Rhubarb Meringue Pie {1928}

What do you do when you have a freezer full of last summer’s rhubarb and a limited time before serious freezer-burn sets in?

You search through your vintage cookbooks for a suitable recipe, of course!


The winning recipe was discovered in my 1928 edition of “The Rector Cook Book” by George Rector…


…that is apparently a signed copy! That was fun to discover!


I’d never heard of George Rector before thumbing through his cookbook, but a quick google search turned up some interesting information. He was, apparently, a very popular chef during the 20’s and 30’s. In addition to running a restaurant very popular with Broadway celebrities, he was also featured in newspapers, movies, and radio broadcasts during his day.


My copy of his cookbook holds some neat treasures tucked within its pages: clipped recipes accompanied by darling illustrations that, judging by the style of the ladies’ dresses, show that it was used at least through the early 30’s.


There are also a couple remnants of the jacket that have survived as bookmarks.

I was quite intrigued by his recipe for “Rhubarb Meringue Pie,”  a combination I’d never considered before, and gave it a try.


The recipe included very specific instructions for preparing the rhubarb, which I followed the best I could since I was starting with frozen.

The process of preparing the custard-y filling looked like I was making a very runny macaroni and didn’t appear too appealing before baking.

The crust, however, was beautiful. It rolled out nice and thin and was a wonderful dough to work with.

And, in the end, it all came together into a beautiful pie.


A unique flavor combination, it had all the tangy deliciousness of rhubarb pie that was balanced out by the sweetness of the custard and the light, fluffy topping. I’d definitely make it again!

I’ll add the recipe under the cut so you can try it too! Tell me what you think!

Continue reading “Rhubarb Meringue Pie {1928}”

1950’s Roast Dinner (HFF #5)

Getting back on track, the fifth prompt for the Historical Food Fortnightly was “Roasts“.

They’re a staple of the historic table, in many different shapes and forms and types. It’s also a cooking technique. Try a historic recipe for a roast, or a recipe that involves roasting, and tell us how it turned out.

For this one I laid out quite the spread…1950’s style!


The dinner recipes came from “Betty Crocker’s Good and Easy Cook Book” published in 1954. It’s a very sweet, little book full of colorful photos and highly stylized illustrations.

I made the “Roast Pork Dinner” from page 102 with a few modifications. First: mashed potatoes instead of brown. And, second: we skipped dessert. There was plenty of food to go around that night!

One of the most fun things about prepping the dinner was making the vegetable tray. Or, “vegetable relishes” as the cook book called it.

I perused the list on page 92 and picked from it based on what was already in the fridge. That ended up necessitating a few substitutions.

I was able to make “Cucumber Petals” (actually zucchini), “Lake Louie Poppies,” “Broccoli Buds,” and (unstuffed) “Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes.”

Mashed potatoes I made without a recipe and the cream gravy came together rather quickly despite the fact that I had hardly any pan drippings to use.

The food got excellent reviews and was plenty to feed five people; we had leftovers for lunch the next day.

One of the most interesting things about serving this dinner is that it included applesauce on the side. I have many memories of meals at my grandparents’ house featuring applesauce which, as a kid, I always thought was weird. Growing up, applesauce was usually a lunch (or snack) food. Seems to me it could be a generational trend. How do you, or your family, interpret applesauce? Lunch or diner food? Has it changed over time for you?

The Challenge: Roasts
The Recipe: Roast Pork Dinner from “Betty Crocker’s Good and Easy Cook Book”
The Date/Year and Region: 1954, American
How Did You Make It: Roast the meat; mash the potatoes; prepare the vegetable tray; make the gravy; serve it with applesauce and voila!
Time to Complete: 2+ hours
Total Cost: Roast was about $6, veggies about $6 altogether
How Successful Was It?: Very delicious!!
How Accurate Is It?: Pretty high on the accuracy scale. Even equipment was very similar to what was around in the 1950’s.

(Recipes transcribed under the cut)

Continue reading “1950’s Roast Dinner (HFF #5)”

One-Egg Cake (HFF #4)

For the fourth prompt for the Historical Food Fortnightly, “Sweets for the Sweet,” I used a very special recipe. “It’s sugar, and maybe spice, and definitely everything nice. Test out a historic recipe for sweets, sweetmeats and candies – but don’t let them spoil your appetite!

The recipe that I chose to make for this challenge – “One-Egg Cake” – comes from one of my grandmother’s cookbooks,”The Household Searchlight Recipe Book that was published by the Household Magazine in 1940.

When I was over at her house one night last month she pulled out her collection of cookbooks and I had a fun evening looking through them with her. This one, she explained, belonged to her mother who bought it from a traveling salesman. My grandmother grew up learning to cook from this book and one of the recipes that she made most often was the “One-Egg Cake.” It was economical and tasted great.

So I snapped a few photos and went home to test it out!

You can really tell that this was a well-loved page.

One-Egg Cake

2/3 cup sugar

1/4 cup shortening

1/3 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring

1 egg

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 cup milk

2 teaspoons baking-powder

Cream shortening and sugar. Add unbeaten egg. Add flavoring. Beat thoroughly. Sift flour, measure, and sift with salt and baking-powder. Add alternately with milk to creamed shortening and sugar. Pour into well-oiled loaf pan. Bake in moderate oven (375° F.) 35 minutes.


The cake was super easy to make. It was a pretty thick batter which went nicely into the oven. I will say that baking it in a loaf pan did make it seem more like a quick bread than a cake so I did choose to serve it with some butter.


It was delicious! Thanks, grandma!

The Challenge: Sweets for the Sweet
The Recipe: One-Egg Cake from The Household Searchlight Recipe Book
The Date/Year and Region: 1940, American
How Did You Make It: Just mix the ingredients together and bake
Time to Complete: An hour or less
Total Cost: Everything form the cupboard. Less expensive for using only one egg!
How Successful Was It?: Quite.
How Accurate Is It?: Pretty high!

Brynt vitkålssoppa (HFF #3)

The third prompt for the Historical Food Fortnightly is “History Detective” and it was quite possibly the one I was most excited for.  “For this challenge, you get to be the detective! Either use clues from multiple recipes to make a composite recipe, or choose a very vague recipe and investigate how it was made.

I live for stuff like this — History? Food? Research? Sign me up!

And I had the perfect cookbook in mind:


Mat i vardagslag kokbok för skola och hem by Birgit Floderus and Ingrid Ljunggren, translated as Food in Everyday Life: Cookbook for School and Home, was published in 1942 in Sweden. The copy I have – bought at a library book sale for 50¢ – was owned by a woman named Edith Thorsell and was obviously very well loved. Pages are falling out, recipes are written/pasted onto blank spaces, and there are stains marking her favorite recipes. I’ve been wanting to translate it for ages now so this project was as good an excuse as any to get started!

I’m not too far in – still on soups – but it’s been a very fun experience so far. I have absolutely no background with the Swedish language or culture (except having a vague idea that my grandma is full Swedish) so I’ve been relying on google translate and online dictionaries. It’s been challenging but I’ve loved exploring a new part of my ancestry.

The recipe I chose to make is called Brynt vitkålssoppa (Browned cabbage soup).


Brynt vitkålssoppa. (Browned cabbage soup)

4 hectograms (=400 grams=14 oz) cabbage

1 ½ tbsp. frying fat

½ tbsp. syrup, 15 g

water or salt broth


3 allspice berries

1 hectogram (=100 grams=3.5 oz) pork sausage

Rinse the cabbage and remove dead leaves and the coarsest parts. Cut it into chunks and sear in hot frying fat. When it has a little color add the syrup and brown further. When finished browning, cool it somewhat then dilute with boiling water or broth and season. When the cabbage has boiled for a while, add the rinsed pork sausage and let the soup cook slowly. When the sausage is cooked, cut it into slices and serve in soup.

It’s a very simple soup and was quick and easy to make. I ended up cutting the cabbage into smaller pieces than in the picture above and didn’t have pork sausage in the fridge to use so I substituted pork chops. I also substituted ground allspice for whole berries.

Another note: I had a hard time interpreting what the recipe meant by syrup so I went with Karo syrup. You can see the progress of the cabbage in the pictures above. The first picture is the cabbage right after it went in the pan, the second is it frying in butter, and the third is where I add the Karo syrup. It really made it brown nicely. The last picture is after the water and the meat are added.


All in all, the soup turned out great. It had a nice, plain flavor that let the cabbage and the pork really stand out. I wouldn’t suggest it if you aren’t a fan of cabbage in the first place (my sister ;D) but I really loved it. I put it next to some homemade french bread and it fed five adults well.

The Challenge: History Detective
The Recipe: Browned Cabbage Soup from “Food in Everyday Life”
The Date/Year and Region: 1942, Sweden
How Did You Make It: Chop cabbage & brown. Add water and then pork.
Time to Complete: Probably about an hour start to finish for the soup.
Total Cost: $2.88 for the pork, about $2 for the cabbage.
How Successful Was It?: Very!
How Accurate Is It?: About 75%? I had to make a few substitutions so…

As a side note: I’d love some feedback on my translating. I feel like I’m doing pretty well but if there are any Swedish speakers out there I would welcome your opinion!

1950’s Toasted Coconut Brownies (HFF #2)

My second entry for the Historical Food Fortnightly — cutting it close but sliding in right under the wire again.

The second prompt is “Culinary Vices “Some foods are really, really naughty. Globs of butter, lashings of sugar and syrup, decadent chocolate and wine. Bring out your naughty, indecorous side with foods associated with all the bad things, in the best ways.

Enlisting the help of my brother and my sister, we spent an hour or so perusing my cookbooks last weekend and came up with several recipes that would fulfill the prompt. But I couldn’t cook them all so I decided to go with:


Toasted Coconut Brownies

3/4 cup sifted flour

1/2 teaspoon double-acting baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup butter or other shortening

2 squares unsweetened chocolate

1 cup sugar

2 eggs, well beaten

1 1/3 cups (about) flaked coconut

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons butter, melted

Measure sifted flour, add baking powder and salt, and sift again. Melt shortening and chocolate over hot water. Add 1 cup sugar gradually to eggs, beating thoroughly. Add chocolate mixture and blend. Add flour and mix well; then add half of the coconut and the vanilla. Spread in greased 8x8x2-inch pan. Combine remaining 1 tablespoon sugar and the melted butter. Add remaining coconut and mix well. Spread over batter in pan. Bake in moderate oven (350°F.) for 25 minutes, or until done. Cool in pan; then cut into squares of rectangles. Makes about 20 brownies.


The recipe comes from “The General Foods Kitchens Cookbook” which was published in 1959. I love this cookbook; it has some really great recipes in it as well as some wonderful illustrations.


I followed the recipe as closely as I could, making only one modification to the ingredients. Instead of 2 squares of unsweetened chocolate, I substituted it with 6 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa + 2 Tbsp olive oil, per the instructions on the container.

Ready to bake!


Another time adjustment with this one. I checked the brownies after the recommended 25 minutes and they weren’t done. I ended up leaving them for 18 mire minutes and they turned out perfect.


The brownies were super yummy – definitely a hit! Rich, chocolaty, and indulgent. Worthy of the prompt.The toasted coconut on the top made for a truly wonderful twist on the traditional taste. I will certainly be making it again in the future!

The Challenge: Culinary Vices
The Recipe: Toasted Coconut Brownies from “The General Foods Kitchens Cookbook”
The Date/Year and Region: 1959, American
How Did You Make It: Mix dry ingredients. Beat sugar into eggs. Mix together with dry & chocolate. Add coconut. Put into pan. Melt butter, stir in sugar and coconut. Sprinkle over the top and bake!
Time to Complete: 1/2 hour for mixing; 43 minutes for baking
Total Cost: Pretty much $0. All basic ingredients that I already had in the cupboard.
How Successful Was It?: Super!
How Accurate Is It?: Probably 90%. One ingredient modification but cocoa powder has been around since 1828 so it’s plausibly period-correct. I did use the microwave to melt the butter (and would have used it to melt the chocolate squares). I did use a modern oven but it’s not too different from a 50’s one.

1930’s Chicken en Casserole (HFF #1)

Something I’ve loved for a very long time is cooking.

Something I’ve loved only slightly less long is historical recipes.

When I started this blog I had it in my head that I would eventually write about food, the (sometimes crazy) recipes I try, and the old cookbooks that I collect. Last year I took some pictures for a couple of blog posts that I never wrote and kept on blogging about sewing. Well, last night I came across the Historical Food Fortnightly which kicked me into gear! I’m sliding in right under the deadline to complete the first challenge.

So without further ado, I present the latest addition to Trumpets & Trimmings: food!


The first prompt is “Meat and Potatoes” – “They’re a staple for the tables in the most rustic cottages as well as the fanciest banquet tables – and it’s also an idiom meaning a staple or the most basic parts of something. Make a historic “meat-and-potatoes” recipe – however you interpret it.”

I chose to interpret it quite literally – selecting a recipe that had meat and potatoes in it. Looking in my freezer at the end of the week, my only meat option was chicken so chicken it was!

HFM 1 078

The recipe I chose comes from “Cookery for Today” which was published by Butterick Publishing Company in 1932.


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Chicken en Casserole

1 chicken

Butter, salad oil, or other fat

1 pint (2 cups) rich brown stock

12 button mushrooms

12 potato balls

1 carrot, sliced

6 small onions

salt, pepper, paprika

Wash the chicken and cut it up. Sauté the pieces in a little fat until well browned on all sides. Place in a greased casserole, add brown stock, cover and cook in a slow to moderate oven (350 F°.) for an hour.

When the chicken has been cooking for an hour, sauté the carrot slices, the potato balls, the onions and the mushrooms in a little fat, stirring them lightly around until they are well browned. Put these with the chicken in the casserole, season with salt, pepper and paprika, add more salt if needed, cover and cook for three-fourths of an hour, then remove the cover and allow the chicken to brown before serving.

The first derivation from the recipe was the fact that I didn’t have a whole chicken to cut up. I used frozen chicken breasts which I defrosted in the microwave – certainly not a 1932 technique. Second, I only had rather large onions so I ended up using three and cut them into large chunks. Plus I didn’t have a large frypan (it had to be thrown away recently) so I was stuck with a small sauté pan which meant that I had to cook things in rounds.

As for the potato balls? I had heard of them before but had no idea how to make them so I looked back a few pages to the potato section and based them off a recipe there called “Potato Drops.”

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Potato Drops

2 cups mashed potatoes (without any milk)

2 eggs

salt and pepper

Mix the potato and the beaten eggs. Drop the mixture from a spoon into the hot fat and fry until a golden brown, the drain on brown paper and serve with a garnish of parsley. If the spoon is dipped in boiling water after every using, each drop will retain the shape of the spoon.

I used six smallish potatoes, thinking that I could get at least 2 balls out of each one, two eggs, and salt and pepper. I formed them with an ice cream scoop, frying them in butter. The pan heated too quickly and they started to burn so I didn’t cook them in the oil as long as I could have so later on they started to lose their shape.

In the end, though, the dish came together quite nicely! The chicken was very flavorful and the vegetables tasted good. The potatoes were amazing – definitely my favorite part. I thought they were going to taste plain or dry but I think that cooking them in the broth in the pan gave them such great flavor.

A note about time – I cooked the chicken in the oven for about 40 minutes instead of an hour and the whole casserole was in there for more like 20 minutes instead of 45 at the end. The smaller pieces of chicken cooked faster than the recipe intended. I will say that I started to run out of time about halfway though (multiple batches in small pans) so the vegetables could have stood to be cooked longer. The carrots were still a bit crunchy which actually tasted pretty good.

The Challenge: Meat and Potatoes
The Recipe: Chicken en Casserole from “Cookery for Today”
The Date/Year and Region: 1932, American
How Did You Make It: Brown the chicken then continue cooking in the oven. Halfway through brown the vegetables and potato balls. Add to casserole dish and continue baking.
Time to Complete: 2 hours
Total Cost: Chicken ($5), vegetables and potatoes (~$1) so about $6 overall.
How Successful Was It?: Tasted great! I could have cooked the veggies more.
How Accurate Is It?: I’d say 60%. I made a few modifications to the ingredients because of what I had available on short notice and I cooked it using modern tools and conveniences (microwave, timer, etc).

It served five adults and got excellent reviews from all. So, first challenge completed right in the nick of time! As of right now my goal is to complete all of them so back to the kitchen I go!