Before there was Martha…

In going through a “cook book” dating to the late 1800s, I found a small snippet from an Illinois newspaper containing the following:

TEA TABLE CHOCOLATE.—That is what I call a delicious little beverage we all enjoy. A cut glass covered jar on my tea table is filled with instantaneous chocolate, which comes put up in tin cans for just this purpose. Next to it stands a hand painted jar holding condensed milk. While my teakettle is boiling over the little alcohol lamp, I mix in each chocolate cup of medium size two heaping teaspoonfuls of the chocolate and two of the condensed milk, beating them until they foam. Over this I pour the boiling water and stir thoroughly. In this way my table is always ready for service, there is no accumulation of dishes, no waste, the chocolate is always steaming hot, and is declared to be better than the best.

ISO: Metropolitan Cook Book Raisin Rice Pudding and Custard Bread Pudding

Today, I’m calling on you, my dear readers (of which I have about two these days, but I still get an unusual number of hits from certain posts that are popular on Pinterest), to help a gal out. And that gal is not me.

A reader recently posted a comment to a post in which I mention one of my editions of the Metropolitan Cook Book. She’s looking for a pair of recipes that she remembers her mother making, and now her own granddaughters are asking for the recipes, and might I or someone else reading the blog know how she can get them?

Yes, indeed I do have those, Betty. Unfortunately, the email address associated with your comment doesn’t work, and the actual comment was lost (along with years’ of various post photos, oh dear) during a site migration I was in the middle of when your comment came in.

I’m posting a quick snapshot of those recipes here, in the hopes that one of you may by chance know the Betty who seeks them, or barring that, Google picks it up and helps her out the next time she looks.

Metropolitan Cook Book, 1957 edition
Click for larger view

And boy-o, this rice pudding recipe looks like a divine way to use my Pyrex 6283 “Rangetop Ware” double boiler!

1970 Pyrex catalog page via

How about any of you? Any vintage recipe in particular that you’re trying to hunt down? Maybe I can help!

In Which We Eat Paste

Backstory: Every weekday morning, I pack The Boyfriend’s lunch. Also, as referenced in an earlier post, it’s one of my household tasks to plan the weekly dinner menu. To make this a little easier on myself, a few days of the week are always assigned a theme. Relevant to this story: Meatless Mondays (self explanatory) and WABAC* Wednesdays (wherein I choose a main dish recipe from one of my approximately eight gazillion vintage cookbooks).

Photo by Michael Bonnickson for "Tofu Cookery," © 1982
Photo by Michael Bonnickson for “Tofu Cookery,” © 1982

More Backstory: Sometimes life gets in the way of a week’s planned menu. In this case, a previous week’s WABAC Wednesday recipe, “Layered Casserole” from Tofu Cookery, ©1982. I’d chosen it specifically to use up a large amount of well-intentioned-but-still-unused tofu** that wasn’t getting any fresher sitting in the fridge. Grocery shopping had been completed before schedules changed, so now I also had the recipe-required spinach and mushrooms that needed using in a hurry. How convenient, then, that this particular recipe is also suited to Meatless Monday! I measured, I puréed, I poured, I baked. It smelled good. It looked good. Everything was going swimmingly.

Still More Backstory: When we eat at the dining table, The Boyfriend always waits until the I’m served and seated before taking his first bite. More often than not, however, we eat from trays while watching something on the TV. In those cases, he starts eating while I’m fiddling with the DVD player or streaming device. Such was the case last night, so he was a few silent bites into his portion of Layered Casserole before I had my first taste. My first taste, which resulted in my visceral exclamation of “It’s like paste!” One look over at him and his face indicated that he was in full agreement. I removed our laden plates to the kitchen and ordered Chinese delivery. While watching our evening’s movie and eating our replacement dinner, The Boyfriend leaned over and whispered in my ear, “I’d have eaten the whole thing and not said a word.” That’s love.

Further Backstory: Every weekday morning, our iPhone alarms go off at the same time. We turn them off simultaneously and wordlessly stay in bed a few minutes longer. I’ll shift my leg closer to him, and he’ll move his hand over to mine. A cat or two will wander over and sit on top of us. All silently.

The Actual Story: This morning, our alarms rang. We turned them off. We shifted. A cat came over and sat on top of me. After a moment, The Boyfriend whispered, “Please don’t pack me paste for lunch.”


* The WABAC Machine refers to a fictional machine from the cartoon segment Peabody’s Improbable History, a recurring feature of the 1960s cartoon series The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. The WABAC Machine is a plot device used to transport the characters Mr. Peabody and Sherman back in time to visit important events in human history. The precise meaning of the acronym WABAC is unknown, but the term is obviously a play on “way back”, as in “way back in time,” and the names of mid-century, large-sized computers that often ended in “AC” (generally for “Automatic Computer” or similar), such as ENIAC or UNIVAC. Indeed, according to Gerard Baldwin, one of the show’s directors, the name “WABAC” is a reference to the UNIVAC I.

** I like tofu.