One of my Christmas gifts this year 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.

For my version of these two recipes, I used ¼ of the ingredients to make smaller amounts.  The popcorn balls are easy and a good buttery snack.  My only change was to substitute butter for oleo (margarine) and a dash of salt.

The Pastel Milk Punch is somewhat like a smoothie and I used the modern convenience of a blender rather than stirring as the 1940s cook did.  I also used frozen strawberries and omitted the sugar.  The only mint ice cream I could find had very fine chocolate chips in it which didn’t do any harm except for clogging the straws occasionally.

Both items, like the other recipes in the book, are rather mild.  My daughter wasn’t feeling well and drank two large glasses of the punch, saying that it settled her stomach.

MARSHMALLOW POP CORN BALLS

*4 cups of popped corn (about 2 Tblsp. unpopped corn)
*2 Tblsp. butter
*10 regular size marshmallows
*Dash of salt

In a large pan, melt the butter over low heat.  Add the marshmallows and salt.  Cook, stirring constantly, until marshmallows have melted.

Add popcorn to marshmallow mixture and stir to combine.  As soon as the popcorn has cooled down enough to handle (don’t let it cool completely), butter the palms of your hands and form balls of the mixture.  I chose to make 10 snack-size two-inch balls.  Any spare kernels that can’t be formed into balls can be a snack for the cook.

PASTEL MILK PUNCH

*¾ cup frozen strawberries, slightly thawed
*Dash of salt
*2 cups cold milk
*1 cup (½ pint) strawberry ice cream, softened
*1 cup (½ pint) mint ice cream, softened

Place slightly thawed berries in a blender.  Add salt, milk and ice cream.  Blend until smooth.

Serve immediately.

Yield:  3-4 servings, depending on size

This little planter (marked Japan on the bottom) was always in my Grandma Helen’s living room in the 1940s and until I inherited it in 1978.