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 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.
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