Tuesday, January 12, 2016


When I was old enough to read on my own, Aunt Shirley, my dad’s younger sister, sent me the Fun to Cook Book for Christmas. Copyrighted in 1955 by the Carnation Company, it was written as a basic kitchen/recipe guide for little girls. The idea behind it reminds me of today’s American Girl books – the “you-can-do-it” attitude.

If that little book appealed to me (and it did), it did not appeal to my mother. I’m just guessing, but perhaps she didn’t like the promotion of Carnation Evaporated Milk, which she seldom used. Or, it may have been a control issue. The little girl in the book was encouraged to take charge in the kitchen, and my mother wasn’t about to let that happen. For one thing, ruining food was costly and to be avoided, and perhaps Mother felt the risk was great. And I don’t think she wanted the Carnation Company suggesting recipes to her daughter. She liked her method of making white sauce, macaroni and cheese, etc. Whatever, I imagine I’m giving more thought to Mother’s lack of interest than she ever did.

Mother knew, though, that she wasn’t allowing me to cook as I grew up. Occasionally she would say as much. And when decent food began to come out of my own kitchen, she would say, “It’s amazing you can cook because we didn’t teach you.” Well, she taught me more than she realized. She just didn’t allow me to practice. (The exception would be baking. I made cookies and cakes but not pies. Pies were her specialty.)

So, I wasn’t allowed to use the little cook book, but I read it from time to time, and I feel nostalgic about it. Copies of it, now long out of print, may be purchased through Amazon (here) and other online sellers. Reviewers (people of my age, of course) also feel nostalgic about it. One of them mentioned that she still makes fudge using the Carnation recipe, which appears in the little book. Let’s look at it.

5 Minute Fudge (makes 2 pounds)
2/3 cup undiluted Carnation Evaporated Milk
1 2/3 cup sugar
1 ½ cups (about 16 medium) diced marshmallows
½ cup chopped nuts
1 ½ cups semi-sweet chocolate pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla

1)   Put Carnation and sugar in large saucepan, and put on stove. Turn burner to low. Heat to boiling.
2)   Cook 5 minutes, stirring all the time so that milk and sugar do not scorch. [You should probably stir this mixture in step 1 as well.]
3)   Remove saucepan from heat. Add marshmallows, chopped nuts, chocolate and vanilla.
4)   Stir fudge with a wooden spoon until marshmallows and chocolate are melted. (About 1 minute.)
5)   Pour fudge into a buttered 8” square pan. When the fudge is cool, cut into squares.

Checking online for updates (here), I found a few modifications:
Add 2 tablespoons butter and ½ teaspoon salt to the milk and sugar.
Use two cups miniature marshmallows instead of dicing large ones.

I couldn't find a good history of the Carnation Company, which has “changed hands” several times since the '70s. KW


Chris said...

I do believe I had that same book. Must still be among Mom's cookbooks. I also had another "kids" cookbook Dad bought me. As I remember, the cover, now missing, was red. I have it and the copyright is 1951 and is by Julia Kiene, Director, Westinghouse Home Economics Institue. I remember making several recipes from it. While I think Mom may not have appreciated my messes in the kitchen, she knew Dad encouraged them and thus I was allowed. And Mom was never a baker, except at holidays, and it was my favorite type of cooking. Win, win.

Thanks for the memories!

Chris said...

And I forgot to ask, did you make the fudge?

Kathy said...

No, I didn't make the fudge. It's time to cut back, you know. However, I did make cookies today.

I was wondering if your mom made traditional Scandinavian goodies at Christmas.

Chris said...

No, Grandpa was the Norwegian so Grandma didn't have the background, or more probably, the recipes. I don't remember mom baking many Christmas cookies until I was a freshman when we did it together, and then through the rest of my high school years. She did make holiday pies.

Kathy said...

We didn't have a tradition of holiday goodies based on our heritage either, but I wish we might have pursued that a bit. I guess we still could, come to think of it, and perhaps more easily today because of the internet. It just would have been fun to hear what Grandpa's family ate at the holidays. It's also reasonable to assume it wasn't much. I'm sure they were poor farmers.

Hallie said...

What a fun idea! Maybe next year we should have one day that is Scandinavian themed from breakfast to dessert. :) One of my friends has Norwegian parents--I'll ask him what they cook at the holidays. Maybe I can score some good recipes.

Kathy said...

Okay, but just remember . . .it was your idea.

I'm reminded of the ad where the young man and his father go to Norway to find their roots, but when they get to the "bureau of records," the clerk tells them they have to go to Sweden. I don't know if all Scandinavians eat the same.

I'll be happy to try my hand at Swedish tea rings. Mother always made two for Christmas morning. And I could handle spritz cookies, which may (or may not) be Scandinavian. And I'll throw it some Scotch short bread cookies for our the Scotch/Irish in us.

There are lots of Scandinavians in Troy (Idaho) and they used to have a Scandinavian dinner during the holidays. Maybe you could find some Scandinavian food history in your Ballard neighborhood.

Perhaps we'll have more on this later.