Cook's Corner: Vintage taste

Published 8:24 am Wednesday, February 28, 2007

By By Lisa Tindell – news writer
As I prepared to write this week's column, I took into consideration the issue that you hold in your hands as you read this.
The Progress 2007 issue has been months in the making and have caused a lot of memories to surface. The theme for this year's edition, &#8220Then and Now”, caused us to take a look at the way things were years ago and how they have progressed over the years to be what they are today.
Cooking a meal and getting the family fed has certainly changed over the years. With the invention of the microwave and the insurgence of fast food establishments, preparing a completely home-cooked meal has become a special treat in many homes.
In looking back at recipes from the past, I have found that some methods as well as ingredients have changed. With the threat of salmonella in raw eggs, their use has been all but eliminated in many recipes.
I can remember recipes that called for raw eggs that were enjoyed by many people in years past. My mother used to make the best homemade ice cream and she used eggs in the mixture. No, we didn't cook the mixture before freezing it. We wanted ice cream, not frozen custard so the eggs were left raw in the recipe.
I also have made a carrot cake that called for a raw egg in the frosting. It's a really good cake, but it is a little scary to thing that someone might get sick from the frosting. That recipe is still in my recipe box, but I rarely use it. I only prepare it when I know that it can be kept refrigerated and will be eaten in one sitting.
It was once said that a can of Campbell's soup was the potluck dinner's best friend. That is certainly true. It's hard to imagine a dinner-on-the-ground without something swimming in cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup. A lot of cooks continue to use these two varieties of soup as the binder in many recipes.
With the changing of the times and more convenient foods taking the place of ones prepared in the home kitchen, dishes have changed to accommodate large groups or at least to stay fresher longer.
At any rate, I searched through some old recipe books and vintage magazines and found a few recipes that I think you might enjoy. The recipes I've included in today's column are ones that you may remember from your childhood. If you are young enough to have never seen these recipes before, you will probably enjoy making some of the dishes your mothers, grandmothers and aunts prepared in years past.
For those of you have grown accustomed to cake mixes, Hamburger Helper and other meal preparation assistance, you will see that most recipes from years gone by, don't use any of those modern conveniences. If you plan on preparing any of the recipes I've included here, make sure you have a little time to spend. Years ago, women thought nothing of spending nearly an hour getting a cake ready for the oven. Cooking a full meal, from beginning to end, would sometimes take a couple of hours in the kitchen.
This first recipe is for a cake that was commonly prepared in the 1940s and was looked upon as a special treat in many homes.
Caramel Cake
1 and three-fourths cups white sugar
One-third cup hot water
3 cups sifted cake flour
3 tsps. baking powder
One-half tsp. salt
Three-fourths cup butter
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Two-thirds cup milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two nine-inch cake pans. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together 3 times. Set aside. Make caramel syrup. In a heavy skillet, heat one-half cup of the sugar, stirring constantly as sugar melts. Continue to cook and stir until melted sugar becomes dark brown. Remove from heat. Add hot water very slowly and stir until dissolved. Set aside to cool. In a large bowl, cream shortening with remaining one and a quarter cups sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly after each. Add vanilla and three tablespoons of the caramel syrup. Add flour mixture and milk alternately and beat until smooth. Pour batter into pans. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean.
Pot roast was a staple on many Sunday dinner tables in year's past. With the invention of the crock-pot and baking bags, a pot roast meal is not quite as time consuming as it once was.
If you'd like to prepare your pot roast the way grandma used to make it, this next recipe may give you a glimpse at how it was done.
Pot Roast
1 (3 pound) round-bone chuck roast
1 tablespoon cooking oil
2 large onions, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (16 ounce) can tomatoes with liquid, cut up
1 cup water, divided
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
1 teaspoon browning sauce
One-half teaspoon salt
One-eighth teaspoon pepper
One-fourth cup all-purpose flour
In a Dutch oven, brown roast in oil. Remove and set aside. In the drippings, saute onions and garlic until onions are tender. Return roast to Dutch oven. Stir in tomatoes, one-half cup water, horseradish, browning sauce, salt if desired and pepper. Cover and simmer for 2-3 hours or until meat is tender. Remove roast to a serving platter and keep warm. Drain all but 2 cups of pan juices. Combine flour and remaining water; stir into pan juices. Cook for 5 minutes or until thickened and bubbly. Slice roast and serve with gravy.
Nobody can everybody can make mashed potatoes like my granny. They were always fluffy and just right every time. One time in the kitchen she let me help her. One of my aunts gave me the secret to granny's potatoes a long time ago. It's a secret I've kept until now and I'm choosing to share it with you. It's one of those egg recipes I told you about earlier.
Granny's Mashed Potatoes
2 and one-half pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
One-fourth teaspoon lemon juice (optional)
1 egg white
One-fourth cup butter
One-half cup cream or half-and-half
salt and black pepper to taste
Place potatoes and lemon juice in a large saucepan, and add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain water from potatoes, and use a potato masher to mash. Stir in egg white and butter, and gradually mix in the half-and-half using the masher. Use more or less cream to reach your desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
As I mentioned before, some of these recipes you may have never heard of depending on your age. If you have heard of these and have cooked them a time or two, I would feel safe in betting you are over the age of 50.
I hope that you've enjoyed this column today. I certainly enjoyed looking back over the years to find some interesting recipes. You all know by now that I am a recipe book junkie and would do just about anything to add some vintage books to my collection. I have more than enough cookbooks, according to my husband. However, by my calculations, there is room for at least a dozen more on the shelves in my pantry.
If you have a vintage recipe that brings back special memories for you, I'd love to hear about them. As a matter of fact, for the next couple of weeks that's exactly what I'll be sharing with you. I found so many interesting recipes, the few that fit in this week's space just got me started good.
If you would like to share your recipe and your memory, drop me a line or give me a call. I'd love to include stories and recipes from other cooks in this column. You can come by the office on St. Nicholas Avenue just across from First Progressive Bank, call me at 867-4876, or email me at I'd love to hear from you!
Until next week, Happy memories and Happy Cooking!