Let me start with some genealogical data, so that you can place my mother in her time and place. She was born in DeSoto, Missouri on 6 March 1891. Her father had a photographer's studio there. They moved to St. Louis in 1900. Her father had a job with Polar Wave — an ice manufacturing company. He serviced the ice-making machines that were on display during the St. Louis fair of 1904l
Mother went to Harris Teachers college (a 2-year normal school at that time) and went on to get her bachelor's degree from the University of Chicago. This places her as Victorian-Edwarding in upbringing and as having a much higher education than did most women of her time.
Adelle in 1930.
She taught elementary school (with a brief stint as a high school teacher) before she married my father in 1925. (There were divorced about 1953). I am the older of their two surviving children — both girls.
Mother was an odd mixture of Victorian style domination plus repression and a person with a very modern outlook. These characteristics are important to her domestic outlook.
Until the fall of 1940 we always had live-in "help." They did some of the cleaning, some of the laundry, and some of the cooking. Mother worked with the help, but she also took more time off than a full-time housekeeper would have been able to choose. As to cooking, I believe that she planned the meals, but that the help did most of the cooking.
Mother did know how to cook; sometimes she showed the help how she wanted something done and sometimes she learned a kitchen technique from the help. She became good friends with the woman who lived with us from 1934 to about 1937 and corresponded with her and visited with her until Marzella died.
Marzella was followed by a young girl who had come to St. Louis from Kentucky. Mother taught Edna many of mother's kitchen knowledge. Mother also helped Edna with her night-school homework. I remember many afternoons at the big table doing my homework while Edna did hers before she went off to her night-school classes. Mother was always just on hand to answer questions from either of us — but we did the work! Mother showed us how to look things up, she explained words and concepts, but she didn't do our work for us. Edna had a high-school certificate before whe left us to get married. In the1930s that made Edna a well-educated person,
As to kitchen skills, mother-the-teacher thought that her daughters should know how the kitchen worked. So we helped prepare the applesauce, we cut-up the tomatoes for the chili-sauce Aunt Olive made for our two households. We washed up during the jelly making. Little tasks, but we did know our way around the kitchen.
Mother wasn't particularly an innovative cook but all the foods she prepared were well made. She used to ask us what vegetable we should have for the next meals. Our choices were always peas, carrots, or peas and carrots. We never suggested green beans or tomatoes; they were probably already on the menu. Sometimes she served spinach or turnips — my sister and I never ate either.
She wasn't imaginative, but she did like good food, so she often asked friends for recipes she had enjoyed. My sister has her recipe notebook, but it is still stored from moving. When it is unpacked we will scan it, and more recipes will become available for sharing.
I found 5 recipes in Tried and True that were found, collected, or created by my mother. What follows is the story of each recipe, followed by the recipe itself.
1) SHERRY COBBLER
I don't know why this was in mother's notebook and I'm even less sure why I copied it into mine! We didn't drink alcoholic beverages. This wasn't from principals – we just didn't drink. I believe both my parents grew up in "dry" households, so it may have been childhood attitudes. At least partly it was a legal issue; I was seven or eight when Prohibition was repealed and my parents were basically law-abiding people. But they didn't drink after repeal either.
I suspect mother wanted to be able to serve something to any friend who might want a drink. And I suspect I copied it to my cookbook when I married, in case I needed to know how to offer a drink. I'm not sure either one of us ever used this recipe.
Sherry Cobbler Adelle Strickler (mother)
Put 1 tbsp. sugar in each glass
Add sherry until glass is half full then add
crushed ice Fill up glass with
2) FRENCH DRESSING
Mother's primary care doctor gave this recipe to mother about 1939 to 1941. Before it became an 'in' thing, he was weaning mother to a low-fat diet. You will notice that he suggests mineral oil in order to lower the fat. Today olive oil is a "good" fat, so I have substituted olive oil for the mineral oil.
French Dressing Dr. Rosenfeld,, c. 1940
Beat together with a Dover beater
1 can Campbell’s Tomato Soup
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 scant tsp. paprika
1 tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce
3/4 cup mineral olive oil
1/2 cup vinegar
Drop 1 clove garlic (optional) into the mixture. Leave garlic for a few days then remove.
Quick and easy to prepare. And I don't know of a better tasting recipe for a salad dressing of this type!
3) SPINACH RING
"Aunt Jo" was the aunt of a college friend. They were "suite mates" at the University of Chicago: two girls from St. Louis, one from Kansas City, and the fourth from Memphis. The remained good friends all their lives.
Mother only served this vegetable dish as a party food. Since it requires some preparation and presentation I can understand that in this case. But that was her attitude for most of these recipes; they were "company" dishes.
Spinach Ring Aunt Jo (Anita Hines’ aunt)
Preheat oven to 300°F
2 cups cooked spinach
Add 1 tsp. grated onion which has been browned in
1 tbsp. butter Season with
1/2 tsp. paprika Mix in
2 egg yolks, well beaten
2 cups medium White Sauce
2 egg whites, stiffly beaten
Place in buttered ring mold which has been dusted with
fine dry bread crumbs Place ring mold in a pan of hot water and bake in moderate (350°F) oven for 20 minutes. Remove from mold and serve with
Peas and Carrots
4) GOLDEN BARS
Mother found this recipe in a "woman's magazine" Christmas issues — in 1932 or 1933. I was always surprised that they published it at that time, because the ingredients were expensive in those days.
Mother baked them for family and friends every Christmas from the first year she made them. My sister continued the tradition; I also baked them until the family got too small. I had never met any one else who had ever know of them until I brought them to the local genealogy meeting in January of this year.
Golden Bars Adelle Strickler (Mother)
Preheat oven to 350° F. Prepare shallow pan
Melt 3/4 cup Canola Harvest in a saucepan in which the batter is to be mixed. Remove melted margarine or butter from heat. Sift together
1-1/2 cups sifted flour
2 tsp. baking powder Stir into the melted shortening with
2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs, well-beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup walnuts, chopped
Spread in shallow pan (12- x 8-inch) which has been greased and lined with wax paper. Bake in moderate oven (350°F) for 30 to 35 minutes, or until surface springs back when pressed lightly
Cool; cut into bars about 1- x 3-1/2 inches.
Makes about 25 bars
Note that Canola Harvest is my cooking fat of choice. I believe the original called for butter.
The next two "recipes" are more a matter of processes then they are actual recipes.
5) SMOTHERED ROUND STEAK
This was the single "fancy dish" that mother served as a family meal. I don't think she considered it to be fancy. It was once a very common way of preparing an economical cut. Beef Round isn't so economic these days — most of it goes into the every popular hamburger trays, so the rest is fairly expensive. And butchers don't prepackage round as steaks. But most butchers will cut it this way if you ask for it.
Smothered Round Steak Adelle Strickler (Mother)
Prepare seasoned flour:
For each serving mix
about 1/4 tsp. to 1 tsp. of the seasonings of your choice.*
Pound the steak with a meat pounder. Then pound in the seasoned flour on each side of the steak.
Add 1 to 3 tbsp. unsalted butter to a skillet. Brown the steak well on each side. Add about 1/8 to 1/4 inch water to the skillet. Bring to boil and then lower to a simmer. Cover skillet and simmer until steak is fork tender.
Remove steaks to a platter
Add water to the pan juices and reduced to gravy consistency. I pour the gravy over the steaks before serving, but you can put it into a gravy boat if desired.
* I vary my seasonings according to what I have in the rest of the meal. I may use lemon pepper, sage, thyme, savory, various mixed seasonings such as meat rubs, rosemary; or any combination of the above. You want your steak to be well flavored without needing much in the way of seasoning when served.
Note: this recipe wasn't copied from Mother's notebook. She never wrote it down. I did, early in my housekeeping days, and then modernized it to this form, as I worked with it.
6) VANILLA ICE CREAM SODA
And finally, here is mother's one creation. No one needs a recipe for an ice cream soda — right? But, outside of our family, I don't hear of people using this combination of ingredients. It is my favorite form of float.
Vanilla Ice Cream Soda Addelle Strickler (mother)
For each serving
1 to 3 scoops vanilla ice cream OR French vanilla ice cream Fill glass with
RED cream soda*
* Kroger “Big K” or Vess (if you can find it. Vess come from the St. Louis area). There may be others. Red Cream soda has a much different taste than the brown type.
There will be more recipes from mother's cookbook later, when my sister has unpacked it.
And there will be other blogs from Tried and True in days to come.