Withrow’s Date Pudding

From 1946 to 1950, I attended Withrow High School, at that time a prestigious school with a beautiful campus in Cincinnati’s Hyde Park.  I traveled by streetcar from our home in the not-so-prestigious area called the East End to this beautiful place which also had an enormous cafeteria with an extensive lunch menu.  I tried dishes here that were brand-new to me.  One of my favorites was a dessert called Date Pudding.  I loved the gooey pudding with crunchy walnuts and a dab of whipped cream (well before the era of Cool Whip).

After I left Withrow, I tried date pudding at restaurants without finding one that was similar to the cafeteria version.  When I started cooking, I tried out a lot of recipes and found some good ones, but not quite the right one.  Then, I found this one in 1989 (not sure where it turned up) and it was what I was looking for.  In my recipe binder I have a note, “2/25/89 – excellent.  Like Withrow H.S.’s in late 1940s.”

WITHROW'S DATE PUDDING

  • 1-1/2 cups light brown sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups hot water
  • 2 Tblsp. butter

Place the sugar, water and butter in a medium saucepan and heat to boiling.  Remove from heat and let cool while preparing the rest of the dessert.

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tblsp. baking powder
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped dates
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

In a 9×9 baking dish mix together the flour, brown sugar, salt and baking powder.  Stir in the chopped dates and nuts….

….then the milk and vanilla.

Mix together just until all of the dry ingredients are absorbed.  Spread out evenly in the baking dish.

Pour the warm syrup over the top and set baking dish on a large pan to catch spills.

Bake @ 350 degrees F for 35 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack.

Serve warm with a little of the sauce from the bottom of the baking dish and a bit of whipped cream or topping.

This is also good at room temperature.  It is very rich – small servings are advised.

Makes 12 servings.

I eat a few bites and I’m transported back to Withrow’s noisy, crowded cafeteria and a special lunchtime treat.

Eggs a la Goldenrod

goldplt2In the spring of 1943, I was in the sixth grade when we moved from downtown Cincinnati to the neighborhood known as the East End.  I went to school at old Highland Elementary on the banks of the Ohio River where every spring there was a threat of the river flooding the playground, although it never reached the school in the years I was there.

highlandAs we walked along the hall leading from my sixth-grade classroom, I would try to steal a glimpse of the wonderful home economics room.  It was a huge area with sewing machines lining one wall – one electric machine and the rest foot-treadle operated models.  One section of the room was outfitted with individual cooking stations with small burners, a counter and a supply of cooking equipment.  There were two ranges with ovens for baked treats.  I couldn’t wait to get into the seventh grade and begin my adventures in cooking – I wasn’t that anxious to sew.

In the fall of 1943, the girls of our class trooped into the room, taught by a very nice middle-aged lady.  We had to start out with sewing lessons so that we could make an apron, a potholder and a dishtowel to use when we began to cook.  Finally, sewing classes were completed and we were ready to learn all about cooking.  The cookbook that I remember seeing in the classroom was a 1942 Wartime Edition of the American Woman’s Cook Book, edited by Ruth Berolzheimer.  About 40 years later, I found a copy of the book at an antique market.

victorycbThe book was unusual for that era to have so many color plates.  I especially liked one that was used on the inside covers of the book.

frontisIn those wartime years of extreme patriotism, there was a large picture of General Douglas MacArthur at the beginning of the book….

mcarthur…and on page 371 was the recipe that began my cooking experience – Eggs a la Goldenrod. It was a simple recipe, appropriate to the age group, very bland and not especially tasty.  We went on to make other food items that year and I was so anxious to get into the big girls’ eighth grade class to see what fabulous dishes we would make.

In the fall of 1944, once again we had our sewing classes first and made an apron, a potholder and a dish towel.  Finally, it was time for a roomful of more experienced cooks to begin a new season.  The teacher got out the trusty blue cookbook, turned to page 371, and once again our first experience of the year was Eggs a la Goldenrod. The dish hadn’t improved as far as a bunch of 12/13-year-old girls was concerned, but again we went on to do more ambitious projects – we even baked bread.

In the fall of 1945, I left my neighborhood, got on a streetcar and went to what was then a very large and prestigious high school, Withrow in Hyde Park.

easthi-1923The grounds were beautiful, there was an arching bridge and a clock tower at the entrance, and a large room was devoted completely to sewing with only electric sewing machines – no waiting in line as we had done at Highland.  I wasn’t that ambitious about sewing but did assume that two years of experience would enable us to make an interesting project right off the bat.  We made an apron, a potholder and a dishtowel.

Then, at last came the day we could go into the spacious, modern 1940s era cooking room.  The stations were wonderful and a big change for all of the girls (there were never boys in my home ec classes) was that we all had to wear hairnets while we cooked.  We looked expectantly at our teacher – she didn’t pull out the blue cookbook, but you guessed it, our first dish was Eggs a la Goldenrod.

Fast forward 66 years from 1943 to 2009.  I was leafing through some of my vintage cookbooks and happened to pick up a blue-bound book and almost by magic found myself on page 371.  There it was – Eggs a la Goldenrod.  I couldn’t resist – I had to make it for breakfast for my daughter who had heard the story many times.

EGGS A LA GOLDENROD FOR TWO

  • 1 cup thin white sauce (see recipe below)
  • 2 hard boiled eggs
  • 2 slices of thick, hearty bread (I used homemade)
  • Salt/Pepper to taste

Thin White Sauce

  • 1 Tblsp. flour
  • 1 cup milk, divided
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper
  • 1 Tblsp. butter

In small saucepan, place flour, 1/4 cup cold milk, salt and pepper.  Whisk until smooth.  Heat remaining 3/4 cup milk and add to the milk/flour mixture.  Cook over medium heat, whisking continually until mixture thickens.  Continue cooking and whisking for an additional 2 minutes.   Remove from heat and stir in butter.

Peel eggs and separate yolks from whites.  Chop the whites very fine and add to the white sauce along with the salt and pepper to taste.

slicedbrd2Toast the bread and place one slice on each of two plates.  Pour over the toast the white sauce mixture.  Press the egg yolks through a sieve and sprinkle over the top.  Serve immediately.

Makes 2 servings

Unfortunately, the dish doesn’t taste any better now than it did back in 1943.  Even using good home-baked bread rather than the thin white bread I’m sure we used then, it was pretty ordinary.  But now my daughter knows exactly what I mean when I mention Eggs a la Goldenrod.