Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Favorite Old Cook Book

I have a lot of cookbooks. I have some favorites, and I love to try new. But, there are tried and true recipes I always go back to. My very first cookbook was this one:
It was given to me by my Mom Xmas 1975, my first year away from home. And it's even more special to me because Cream of the West is the flour that every Newfoundlander used. We are very proud of being Newfies! Purity crackers & cream biscuits, Good Luck margarine and Cream of the West flour -- ALWAYS!
I wish I could sing the radio jingle for you! (And the Ode to Newfoundland! and The Star of Logy Bay! ..... and perhaps Aunt Martha's Sheep!)
This cookbook is full of hideous 1960's pictures of foods that one would NEVER eat -- i.e. that pink cranberry and celery studded blob of gelatinous goop! (Did anyone ever really eat those?)
But it also had tons of great recipes which I eagerly tried when I met my husband. Recipes like "Quickie Lamb Chops" -- chops and sliced vegetables layered in a foil envelope and baked until everything is tender and infused with that lovely lamb flavor! OMG! So good!
And this gorgeous Strawberry Bavarian Cream. Now THIS is the way to do gelatin!

That book mostly sits on my shelf. But it does come out most years in late October in time to make what I think is the best Christmas fruitcake in the entire universe. This dark beauty is full of fruit and nuts; it's moist and fragrant; it's addictive and oh so fattening! It's my post-Xmas jigsaw puzzle-doing companion (along with a cup of tea or a glass of wine, depending on the time of the day.) It's one of the main reasons for my 5 lb gain over the holidays. But what a way to go!

I've made a few alterations to the recipe to make it my own -- a little more citrus peel; a mixture of Brazil nuts and walnuts; soaking the fruit and nuts in brandy overnight; and wrapping the baked and cooled cake in brandy soaked cheesecloth layers which get re-soaked 2 more times before Xmas.


My Ex used to love it as well, so there was always someone to help me eat it. But now there's only me, and even a half recipe carries "a lot of weight" (pun intended).


So now I ponder whether I should or shouldn't bake one this year. I didn't last year -- and I missed it. (And I still gained 5 lb! Must have been that substitution of more Xmas chocolate than usual!) AND it does make the house smell divine and Xmasie.


I'm thinking on it.


How about you?

  • Do you have favorite cookbooks that are mostly unused?

  • Do you bake fruitcake for Xmas?

  • Do you also gain 5 lb?



Chatty Crone said...

Wonderful memories you have there - and a nice book.

I guess mine was my Betty Crocker book. It is a good generic for anything. Still use it sometimes.

I hate rocks - er I mean fruitcakes.

And I didn't gain 5 pounds last Christmas, but I might have this year - just sayin'


Garden of Egan said...

That is a beautiful cookbook! I love old cookbooks like that, ones with writing and notes.

My favorite is my Fannie Farmer that I got when I'd been married for less that a year.

Mitzi said...

I have a Betty Crocker cookbook that I received for a shower gift 49 years ago. The pastry and peanut butter cookie pages are so torn and greasy, but I would never think to get rid of it. I bake Christmas cookies for my family-I do ok with that, but the dips and cheese spreads get me every Christmas. Make yourself a fruitcake this year. Traditions are comforting and wonderful.

Chris said...

My favorite cookbook, also given to me by my Mom, is The Joy of Cooking. It is my go to for any basic technique or recipe. I still use the Yorkshire pudding recipe every year at Christmas!

I LOVE fruitcake! I'll be baking, eating and gaining this year too! My strategy is to try to lose a few pounds before the holidays. Sometimes that works, sometimes...

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

A "fancy" dinner in the 60's was not complete without a blob of gelatin with some canned fruit floating inside. And for really special dinners, we added cool whip to the mix.

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

Yes, do bake that cake...there should be plenty of people around your house to share it with. Give some to your friends or take some to work. I do have a fav cookbook that is falling apart at the seams. Better Homes and Gardens era 1965. I use it over and over and got it for a wedding gift. Of course being just me here too, it doesn't get as much use as it used to. Hopefully it will last me the rest of my lifetime.Being used less should help. Have a wonderful Wednesday!

Janet said...

LOVE fruitcake - The Husband's mom sends us one every year through the mail and we cherish every bite (well into the new year since it's been so soaked in rum it will never go bad). Have you considered sending some of your fruitcake to your daughter or your folks in NFLD?

I'm afraid I'm in Mitzi's camp - the cheese, dips and crackers are what get me! Oh, and the eggnog - love eggnog.

I think my first cookbook was The Joy of Cooking - but back then I didn't cook. I now have a ton of cookbooks - some as used and marked up as yours :)

Jill said...

I remember Cream of the West flour - my Mom often used that - must have been a Maritime thing - we lived in PEI..

The cover looks very similar to The Purity Cookbook.

Pamela Gordon said...

I have a raggedy Purity (flour) cookbook that I use especially for the butter frosting and chocolate chip cookie recipes. The fruit cake sounds really good. Once in a while I buy Purity crackers as they were a favorite of my Dad's. I'd say go for the fruit cake and share it. Pamela


I still have the cookbook I got for my first bridal shower 40 years ago. Love looking at all the old recipes I used to cook. Through the years my taste has changed. My mom's fruitcake is the best. The recipe for it is top secret. So I look forward to getting her Christmas package full of goodies. INDULGE yourself. Forget the pounds, make the cake. Life is short.

Mary said...

It's wonderful that you held onto the book. My first was the 1952 edition of Better Homes and Gardens. There is no denying that food tastes have changed over the years. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

joe said...

I love looking through cookbooks, and I like watching cooking shows. There's a radio program on NPR that I listen to every Sunday afternoon called "The Splendid Table".
Mom gave me a cookbook several years ago. I've only tried a few of the recipes, but one of them: Spinach-Stuffed Pasta Shells, I make all the time.

Linda said...

omg! Your fruitcake sounds like the same one my grandmother made - she soaked hers in rum - like, it seemed, for weeks! I remember watching her unwrap the cheesecloth and pouring the liquor over the cake, rewrapping it. It was the best ever! No one in the family has ever made her fruitcake, sorry to say. New visitor to your blog; love it! You write very funny stuff! My favorite Christmas recipe is anise flavored cut-out cookies, another grandma recipe; with confectioner sugar frosting and sprinkled with colored sugar. Yummm. And I usually put on 5-10#s over the Christmas holidays; but they're the best pounds ever!

Melanie said...

I have some older cookbooks that are unused too - I simply like them because they were my mom's or I just like looking through them. I've never made fruitcake - it's not something that I think my family would like. As far as weight gain during the holidays, I might put on a pound or two, but as soon as I stop eating all those holiday cookies and start eating "normally" again, the couple of pounds disappear. Yeah, yeah - don't hate me. lol

Jake said...

Mine is my Betty Crocker cookbook from 1972. I love that you write in your cookbooks so do I!!

Betsy said...

My favorite cookbook is my old Betty Crocker's New Boys and Girls Cookbook. There are some good basic recipes in it, and it brings back such fun memories. I agree with you that food photography has come a long way since the 50s and 60s. Everything looked so unappetizing! I've never made fruitcake--not a huge fan, but yes to the 5 pounds!

aliceinparis said...

TOO FUNNY! Thant was MY first cookbook too and I still have it. A friend gace it to me for my birthday! I think I was about 16 or 17.Exactly the same except it was the Purity Flour Cookbook.I guess they had different titles.

Princess said...

It's only 3 years later and I'm just stumbling across your blog post about my very favorite Christmas cake!!! My nan from Gander makes this every year and I love it.. Or at least I think she makes this one every year, this is the recipe I got when I asked anyways, lol..

Debbie said...

Just wondering if anyone knows where we can buy a version of the cream of the west cookbook? Would love to get one

Paul Williams said...

I have this exact same cookbook and it was my First one as well, given to me by my mom when I went to university lol, maybe that is an Eastern tradition.