Posted by: Erica Retrochef | March 20, 2017

Luscious Cocoa Cake

Happy birthday to Buzz!

Swan’s Down Cake Flour put out a pamphlet in 1944 describing their new “Mix-Easy” method of cake making. And I’m all about finding a new (to me) cake recipe!




Have the shortening at room temperature. Grease pans, line bottoms with waxed paper, and grease again. Use two 8-inch layer pans or an 8x8x2-inch pan. Start oven for moderate heat (350° F.). Sift flour once before measuring.


Measure into sifter:
1 1/2 cups sifted Swans Down Cake Flour
1 teaspoon soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Measure into cup:
1/2 cup buttermilk or sour milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Measure into bowl:
1/2 cup vegetable shortening

Have ready:
1 1/4 cups brown sugar, firmly packed
3 eggs, unbeaten
1/2 cup Baker’s Breakfast Cocoa blended with 1/2 cup cold water

Now the “Mix-Easy” Part:
Mix or stir shortening just to soften. Sift in dry ingredients. Add brown sugar. (Force through sieve to remove lumps, if necessary.) Add 1/2 of milk and the eggs. Mix until all flour is dampened; then beat 1 minute. Add remaining milk and the cocoa-water mixture, blend, and beat 2 minutes longer. (Count only actual beating time. Or count beating strokes. Allow at least 100 full strokes per minute. Scrape bowl and spoon or beater often.)

Turn batter into pans. Bake in moderate oven (350° F.) about 30 minutes for layers, or about 55 minutes for 8x8x2-inch cake.

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Posted by: Erica Retrochef | November 21, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!


via The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit

Posted by: Buzz | August 1, 2016

Humphrey’s Beef Soup, Home Made

The major party presidential candidates named their running mates in July, so this month we are featuring a vice presidential recipe. It comes to us from Hubert Humphrey, who served from 1965-1969. Humphrey was a staunch supporter of civil rights, even when much of the Democratic Party’s support still came from southern racists. After sixteen years in the United States Senate, President Lyndon Johnson picked Humphreys as his running mate.

Dissatisfaction over the Vietnam war forced Johnson to withdrawn from the presidential race in 1968, and Humphrey replaced him as the candidate of the Democratic establishment. Robert Kennedy emerged as his closest rival, and there might have been a very contentious convention had Kennedy not been shot that summer. However, the media have always tended to overstate how close Kennedy came to getting the nod. It would have required a substantial number of nominal Humphrey supporters to defect for Kennedy to have carried it. In any case, Humphrey won the nomination, but his campaign was deeply wounded by the images of police facing off against antiwar protesters, and he lost narrowly to Richard Nixon.

Humphreys was the last strongly progressive Democrat to come close to winning the presidency until the 2000s. His loss has been seen by many political observers as a key development in a decades-long move to the right in American political culture. Humphrey’s strong support for civil rights marked the permanent end of the South as a Democratic stronghold in presidential elections (although the disappearance of the Dixiecrats from Congress and state government took far longer). The loss of southern whites from the New Deal coalition ended the progressive expansion of social programs that had been so important from the 1930s to the 1960s, beginning with the New Deal and culminating in the Great Society.

Humphreys was only fifty-seven when he lost the presidential election, and in 1971 he returned to the Senate. In a twist of irony, he replaced Eugene McCarthy, who had also sought the Democratic nomination for the presidency in 1968. It was McCarthy’s strong showing in the New Hampshire primary that had forced President Johnson to withdraw from the race. McCarthy, having turned against the party establishment, stood little chance of being renominated for the 1970 Senate race, and practically none of being reelected, so he retired and Humphreys took his place. Humphreys served until his death in 1978, during which he was given the title of deputy president pro tempore, in honor of his previous service as Senate president.



1 1/2 lbs. stew beef or pieces of chuck
1 soup bone

Cover with cold water in heavy 3 quart sauce pan. Add salt, pepper and two bay leaves and heat to bubbly stage. Then turn the heat very low and add the following:

1/2 cup chopped donion
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped cabbage
4 or 5 medium carrots, sliced
pinch of oregano

Simmer for at least 2 1/2 hours or until meat is very tender. Remove bone and bay leaves and cut pieces of meat into bite size. Then add:

1 #2 can of tomatoes (I prefer the Italian style if you can get them)
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 beef bouillon cube (if desired)

Simmer again for 1/2 hour or longer — until you are ready to eat.

This soup or stew is almost a full meal in itself. It is very thick and full of good vitamins and energy. Generally, a good fruit salad, saltines, coffee and dessert is all one needs for a wonderful supper.


This seems like a recipe aimed at people who already had a pretty good idea how to cook soup.


I’m never sure how much liquid to add when it says it’s supposed to be enough to cover the meat. Am I supposed to spread the meat out on the bottom of the pot, then cover it with just enough have it all submerged? (No, I know that’s not right, since I’ve tried doing it that way, and it was not nearly enough liquid.) This time, I dropped the stew beef and the rather bulky bone matter in adjacent heaps and added enough that they were about a centimeter underwater. Then the recipe calls for salt, but it doesn’t say how much. I don’t really know how much salt to add, and the question isn’t helped by my having only a rough idea how much water I just put in. So I added a little to start and kept putting more in as it cooked, until I could finally find the amount that tasted right near the end.


The vegetables went in and mostly disappeared under the water. I was getting anxious that there might be way too much liquid. Vice President Humphreys had said that this was supposed to be thick, almost like a stew.

It seemed silly to pull the meat out and cut it up, but the batch of stew meat we had used contained some unusually large chunks. Moreover, after two and a half ours on the stone, several long strips of meat had fallen completely off the soup bone. So I fished around for any hunk of meat that seemed uncomfortably large and hacked them down to bite-sized pieces. (There was also a lot of connective tissue in the strips from the bone, which were cut off and given to the dog.)


The recipe says “tomatoes,” and we already had canned diced tomatoes in the pantry, but we figured the recipe meant whole tomatoes. After plopping them in, it was obvious that this was the wrong decision. The whole tomatoes floated to the top like bloated red balls, clearly vastly too large for a single bite. So after they had simmered for about half an hour, and the whole soup was nearing completion, we pulled them all out and cut them up into bite-size pieces, just like we also had done for the stew beef.


In the end, it was almost like a stew, which was a surprise given how liquid the soup had seemed through almost all of its cooking time. The broth is rich and flavorful, the variety of vegetables all played well together, and it does indeed make a hearty centerpiece of a meal. The beef itself was somewhat bland, since it was not separately seasoned or browned or anything before being added to the soup.

This selection from Political Pot Luck: A Collection of Recipes from Men Only (1959) was shared online at The Awl.

Posted by: Erica Retrochef | July 4, 2016

Frankie Doodle Dandy with Red White and Blue Cobbler

Frankie Doodle Dandy

This Fourth of July also coincides with our regularly scheduled “political” recipe Mondays. We decided to do a bonus double recipe, starting off with a quick kid-friendly sandwich:

Meet Frankie Doodle Dandy. Sitting on a blanket of American cheese, he rides in on a toasted English.

Make Frankie Doodle Dandy by splitting Swift Premium Franks. Dip into boiling water until “arm & legs” spread. Build sandwich and top with frank. Wrap in foil and grill for 10 minutes. Decorate as pictured.

Hilarious, right? Toasted English, ha ha ha! Really, this recipe appealed to me only because of the simplicity and kid-oriented design.

In any case, Frankie Doodle Dandy is being followed up with Barbara Bush’s Red White and Blue Cobbler.


Place blueberry pie filling in bottom of 8 x 8-inch glass baking pan. Spread evenly and then place the cherry pie filling on top, smoothing to edges of pan. Place in 400°F oven to heat while preparing topping.

1 cup flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons shortening
1/2 cup milk

Blueberry Filling
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
2 cups fresh or frozen unsweetened blueberries

Mix sugar and cornstarch in a saucepan and add all other ingredients. Cook until thickened. Put into 8 x 8-inch Pyrex pan and keep hot in a 250°F oven while making cherry filling.

Cherry Filling
1 can sour pie cherries
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon almond extract

In a saucepan, mix dry ingredients. Gradually stir in juice from canned cherries and cook until thickened, adding cherries and flavorings at the end. Smooth cherry filling over blueberry mixture. Keep hot while making topping.

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Posted by: Erica Retrochef | June 8, 2016

Pieathalon! Mai Tai Pie

Welcome to the 3rd Annual Pieathalon!


Yinzerella of Dinner Is Served 1972 has once again collected retro bloggers and arranged for us all to swap pie recipes with one another. And once again, I see no reason to pass up an opportunity to (a) get a new recipe to test and (b) eat pie.

Because DUH, IT’S PIE.

We were randomly selected to make Mai Tai Pie, a recipe from The Thatched Kitchen Harvest & Holiday Cookbook (1972), contributed to the pie pool by Kelly at Velveteen Lounge Kitsch-en.


Cool and light, the flavors of lime and rum are distinctive in this coconut crust pie.

2 cups flaked coconut
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 can (1 lb., 4 oz) crushed pineapple
2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon grated lime peel
1 tablespoon lime juice
3 eggs, separated
1/2 cup dark Jamaican rum
2 tablespoons Cointreau
1 cup whipping cream
Twisted lime slices
Stemmed maraschino cherries


Combine coconut and melted butter, tossing with a fork to combine. Press over bottom and up sides of 9-inch glass pie plate. Bake in a preheated 300°F. oven 25 minutes until well browned. Cool.

Meanwhile, drain pineapple well reserving all syrup. Add water to syrup to make 1 1/2 cups liquid. Sprinkle gelatimn over liquid in a small saucepan. Stir in sugar, salt, lime peel and juice. Heat mixture to boiling, stirring constantly until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat. Beat egg yolks until foamy. Gradually pour hot mixture over eggs, beating constantly. Stir in rum and Cointreau. Chill mixture about 40 minutes to consistency of unbeaten egg white. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold into gelatin mixture until well blended. Whip cream until stiff. Fold cream and pineapple into gelatin mixture. Turn into pie shell. Chill two hours before cutting. Garnish with twisted lime slices and cherries to serve.

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Posted by: Erica Retrochef | June 6, 2016

Watergate Salad

A couple of weeks ago while shopping for Puddin Cookies ingredients, we were debating what our next politician recipe attempt ought to be. The universe delivered us an easy option: Watergate Salad, right on the side of the pudding box.


Watergate Salad

1 can (20 oz.) crushed pineapple in juice, undrained
1 pkg. (3.4 oz.) JELL-O Pistachio Flavor Instant Pudding
1-1/2 cups JET-PUFFED Miniature Marshmallows
1 cup thawed COOL WHIP Whipped Topping
1 cup chopped PLANTERS Pecans

COMBINE ingredients.

REFRIGERATE 1 hour. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Nixon it is!

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Posted by: Erica Retrochef | May 30, 2016

Creamed Tuna Crumbles


What’s most exciting to me about this week’s recipe is the advertisement — more specifically, the serving platter. See that fish in the middle with an olive in its mouth?

Just… wow.


Incidentally … a budget-extender!

3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 2/3 cups (1 tall can) Carnation Milk
1/3 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons chopped green pepper
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
1 7-oz. can tuna fish, drained and flaked
3 hard-cooked eggs, sliced
6 noodle nests or 6 slices toast

Melt butter in saucepan, add flour and stir until smooth. Add Carnation Milk and water gradually. Cook until thickened, stirring constantly. Stir in salt, green pepper, lemon rind, tuna fish, and hard-cooked eggs, and heat through. Serve in noodle nests or on toast. Garnish with a dash of paprika and sprig of parsley. Serves 6.

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Posted by: Erica Retrochef | May 23, 2016

Puddin’ Cookies

I’ve mentioned elsewhere that it’s acceptable to call somebody puddin’ (perhaps an affectionate nickname for a child), but it’s pretty rude to call them pudding.


I think Bisquick was following the same sort of logic when they named this recipe. Pudding Cookies is unappealing, but Puddin’ Cookies is fun and hip!

PUDDIN’ COOKIES! Mix well 3/4 cup Bisquick, 1 pkg. instant pudding mix (any flavor), 1/4 cup salad oil, 1 egg. Form into small balls; flatten with hand on ungreased baking sheet. Bake 8 min. at 350 (mod.). Makes about 3 doz. They’re fun!

Puddin’ Cookies! It’s excitin’!

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Posted by: Erica Retrochef | May 9, 2016

Tuna Burgers

As summer starts to really settle in, sometimes you just want to grill out and enjoy a nice juicy burger.

And then you remember your daughter is a pescatarian, put the ground beef back in the grocery meat case with a quiet sigh, and pick up some cans of tuna fish instead. Because thanks to retro advertisements, you can make almost anything with tuna.


Including a burger.


2 cans (6 1/2 oz each) chunk light tuna, drained and flaked
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1/3 cup HELLMANN’S Real Mayonnaise
2 tablespoons minced onion
2 tablespoons chili sauce
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 cup seasoned fine dry bread crumbs
2 tablespoons MAZOLA Corn Oil
4 rolls, split lengthwise
Cole slaw

Stir together first 6 ingredients, shape mixture into 4 patties. Coat with bread crumbs. In skillet, heat corn oil over medium heat. Add patties and fry about 5 minutes, turning to brown both sides. Serve on rolls with your favorite cole slaw. Serves 4.

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Posted by: Erica Retrochef | May 2, 2016

Hot Fruit Casserole

Strom Thurmond is a legend in South Carolina politics. What kind of legend is a matter of debate though. A staunch opponent of integration and miscegenation, who fathered a child with his family’s teenage African-American housekeeper; the longest-serving Republican Senator, after starting in Congress as a Democrat; a man with a creepily oversize statue on the statehouse grounds. But whatever else he was, he was a consummate politician.

During the 1970s, Thurmond put out a family recipe booklet as part of his campaign. His second wife, Nancy, compiled a number of recipes and added the name of various South Carolina towns.

Always conscious of nutrition, Mrs. Thurmond recently compiled a cookbook of favorite family recipes and photographs which she hands out on the campaign trail for her husband who is seeking re-election. According to the 32 year old former beauty queen, the recipes come from family members and friends, and all utilize South Carolina products. Each recipe is named for a South Carolina town which were campaign stops of the Thurmond entourage. — “Thurmond Family Recipes“, The Sumter Daily Item, September 7, 1978.

I don’t think the names of the towns attached to the recipes actually meant anything. They were just there to point out that Strom Thurmond knew his way around the entire state—and to spell out an acrostic.


Hot fruit casserole — essentially, fruit cocktail baked with fat, sugar, and spices — is apparently a relatively common dish in the South. Travelers Rest Hot Fruit Casserole is just a hot fruit casserole named after Travelers Rest, a very small town that would be unknown except it’s on the way into the North Carolina mountains… and was included in a recipe in Nancy Thurmond’s collection. Other than the name, there are no interesting variations in this version (While researching this dish, I saw versions with macaroons, almonds, or pecans included to add texture and variety).


Travelers Rest Hot Fruit Casserole

6 pears, halved
6 peaches, halved
1 C. pineapple chunks
12 maraschino cherries
1/2 C. oleo
1/2 C. brown sugar
3 tsp. curry powder (or less)

Peel fruit. Melt oleo. Add brown sugar and curry powder. Arrange half of fruit in casserole. Pour half oleo mixture over fruit. Repeat. Bake at 350°F for one hour.

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