On a recent visit to my mother’s home, I browsed through her recipe box in search of an ice box pie that I loved from my childhood. Several other recipes, handwritten in a nearly-forgotten beautiful cursive, jumped out and brought back memories. Many of us have those boxes of old family recipes that bring to mind a memory, a place, a fragrance.
During a recent photo shoot for our next cookbook, our friend Larie shared a small bag of recipes from her grandmother, dating to the 1940s and ’50s. Some were handwritten on whatever piece of paper was available (including a white shopping bag). Others were cut out of newspapers. Some were even saved recipes from chocolate chip bags and vanilla wafer bags.
Among the 8 Broads, we invariable bake with unsalted butter. Never oleo or margarine. Shortening is a very rare ingredient for our group. So we got a big hoot out of the ads from the ’40s for Crisco, promoting “It’s digestible!” Really, is that the best thing one can say about a product—that you can digest it?
Then there’s the ad for Spry—a cake “improver”. Not knowing what a cake enhancer is, a bit of research revealed an article in Cook’s Illustrated that cake improvers, now called enhancers, are still available for purchase (notably from King Arthur Flour). Now as then, cake enhancers are promoted as a miracle product, adding shelf-life to a cake.
Here’s my mother’s old recipe for Fudge Sundae Pie. Oh so good.