Spice Garden: Mustard Seed

While the leaves of the mustard plant are edible and quite tasty when cooked or raw in a mixed greens salad, it is the seeds of this brassica that I most look forward to. Mustard fruits in the summer, with green pods that grow to about 2 inches long. By October, the pods turn into brown husks, cracking open to reveal tiny balls that hold a pungent fragrance. Depending on the variety, these may be yellow, brown, or black in color.

Mustard flower

Growing mustard couldn't be easier, requiring little attention and plenty of sun. The brown pods may be picked and the seeds harvested for cooking purposes. For a homemade mustard, soak of few tablespoons of the seeds in water for several hours. When softened, grind in a food processor or in a mortar and pestle, adding a splash of vinegar and flavorings such as honey to taste.

Image from Britton, N.L., and A. Brown. 1913. An Illustrated Flora of the Northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 vols. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York. Vol. 2: 193. Courtesy of Kentucky Native Plant Society, found at USDA Plant Database.

My favorite use of mustard seed is in tempering, or tadka, whereby the whole seeds are heated in oil to develop a toasty, popcorn-like flavor used often in Southern Indian cuisine as a kind of garnish. A variety of ingredients may be added to the mustard seed tempering, including curry leaves, whole or diced chilies, cumin, and asafoetida, imparting complex flavors when poured onto rice and dal dishes, or in pickling recipes. It also features as the secret ingredient in a lighter, stovetop version of macaroni and cheese. See recipe below.

Mock Macaroni and Cheese

Mock Macaroni and Cheese
Serves 2

This recipe uses significantly less cheese and fat than traditional baked macaroni and cheese and takes just minutes to prepare. The resulting taste is nevertheless reminiscent of the original. The mustard also adds a nice crunchy element. This is a very casual dish so measurements are approximate. For a vegan version, substitute romano with vegan parmesan.


1 cup elbow macaroni
1 Tbs grated romano cheese
11/2 Tbs canola oil
3 tsp mustard seed
2 tsp sweet paprika powder
pinch asafoetida (optional)
fresh coriander leaves or parsley to garnish (optional)

Cook macaroni in boiling water until soft. Drain and return to the pot. Sprinkle romano cheese and paprika evenly over top. Meanwhile, heat oil and mustard seeds over medium heat in a small pan or pot such as a butter warmer. When mustard seeds begin to pop after a few minutes, remove from heat, add asafoetida if using, and pour over macaroni. Immediately stir all of the ingredients together so that they are evenly distributed. Spoon into bowls, top with cilantro or parsley and serve.

A Plant to Plant: Strolling Through the Late Summer Flower Garden

With the late summer bounty of herbs, fruit, and vegetables throughout August and into early September, it is easy to overlook quieter perennial flowers that bloom at this time of year in the northeastern United States. A close look at one section of my garden yields several noteworthy specimens that are a charming, subdued interlude between the showy midsummer lilies and echinacea (coneflowers) and the arresting, autumnal chrysanthemums and asters.

The same stretch in July


The Coneflower-Four o' clock-Phlox Forest

Along the narrow garden path pictured above, flowers grow to about 5 feet tall, creating a thicket of blooms. After the coneflowers have peaked, an aggressive crop of four o'clocks (Mirabilis longiflora) tumble forth amidst the many phlox plants. Four o'clocks are named for the afternoon hour at which they open everyday. Preferring twilight, they don't open in my garden until around 7pm. Here, a photo progression shows the blooms as they unfurl within an hour to reveal an iridescent, purple-pink stamen, topped with a saffron colored pompom, and an exquisite jasmine perfume, certainly deserving of the name mirabilis (Latin, 'wonderful').

As dusk becomes night, the trumpet shaped flowers point toward the darkening sky and remain open until sunrise, welcoming nocturnal moth pollinators.

Closed four o'clock (day after blooming).

Meadow flowers and wild flowers are some of my favorite summer plants. They seem to suggest the essence of summer, their leggy stalks and wispy leaves gracefully swaying to a breeze, the flowers like tight little bundles of thread resplendent in the waning sunlight of August and September. Below, the brush-like flowers of
Russian sage (Perovskia) and the North American natives Ironweed (Vernonia angustifolia) and Goldenrod (Solidago), express the restrained exuberance of late summer flowers.

Russian Sage



Further along the Coneflower-Four o' clock-Phlox Forest, a petite impatiens balfourii, native to the Himalayas, crouches beneath some larger shrubs, its orchid-like appearance a delight to come upon at the end of an evening stroll.

Selling Milk Between the Wars: Two Pre-WWII U.S. Milk Industry Booklets
Part II

Borden-Wieland. 1937. "Delicious Dairy Dishes," presented by Crowley's Milk Company, Inc. (promotional booklet). Meta Given and Ruth Cooper (contribs.) 62pp. Illustrated in color.

The Crowley Dairy Company was founded in Poughkeepsie, NY in 1904 by J.K. Crowley. In 1915 the company moved to Binghamton where its headquarters remain today. Because "Delicious Dairy Dishes" (hereafter DDD) is copyrighted by Borden-Wieland and 'presented' by Crowley, I suspect this may have served as a general dairy industry booklet that individual, regional brands could co-opt for marketing purposes.

Over twenty years after "The Story of Carnation Milk" was published, science continued to offer a useful language for marketing consumer goods. In comparing the two milk industry booklets we see that in both cases the recipes are devised to encourage home cooks to use milk in everyday cooking. While the Carnation booklet attempts to convince those who may already be loyal milk consumers that canned milk is a superior, technologically sophisticated alternative, the authoritative tone of the Crowley milk booklet highlights scientific proof of the important vitamins and minerals found in "fresh" dairy foods.

Unlike Carnation's evocative pastoral scene, the cover of DDD features no landscape, just the fruits of industry, prepared according to the tenets of the modern kitchen. The title page reads, "Recipes tested and approved by Meta Given and Ruth Cooper, Specialists in Home Economics." In addition to recipes, the text includes several essays by the authors. Whereas Carnation describes its milk production processes as being supervised by "careful, experienced men", in DDD the focus has shifted to the kitchen, organized according to the philosophy of home economics, a term that gained currency in the early 20th century and was widely used by the booklet's 1937 copyright date.

The introduction page appeals to the health and economic concerns of people during the Depression years, stating,"Milk is the original food and nearly as perfect as you will find. It does more for the body than any other food and does it more cheaply. There is no substitute for milk." The introduction boldly asserts that, "Nutritionists advise that one-fourth of the food budget be spent on milk and its related products. With milk furnishing so much for so little outlay of money, this advice must be sound. So for good health and a long, happy life, use milk and dairy products abundantly."

Milk's beneficial components are then dissected and explained:

All model diets give milk a very important place because: Its
1. Protein is ideally adapted for body growth and repair
2. Sugar (lactose) is helpful in preventing digestive disturbances
3. Minerals (calcium and phosphorous) are easily absorbed and ideal for bone and teeth building.
4. Vitamins (A, B, and G) make this an important source with some trace of vitamins C and D.

As also seen in the PET Milk pamphlet, the emphasis on vitamin content reflects early 20th century health concerns, such as mineral and vitamin deficiencies. The scientific discovery of vitamins in the first quarter of the 20th century and eventual synthesization of vitamins, beginning with vitamin C in 1935, helped remedy nutrition deficiency illnesses such as rickets.

Essays on "The Daily Diet," "Butter Cookery," and "Hints on Vegetable Cookery" further explain the nutritional importance of dairy foods. While butter came to be characterized as unhealthy in the late 1960s due to saturated fat content, DDD champions its healthiness: "A food so high in vitamin A content is valuable in the protection against eye trouble known as Xerophthalmia and against diseases of the upper respiratory organs...Where foods of high caloric content must be cut out, butter should never be on this list, because of its vitamin content."

Despite their slightly different agendas, both milk industry booklets combine recipes for popular dishes with information about the production methods or nutritional content of the product and are designed for home cooks. The latterly published DDD shows several additions and alterations in recipe conventions. A section on hors d'oevres suggests an increased interest in entertaining guests, and the use of regional and international location names in recipe titles, such as Southern Corn Pudding, Coffee Bavarian, and Mexican Orange Candy, may have appealed to a desire for urbanity and an air of cosmopolitan sophistication in the Depression era. Despite being published during an economic crisis, DDD eludes the use of tinned ingredients and items such as lentils, highlighted in the Carnation booklet as "economical."

Promotional recipe booklets are interesting artifacts; while they cannot be depended on to accurately reflect the tastes of the period (unlike cookbooks they lack a measurable value) recipe booklets do portray what companies thought consumers would respond to. Because taste and consumption habits shape and are shaped by such advertising material, these historical documents deserve close reading.

Recipe: Carnation Milk Bread

The Story of Carnation Milk, Booklet, 1915. Things Made with Carnation Milk .

As mentioned in the last post on a 1915 Carnation Milk booklet, the recipes included are adaptations of conventional contemporary favorites such as Perfection Salad, Welsh Rarebit, and Macaroni and Cheese. The bread recipe below includes detailed instruction but omits information about oven temperature and baking time, suggesting that such information would have been understood. The adapted version produces only one loaf and omits the boiling water, using the milk as the only liquid. The resulting loaf is very soft and tasty- delicious plain or toasted, with butter and rhubarb jam.

Carnation Milk Bread, from "The Story of Carnation Milk"
Makes 3 small loaves and a dozen small rolls

1 cup Carnation Milk
2 Tbs shortening
1 Tbs sugar
2 tsp salt
3 cups boiling water
1 yeast cake
1/2 cup lukewarm water
11 to 12 cups (even) flour

Measure Carnation Milk, shortening, sugar, and salt into bowl; pour on the boiling water; stand until lukewarm.
Add the yeast which has been dissolved in the lukewarm water; stir in as much flour as dough will take up, and turn upon bread board.
Knead 15 to 25 minutes, adding additional flour as needed. Put in mixing bowl and cover; set to rise; when risen to double original size, turn on floured board, cut into loaves, kneading only to give shape. Let rise in pans to double size and bake.

5 o'clock teaspoon Adapted Milk Bread
Makes 1 standard loaf

1 cup evaporated milk, plus more for brushing
1 tsp yeast
2 tsp sugar
1 Tbs butter
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 to 3 cups all purpose flour

Grease a standard-size metal loaf pan and line with parchment, leaving a 1"-2" border. Pour 1/4 cup warm (almost hot) water in a large, non-reactive bowl and sprinkle yeast over surface of the water. Give it a little swirl so that the yeast dissolves. Gently heat evaporated milk and butter in a saucepan until lukewarm and the butter has dissolved. Pour into bowl, and stir in sugar, salt and 2 cups of flour. Continue to add flour about 1/2 cup at a time until the dough will not take more. Turn on a floured surface and knead 5-7 minutes, adding flour as necessary, until the dough is smooth, soft, and no longer sticky. Place in a large bowl covered by a damp cloth and set in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
Once dough has risen, gently form into a loaf shape, place in greased loaf tin, cover, and set to rise, about 1 hour. Preheat oven to 375°F. Once loaf has more or less doubled, brush with a little evaporated milk or butter and place in center of oven. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until top is golden brown.
*To be sure the bread is done, lift from pan by pulling on the parchment border. Insert a bamboo grilling skewer through the middle at an inconspicuous spot. If it comes out clean, the loaf is ready.

A reader submitted the following wonderful adaptation of the recipe for use with bread machines:

Carnation Milk Bread Adapted For Bread Machines
Prep Time: 15 | Cook Time: 3 hours | Servings: 1 1-1/2 pound loaf | Difficulty: Easy


3/8 cup warm water
2 1/4 tsp yeast (1 package)
1 1/2 cup evaporated milk (1 can)
1 1/2 Tbs butter
3 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt
3 3/4 cups all purpose flour


Sprinkle yeast on top of warm water and then swirl
Heat milk to 100° (30 seconds in microwave, then stir)
Stir in sugar, salt, yeast mixture
Pour into bread machine
Measure flour into bread machine
Set machine to light crust setting if it has one

Notes: Warm means 98°–105°

See also, Selling Milk Between the Wars" Two Pre-WWII U.S. Milk Industry Booklets, Part 1

Selling Milk Between the Wars: Two Pre-WWII U.S. Milk Industry Booklets
Part I

Carnation Milk

Pacific Coast Condensed Milk Company. 1915. "The Story of Carnation Milk" (promotional booklet). 32pp. Illustrated, with some color illustrations. Printed by the American Lithographic Co., NY.

Although first available in the mid-19th century, it took almost a century before canned milk became a trusted product. Booklets such as this one, published in 1915 by Carnation Milk, attempted to gain the public's interest and trust by offering scientific evidence in support of the product and providing favorite recipes adapted to work with evaporated milk. Printed just two years before the inauguration of the American Dairy Science Association, this booklet represents a moment when commodities such as milk became part of an agro-industry structure with a much larger distribution facilitated by improvements to the nation's infrastructure. Elbridge Amos Stuart launched the Carnation brand with a sterilized cream product in 1899. Using a controlled source of milk from the cows on his Seattle dairy farm, Stuart developed the slogan "Carnation Milk, From Contented Cows," creating an image that combines modern, exacting production methods with time-tested knowledge.

The booklet's cover shows a young woman and child looking over a bucolic landscape dotted with grazing cows framed by a backdrop of trees and mountains, fusing the majesty of natural monuments with agricultural industry. The vista is not simply eye-catching, however. It encapsulates the central theme presented in the booklet-- an ideal American way of life challenged by a changing post-World War I environment.

The Story of Carnation Milk, Booklet, 1915. Front Cover.

The "story" opens by describing the product as an essential part of life, and situating it within an idyllic, all but lost, simpler time:
Milk is a necessity. It is a universal food from infancy to old age. It forms part of the sustenance of human beings. In the good old days, practically every family "kept a cow." Towns and cities were not crowding people out of their own pastures and gardens. With the growth of the country industrially, the milk problem became different. People began buying milk from their neighbors, or of some one who had a farm and kept several cows. Life became more complex, cities were built more closely. It became impossible to know where the milk came from, and often it was just as impossible to know what kind of milk it was."

The text thus recalls the past to legitimize a new corporate product that is championed as a scientific advancement, brought about as an answer to the ills of modern urban life.

It is clear that the booklet is aimed at female consumers, most likely housewives in charge of purchasing and preparing family meals. It is their domestic knowledge that the booklet attempts to impress itself upon and yet, the way the milk production process is described is distinctly undomestic-- a mechanized, scientific application overseen by "careful, experienced men." The booklet is aimed at convincing housewives that evaporated milk is not only comparable to regular milk, but superior because of its unique, creamy taste and long shelf life:

Milk is a fundamental in cooking. Flour, eggs, butter, milk, and sugar--these are among the articles consumed in the greatest volume in the home. Naturally, the milk supply has the most opportunity to deteriorate in quality or become contaminated. Raw milk, as every housewife knows, seems to absorb odor and contaminating influences from everything about it, hence it is a delicate article of commerce, and the greatest care and caution often fails to protect it while in the raw state.

In this way, the information promotes evaporated milk by characterizing the housewife as incapable of anticipating the hazards of raw milk, much like the PET Milk powder pamphlet, mentioned in an earlier post.

The Story of Carnation Milk, Booklet, 1915. Back Cover.

Carnation used the idea that its products were available in grocery stores across the country, proffering the slogan "Your grocer is the Carnation milkman." In this modern industrialized setting, such products were conflated with, and became emblematic of, the United States as a whole. Milk companies were no longer tied to any one region. A 1920 advertisement for Carnation Milk in Montana's Times-Optimist suggests the convenience offered by evaporated milk over milking a cow: "Three times a day is not too often for it [milk] to feature on the menu (July 9, 1920). Despite, or perhaps because of efforts to portray evaporated milk as a technological advancement, the booklet's recipes are very conventional, with an emphasis on economy and the habits of the day. As noted on page 8, "Carnation may be poured into an earthen pitcher and used in the same manner as cream and milk..." Yet the booklet is careful to prepare consumers for the differences found in evaporated milk, "Do not expect Carnation Milk to taste like ordinary raw milk. It is better milk, and it will taste differently to you. Most people like the taste at once; others find that they must acquire the liking for it by using three or four cans."

The Story of Carnation Milk, Booklet, 1915. Recipes.

Carnation was eventually bought by Nestle in 1985 but the brand name is still in use today. While evaporated milk fell out of favor in the United States, as expanded infrastructure, improved pasteurization methods, refrigeration, and large scale dairy farming made fresh milk safe and easily accessible, it remains a popular choice in baking and as a creamer in coffee and tea, and continues to be an important milk source overseas, particularly in warm climates.

Coming next: A Recipe for Carnation Milk Bread from the Carnation Milk booklet and,
in Part II a 1937 booklet by milk conglomerate Borden-Wieland, "Delicious Dairy Dishes," presented by Crowley's Milk Company, Inc.

See also: "My Pet Cup": PET Milk and the Business of Feeding Babies

"And the Dish Ran Away With the Spoon": Mythical Foodscapes in Children's Literature
Part III: Raggedy Ann's Wishing Pebble

American writer and illustrator, Johnny Gruelle (1880-1938), created the Raggedy Ann character in 1915 for his daughter, Marcella, and in 1918, published the first of many books recounting the delightful adventures of the playroom rag doll, Raggedy Ann, and her brother Raggedy Andy. Although they live in an idyllic world of bucolic settings and benign fairies and animal friends, the Raggedys encounter malevolent creatures that they nevertheless face with courage and kindness. It is their kind, fearless nature, and rosy outlook on all things in life that make these stories so charming. The opening lines of The Camel with the Wrinkled Knees (1924) captures these qualities:

Raggedy Ann and Andy lay in their little doll beds, smiling up through the dark at the top of the play-house. It was very still and quiet in the play-house, but the Raggedys were not even a teensy-weensy speck lonesome, for they were thinking so many nice, kindly thoughts. And you know, when one thinks only lovely, kindly thoughts there is no time to become lonesome.

As a child, the Raggedy Ann stories were some of my favorites, yet it was not until recently that I came to consider the significance of the many striking depictions of food that often play a role in these fanciful tales. One such foodscape that I have always remembered, however, is that of the magic ice cream soda fountain, conjured in a wish by the Raggedys in, Raggedy Ann's Wishing Pebble (1925).

Raggedy Ann and Andy after finding the wishing pebble.

The story begins as the Raggedys make the acquaintance of Mr and Mrs Muskrat, a friendly couple who lavish them with pancakes (which unfortunately the Raggedys cannot eat lest the food contaminate their cotton filling). Later Raggedy Ann discovers a smooth, round stone which she believes may be a wishing pebble. To repay the Muskrats' kindness, the Raggedys decide to wish for them an ice cream soda fountain and a lollipop garden. The soda fountain is indeed magical because it produces an unlimited supply of several flavors and one can drink as much as one wants without feeling sick. Remarkably, even the Raggedys are able to consume the drink (with a straw that is poked through a hole in their mouths made by Mrs Muskrat) without staining themselves. While all of the Muskrats' friends enjoy this bounty, a selfish elf named Mister Minky (seen spying on the Raggedys in the first image) steals the magic pebble and, before running away, wishes for their sugary delights to disappear, starting the Raggedys on a journey to find the pebble and set things right. Such references to sugar and bountiful sweets appear frequently in Gruelle's books, tantalizing and captivating the imagination of children. Yet, these saccharine confections also help convey a greater message, which I discuss below.

The Raggedys enjoy ice cream soda with the Muskrats.

Everyone is invited for ice cream soda at the Muskrats' house.

Purity is a leitmotif that runs through the Raggedy Ann stories, contributing to a broader belief in the triumph of virtue. The innocence of a child's heart can be found in the Raggedy Ann character, whose own heart is made from candy and imprinted with the words "I love you." Allusions to the untainted appear elsewhere, such as in the description of Raggedy Ann's stuffing of "nice white cotton," which she is careful not to sully with food. The superficial purity of white sugar supports this analogy, yet reveals a dark side as well. As the treasured fountain and lollipop field are selfishly snatched away, they are replaced with discontent and desire. Sugar thus comes to represent both the child's purity of heart and a mode of corruption. Although the story ends well with the return of the soda fountain and lollipop garden, it conveys a cautionary message against selfishness, hinting at the pitfalls of becoming consumed by possessions and material comforts.

See also:
Part I of "And the Dish Ran Away with the Spoon": Utensia
Part II of "And the Dish Ran Away with the Spoon": Bunbury

Coming next: Raggedy Ann in Cookie Land

Hellebore in bloom.

"My Pet Cup": PET Milk and the Business of Feeding Babies

A child's first food is often a rite of passage, an induction into the pressures, constraints, hopes, and beliefs of the society in which she/he will be raised. Shoba Narayan begins her memoir, Monsoon Diary, writing about the symbolic resonance of her first food-- rice with ghee fed by a Hindu priest at the Guruvayur temple in Kerala, as part of the traditional choru-unnal, or rice eating, ceremony. Although a baby's first food may be culturally determined, the notion of baby food, as a distinct commercial object, is a 20th century invention. As sociologists and historians have shown, the creation of baby food is closely tied to an overall shift toward what culinary historian Ann Bentley terms, the "medicalization of childbirth and infancy" in America, particularly in the decades after World War II ("Inventing Baby Food: Gerber and the Discourse of Infancy in the United States," in Food Nations).

Promotional Plastic Weaning Cup Produced for the PET Milk Co. Also found in glass form.

Commodifying Motherhood

While breast milk was once understood to be sufficiently nutritious for babies, by the 1950s it had become standard for mothers to feed their babies with formula (Rima Apple, A Social History of Infant Feeding, 1890-1950). Advertising played a key role in convincing mothers that formula and mass-produced baby food were not only superior to breast milk and homemade baby food, but also necessary in a modern age that conflated food and scientific technology.

A look at a ca. 1950 pamphlet from the PET Milk Company (1885-present) advertising a weaning cup for their irradiated dry milk alternative to breast milk, illustrates some of these points.

Pamphlet Advertising "My PET Cup"

The pamphlet cover depicts a woman feeding a baby with a bottle in one frame, and in the next frame, the baby is shown sitting upright in a chair, successfully drinking, unaided, from a weaning cup. The sequence conveys the idea that the child in now independent of the mother and is not only feeding without her help, but sitting without her as well. Quite strikingly, the mother is completely removed from the situation, except as the implicit consumer to which the pamphlet is speaking. As Bentley points out in the case of Gerber baby food, advertisements often trumpeted the idea of freeing up a mother's time and hands.

The first segment of information that follows in the pamphlet characterizes weaning as a medical condition that requires a doctor's knowledge to treat:
Making the change from breast or bottle to cup is often difficult for a baby. That is natural. Drinking from a cup requires different mouth formation and different muscles from those needed in taking milk from either breast or bottle. A prominent baby physician has invented a specially designed glass "weaning cup" which makes the change from bottle to cup much easier.

The next segment describes the weaning cup's unique "lips" and extols the benefits of this design:
These advantages help both the baby and the mother-- help the baby to get his food, help the mother to avoid the mussiness which spilled milk always makes.

Anonymous health professionals are quoted as experts in child development, suggesting a transference of authority from the mother to the medical establishment:
Many of these cups have been used by mothers, under the observation of physicians, and they have proved most helpful in training the baby to take his food in the new way. The more easily the baby can take his food from the cup, the more readily he will learn to do it. A further advantage is that the child will learn more quickly to take his milk from the cup without assistance, and helping himself, psychologists agree, is an important principle in sound training.

By emphasizing the importance of a baby's independence and a reliance on medical advice, the passage prescribes the correct behavior for the baby, who learns to "help himself" and the mother, who understands that medical opinion is essential to how she raises her child.

{Click to enlarge}

The last few segments reflect the period's concerns over food safety. The pamphlet stresses the nutritional value of PET irradiated milk, which featured vitamin D to prevent rickets, and emphasizes the safety of the product, reassuring mothers that PET Milk is sterile, digestible, and nutritious, as well as convenient and economical.
By invoking the approval of doctors, such advertising attempts to correlate commercially produced baby food with a trusted source, thereby validating the product in the minds of consumers.

{Click to enlarge}

Like many companies, PET Milk strengthened its presence through associated merchandise such as the weaning cup. I recently found a promotional booklet from around the same period produced by the same company, featuring recipes for a variety of popular mid-20th century dishes made with PET dry milk powder.
I made the Brownies using dry milk and was pleasantly surprised at how good they were-- chewy, light, and even better the next day. Any brand of dry milk will do and I replaced the shortening with butter. The original recipe is reproduced below:

Brownies, from PET Nonfat Dry Milk Recipes by Mary Lee Taylor


3/4 cup sifted, all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup cocoa
1/3 cup PET Nonfat Dry Milk

1/2 cup soft shortening
2 unbeaten eggs
2 Tbs water
1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup broken, unsalted nuts

1. Turn on oven and set at 350 (moderate).
2. Grease well a pan measuring about 8x12 inches.
3. Sift together in a 2-quart bowl: (the first 6 ingredients)
4. Add all at once: (the next 4 ingredients)
5. Mix until well blended, then beat hard 1 minute.
6. Stir in: (nuts)
7. Spread batter in greased pan. Bake on center rack of oven 25 minutes, or until cake pulls from sides of pan. Cool in pan about 30 minutes. Cut into 16 squares.
Note: If you would like thicker brownies, use a 9-inch square pan and increase baking time to 30 minutes. Cut into 16 squares.
For Brownies a la Mode, a delicious company dessert, put a scoop of vanilla ice cream on each brownie, then sprinkle grated chocolate or chopped nuts over ice cream.

See also: Selling Milk Between the Wars: Two Pre-WWII U.S. Milk Industry Booklets, Part I

Further Reading

Apple, Rima. A Social History of Infant Feeding, 1890-1950. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1987.

Bentley, Ann. "Inventing Baby Food: Gerber and the Discourse of Infancy in the United States." In Belasco, Warren and Philip Scranton, eds. Food Nations: Selling Taste in Consumer Societies. New York: Routledge, 2002.

Dunn, Elizabeth. Privatizing Poland: Baby Food, Big Business, and the Remaking of Labor. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2004.

"And the Dish Ran Away With the Spoon": Mythical Foodscapes in Children's Literature
Part II: Bunbury

The last post from this series examined the kingdom of Utensia, described in The Emerald City of Oz (1910), the sixth book in L. Frank Baum's chronicle of the Land of Oz. In the next chapter (Chapter 17), Dorothy happens upon yet another marvelous foodscape in Bunbury, where she finds a society totally composed of dough. While Utensia may be noted for its abundance of utensils and lack of food, Bunbury is an enclave where everything, including the inhabitants, is edible (and quite delicious).

"How They Came to Bunbury"

After leaving Utensia, Dorothy, her dog Toto and the hen Billina come to a fork in the road. One road leads to "Bunnybury" and the other to "Bunbury." Dorothy suggests they follow the latter as it "sounds like something to eat," and they are still very hungry, having eaten nothing in Utensia. Once there, they see houses made of crackers and breadsticks, and villagers in the shape of buns. In fact, quite a variety of buns:

Some were thin and others fat; some were white, some light brown and some very dark of complexion. A few of the buns, which seemed to form the more important class of the people, were neatly frosted. Some had raisins for eyes and currant buttons on their clothes; others had eyes of cloves and legs of stick cinnamon, and many wore hats and bonnets frosted pink and green.

While at first she is relieved to find so much to eat, Dorothy has difficulty gaining the trust of the villagers who imagine she will eat them. Indeed, their suspicions are confirmed when Dorothy proclaims her hunger and asks if there is anything to eat. One bun states, "Everything in Bunbury is eatable to ravenous human creatures like you. But it is to escape being eaten and destroyed that we have secluded ourselves in this out-of-the-way place, and there is neither right nor justice in your coming here to feed upon us." They settle upon a solution, however. Dorothy is allowed to eat some unwanted items including a crisp waffle fence, an old cracker wheelbarrow, and a rarely used piano made of shortbread. The tension between the edible buns and the hungry mammals comes to a head however, when Toto mischievously gobbles up three crumpets and a salt-rising biscuit. With this unforgivable trespass, Dorothy and her friends are forced to to leave Bunbury, cast out in Garden of Eden fashion.

It is interesting that Baum characterized his bread characters with the class distinctions found in many human societies. The phrase 'upper crust,' commonly used in reference to elite society, is the obvious corollary in a land of bread. One villager introduces himself as C. Bunn, Esquire. He elaborates: "'C' stands for Cinnamon, and this place is called after my family, which is the most aristocratic in the town." To which another bun adds, "Oh, I don't know about that...the Grahams and the Browns and Whites are all excellent families, and there is none better of their kind. I'm a Boston Brown, myself." As in Utensia, Bunbury's villagers are named with tongue in cheek. A Mr. Over, known as Pop Over, for instance, is described as "a big, puffed-up man, of a delicate brown color." There is also a Mr. Johnny Cake, who is described to Dorothy by the class conscious Mr. Over as "a trifle stale...but he's a good mixer and never gets cross-grained." Baum creates a droll parallel between Bunbury and many human societies. Perhaps this is because bread is so closely tied to human nourishment. For many people, bread is a staple, symbolic of civilization itself. Indeed, when Dorothy and her companions read the signs "Bunbury" and "Bunnybury," Billina the hen remarks, "this looks as if we were getting back to civilization again."

To view "The Emerald City of Oz" in an online page-by-page format from the 1910 first edition, visit the University of Minnesota digital library. Chapter 17, "How They Came to Bunbury," can be found by entering page 200.

Illustrations for "Hey Diddle Diddle" nursery rhyme from Mother Goose, illustrated by William Wallace Denslow (1856-1915). Denslow also illustrated The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

Part I: Utensia
Coming next: Part II: Raggedy Ann's Wishing Pebble, Part III: Raggedy Ann in Cookie Land

New Year's Tea

On New Year's day I sometimes like to have a tea party, using a few of my favorite porcelain and silver pieces to serve a variety of sweets and savories. The day's tea menu rests on an English porcelain menu stand, a charming 6" high table accessory from the 19th century. Although neither menus nor such accompanying stanchions are used in domestic settings today, these were once useful articles of dining that revealed the coming meal, and its inherent social expectations, to guests. Menu stands first appeared after 1870 in England and America, correlating with revisions to established dining rituals.

Handpainted Porcelain Menu Board, C.T. Maling, England, 1875-1908.

At Table: Using Menus in the 19th Century

Whether in elite or middle-class homes, eating at the 19th century Euro-American dining table involved a delicate negotiation of prevailing class mores-- a social drama enacted between the hosts and their guests. The handling of utensils and food was subtly observed and critiqued with regard to prescribed decorum. Dining manuals were published regularly, describing the correct procedures for hosts and guests to follow. It was not until the third quarter of the 19th century that dining fashions shifted in England and America, catching up with continental European trends.

Until the 1870s, the longstanding English dining custom had followed service à la francaise, in which the entire meal was first placed on the dining room sideboard, a brilliant, conspicuous display that unfortunately also meant one's food was usually cold by the time it was served at table. Service à la russe was introduced in France in the early part of the century, via the Russian court, and finally caught on in England and then in America after the 1860s. In this manner of presentation (most closely resembling today's) diners are seated at a table, often extravagantly decorated with floral and sweetmeat arrangements. Dishes are brought out and served in individually apportioned courses once they are prepared, and the serving pieces and food-specific eating implements are duly changed in anticipation of the next course's requirements.

Despite the advantages of service à la russe, diners were initially reluctant to change styles. As Esther Aresty frames the argument in The Exquisite Table: A History of French Cuisine (New York: Bobbs-Merrill, 1980), "how could one judge what quantity to eat of a dish, not knowing what was to follow-- and even more important, how could one adequately measure the bounty of a host?" (101). With these thoughts in mind, the daintily rendered menu card and its stand provided diners with a literal preview of the meal to follow. An entry in one 19th century treatise on domestic management reads:

Menus, or Bills of Fare.-- These are generally placed by the side of each individual, so that he may know at once what is to be set before him, and may partake of that which he most approves. A small menu stand, containing the bill of fare, may be placed before each guest, and most beautiful and artistic cards are sold upon which the order of the dinner can be written. The task of drawing up the bill of fare is generally undertaken by the mistress of the house or by the experienced cook to whom she trusts the execution of her orders. Knowledge, taste and judgment are called for in its accomplishment, and the crowning honor of a successful banquet certainly belongs to the person who conceived the idea of it...Menus may be made as souvenirs by the hostess, being either hand-painted or embroidered.
--Scammell's Universal Treasure-House of Useful Knowledge: an encyclopedia of valuable receipts in the principal arts of life, 1885, published by H.A. Hess of Salt Lake City in 1889.

Several sample menus are then provided, of which the seasonal tea menu is shown below:

By the turn of the century, menu stands became a common feature at dinner gatherings and silver menu stands were often presented to guests at commemorative events.

Silver Menu Stands, Goldsmiths & Silversmiths Co. Catalogue, 1899, London.

Eating out came into fashion in the latter part of the century in relation to new dining habits, and table menus and stands became a feature of restaurant establishments. This novel requisite of the table provided a platform for invention as seen in an 1883 patent for a napkin ring cum menu holder, below.

Indeed, the menu stand took on a few uses beyond the obvious. As one column in the periodical "Table Talk" quips, "The inventor of the menu-holder, with mirror back, was undoubtedly a woman. She understood the value of a sly look at hair, flowers and complexion. It is such a tonic to wit and conversation to be assured one is looking their best. ("Table Talk," Vol. 7, 1892)