Tuesday, September 6, 2011

"A Thousand Ways to Please a Husband"

Back in May, I mentioned my love at first sight for this 1917 book by Louise Bennett Weaver and Helen Cowles Le Cron titled "A Thousand Ways to Please a Husband." It's stuffed with newspaper clippings, scrawled recipes, pamphlets and other goodies. This book was referred to regularly and kept in someone's kitchen for a long time.

I could get a month's worth of blog entries out of this treasure. But, instead, how about one Super Blog Entry™ sampling some of recipes, illustrations and ephemera tucked away inside the book?

Here goes...

1. A newspaper clipping titled "Helps for Homemakers" has been glued to the inside front cover. Some of the "Helps":
  • The bits of bread that the children leave, dry in the oven and grind up to mix with hard boiled eggs for the first baby chick feed.
  • The white of an egg will remove chewing gum from anything, including hair, without leaving a trace.
  • Wash lettuce, spinach and greens in salted water and worms and insects will not adhere to them.
  • Soak old newspapers in water, squeeze out surplus water, form into balls, allow to dry and use for kindling the fire instead of wood.
2. Here's a recipe from a label for canned peas that was tucked away inside the book:
Cardinal Salad1
2 large beets
Radishes for garnish
2 tbsp. vinegar
2 large tomatoes
Mayonnaise made with the vinegar from beets
1 can wax beans
1 can canned Peas
1 can asparagus tips

Boil beets until tender, cover with vinegar, let stand over-night. Drain off vinegar; use it in making the mayonnaise. Arrange tomato slices, wax beans, asparagus, peas, and red mayonnaise in little rose like nests of lettuce leaves and garnish with hard cooked eggs and red radishes.
3. An index-sized card from The Country Gentleman magazine (based in Philadelphia) contains recipes for lemon butterscotch pie and made-in-a-minute chocolate cake on one side. Here's an excerpt from the magazine's pitch to potential subscribers on the reverse side: "I'm sending you these delicious recipes -- on a card the size for your file -- to show you just two of the reasons why more folks read The Country Gentleman than any other agricultural publication. ... You can receive this splendid magazine for the next 9 months for only 25 cents. Simply slip your quarter into the inclosed [sic] card and mail at our expense now."

4. A handwritten recipe on a scrap of paper:
Fluffy Chicken Loaf
4 cups cooked diced chicken
2 cups cooked rice
2 cups soft bread crumbs
¼ cup pimento cut fine
1 can (4 oz.) sliced mushrooms
2 t. salt
½ t. sage
2½ C. chicken broth
4 eggs, well beaten

Combine chicken with rice, crumbs, pimento, mushrooms + season. Put mixture in loaf pan. Combine2 with beaten eggs. Pour over chicken mix. Bake until firm in mod. oven 350º F about 1 hr. Garnish with pimento. Serve with mushroom sauce.
5. The book itself is a mixture of a fictional family's narrative along with recipes and housekeeping tips. Here's an excerpt from the chapter titled "After the Football Game":
"There are the men now," said Mrs. Dixon, rolling up the hose she had been darning. "Good!" said Bettina. "The dinner is just ready for them, and I'm glad they didn't keep us waiting."

"Hello! Hello!" shouted Frank and Bob, letting in a gust of cold air as they opened the door. "Whew! It's cold!"

"How was the game?"

"Fine! 39 to 0 in favor of Blake!"

"Not very exciting, I should think."

"Still, Frank here wanted to bet me that Blake would be badly beaten!"

"Frank!" said Charlotte in exasperation. "Is that the way you show your loyalty to your home college?"

"Shame on you, Frank!" grinned Bob. "Well, dinner ready? I'm about starving!"

"Bettina has a regular 'after-the-game' dinner tonight," said Charlotte. "Just the kind to make a man's heart rejoice!"

6. There is a pamphlet titled "How to Remove Stains" that was published by 1926 by the Women's Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences3 in Scranton, Pennsylvania. It addresses techniques for removing a variety of stains, including blood, candle wax, fly paper, fruits and berries, grass, grease, iodine, mildew and perspiration. It states that the pamphlet is reprinted from "Care of Clothing," one of the textbooks in The Women's Institute Course in Dressmaking and Design.

7. Someone wrote what might be a Thanksgiving dinner menu (including roast turkey, red beet rosettes, filling, giblet gravy, lemon sweet potatoes, cauliflower, pumpkin pie) on the inside of a sample sympathy card from Messenger Corporation in Auburn, Indiana. The advertising pitch on the back of the sympathy card states:
Silver Anniversary Commemorating
25 Years of Service to Morticians

The Floral Series is especially designed for discriminating Funeral Directors who offer the newest things first. The intrinsic value of the Floral Series can not be computed on a dollars and cents basis. Their use will perpetuate our leadership by setting new acknowledgment standards for you competitors to follow.
Prices (which include cards and matching envelopes) ranged from $11 for 500 to $150 for 10,000.

8. There's a loose newspaper clipping with the headline "Teen-Age Party". It suggests a party menu of cheese-stuffed frankfurters wrapped in bacon on hot rolls, relish tray, cole slaw, and these ice cream bars:
½ cup unsifted regular flour
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
¾ cup coarsely broken walnuts

On wax paper, thoroughly stir together the flour, baking soda and salt. In a medium mixing bowl, beat egg until foamy; gradually beat in brown sugar. Fold in flour mixture and walnuts. Turn into well-greased 8 by 8 by 2 inch baking pan; bake in a moderate (350 degrees) oven until cake tester comes out clean -- about 20 minutes.

Allow to stand on wire rack until warm, cut into 16 bars and remove with spatula to wire rack until cold. Serve these bars, with their moist sweet bottom and meringue-link crust, with vanilla ice cream.
9. Finally, here's "I'll Have A Sandwich!" -- an undated pamphlet for Nucoa margarine.4 The pamphlet was produced by The Best Foods, Inc., out of New York City. Some of the 58 suggestions for using Nucoa included in the pamphlet are:
  • Sweetheart: Sliced bananas, oranges or other fresh fruit on whole wheat bread with Nucoa-honey spread.
  • Cannibal: Raw chopped steak highly seasoned with salt, pepper and chopped onion on pumpernickel bread with Nucoa-chili sauce.
  • Hindu hot: Any left over meat -- topped with chopped pickles, salted peanuts -- dip in batter seasoned with curry powder -- saute in Nucoa-garlic. Serve on whole wheat.
  • And all sorts of other suggestions with names like Salami Special, Country Cousin, Tuna Trifles, Baltimore Special, Snappy Lamb, Dutch Supper, Sardine Grill and Polka Dot.
Here's the illustration from the back of the pamphlet:

October 9 addendum

This is now one of the most-viewed blog entries in Papergreat history, thanks to the wonders of StumbleUpon.

If you're reading this on your first visit to the site and are intrigued by the idea of a blog about everyday ephemera, I recommend that you check out this entry to see a wide sampling of the blog's offerings and/or follow @Papergreat on Twitter to get a link to each day's new post.

Thanks for reading!

1. The Cardinal Salad recipe contains a note: "Tru-Tone Eye-Petized Recipe Patent Applied For U.S.P. & L. Co."
2. Is there something missing there? Should it say "Combine chicken broth with beaten eggs"?
3. The Women's Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences was founded by Mary Brooks Picken
4. Nucoa margarine is still around. But it's apparently only available in certain regions of the United States. And, even worse, it sounds like the ingredients were modified recently, which led to a great outcry. There's a Facebook page titled "Bring Back Original Nucoa Margarine" and the comments section on this April 2010 article on The Vegetarian Resource Group Blog are full of hate and vitriol for what Nucoa has become.

1 comment:

  1. Blimey, that 'Teenage party' recipe sounds like a cholesterol nightmare!