Would you rather leaf through a vintage cookbook rather than watch TV? Perhaps your late mothers reference or grandmothers old tattered cookbook? I find comfort in it myself. Yellowed crispy old paper pages, fragile, an occasional grease spot. The book I favor still has a smell to it I remember as a kid. That pastry, flour, type of smell.
I can remember my siblings and I when we were very young. “Baking” with mom. Also very vague memories of watching Grandma. Both our Grandmother as well as Mother were great cooks, and especially bakers. We heard the stories of how through the depression their baking skills helped them earn extra money and live through all of that hardship. To many of the current generation these skills are all but lost. They know “box” not “scratch”. They wouldn’t think of using a Dutch Oven when there is a microwave hanging on the wall within an arms reach?
Watching grandma make bread is a fond memory. A big pile of flour on the table. No bowl. She seemed to add ingredients without using any reference other than experience and getting the right feel. It always came out right. That wonderful smell while baking, would fill all the rooms. I don’t think she knew what box cake mix was…or one of those pre-made pie crusts that come from the cooler section of the grocery store. Her’s and mom’s baked goods were always from “scratch”.
As small children, “Baking” with mom was a form of entertainment for us. Probably a better way for mom to keep a watchful eye on all of us. This was before Video games, iPads, and the such. An era of TV such as Roy Rogers, Sky King, and Howdy Doody. Mom had a “special” can of flour we could measure, sift, and mess with while she went about making cakes, pies or whatever was going into the oven at the time. In our minds we thought we were baking away the day helping her. I can see her smiling now! When we were done, the flour went back in the “special” can. Ready for the next bake day. I found myself doing this with my kids as much as I could when they were small. For some reason they seemed to like corn meal.
Anyway…..while going through some of Grandma and mom’s recipes and hand written notes, I would come to ingredient measurements that are not commonly found in today’s cookbooks or recipes. If you asked for it in a store you would probably get laughed out of the place. At a minimum you would draw a blank stare! I mean, what the heck is a size they used to call a “NO 1 PICNIC”? If someone said that to me, I would have thought we were about to set off to find the best darn picnic there was.
As I find the time, I have slowly started converting some of the old recipes for my personal use. I then test cook a batch to see if it is a “keeper’ or not. I have researched some of the measurement and made up the following conversion chart. If any of you find more I do not list, I would appreciate you taking the time to email those to me. These seems to cover the books and notes I have. You are welcome to copy and use the following if you find it useful.