Decades-old recipe book- some good, some nasty!

As I've mentioned, Nanny is my maternal grandmother. She had a sister 16 years her senior named Hilda though we always called her Aunt Da. Her daughter, whom I call Nanan, is closer in age to Nanny than Nanny was to Aunt Da; Nanan still lives in my hometown, and last time I visited, she let me bring back to DC on loan, one of Aunt Da's recipe files. It's an ancient ringed binder with pages and pages of handwritten recipes as well as those clipped from magazines and newspapers from the 50s and 60s. Some of the ingredients are ones I've never heard of before - Starlac (apparently a dried milk)- and some of the recipes sound absolutely appalling. For your amusement, consider the following recipes and titles from a pamphlet published by Capitol Food Stores' Cooking School.

1) Molded Salad Men Will Like For Buffet Supper: here is one that men will like because it is not sweet or fancy. Barbecue Salad with Tongue- ingredients include lemon-flavored gelatin, chopped tongue and sweet relish. I DON"T KNOW ANY MAN WHO WOULD EAT THIS.

2) Luncheon Meat Skillet Dinner- ingredients include canned luncheon meat cut into strips, raisins, and pimiento. GROSS BEYOND COMMENT.

3) Molded Tuna Lime Salad- ingredients include lime-flavored gelatin, cream cheese, pineapple, and tuna. BLECH.

4) Wiener Crown Roast- ingredients include 14 wieners, margarine, sweet pickles and baking powder. AARGH.


I would also like to point out that Clorox appears to have co-published this fascinating work and interspersed in their recipe suggestions are calls to clean, clean, clean with Clorox. Just what you want in your luncheon meat skillet dinner, a soupçon of bleach.

Despite all this nastiness, which I hope Aunt Da never made, there are also some real jewels like her Tea Cakes which I can still taste as if I'd just eaten one. They were dense, thick, simple cookies made from Crisco (lard), sugar, flour, sweet milk and vanilla. Apparently it took some real elbow grease to get that dough going and rolled out, but Aunt Da always had them freshly made and stored in an old aluminum tin with a pull top. I remember it so well.

She also made great hot tamales which take quite a while but are really superb. You know how some tamales are dry and sluggish in your mouth and you sort of wonder if you'll be able to choke them down? Not so with these. They are so moist, so flavorful. Yum. I might have a tamale-making party one day with some gal pals. That would be tons of fun.