Buried Treasure - Part 2

Buried Treasure - Part 2

As I’ve been going through the boxes of Ruth’s memorabilia, doing research for my next book, I made another amazing find: stacks of 1920’s, 1930’s, 1940’s and 1950’s era recipe booklets – many of them published by companies anxious for homemakers to use their products. Here’s a sampling:

• 20th Century Food Preparation: To Be Used in Conjunction With the Adolphus Tenderizer – published in 1950 by Adolphus Hohensee, MD*, ND, DC (the MD is asterisked with a footnote saying “Honorary Degree”). Hmmm…. The title page offers a preview:“The new scientific way to properly prepare food. With full instructions for Tenderizing your meals. The secret of retaining the alkalinity and many of the vitamins and minerals in your food.” The booklet offers detailed information about the Adolphus Tenderizer (a large, sophisticated piece of machinery, apparently!) and recipes for using it, including Adolphus Tummy Salad, Turnip Custard, Liver and Rice Loaf, Raspberry Flummery and other unique selections. Here’s the kicker: throughout the whole booklet, entire passages and diagrams are inked out in red ink with a rubber stamp saying “Deleted by Order of Federal Trade Commission.” Fascinating . . .

• 641 Tested Recipes from the Sealtest Kitchens opens with a chatty introductory letter addressed “To Our Homemaker Friends.” Not surprisingly, all 641 recipes include a Sealtest dairy product (sour cream, milk, cottage cheese, buttermilk). There’s even an entire chapter titled “Cottage Cheese in Main Dishes”. Gotta hand it to them – they’ve figured a way to get a little dairy into EVERYTHING, including their “Silvery Sardine Sandwich” (uses Sealtest cottage cheese), “Turkey Mousse” (with Sealtest whipping cream), and “Turnip Potato Duet” (using Sealtest milk). WOW!

• Tempting Banana Recipes was published in 1947 by the Fruit Dispatch Company, Distributors of United Fruit Company Bananas. The front of this booklet has a photo of sliced bananas artfully arranged atop tomato halves, garnished with parsley. That’s right. Bananas, tomatoes and parsley. The recipe, “Tomatoes Tropical,” calls for paprika and finely grated cheese too. That recipe, the “Ham Banana Rolls with Cheese Sauce” and “Banana Meat Rolls” (which calls for ground meat, onions and of course, bananas) are real head-scratchers. Luckily, the booklet also includes “Banana Tea Bread,” “Banana Oatmeal Cookies,” “Banana Milkshake” and “Banana Chocolate Cream Pie.” Now we’re talkin’ . . .

There are quite a few other recipe and nutrition booklets in the collection (I’ve shown a few in the photo here).

But my absolute favorite is the Health For Victory Meal Planning Guide for October 1943, “Contributed in the Interest of the National Wartime Nutrition Program.” It outlines detailed menus for every meal for the month, featuring “the Basic 7” food groups (fresh and dried fruit; fresh and dried vegetables; meat, cheese, etc {I wonder what constitutes “etc”?}; dairy products; canned foods; cereals and bread; miscellaneous (again, what on earth is in the “miscellaneous” food group?). All meals are carefully planned to make the best use of ration points. It includes a day by day calendar with every meal spelled out in careful detail, a “marketing list” for each week’s menus, showing the quantity of each item to buy to make those meals and possible substitutions to meet food shortages and rationing, and advance preparation notes to make most efficient use of time and electricity in cooking the meals for each week.

The front cover shows a “happy looking boy in blue” (a sailor) eating ice cream, with this explanation:
“Why does ice cream mean so much to our fighting men? It’s delicious, of course, but more than that it spells ‘home’. To many of our men, all that is dear and familiar is summed up in something as simple and commonplace as a dish of ice cream! They leave the flag-waving and high sounding phrases to someone else. But brave deeds – well, that’s different! To them the simple, good things of American life are worth whatever they cost! How about the rest of us who aren’t taking a chance with our lives? Aren’t these good things worth all the War Bonds we can buy?”

But underneath the wartime patriotism messages on every page is the real “buried treasure” in this little 68 page gem: nuggets of wisdom about efficient use of resources, moderation in consumption, consideration for the needs and hardships of others, and personal commitment to the common good. Wisdom just as soul-nourishing and essential for our collective survival today as it was nearly 70 years ago.

Posted by Melanie Tagged as: city life lancaster pa ruths story

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