When Marty Grewell Stover found herself cleaning out the house she grew up in, a monumental job was at hand. That would be true any time of the year. Much worse in the dead of winter on the coldest days of February.
Not one to throw out what she and her mother considered family recipe files, she bestowed the wonderful gift on me. And I was truly grateful, as I am always looking for local family kitchen heritage.
Her home had been in the family for going on 64 years. Six decades to collect memories, milestones and yes, a lot of recipes. Handing over bags of files, loose cut papers, books, magazines and a treasure trove of old newspaper cookbooks, we exchanged phone numbers and good-byes.
Many of the oldest papers and cutouts came from her mother. Sixty-four years is a lot of cooking. While each week no doubt held regular favorites, Mrs. Grewell enjoyed trying new dishes, and baking up treats for family and friends. From all the local product and dealer pamphlets, mailings and calendars, she relied on the integrity of shopping and cooking with local products.
A good example is the Hopewell-Miami County Dairy Calendar from 1966. The dairy had stores/offices in Bellefontaine and Covington, Ohio. Old-time calendars often printed beautiful photos in the top half of a page, bottom half held the month and on the back of the page were recipes. January, 1966, recipe was an explanation of how to make Bread Boxes or croustades. They held all sorts of creamed meats, creamed vegetables or anything that could be made better in a cream or soup based sauce.
Something that brought back fond memories for me were all the flour sack recipe inserts. Gold Medal, Pillsbury and Robin Hood flours all printed long strips of recipes folded into a small package and placed them in the top of flour sacks. Growing up, it was like finding a treasure and my mother was sure to try at least one of the recipes before the sack was empty.
Those recipe strips also included specials such as the Robin Hood Homemaker’s Club value stamps, redeemable for items in the Homemaker’s Club catalog; items such as an electric popcorn popper for $2.65 with 6 stamps. Each sack held at least four stamps, so it wouldn’t take long to accumulate enough for more than one item.
A small booklet from the American Dairy Association printed in 1962 held this bit of info: “According to the U.S. Government figures, a “market basket” of food actually costs less than 10 years ago. The basket included most meats, butter, eggs, staples, bread and canned foods. In 1962 the baskets cost $9.80 whereas in 1952 the same products cost $10.16.”
Oh how things have changed!
A blue folded flyer caught my eye. Remember Ruth Lyons? She and Willie Thall used to send out recipe pamphlets that featured a local product such as the Miami Margarine Company’s Nu-Maid Oleomargarine.
In amongst all the printed recipes were some index cards written in a clear, spidery, handwriting. One such card reads “White Cookies — Grandma Grewell — this is a light cookie.”
There are still bags to sift through. And just like those little folded recipe papers in the top of flour sacks, treasures will be found. For now though, it’s time to choose a couple of recipes to share.
Grandma Grewell’s White Cookies
2 sticks oleo, creamed
1-1/2 cups powdered sugar, add slowly
1 teaspoon vanilla
2-1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt
Cream oleo, add sugar slowly; add vanilla and eggs. Blend well. Sift together rest of ingredients and blend into creamed mixture. Divide and make 2 rolls and chill. Slice off 1/8 inch thick. Bake at 400 degrees for 8 minutes. This is a light cookie.
Yellowed newspaper breakfast recipes
Brown Sugar Toast
Cream together a cup of brown sugar and a half cup of butter or margarine until light and fluffy. Add two tablespoons coffee cream and a little grated lemon rind. Mix well. Spread the mixture on one side of toast slices. Place toast, spread side up on ungreased cookie sheets. Toast a few minutes under low broiler heat until mixture bubbles. Serve piping hot.
Robin Hood’s Banana Date Cake
1/2 cup shortening
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 cup mashed banana (about 3)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups Robin Hood all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk or sour milk
1/2 cup finely cut-up dates
1/2 cup chopped nuts
Cream shortening, sugar and eggs. Add mashed banana and vanilla. Add sifted dry ingredients alternately with buttermilk. Blend well. Stir in dates and nuts. Pour into greased/floured 9-inch square pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes or until tested done with toothpick. Cool. Frost with buttercream frosting. Nine servings.