Wednesday, April 27, 2011

How To Win Compliments for Your Cooking (1958)

After just about being blown away in a tornado outside of St. Louis this past Friday, I return to you with a renewed vigor for life and... cooking! I had such a good time visiting Babu's grandmother Easter weekend I almost forgot about my pact with myself, you guys, Old Scratch, and Blogger to be more conscientious about making at least a weekly appearance on the world wide internet and in print. So-o-o-o-o-o, in celebration of the fact that Bab's Honda didn't fly off the road outside of Marion, Illinois, and send us both to Rock and Roll Heaven, I thought I would talk about something near and dear to my heart. Like cooking oil.

I love nothing more than flipping through old giveaway type pamphlets hawking one brand or another of cooking product, and coming across this Wesson Oil & Snowdrift company pamphlet on Open Library was certainly a pleasant surprise in that regard. I expected the majority of it to be a treatise on the benefits of deep frying for flavor, but boy was I surprised to find a not so hidden message of "boost your self esteem by becoming a better baker". And alsousewessonoilifatallpossiblethanks. Heck yes!

Why is it a "Happier World"? Because we have good food to eat! We've got ham! And meringues! And cookies! And fried chicken! Cakes! Salads!

"Your chocolate cake and lemon biscuits for breakfast or muffins for supper...golden fried chicken with a bright beckoning salad...all help make this a happier world. Yet none would be possible if we had no salad oil or shortening."

The hyperbole of 1950's cooking copy is making me wicked hungry for this early in the morning. My coffee and eggs are running thin... I wish I had some hot biscuits as described!!

As always, click on any of the pictures for a human-sized version of these ant-sized thumbnails.

The presentation of this noodle casserole, assorted muffin basket, salad, and stuffed tomatoes makes Mrs. Homemaker VERY popular with Billy, Suzy, and Mr. Homemaker. So popular, they've actually staged a culinary coronation. Congrats, Mrs. Homemaker! This was the moment you were waiting for. But certainly you didn't begin life as a kitchenaid did you, how can we in turn, become truly great bakers?

The answer? Wesson Oil, of course!

The spin-factor of the in-between recipe patter is definitely something I can get behind. For example, don't think of desserts as bad for you!

"There's more to dessert than satisfying your family's sweet tooth, though that's a happy idea in itself. Better still, desserts are a fine way to add nourishment to your meals in a way everyone loves."

I would love to nourish myself with these apple dumplings! Lemme at 'em.

It's always difficult for me, when listening to ads for say, Ironized Yeast tablets in between terrifying segments of Arch Oboler's Lights Out , to imagine a pre-McDonaldsian time in which a majority of people needed to GAIN weight rather than lose it. The line above seems to hint at a happier, skinnier time in which one actually struggled to put on some nutritious padding by MAKING oneself eat dessert. God bless. Or it could just be a fatuous stab at emphasizing the cherry (it's fruit! It's a fruit!) in "cherry pie" rather than the "tons of sugar and butter in the crust and filling" part of "cherry pie". Either way, it sounds delicious, and in the former case, justifiable!

Speaking of pies...

Doesn't it just make your tastebuds hum?

"Luscious pies... how men do love them."

Both your main man and your little man are moved into action by the making of a pie for company. Note how Junior is dragging Pappy by the hand, across a gulf of dead typespace and printed word, towards the header where you, Queen Homemaker, are graciously serving one of these savory concoctions to your guests.

I love the idea (left) of making the cup-portion of cherry tartlets by using the backside of a muffin/cupcake pan as a form. Genius, Queen Homemaker! Genius!

Here are two "revolutionary" ways of making pie... not sure how revolutionary these would seem to we jaded members of the Sara Lee premade frozen Deep Dish generation, but still, they do look lovely. "Snowdrift" was some kind of special for-baking shortening product of the Canola oil product family... I'm not sure that they make it anymore, but I'm sure you could just substitute any kind of shortening in its place. While you're at it, look at this simply fantastic piece of Art Deco advertising for said Snowflake product... I didn't know you could make shortening look like it was designed by Adrian, but I guess you can!

Hot bread + husband = sex appeal. Look at this Darren Stevens of a guy! He loves ya. He loves ya biscuits.

"The thrill when a bride brings in a plate of beautiful biscuits...her very own...the pleasure your family gets from all those tempting hot breads...those are the things that make baking worthwhile." The "Quick Blueberry Streusel Coffee Cake" LOOKS SO. GOOD.

And you can't be a June Cleaver-ite without making a mean batch of homemade cookies. I made some powdered sugared fudge brownies last Christmas and if they wouldn't knock your socks off...well, then you deserve for your socks to be left on, sir. The color combos on the plate and the pleasing arrangement make me want to try and make a similar bounteous display of baked goods.

"There's no cake quite as nice as the one you make yourself." And it's true! Even if it's just a Duncan-Hines from the box kind of mix cake, that you've only added eggs and oil (Wesson Oil, anyone?) to, people go nuts to eat a cake that you made yourself. But why would you make one from the box when you have these SUPER AWESOME recipes that only take slightly more effort, and probably taste even better? I want to make the pink party cake for my next get together (which is coming soon! Details TBA).

The authors keep referring to "emulsorized shortening" which, to me, sounds like something you would have to face off with on an episode of Lost in Space. I think it's the same as "emulsified shortening"? Which is described on this one message board thus: "Emulsified shortening is also known as cake, icing or high ratio shortening. It can absorb more sugar and liquid than regular vegetable shortening and gives a finer/smoother texture to cakes while helping to keep them moist, as well as keeping icings more stable."

That must be the same stuff... I just wonder where they got "emlsorized" from.

Can't have a cake without icing! "Just as the trimming makes a hat, so does icing make the cake." Ain't it the truth?

I want to try and pour chocolate on the edges of a white-iced cake as suggested on one of these pages (see the bottom right). Also, pineapple mint icing. SIGN. ME. UP.

If you want your family to look like this while digging into a dinner (pleased, successful, pen and ink people):

Then by all means, serve them this:

Golden...fried...chicken. Being from the South, I can't say a single bad word against this, our finest and best regional food. I wonder how this recipe from Wesson stacks up? Surely an oil company would know a thing or two about a dish best served lightly fried?

I'm glad for this tutorial on how to core tomatoes and what to put in them-- the very first time I was invited to my future-mother-in-law's house, on the occasion of HER mother's birthday, I was asked to scoop out tomatoes. Which, being the kitchen Philistine I was at that moment in my life, I did so careful it must have worked her last nerve... usually precision without speed is not a virtue valued in the kitchen. The resultant tomato cups, however, were so light and summery...! I've been wanting to make them again and here's a perfect recipe. Or two.

Hope you guys enjoyed the 1958 cooking goodness. Have you been cooking anything out of a vintage book lately? Any greatest-of-all-time vintage cooking experiences? Or horror stories? Always glad to hear from you guys. Have a great Wednesday night!!


  1. Wow, this is awesome! My husband and I have a 1964 Betty Crocker cookbook that belonged to his grandma, but I haven't tried to use any of its recipes. The illustrations and photos in it are very similar to those in this pamphlet that you found, though.

  2. My sweet tooth is starting to act up!! O.o

  3. The fact that I had corn on the cob & tater tots for dinner tonight aaaaand I'm eating pistachio pudding as I read your blog...well I dunno if things have changed all that much in the last 60 years! Maybe the fact that I had no meat in my meal, that could be considered sacralidge back then! GREAT POST!

  4. This is some of the best eye candy I've seen in a while! Don't you just LOVE how cooking ads/illustrations were always so hyper saturated?

    And I LOVE how a hat allusion seemed to the copy writer like the most readily understandable comparison. For like, anything.

  5. @29 skirts + Cammila: I just keep buying these pamphlets for the illustrations... you just don't see anything as pratical and whimsy at the same time as 1950's-60's cookbooks.

    @Zombie: CAKES. All cakes, all the time.

    @Amber: That sounds delicious, with or without standard meat serving. :) Pistachio pudding... just yum.

  6. My gosh, I'm glad that you didn't get blown away by the storms!

    That's sure a beautiful cookbook and I also long for the time when we all needed "nourishment". We are all made to feel so damned guilty these days about pie and fried chicken..and everything pictured in this book.

    Most of the vintage recipes that I have ever made have turned out to be SO much work. I'm talking hours of work. I think I may be a slow cook too. Or a product of the "heat three minutes in the microwave and stir" generation. :)



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