Saturday, July 26, 2014

A bittersweet handwritten page

Last month, I mentioned that really old recipe books often had recipes for home remedies. As I was browsing my collection, I discovered that one of my book's previous owners was keeping this tradition alive.

Where I found this hardly matters, since it is clearly a one-of-a-kind find, but I want to give the full information so we can get an approximate sense of the note's age. These "Additional Recipes" are from the back pages of The Household Searchlight Recipe Book compiled and edited by Ida Migliario, Harriet W. Allard, Zorada Z. Titus, and Irene Westbrook (1936). Of course, I don't know who actually wrote them. I'm going to say it was Gloria Holden from Universal's Dracula's Daughter because this is the internet and I can make things up if I want to.

I love the combination on this page: the top has two recipes for cough syrup and the bottom has a recipe for strawberry or raspberry jam. The pains of fall and winter are crammed in next to the joys of spring and summer.

The recipes themselves are fun, too. The first recipe calls for four ounces of glycerin mixed with ten 15 or 20 cents' worth of rock candy. I love the crossed out "ten" and wonder whether the change represents an increased price for rock candy or an initial mistake. How much rock candy would 15-20 cents buy? In any case, those two ingredients went into a pint bottle that was filled the rest of the way with whiskey or honey (depending on whether one preferred sweets or alcohol, I suppose)!

The second recipe is for people who are a bit lazier: 1/3 honey, 1/3 lemon juice, and 1/3 whiskey. There is no explanation for 1/3 of what, but it doesn't matter, as long as the three parts are equal. There are no instructions either; just mix the three together and take some as needed (or according to one's tolerance for whiskey).

The jam is pretty straightforward: combine a box of Sure-Jell with a cup of cold water, boil, add 2 cups of crushed berries and 4 cups of sugar, and let come to a rolling boil, then boil 5 minutes, stirring constantly. That's the end of the directions; apparently readers are supposed to know how to store and preserve the jammy goodness.

I love the way this page is almost a metaphor for life, with pain and pleasure butting up against each other and readers left to figure some things out for themselves.


  1. I just discovered your blog & love it. I've been enjoying reading a couple months of entries so far. I love retro & vintage cookbooks. I own way more than I have room for & love reading the recipes. I really like finding recipes written in the book or on pare stuffed into the book. One type I've collected a lot of are community or church types with home cooks favorite recipes. This is the type of blog I would love to write but probably never will. I would love to subscribe & wonder if you'd consider adding email subscriptions? Either way I will be coming back & hopefully will be able to read all entries. Thanks for a great blog.

    1. Thanks so much! I'm glad you found it! Two years ago, I wouldn't have imagined I'd ever start a blog, so you never know.

      I think there's a link on the right to subscribe to new posts.

  2. What a find Poppy! I love them both! Hand written recipes are such a treasure especially when they are included in the back of a book like the Searchlight! Thanks so much for sharing...

    1. There are actually a LOT of handwritten recipes in that one, so I will probably be posting more at another time.