Hints about cooking from the 1950s

Back in the early days of the 1940s and ’50s we made most of our desserts at home rather than buying something at the local corner store. That way we knew exactly what was in them and the lady folks experimented from there to enhance the home baked treats. The following are some of those great hints for how to enhance your home baking:

  • Don’t skip on eggs in a recipe as eggs give lightness of texture.
  • Pasteurized milk, like boiled milk spoils rather than sours with age. The way to sour a cup of fresh milk is to add 1 teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice when a recipe calls for sour milk. Allow to stand for five minutes.
  • Diet watchers: evaporated milk has only one fifth of the fat that whipping cream has. Fruit juice can be added for greater permanent stiffness. Add juice to whipped milk.
  • Try some warm honey mixed with cream on your pancakes or waffles instead of syrup.
  • Lemons will yield more juice if dropped into warm water or warm oven before squeezing.
  • Add a few drops of lemon juice to your butter when sautéing mushrooms. It gives them that high gloss you find in the best high class restaurants.
  • For out of this world fried chicken or fish, dip pieces in regular pancake mixture and cornmeal.
  • To core lettuce: first soak in cold water. Next place on a board with stem end up. Hit the core of the lettuce with your fist two or three times. Twist core out with your fingers. Hold lettuce under water faucet, allowing cold water flow into hole made by the former core. Lettuce with separate beautifully, and as well be clean.

Pie Crust: This recipe is for a 9 inch pie plate or 8 inch square pie pan. Use crumbs of graham, chocolate or vanilla wafers, gingersnaps, shortbread, or zwieback. For every 1½ cup of fine crumbs, use ¼ cup butter. Depending on a hot or cold filling, chill for one hour or bake for 8 minutes as 375ºF and then cool.

Pie Fillings: Chiffon or cream, ice cream, Bavarian cream, snow , gelatin, any fresh fruit, canned fruit (drained) or frozen fruit (thawed and drained first).

Meringue: Let whites warm up before beating. Always spread on a hot filling. Allow 1 teaspoon of water for each white, to increase the volume and make a more tender filling.


Murray Martin shares recipes from the 1940s and ‘50s with us.
Questions or comments about his stories can be sent to [email protected].

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