I scored a first edition 1950 copy of a Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook at an estate sale last Friday and I am having a hard time containing my excitement. I think this beautiful red binder is going to alter my life in some way (not sure yet how) and that’s why I love estate sales so much. You never know what you’ll find and how your life will be affected by someone else who lived before you. The very thought gives me chills. That’s why I’ll stand on line shivering in the cold for my opportunity to wander through someone else’s life collections. I’ll head straight for the kitchen of course hoping to snag an old baking dish or cooking tool. (Like I really need more stuff for my kitchen.) My new book was sitting all alone on a coffee table just outside the kitchen, welcoming people into the heart of the home. I had to have it!
Estate sales are a bittersweet experience for me as I’m drawn into the life of a total stranger, feeling a bit melancholy that her life is over while rummaging through bits and pieces of her past. I feel a duty to connect with this person as I pick through her belongings, wondering for example, what she baked in the mid-century modern Copco bread baker I’m holding. (I bought that too by the way.) I imagine a loaf of banana bread baking in the oven in this odd sized pan, the sweet aroma wafting through the house, welcoming family and friends into her kitchen. Did she put chocolate chips in like I do or flavor hers with cinnamon? I’m curious why her Betty Crocker Cookbook is in such good condition, pondering whether she was an exceptionally neat cook (unlike me!) or whether she rarely cooked at all. I know my favorite cookbooks won’t be left in such good condition!
Anyway, back to my vintage Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook, a binder with tabs separating appetizers from main courses and desserts. It’s so awesome! I think I may just be a real Betty Crocker woman. What I love most about this cookbook are the inspirational headings at the beginning of each chapter.
Here’s one that kicks off the Meal Planning Table Service Tab that you’ve gotta just love.
“Good Nutrition Brings Double Happiness.” It continues in italics “GOOD EATING brings happiness in two ways. First, there is the joy and satisfaction of eating delicious food. Then there’s the buoyant health, vitality, and joy of living that comes from the wise choice of foods. Both are important to good nutrition.”
Ok Betty Crocker, I’m hooked.
So of course I had to immediately make something from my new cookbook. With a gaggle of 6th grade girls coming home after school, I decided on Light as Feather Muffins from Mrs.’s K’s Toll House in Silver Spring Maryland, page 65 in the Quick Bread chapter. I used the recipe as a starter and modified it. I made it a good bit sweeter and added chopped cranberries and blueberries. The kids devoured dozens of my muffins, exclaiming that they were the best they’ve ever had. Thank you Betty!
I’ve modified the original recipe quite a bit. I upped the sugar quite a lot and added fresh blueberries and chopped cranberries. I made mini muffins instead of the large cupcake sized ones. Make sure to only fill the muffin tins with batter ½ to ¾ of the way or they will spill over the sides and the tops will separate from the light as feather bottoms. These were absolutely delicious.
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup shortening
1 ¾ cup sifted cake flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 cup blueberries, washed and dried
½ cup cranberries, washed and chopped
2 tablespoons course sugar for sprinkling
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Beat together the shortening and sugar until light and creamy. Add the egg and blend well. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the flour mixture alternatively with the milk. Mix in the cranberries and then gently fold in the blueberries. Fill mini muffins pan sprayed with baking spray ½ to ¾ with batter, sprinkle with course sugar and bake on the center rack for approximately 12 minutes until golden. Continue until all batter is used.
The muffins will disappear before you know it, especially if you have a team of hungry eleven year old girls waiting in the midst.