One of my Christmas gifts was a small 4-½ x 6 inch leather bound book engraved “Cooking Recipes”, purchased at an antique mall in Sugar Creek, Ohio.  The pages are edged in gold and there are 10 index tabs for food categories.  

The real gold in this book, though, is the collection of handwritten recipes.  There aren’t a lot of recipes – just 25, 22 of which are desserts.  The book itself could have been from the 1930s, but I believe the recipes are from the 1945-1950 era.  This is based on a lot of recipes calling for shortening, for using the word “oleo”rather than margarine in most recipes and the attention given to oven temperatures.  I believe it’s post-World War II because of all of the sugar-laden desserts.  

The handwriting is clear and ingredients are listed correctly, although most of the recipes give no idea of how the item is to be prepared, what kind of pan to use or how long to bake.  That’s why I’ve decided to make each of the recipes, using the products specified, and adding my own instructions.  I like to think that the woman from the 1940s kitchen (who would have been about my mother’s age) would enjoy having someone fuss around with these recipes again and turn out some delicious food for the family.

The writer notes that the Salad Dressing recipe is “Mom’s”.  I used about half as much bacon as the original and added a grating of black pepper.

I know the 1940s cook would have spent some time shredding the cabbage and carrots, but I took advantage of a nice bag of slaw mix.

I don’t like soggy bacon, so I waited until serving time to sprinkle it on top of the slaw.

SLAW DRESSING - A 1940s RECIPE

  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup white vinegar
  • Grating of black pepper
  • 3 cups slaw mix (shredded cabbage and carrots)
  • 3 slices bacon, crisped and crumbled

In a small saucepan, whisk together the sugar, egg and vinegar.

Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture begins to bubble.  Lower heat slightly and continue to cook and whisk for one minute.  Grate pepper on top of the mixture and stir in.  Set mixture aside to cool.  This will make about ½ cup of dressing.

Place slaw mix in a large bowl.  Pour on the cooled dressing.  Mix well and cover.  Refrigerate for at least one hour.

When serving, sprinkle the crumbled bacon on top.

Yield:  4 servings 

The “Ideas on Breading Chicken” are pretty much what I use all the time.  I make the bread and cheese cracker crumbs in the food processor.

I didn’t want to “boil chicken till ½ cooked” and instead used breast meat that had been pulled from a stewed chicken.  It’s wonderfully moist and tender.

I always used undiluted evaporated milk for dipping chicken before breading and feel it works as well as an egg and milk mixture.

BREADED CHICKEN BITES

  • 2 cooked chicken breast halves
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 cup cheese cracker crumbs
  • ½ cup evaporated milk, undiluted
  • About 2 Tblsp. olive oil for frying

Cut the chicken breast halves into 12 bite-size pieces.

Mix together the bread crumbs and basil.  Place in a small bowl.  Place the cheese cracker crumbs and milk in two separate small bowls.

Dip half of the chicken pieces in milk and then in the basil/crumb mixture.  Drip the remaining chicken pieces in milk and then in the cheese cracker crumbs.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat.  Add the breaded chicken pieces and brown.

Yield:  4 servings of 6 bite-sized pieces each (I made a half-batch for our supper for two) 

For supper, I boiled potatoes with their jackets, then cut them in wedges, sprinkled on salt and pepper, and browned them in olive oil.  They were a good accompaniment to the breaded chicken bites and slaw.  It was a delicious supper.

Click here for my post on stewing a whole chicken.