in a few hours. I'm so glad you've decided to continue this new tradition!

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    1. Bellefonte actually means beautiful fountain, Marjie, because of the natural spring. It really is a pretty Victorian town with beuatiful architecture. unfortunately The Bush House, one of the first hotels in the country to have electricity, burned down a couple of years ago.

      I have a set of Time-Life Foods of the World books that are brimming with recipes and history. I really should share them one day. Thanks for sharing the fun on Cookbook Wednesday Marjie. I do think it is something I should repeat in the near future:)

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  5. Time-Life books and magazines were so central to American popular culture... it's great that you picked one for Cookbook Wednesday!

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  6. I am not usually a fan of sweet potatoes, but that bread does look yummy! Thank you for hosting and sharing.

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    1. Me either Poppy. I thought it sounded rather intriguing. I'd love to try is...soon! Thank you so much for joining us for Cookbook Wednesday Poppy.

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  7. Fun post! I really like the idea of that sweet potato bread -- who could resist those yummy swirls of chocolate? The Time-Life books were great -- do they still publish those? I haven't seen a new one in years, so I'm guessing not.

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    1. So glad you enjoyed it, John. I do think Time-Life is still publishing cookbooks but I can't think of one right at the moment. I'll have to check. Enjoy you Winter vac a John. "See" you next year. Have a wonderful holiday!!!

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  8. The greeting cards are cute.

    I would never have thought to pair sweet potato with chocolate. The bread looks and sounds fantastic!

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    1. Thanks Pam. I'm seriously considering trying the bread and adapting it to my new diet:)

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  9. Love going to Victorian Christmas themed places! This cookbook has it all! xo Nellie

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  10. I think I could be quite content this holiday season with that swirl bread up there that's screaming for my attention plus your luscious apple cinnamon rolls---Marion is one lucky lady!

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  11. such a lovely post Louise...was interesting reading about the christmas cards...the sweet potato swirl bread is a lovely recipe..hoping to try someday...thanx for sharing ...

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  12. Isn't christmas all about keeping tradition? :) That is what makes this old-fashioned cookbook so perfect for this! Beautiful recipes like that sweet potato swirl bread, I haven't even seen before but they should definitely grace every table!
    Happy Holidays my friend!

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

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    1. Thank you Uru:) Hope your Holidays are Safe and filled with lots of sweetness!!!

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  13. Good evening Louise , Great post and as usual I learned so many need things the sweet potato bread looks so yummy and we do love sweet potato and chocolate and the walnuts is the kicker . I will try making it for New Years' Eve , my guests will love it , most have never heard of it .
    It will all come together in time . I love the pictures and the little girl is just so adorable . (((HUGS))) to you and Marion and tell her it's raining here , but I still want my cinnamon roll (giggling) Nee :)

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    1. Hi Nee:)
      Convincing Marion to save one of those Cinnamon Rolls was no easy feat. However, I did manage to stash some in the freezer just for company and Marion of course!!!

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  14. What lovely post Louise I love these vintage books dear!
    All look amazing!
    And Im impressed with this sweet potato cake look delicious!!
    Send you hugs!
    How is Marion?
    Im ok but today I was water the garden and taking some apricots (Im making jam) and I had a terrible fall lol
    Im ok but I noticed is difficult to me write omy!:)

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    1. Thank you, Gloria. I'm so glad you enjoyed this post:) Caught your hugs, thanks. Right back at ya, from me and Marion!!!

      Now you take care of yourself after that fall:)

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  15. Oh that "swirl" sounds right up my alley! I should be working on my cards now, but I am worn out from work and tomorrow is a VERY long day at work...

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    1. I bet you could switch out that sweet potato for pumpkin, Channon:)

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  16. I really need to try to do a cookie from one of my old Wisconsin Electric cookie books for next week. Where does the time go?!

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    1. Uh oh Inger, I think you may need to wait until the next time we do Cookbook Wednesday!!!

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  17. Hi Louise,

    It is a shame that you have missed the 33rd Annual Victorian Christmas! Nevermind... you must remember to attend the 34th! :D

    I love Christmas and always think that it is a grand finale to end a year and enjoy the magical moments of joy and sharing. And of course, one of the traditional things that I love about Christmas is the baking!!! ... especially the pies and cookies :D

    Thanks for telling me about Joanna! I will hope over to say hi to her now :D

    Zoe

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    1. I didn't mind missing it this year, Zoe. Marion said next year she wants to go too, lol...Christmas is magical isn't it Zoe. It's such a wonderful time of year. I'm sure Johanna will be delighted to "meet" you:)

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  18. very cool loaf of bread! i love old-fashioned things. my boyfriend and i were just talking about how all the very best christmas songs are so old--nothing written and recorded these days can even hold a candle to the classics!

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    1. I love Old-Fashioned things too, Grace. You are so right about the classic Christmas songs. I wish they would play them more this time of year:) You really should give that bread a try, Grace. You would do wonders with it!!!

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  19. Another informative and enjoyable post!! I have a pretty good size collection of vintage Christmas cards, but didn't know anything about the history!

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  20. I remember Time-Life books. They were some of my favorites. Love the swirl bread. Maybe next year you'll make it to Bellefonte.

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    1. Marion and I have every intention of going next year, Geraldine. It really is a festive time in Bellefonte this time of the year. Thank you so much for visiting...

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  21. Dear Louise, I do love the vintage looking cards and that cinnamon swirl bread sounds wonderful. It seems the Christmas holiday came so quickly. There are so many things I would like to do but not enough hours to do them. I know what you mean about the concert being close by and not being able to make it. All my love, prayers and good wishes to you Louise and Marion. xo Catherine

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    1. Thank you Catherine. Everything just seemed to pile up so quickly this year. Not to worry though, we made up for it! Marion and I wish you and yours a Merry Christmas, Catherine:)

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  22. Yes! It does look yummy! I wish to have old-fashioned Christmas instead of rather 'modern' one..

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    1. Wishing your wish comes true Marcela:)

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  23. Hi Louise, I love the posts your put together, this is no exception. Love all the vintage Christmas stuff you have collected and that bread does look good. I am sure it tastes awesome too! Cheers, Suchi

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    1. Thank you so much Suchi. Your words are so kind. I hope you are enjoying your Christmas retreat. "See" you when you return:)

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  24. Louise , how time flies and Christmas is few days away , it seems I haven't done anything yet , as usual lol Don't miss the Annual Victorian Christmas next year and don't forget to get loads of photo ! The sweet potato swirl bread looks really good , I'm gonna check the Boston Lib flickr page later .

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    1. We won't miss it next year Anne. Marion says she is going to take her vitamins and be in tip top shape, lol!!!

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  25. That bread looks amazing. Sweet potatoes are regular at our house so I will look into trying new recipes.
    I want to thank you for always visiting me, your unwavering support to my sometimes boring old blog. I have met some of the nicest people online since starting up my blog and you are certainly a jewel of friend.
    Have a wonderful Christmas...I say this in case I dont' make it online again.
    You never know :-)

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    1. Awe gee, Tina, you are so sweet. I don't think your blog is boring at all. I think sometimes we forget blogging is a way of keeping in touch not necessarily about entertainment all the time. You have a wonderful Christmas Tina and enjoy that loving family of yours every second!!!

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  26. I love going through my cookbooks this time of year. It's always fun to try a new recipe. Even better if actually turns out like the picture. LOL!! The sweet potato swirl bread definitely caught my eye.

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    1. I don't think I've ever had a recipe come out just like the picture in the cookbooks, Brandi. But, I keep on trying!!! That bread cuaght my eye too. One of us should really bake it:)

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  27. Sweet potato swirl bread is calling my name.. all I need is time! Great Holiday Post!

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    1. Is it because of the chocolate, Janet, lol???

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  28. Hi Louise, another great post, love vintage cards, your bread looks fabulous! Happy Holidays to you!

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    1. so glad you enjoyed it Cheri. Enjoy your holidays!!!

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  29. I adore all of those old Christmas cards - they are lovely.

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    1. Aren't they Gaye. I wish I had a few of Prang's.

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  30. Happy Holidays Louise....and one cherished post with that moist,rich sweet potato swirl loaf recipe....thanks :-)

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  31. interesting read abt a little history on christmas cards! Sadly nowadays there seems to be lesser and lesser people send real tangible christmas or greeting cards, most including myself would now be sending cards virtually over social media or phone..which i cant deny that the best thing is that they are free and almost immediate reaching our recipients..but still, nothing beats receiving a real card. so are you going to try that sweet potato loaf?no yeast required! LOL!

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    1. I guess I'm "old fashioned" Lena. I have no idea how to send digital cards. I am thinking of learning though:) I was sooooo bad this year. With the exception of my grandkids, I didn't send any cards out. I meant to but just didn't get to it, lol...

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  32. Hi Louise, this post is wonderful...The Victorian Christmas celebration must be so charming, I would certainly love to see it...I love all that is vintage!! Your swirled bread looks absolutely delicious!! XOXO, Mary

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    1. Hi Mary!
      Yes Victorian Christmas is quite charming. I will go next year and take lots of pictures to share:)

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  33. Hi Louise! I learn so much reading your blog posts. I can relate to feeling a bit scattered with so many things to enjoy, and do.

    Merry Christmas to you and your family. Looking forward to enjoyig your posts in 2015.

    Velva

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    1. Thank you Velva. Things are winding down around here and I for one am quite pleased:) Merry Christmas to You and Yours too Velva!!!

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    1. Welcome Mr. Ronials. I can't seem to find a way to follow you. I just see a site with ecards. Thank you so much for visiting...

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  35. Hi Louis,
    This sets me thinking ... Hmmn.. when was the last time I received a Christmas card that I picked up from the letter box? Probably more than 5 years ago. And when was the last time I posted out Christmas cards ? About 4 years ago. With instant FB and ecard greetings that could reach immediately overseas as well, posting the real Christmas cards seemed 'almost a thing of the past'.
    Oh! sweet potato bread looks yummy ^-^!
    Blessed and happy holidays to you !

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  36. Love all those vintage cards. I would pick those instead of modern ones! That sweet potato bread looks interesting and certainly yummy!

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  37. I send you a big hug dear Louise for all your family, Merry Christmas!
    Im better:))
    xoxoxo

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  38. Wow, that sweet potato swirl bread looks yummy!!!

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Through this wide opened gate,
none came too early,
none returned too late.

Thanks for dropping in...Louise