Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Dining Delights (1948, R.T. French Company)

 Good morning!

I'm late out of the gate with posting this morning! I thought today I would share a French's (you know, the mustard/onion rings/everything else in the baking aisle kings) recipe pamphlet from year of out Lord 1948. Post wartime rationing, back-in-the-swing-of-things Americans were ready to eat GOOD again, and you can tell from the deliciously decadent and devil-may-care-caloric-count of most of the recipes in this book.

First, take a look at the wide arrange of products French's made in that year. Hint: two of these things you DO NOT want to put in your pantry for possible inclusion in the recipes, but aw heck, put them in the group picture so they feel like they're part of the product family. Can you spot 'em?

The cookbook starts out with a greeting from "Carol French", the spokesperson for the R.T. French Company and alleged author of these recipes. Like Betty Crocker before her, however, Carol is a fictitious homemaker created to represent the thoughts and cooking concoctions of her company's test kitchen. Too bad! Look at the woman in the illustration's clear, probably blue eyes and widow's peak. She looks reliable and picturesque to boot. 

I have to use the word "men-folk" more often. It just reminds me of Jimmy Stewart in chaps for some reason. 

Below are some of the finished cooking projects and gee, don't they look a peach. The only puzzling entry to me is in the middle of the cheerful yellow plate at left. MASHED. POTATOES. SPREAD. ON. HALVED. FRANKFURTERS. This, truly, is innovation! Beside the stuffed broiled tomatoes (remember how I told you I'm impressed by hollowed-out anything?), you've got a hot dog, split in half, and then covered with mashed potatoes. While this dish probably tastes great and appeals to the "men-folk" of the introduction (I can hear Matthew licking his chops like a cartoon wolf as we speak), I don't think it's a very dainty main dish to be paired with the tomatoes, asparagus, and tulip apples (see the blue plate? A baked apple in a pie crust tulip sprinkled in cinammon....a DREAM!). But who am I to question Carol French?

At right, the kooky cute fish plate displays cod fish cakes (significantly better than its name twin, cod liver oil), carrots, and chocolate cake. I've been hankering to make a cake for no reason lately, so I might actually try the recipe in this one to see if French's is up to snuff with their culinary creations.

So many...creamy things. Do you ever notice in old cookbooks or in your parents/grandparents cooking, the living presence of cream sauces and gooey mayonnaise concoctions? I guess the advent of "Nutrition Facts" sounded the first peals of a death dirge for "creamy macaroni salad", but doggone it, this looks good to me. Not so much whatever is in those octoganal serving bowls, but the potato salad at right and the salmon and hardboiled egg salad at left are welcome at my table any time. That said, also look at how bulbous the burgers look! They remind me of cookouts where you'd get a burger about two inches thick in the middle and wafer thin at the outside edges...completely charred on the surface with a still breathing interior raw as life. French's! C'mon! You can do better than that!

I added the picture below on the sole virtue that I think those Coke bottles are wearing some kind of cozies. Does anyone have real world experience with glass bottle aprons? I want to become one of the people that does, at any rate-- they look like they're ready to flip the burgers from the previous photo! (as a Coke bottle pipes up from the table, in the general direction of the grill) CB: "How's it comin' there, pal?" Me: "Pretty good, Coke bottle, and thank you for asking." CB: "Need any help?" Me: "Nah, I'm flyin' this one solo...but I'll let you know if I need an assist." Magic. Beverage personification is just a tiny cloth apron away.

And last but not least, I think this is the prettiest spread in the whole book! Those ice tea classes with the classy little coasters beneath, those deep green coffee cups and saucers, the lillies just draped across the table...I am in! Who's even looking at the food when the set dressing is so gorgeous?

If you feel like trying out some of the recipes, here are some thumbnails of the files. Click any to see its full-size counterpart appear, suddenly, before your very eyes.

Which recipe do you think looks the most tempting? Had any good cookbook or cooking pamphlet finds lately? Do tell, do tell.

That's all for today; see you guys tomorrow!


  1. Oh, drat! I got lily pollen on my best silk blouse reaching for the mustard!

  2. Watch out! Carol French will admonish you for your table manners! But then she might offer you some club soda for that pesky mustard stain.



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