RRC#11: Momma Knows!

When we first moved to Illinois, one of my favorite Saturday pastimes was auctions. We found all sorts of treasures. Several times there was one particular thing we were waiting for and because they couldn’t get bids on lots, they would just keep adding and adding to it until suddenly the one thing we wanted was added to the pile — sold! $1. But now we have all this other stuff. At one auction I picked up a box of cookbooks as well as two boxes of rickrack and seam tape and some things that went straight to the garbage can without entering the house. Among the cookbooks was this little gem of culinary history:

Inside you can find recipes from the various regions of the US including pickle cured bacon (start with 100 lbs sides of bacon from fresh-killed hogs), curing hams (100 lbs of ham, use only corn-fed hogs), pig knuckles with sauerkraut, or stewed eels. The book was originally published in 1939 and this is the third printing in 1947, the year my mother was born. It’s not a book I turn to regularly, as you can imagine, but it is full of interesting things, like these salads — are these rabbits or rodents? Ewww.

But the book also makes me a little sad. Inside it was stuffed with newspaper clippings of recipes, a few handwritten recipes (in this box of cookbooks there must have been a dozen copies of the same ‘ham and veal loaf’ recipe and it made me wonder — was this a family favorite that was always requested? or the dreaded recipe that Aunt Helen brought to every gathering?). It made me sad that no one in her family wanted these treasures. I’m not exactly sure why, but I keep all the original stuff with the book — I’m an archivist at heart, I guess — including these photos and a personal note written on the back of a train car switching order that reads:

Dearest Helen,

Could you please do me this last favor. Helen I don’t mean to take advantage of you by depending on you cause I know how you stand to.

But as as I told you dear when you least expect it, you have every dime you let me have. Cause I don’t know how to express my thanks to you especially cause you been wonderful to me. But I won’t forget. I hate to ask, but could you spare $5.00 more & this will be it till I pay you back.


Don’t you want to know the rest of the story? My guess is he didn’t pay her back.

Anyway, when The Happy Sorceress announced the next Retro Recipe Challenge (thank you Laura Rebecca for this fun event) with the theme of recipes published before your mom was born, I knew to which cookbook I would refer. In this case, I took a recipe for a filling and used it for the top of a tart.

I made the orange version and made my tart a ‘Dreamcicle Tart’ by putting a sweetened cream cheese layer on the shortbread crust followed by the orange ‘filling’ and then garnishing with whipped cream and mandarin orange slices.

Thanks to our hostess for an opportunity to make use of this cookbook!

Retro Candy

When Dolores posted the Retro Recipe Challenge for October, I knew immediately what I was going to make.

I’m not exactly sure who initiated the fantasy of the stay at home mom just sitting around eating bonbons and watching soaps all day, but he didn’t quite get it right. At least, it’s not how my day goes and I have yet to meet another mom who would describe her day that way. Maybe I just move in the wrong circles.

My entry comes from the 1963 Betty Crocker’s Cooky Book, which has a section in the back of favorite cookies by time period. In the 1955 – 1960 section is the recipe for Bonbon cookies. It says:

Candy-like cookies in vogue — Women were fascinated by these beautiful and delicious cookies which were baked as cookies, served and eaten as candies. Excitement over Bonbons brought more candy-cookies, Toffee Squares and Cream Filberts, for example.

Bonbon Cookies

1/2 c. butter
3/4 c. sifted confectioner’s sugar
1 Tbsp. vanilla (3 tsp)
food coloring, if desired
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp. salt

fillings: candied or maraschino cherries, pitted dates, nuts, or chocolate pieces
Bonbon Icing (below)
toppings: chopped nuts, coconut, colored sugar

Mix butter, sugar, vanilla, and food coloring. Measure flour by dipping method or by sifting. Blend flour and salt in thoroughly with hand. If dough is dry, add 1 to 2 tbsp. cream.

Heat oven to 350 F. For each cooky, wrap 1 level tablespoonful dough around a filling suggested above. Bake 1″ apart on ungreased baking sheet 12 to 15 min or until set but not brown. Cool; dip tops of cookies in Icing. Decorate each cooky with one of the toppings suggested above. Makes about 24 cookies.

Bonbon Icing:
Mix 1 c. sifted confectioner’s sugar, 2 1/2 tbsp. cream, 1 tsp. vanilla, and red, green, or yellow food coloring, if desired.

Chocolate Bonbon Icing:
Make Bonbon Icing except add 1 sq. unsweetened chocolate (1 oz.), melted, and use 3 tbsp. cream.

Chocolate Bonbons:
Make Bonbon Cookies except blend in 1 sq. unsweetened chocolate (1 oz.), melted.

Penuche Bonbons:
Make Bonbon Cookies except use 1/2 c. brown sugar (packed) in place of confectioner’s sugar.

I updated mine slightly by using three different fillings: Ghirardelli chocolate, dried cherries rather than candied, and pistachios.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to let Alice take care of the house while I take my plate of bonbons into the living room and sit on the sofa with my feet propped up and watch some soaps, or read my Ladies Home Journal. 😉

Retro Wobbles But It Won’t Fall Down

For this, the eighth Retro Recipe Challenge, brainchild of Laura Rebecca, our host, Rachel has chosen a theme of gelatin-containing foods from recipes published before 1985. Aside from a brief infatuation with Jell-o desserts as a kid, I’ve not been much of a fan of gelatin.  Those cold gelatin ‘salads’ with meat in them . . . Blech!  And even the fruity, marshmallow studded Jell-o salads, those just didn’t fit the category of ‘salad’ in my mind.


My entry doesn’t really count as a cookbook challenge. I didn’t get it from a cookbook or at least I don’t remember reading a cookbook when I made these when I was 10 yrs old, which, considering I graduated from high school in 1985, puts it in the time line of the event.

I do not know what the fascination was, I must have seen this in an advertisement, on the back of a package of Jell-o or Dream Whip, in my Mom’s Family Circle/Better Homes & Gardens magazines, or something, but making Jell-o tilt in a cup was just COOL. I remember making these in all kinds of flavors. Lime Jell-o with pineapple; cherry or raspberry Jell-o with peaches, mandarin oranges, or fruit cocktail — the kind that only had one or two of the highly coveted maraschino cherries in the can; orange Jell-o with pineapple or oranges.


My mom had some Tupperware parfait cups in orange, yellow, green, and aqua. Mine are more ‘modern’ but I had to pull them out for this dessert. It’s still a kid pleaser. I even managed to find Dream Whip, which I used as a kid and thought it was no longer made now that we have Cool Whip in the freezer section. And it’s even better when you mix it with some Jell-o so it’s colored! And, by the girls’ standard, it achieved the highest coolness factor for being *pink* when the raspberry Jell-o was stirred in.


Pink. Tilted. Jell-o. What could be better?

Thanks, Rachel, for the little stroll down Memory Lane.