Sunday, October 26, 2014

Apple Squares

Necessity may be the mother of invention, but a bag of mushy apples is the mother of apple squares.  Or something like that.

I usually eat an apple every day but by the end of summer, my fa-vo-rite apple, Pink Lady, had been out of season for a while.  When I saw a new (to me) variety, Ginger Gold, I decided to give it a try.  While they don't compare with Pink Lady, I liked them well enough.  When I was back in the same store a few weeks later, the same apples were marked down to fifty cents a pound, so I bought another bag of them.  Alas, like most summer apples, it turns out that Ginger Gold apples don't keep very well.  They had lost some of the sharpness and begun to go mealy.  Time to bake something.

I turned to the stack of books sitting beside the computer (because the book shelves are overflowing...) and found a candidate in Favorite Recipes from our Best Cooks (1968) from the St. Agatha Church, Bridgeville, PA. 

That big grease stain on the front has to be a good sign, right?

The title makes me wonder if there are other books available.  Maybe Second Tier Recipes from our Best Cooks or Favorite Recipes from our Worst Cooks (Try at your own risk!)

Since we were running low on eggs, I opted to use 2 eggs and I replaced the 1 cup of cooking oil with 1/2 cup of melted butter.  While I was making edits, I also decided to use some brown sugar instead of all white sugar.

The batter was really stiff and when I combined it with the apples and nuts, I was beginning to fear that there wouldn't be enough, but it puffed up significantly while baking. 

Gratuitious Chambers stove photobomb

chambers 90c stove range
It snowed! 

These turned out even better than I expected.  The cake was moist, with a pronounced cinnamon flavor that really complemented the apples. 

Apple Squares (Printable Recipe)
adapted from Favorite Recipes from our Best Cooks (1968) by the St. Agatha Church, Bridgeville, PA

2 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 stick butter, melted and cooled
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 small apples, peeled and cubed
1 cup chopped nuts

Lightly grease a 9x13" pan.  Preheat oven to 350F.

Blend first 4 ingredients. Sift next 4 ingredients.  Stir into egg mixture.  Fold in apples and nuts.  Bake at 350F for one hour.  Cool, cut into squares and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

A few weeks ago, my sister-in-law picked up some cookies from a local cookie shop and shared a few with us.  I opted to try the oatmeal chocolate chip and I thought it was a nice combination of oatmeal, chocolate and cinnamon.  I really liked the cinnamon with the chocolate.  As  I usually find with bakery products, the cookie was undercooked to my tastes, so I thought I would see if I could replicate it at home. 

For inspiration, I turned to the 1980 Toll House Heritage Cookbook.

I didn't find an oatmeal chocolate chip recipe, but I did find one for Oatmeal Scotchies.  I didn't have any butterscotch chips at home, so I would have had to substitute chocolate chips anyway.  Plus, I would almost always choose chocolate over butterscotch.  Because it is chocolate.

To change the recipe to what I was looking for, I added a teaspoon of cinnamon to the flour, replaced the orange extract with vanilla and substituted chocolate chips for the butterscotch morsels.  And my mom says I can't follow directions!

chambers 90c stove range
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Man, these were good!  I couldn't taste the cinnamon as much as in the bakery version, but the chocolate chips and oatmeal are a good match.  Move over raisins, chocolate chips are taking over the oatmeal cookie!

In other news, the weather has been absolutely gorgeous for the last week and the butterflies have been showing up in droves.  We've even had a few migrating Monarchs stop for a visit.  Normally their migration route is a bit west of us, so it was fun to see so many at once.  I managed to catch a photo of one feeding from my bedraggled Mexican sunflower.  This poor flower came up right in the middle of my garden path, so I have been walking around it all summer.  It's about 7 feet tall now and has been blown over twice in storms, but it just keeps on blooming.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies (Printable recipe)
adapted from the 1980 edition of the Toll House Heritage Cookbook

2 cups unsifted flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup softened butter
1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon water
1 1/2 cups uncooked oats
12 ounces chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375F.  In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon; set aside.  In a large bowl, combine butter, brown sugar, eggs and water; beat until creamy.  Gradually add flour mixture.  Stir in oats, chocolate chips and vanilla extract.  Drop by slightly rounded measuring tablespoons onto greased cookie sheets (I used parchment paper).  Bake 10 to 12 minutes.

Monday, October 13, 2014

A couple of vintage scores!

Last week I was determined to get the flowerbeds whipped into shape, so I dove head-first into the project.  I bought a flat of pansies plus some perennials and shrubs to add to the landscape, then started ripping out dead plants and weeds.  This, of course, brought on 5" of rain over the last few days, so I haven't been able to plant any of the things I bought.  Since I couldn't plant, I shopped.

Fortunately, my sister suggested we go to our mom's church rummage sale (only to find that our mom had decided not to go!) and a few other places on Saturday, so that took my mind off of my planting woes.

I was the one that introduced my sister to estate sale and junk store shopping, but it turns out that she is much better at it than I am.  She found many treasures on our excursion, but I was beginning to think I was going home empty handed when I finally found a Pyrex Snowflake casserole:


It's in really nice shape, but missing its lid.  As it happens, I had found a lid for a quarter in a thrift shop months ago, but hadn't seen an appropriately sized casserole for sale since.  So yay, a complete casserole dish!  This brings my total Snowflake count up to 3 (well, 3 dishes, 2 lids).  Does that count as a collection?

I really like the space saver Pyrex dishes. More!  I want more!

On my way home from my sister's house, I noticed a sign for an estate sale that I hadn't seen advertised.  The sale was wrapping up, so there wasn't much left, but I found 3 rectangular Pyrex storage containers with plastic lids for $7, plus this little gem for $1:

Because, really, who doesn't need one of these?

I gave it to Farm Boy because he sure does love his weiner.  Dog.  He loves his weiner dog.

Arlo the weiner dog
I'm going to try to find an air plant to put in the little planter.  Between the cats and my regime of forgetfulness and neglect, most houseplants don't stand a chance around here.

On the cooking front, I didn't do much in the way of vintage cookery this past week.  We had guests over for dinner on Sunday (for Farm Boy's famous ribs - mmmm!) and I made my first coconut cream pie.  I sent the last piece home with one of the guests and then sorely regretted that decision after Monday's lunch. <sigh>

chambers 90c stove range

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Cinnamon Praline Flan

As a certified estate sale junkie, I've run into flan pans at sales for years, mostly in 1970s shades of orange, avocado and harvest gold.  Despite my apparent desire to own every baking utensil in the world, I could never figure out how you used them to make a custard-like flan, so I just ignored them. Until the day that I read you are supposed to bake a sponge cake in them, then fill the depression with all sorts of deliciousness.  It's effectively a bowl made of cake.  I had to have it.

So began my search for a flan pan.  Alas, much like my search for a backup cookie spatula, flan pans disappeared from estate sales as soon as I started looking for one.

Desperate desires call for desperate measures.  Hello, eBay.

I didn't have a recipe to go with my pan, so I borrowed one from a picture of an avocado colored pan I found online.  Unfortunately, those pans must be bigger than mine because my flan runneth over.  That just meant that Farm Boy and I had a little cake to snack on before time for Tea and Crumpets with my mom.

chambers 90c stove range

For the topping, I used the caramel frosting recipe from my jam cake attempt, adding a little cinnamon to the frosting and some toasted pecans on top of the cake.

Results:  Only one lonely piece came home with us after Tea and Crumpets, so I call that a success!  While I need to either scale down the cake or find a different recipe, that topping is a keeper.  For the next round, I will fill it with custard and top it with fruit.  If it has fruit, it's a health food, right?

Cinnamon Praline Flan (Printable Recipe)

from the back of a NordicWare flan pan

3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
3 egg yolks
1 1/4 cup sifted cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 

Beat butter, sugar and yolks until fluffy. Sift dry ingredients; add alternately with flavoring and milk; blend well. Pour into greased and floured flan pan. Bake at 350F about 25 minutes. Remove to rack and cool completely.

Cinnamon Praline Topping
 adapted from the 1968 edition of Everybody's Favorite from the Minnesota Catholic Daughters of America


3 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

toasted pecans


Mix butter, cream, brown sugar, salt and cinnamon in a sauce pan.  Boil constantly until it reaches soft ball state.  Remove from heat, add vanilla.  Cool slightly, then beat until of spreading consistency.

Arrange toasted pecans on top of baked flan.  Pour caramel over pecans and allow to cool before serving.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Warm Bacon Salad Dressing

While trying to figure out what was considered a French dressing in the 1940s for another recipe (it's a vinaigrette with a little paprika added for color, in case anyone is wondering), I came across a blurb about making a warm bacon dressing for salad in Cooking on a Ration (1943). I have had wilted spinach salads before, but it never occurred to me that the bacon dressing might be good on something besides spinach.  Which for the purpose of this post really doesn't matter because spinach was what I had on hand.  But still, it made an impression.  Clearly I am easily impressed!

Cooking on a Ration

It's even autographed!
The introduction to this book really intrigues me because the author bemoans the fact that everyone will have to learn to cook now that they won't be able to find or afford convenience foods.  I had no idea that processed foods were so prevalent prior to 1943.

The spinach salads I've made before involved hard-boiled eggs, but I was low on eggs and decided to just go with simply spinach and some red onions cooked lightly in the bacon fat.   I really did follow the directions to just "add a dash of sharp vinegar, a little brown sugar, a shake of salt and pepper" instead of measuring, then I poured the dressing over the spinach in a mixing bowl and tossed it until it was slightly wilted, and topped it with the bacon.

This was delicious!  And a nice, simple side to make while the rest of supper was baking.  I will definitely make this dressing again and I might even branch out to using it on warm potatoes or Romaine lettuce.  If, that is, I can conquer my fear of non-crispy lettuce.  Flaccid lettuce just seems so wrong, but maybe bacon can save it.

Warm Bacon Salad Dressing (Printable Recipe)
from Cooking on a Ration, 1943

2 slices bacon
1/4 of a red onion, sliced (optional)
dash of sharp vinegar (I used about 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar)
a little brown sugar (about 1 tablespoon)
salt and pepper to taste

Fry the bacon until crispy.  Remove and chop coarsely.  If using the onion, fry it in the bacon fat in the pan until soft.  Remove the pan from the heat and add the remaining ingredients, stirring well.  Toss with the salad ingredients of your choice and top with the chopped bacon.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Pork Chops en Casserole

Today's contender for the title of Cookbook with the Least Catchy Name is The Victory Binding of the American Woman's Cook Book, War Time Edition (1943). 

This is a huge, encyclopedic cookbook with a wartime rationing supplement at the back of the book. Yes, I admit it.  I am a sucker for anything with information on rationing.

I had three pork chops, so I halved the recipe and decided to mix things up (per the suggestion at the end of the recipe) and use one sweet potato and two apples.

chambers 90c stove range

It's not terribly photogenic, but the pork chops turned out very tender and moist.  The apples and sweet potatoes were a nice combination, but I'm not sure about the milk.  By the time it was finished baking, the milk had separated into whey and "chunky stuff".  I would use this method again, but instead of milk I think cream with a splash of applejack or perhaps just some chicken stock would be good.

Pork Chops en Casserole (Printable Recipe)
from The Victory Binding of the American Woman's Cook Book, War Time Edition (1943)

6 pork chops
6 sweet potatoes
salt and pepper
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 to 2 cups milk*

Place a layer of sweet potatoes, sliced crosswise, in a greased casserole, dust with salt, pepper and a little brown sugar;  continue the layers until the casserole is about two-thirds full.  Heat the milk and pour it over the potatoes; it should just cover them.  Place the pork chops on top of the potatoes, cover and bake (at 350F) for an hour, then remove the cover and season with salt and pepper.  Leave the cover off and cook until the chops are tender and nicely browned on top.

Four tart apples, pared, cored and cut into eighths, used in place of the sweet potatoes, make an excellent casserole dish with pork chops.

*I recommend cream or broth instead, to prevent the milk from separating.

Friday, October 3, 2014


I pulled The Campus Survival Cookbook off the shelf this week because I wanted to make a meatloaf, but I was a little short on time and energy. This recipe looked simple enough.

I'm not sure how many things I've made from this cookbook, but for some reason I'm really fond of it. It has really good basic instructions and recipes for beginners, 1970s style. 

The Campus Survival Cookbook, 1973

It contains some funny written tidbits and has some cute illustrations scattered throughout the pages, too.

Boy! Can you cook!

I once saw the follow-up, The Campus Survival Cookbook 2, at a library book sale for a quarter and passed it up.  I still regret that moment of cheapskatery. 

chambers 90c stove range

I halved the milk because it seemed like a lot, but otherwise I followed the recipe as written.  It turned out fine (good texture, flavor), but it was a little bland, in my opinion.  I think the addition of some bacon, minced onions or bell pepper would help it quite a bit. 

Meat Loaf (Printable Recipe)

from The Campus Survival Cookbook

1 1/2 pounds ground beef
3 tablespoons chili sauce or barbecue sauce
3 slices bread, torn up small
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon ketchup

Preheat oven to 350F.

Measure everything except first 2 ingredients into pan or bowl. Beat with a fork to mix well.

Add ground beef. Squish everything together with hands until well mixed.  Pat down until smooth.  Cover with chili sauce or barbecue sauce.

Bake at 350F for one hour.  Remove from oven.  Pour off excess fat before serving.