My last post was about the Red Plaid Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. That cookbook, as I lay out
in my blog, is a classic, old, stand-by, full of wonderful, nostalgic recipes, illustrations and photos. It was my go-to cookbook when I was first married and remained an important cookbook to this day--especially for standard, basic recipes for cakes, cookies, bread, pies and tips on cooking rice, pasta, and standard comfort foods like chili, mac and cheese, spaghetti, meatloaf, casseroles, etc. However, a few years later (1969) the Betty Crocker Cookbook came out in a new form (formerly Betty Crocker's Picture Cookbook, which I own but was never very helpful for me). I was given one for a gift and it soon earned a permanent spot on my handy, use-all-the-time cookbook shelf.
My sister-in-law was actually the person who started my love affair with this cookbook. She swore it was the best cookbook in the world and, judging by her delicious food, I was sold. Of course, I still loved my Red Plaid, but this book soon became my favorite. Why?
First, the photos in this book are better--and there are a lot more of them--maybe not the same as today's great cookbooks, but a turn for the better. The recipes are not so much nostalgic classics (though those are in there, too) but newer, more innovative ideas that caught on and became the classics of the future; in other words, they had a younger style. Some of the recipes from the Appetizers Chapter became ubiquitous, even though they were new in 1969: Rumaki, Olive-Cheese Balls, Oysters Rockefeller, Guacamole. It was hard to find a party in the '70s where one or more of these appetizers weren't being served.
In the Bread Chapter, Pumpkin Bread (a quick bread) appears and it has become a staple of today. Previously, pumpkin as an ingredient, was reserved mostly for pie. The best recipe in this section, however, is one I use at our Bed and Breakfast all the time and it is always received with rave reviews. Danish Puff is a streamlined version of the famous Danish pastries which are an all-day affair to make.
Under cakes and billed as "a tender, golden cake for small families, "Dinette Cake" is a favorite of mine. I use it for regular cakes, put Coconut Broiled Frosting on it or use it for Pineapple up-side-down Cake. It turns out light and feathery and delicious every time. A yellow and white sponge cake, dubbed "Daffodil Cake" is exactly like it sounds--as light and colorful as Spring itself. Five pages of decorating ideas for cakes are really helpful. And, my family's all-time favorite frosting, Penuche Frosting, is found in this cookbook.
The Cookie chapter is so stained and tattered that no one could think it wasn't well-used. I have Pillsbury and the Better Homes and Gardens books with their cookie recipes, but none surpasses the cookies in this Betty Crocker classic. Among our family's favorites are: Ranger Cookies, Oatmeal cookies, Pecan Fingers (especially the coconut chew variation), Scotch Shortbread, Deluxe Sugar Cookies, Cream Wafers (fussy, but excellent) Spritz, and Rosettes.
Pineapple Upside-Down-Cake uses the aforementioned Dinette Cake batter and is the best version of this dessert I have had. Mocha Brownie Torte is easy to make and really good as well. Other dessert treats that I have served to rave reviews from this cookbook are, Indian Pudding, Lemon Pudding Cake, Hot Fudge Pudding Cake, Cream Puffs, Lemon Schaum Torte and Cherry Berries on a Cloud.
Fondue seems to have made something of a comeback --happily, I think. When our group were all young marrieds that was our favorite way to entertain; easy, delicious, and, of course, you could show off your wedding present fondue set. This cookbook gives step-by-step directions and includes three sauces for "Beef Bourguignonne" fondue that are easy but delicious: Blue Cheese Sauce, Hot 'N Spicy Sauce and Horseradish Sauce.
Christmas Eve tradition requires the Swedish Meatball recipe on page 261. I have tried many other recipes for them, but these are the best.
The "Main Dish" Chapter has a lot of ground beef recipes that are comfort foods at their best. Hamburger Stroganoff leads the list, followed by Texas Hash, Lasagna, and Chili. Boston Baked Beans are delicious and much better than canned beans, even when doctored up.
Lastly, the pie section has the premium standard for such classics as Apple Pie, Blueberry, Cherry, Pecan, Pumpkin, Lemon Meringue, and (not so standard and hard to find) a recipe for Black Bottom Pie--Yum!
If you don't own this cookbook and you can get your hands on a copy--by all means do. You won't be sorry.
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup shortening
1 tsp. vanilla
Heat oven to 350. Grease and flour square pan, 8x8x2" Measure all ingredients into large mixer bowl. Blend 1/2 minute on low speed,, scraping bowl constantly. Beat 3 minutes high speed, scraping bowl occasionally. Pour into pan. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool.
Easy Penuche Frosting
1/2 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar (packed)
1/4 cup milk
2 cups powdered sugar
Melt butter in saucepan. Stir in brown sugar. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir over low heat 2 minutes. Stir in milk; heat to boiling. Remove from heat and cool to lukewarm. Gradually stir in powdered sugar. Place pan of frosting in bowl of ice and water; beat until of spreading consistency. If frosting becomes too stiff, heat slightly, stirring constantly.