Vintage Eats

I love history and I love food, so I was thrilled to inherit the recipe files of my husband’s great Aunt Olive.

Since Aunt Olive and Uncle Torry had no children, many of their things passed to Jan’s parents, and some of those on to us.

As I sorted through the hundreds of recipes, I felt like I had stepped back in time! Vintage recipes that were clipped from newspapers offered everything from pie making tips from the “Lady of Rose Cottage” to prize winning molasses cookies that included hot mashed potatoes and raisins. (The prize was a princely sum of $5!)

Those yellowed and fragile clippings included practical house hold tips such as how to use kerosene to clean a copper vessel and how to quiet an alarm clock that is too loud. (You put a rubber band around the bell.)

I discovered multiple recipes for organ meats – including beef liver, pork liver loaf, and even one for ” liver and spaghetti en casserole”.

But the one that really made me laugh was the one titled, “Serve Tongue Saucily” with a recipe for beef tongue and horseradish sauce.

I won’t be making any of those any time soon!

I will also not be making any of the varied and abundant recipes featuring prunes. These include prune pudding, prune cake, prune bread, prune whip, spiced prunes and even – I kid you not – a handwritten recipe for “Ice Box Prune Ice Cream”.

No. Just no.

How about some Romance Cookies? Or Blueberry Boy Bait? There’s Spanish cake with Sea Foam frosting, Grape Catsup, Pumpkin Pickles, and Dr. Mayo’s recipe for Arthritis.

I found four identical handwritten recipes for Knute Nelson’s US Senate Bean Soup.  There’s a political joke there – but I’m refraining.

Then there are the family recipes: “Mother’s Plum Pudding” and a recipe for Grandma’s Cinnamon Rolls that needed 3 cards to get the details down.

The other 3 card recipe was for Swedish Kringla. That along with the various recipes for Lefse, coffee cake and ginger cookies showed Aunt Olive’s desire to keep her Scandinavian husband happy.

But the treasures I enjoyed most were the little glimpses of daily life that somehow got caught up in the recipes. Like the note and receipt from her favorite blueberry grower.

And most of all the little handwritten note from Olive to Torry simple saying “I’ve been called to a neighbor’s. Back soon, Olive.”

It must have been picked up with a recipe that was out and ended up in her massive collection.

Which now, years later, has become a reminder that these aren’t a random assortment of recipes; these were all collected by someone. Hand picked, chosen for some particular reason. They are a glimpse into Olive’s life, a snapshot of her culinary tastes, her lifestyle, her memories.

I wonder what future generations will think of my massive collection of recipes?

But one thing is for sure – they won’t find any for organ meats.

Or prunes.

Just saying.


Sherlock Mom

DSC_0236It’s interesting to share a kitchen with several teenagers, especially ones that work evenings.

I get up in the morning and do a post mortum on their night’s activities by reviewing the dishes in the sink.

Skillet, plate, and fork – Dagmar fried an egg at midnight when her shift was over. If it’s clean and in the drainer she had a good night. If it’s dirty and in the sink – it was a rough one. Don’t disturb her. Let her wake up on her own.

Cookie sheet and spatula coupled with a smell of burned cheese – Pedro brought home a frozen pizza after work. (One of the dangers of stocking the frozen foods.)

Glass and spoon – Dagmar had a good night and worked out at midnight followed by a protein powder shake. I better check the washer and dryer before using them because she probably also started laundry.

Pile of chicken bones and a fork – Pedro brought home another Wonder Chicken from work – meaning he once again succumbed to their enticing aroma.

Bowl with grease and salt residue and a few old maids – it had to be Buddy, the popcorn fanatic. If he could pop popcorn and not wake me up with the smell – it means he was up way too late. Time to review proper sleep guidelines for seventh graders.

Lovely pink jeweled stains on the counter and in a bowl – Angel Girl found the hidden pomegranate in the fridge. Since she loves dark chocolate with pomegranates, I’d better check the dark chocolate chips hidden in the freezer because she probably found them, too.

Let me tell you – it’s amazing what you can learn from a few dishes in the sink!

They don’t even realize they are leaving clues.

And they wonder how I know what they’ve been doing.


It’s Elementary my dear Watson.

‘Cause I’m Sherlock Mom.

Homemade Hot Pockets

Homemade Hot Pockets

Here’s a thrifty homemade version of a popular convenience food. It does take a few more minutes to prepare than the frozen variety, but it is still quick and easy.

Original Homemade Hot Pocket recipe:

Unroll 2 tubes of refrigerated crescent rolls and cut into 8 rectangles, sealing the perforations.

Brown 1 pound of ground meat. Stir in 1/3 cup of barbecue sauce, 1/4 tsp. onion powder, and 1/4 tsp. garlic powder.

Place a cheese slice on half of each rectangle. Divide the meat mixture between the 8 squares, placing it on top of the cheese.

Fold dough over the filling, pinching the edges to seal.

Mix together 1 egg white and 1 Tablespoon of water. Brush over each bundle and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Place on greased baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for 15-18 minutes.

Super Thrifty Version and Substitutions:

I didn’t have 2 tubes of crescent rolls, so I used a batch of homemade crescent roll dough which only took a few minutes to make and cost me about a dollar to make. You could also substitute frozen bread dough or just plain refrigerated biscuits. Whatever is on sale would work just fine!

I used ground venison but you could also substitute any ground meat (turkey, chicken, sausage) or even do a variation with a little pizza or spaghetti sauce and pepperoni or Canadian bacon slices.

I didn’t have sesame seeds, so I omitted them.

Feel free to add other seasonings if you wish, or omit the ones in the recipe. You can use fresh onions and garlic if you want too, just brown them with the meat.

The Thrifty Idea for today is that the cheapest ingredients to use are the ones in your own pantry. Don’t be afraid to substitute in recipes! Be creative with what you have in your hands! You may be amazed at the results!

You Need a Meal Plan

TV Dinner

One of the first things you learn as a mom is that your children like to eat on a regular basis and they expect you to provide the food.

Almost before the dishes are dry from the last meal, they are asking about the next one.

Since we know that this will happen, wouldn’t it make sense to be prepared for it?

When a meal time rolls around and you have hungry kids and no ideas, it’s really easy to pick up the phone and order pizza or grab some fast food on the way home.

Now there is nothing wrong with eating out, I enjoy it immensely! But when done on a regular basis, especially with children, it is a guaranteed budget buster.

Frozen dinners and convenience foods are another way to ruin a budget. Even though you are eating at home, you are paying a lot more for the convenience.

I won’t even get started about the nutritional aspects!

So today’s Thrifty Tip is to have a meal plan. Know what you are going to make and have the ingredients on hand to make it because we all know that the kids are going to be hungry!