“Cissy Gregg’s Cookbook” from 1953 is a fun read

Co-worker Jennifer Royse found a 1953 edition of Cissy Gregg’s Cookbook in a box of old books that belonged to her grandmother. I was delighted when she asked if I would like to look at it.

The vintage ads are as delightful to read as the recipes. It’s fun to see how many recipes are still popular today. Although there are several I’ve never heard of, which probably means they didn’t stand the test of time.

Gregg was home consultant for the Louisville Courier-Journal in the  mid-’40s and ’50s. This was the first of several cookbooks.

In the introduction, Gregg wrote:

“Cooking the two or three daily meals for the family represents a constant drain on cook’s imagination. All of us cooks find ourselves suddenly in a rut. Our favorite food markets offer no stimulation. Cooking becomes monotonous with repetition. Even if the family is uncomplaining, we realize  that a varied diet is one that gives the best nutrition.

“For 11 years, we have tried to help answer the puzzling question of ‘What shall I have to eat for dinner tonight?’ ” she wrote.

During those years, Gregg filed away “something over 12,000 recipes, and tried out many more than that even. Our place has been not to develop recipes but more to slave over the hot stove and help you use them with success.”

The recipes Gregg put in the book  are “recipes we think will fit in with your every-day cooking,” she wrote.

They are not  what we consider every-day cooking 58 years later.  Country captain, stuffed pork chops,veal and brain croquettes, creamed ham with rice, spaghetti ring, and shipwreck stew, take longer to prepare than most cooks have time for today.

Here are few recipes from the book that readers might find time to prepare.

Lacy corn meal pancakes

1 cup corn meal

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 egg, beaten

1 to 1 ¼ cups buttermilk

Mix corn meal, baking soda and salt together. Add the beaten egg and buttermilk, beating until smooth. The secret of having the cakes trimmed with lace is to get the batter thin enough. Sometimes if the buttermilk is very thick, it is a good idea to thin with sweet milk or water.

Pour or dip a good tablespoon of batter onto a hot griddle. Bake until brown and turn, only once. Also don’t stand by and ‘spank’ the cakes after they have been turned either. With these corn pancakes it is necessary to stir the batter each time before dipping or pouring.

Corn meal ice box rolls

2 cups milk

1/2 cup shortening

½ cup corn meal

½ cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 cake yeast

1/4 cup warm water

4 cups flour, or more

In a saucepan, scald 2 cups milk. Add shortening. Sift together corn meal, sugar, and salt.

Add to milk mixture. Allow to cool. Beat 2 eggs, set aside. Dissolve 1 cake of yeast in ¼ cup warm water add  to the eggs. Add mush mixture and stir in 4 or more cups of flour. Mix. You may let it rise, but it isn’t necessary. Put in the refrigerator. Let the rolls rise before baking in a 400 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes.

Baked peach pudding

2 cups sliced raw peaches

Batter:

¾ cup sugar

4 tablespoons butter

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup flour

½ cup milk

Topping:

1 cup sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup boiling water

Place peaches in an 8- by 8- by 2-inch pan.

To make batter: Combine sugar and butter in a bowl. Add remaining dry ingredients, alternating with milk. Spread over fruit.

To make topping: Mix sugar, cornstarch and salt in a small bowl. Sift this over the batter. Pour boiling water over all. Bake at 325 degrees for 50 minutes. Serve warm with cream.

This recipe is from Jennie Benedict, the Louisville caterer who created Benedictine spread.

Lemon wafers

½ cup sugar

1 stick butter

2 eggs

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon lemon flavoring

Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add well-beaten eggs and beat until the creamed butter and sugar and eggs are well mixed and the mass is fluffy. Add sifted flour and beat until smooth. Add flavoring. Drop batter from a teaspoon on greased cookie sheet, keeping the cookies at least 2 inches apart for spreading. Bake cookies in a moderate oven, 350 degrees, for 7 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges and done in the middle.

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