Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Household Seal of Approval

Part of the attraction for me to vintage cookbooks and vintage books in general is the incredible amount of care that went into the designs.  Think of pulp fiction novels from the 50's.  The enduring attraction, to some extent, is the cover artwork.  Vying for attention from shelves and newsstands of years gone by, they are brightly colored, titilating, and suggestive.  Some cookbooks of decades ago hold that same attraction for me.  So many cookbooks have amazing graphics and design--from embossed covers of intricate detail to illustrations with mid-century style and swagger.  While surface beauty wasn't the only factor that led to this week's cookbook pick, it did make me linger a little longer over my choice.

From 1941, The Household Searchlight Recipe Book came out of Topeka, Kansas.  I did a little research on The Household Magazine and discovered that it was pretty prolific for its time.  In 1931, it had a subscription circulation of over 1 million readers.  The Library of Congress even has an issue from 1926 in its digital archives, which is a treat to look through.  The recipe book has an extensive index of options, with recipes tested and given the 'Searchlight Seal of Approval,' which must have been the Topeka version of the Good Housekeeping seal.  The 'Sandwiches' section alone provided a plethora of options, which is what made it win out over the Trader Vic's cookbook that was also under consideration.  A lot of ingenious combinations, a lot of downright odd combinations, all under the categories of open faced or closed sandwiches, with gentle suggestions on what bread to use and whether to keep crusts on or off.

I could have chosen Pineapple Peanut Sandwiches, Baked Bean Sandwiches, Black Walnut Sandwiches, or even Coconut Sandwiches.  But I didn't.  What I did choose was the Fig Nut Sandwiches and the Carrot Sandwiches.  With some of the choices available here, your next tea party would be anything but ordinary.

I took liberty with the recipes since both called for a specific salad dressing to mix in.  I used what I had on hand, or just shaved enough off the recipe to make it still work without having to make anything more.

Carrot Sandwiches
Adapted from The Household Searchlight Recipe Book
Recipe courtesy of Eulalie Weber, Marysville, KS

1 large carrot, washed, top and root end trimmed
1/2 cup dry roasted peanuts
Arugula, washed
2 tbsp tahini dressing
2 slices whole wheat bread, toasted

In a food processor, grind peanuts to fine consistency, but not peanut butter.  With the shredder blade, add the carrot and pulse to combine.  Add dressing to bring to spreadable consistency.  You could easily use the same amount of vegetable or olive oil in place of the dressing.  Spread on one slice of toast with arugula, top with second slice and cut into triangles. 

Fig Nut Sandwiches
Adapted from The Household Searchlight Recipe Book

1 cup dried figs, about 8 or 9
1/4 cup almonds
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp mayonnaise
pinch of salt
baguette, sliced thin and grilled

Grind almonds in a food processor until minced but not ground too finely.  Add figs and grind until combined.  Add remaining ingredients and process until it becomes the consistenly of a chunky spread.  Spread on bageutte slices.








Thursday, March 12, 2015

#tbt Hiccup

Order is once again restored...and here I am.  Remember when I mentioned earlier this year that I knew 2015 was going to start off rough?  Well...I may have underestimated just how rough.  On top of a lot of little things that have just been piling up, I've been fretting over an upcoming surgery (which occurred this past Monday---I'm home, healing, and it was good news).  Of course...I really did bake last week with the next recipe (it was a good distraction for a few hours), I just didn't feel like having to sit down and write about it.

So, again...here I am.  Originally, I thought I may have been mistaken and didn't have any cookbooks from the 1930's.  But I did have a Sunset magazine or two, both containing recipes, and I had even chosen which one I was going to make.  Then...then I was tagged on Instagram (because there are people on there who know my love of vintage cookbooks and happily point out ones they think I may be interested in).  Turns out, it was for a cookbook I actually already have!  And the date was posted!  1934!  Serendipituous!  Right on cue!

My copy came off the bookshelf and after a flip or three through the pages--extremely worn, stained, torn, and battered pages-- I found the recipe for Coconut Ice Box Cookies.  You know the great thing about ice box cookies?  Anyone can make them.  Anyone.  And they'll be good, if not great.  These are also the best cookie to stash a batch in the freezer and when you have friends stopping by, pull it out, slice what you want, bake, and voila!  Cookies!  Buttery, coconut-ty, crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside.