Wednesday, April 11, 2018

El Molino is Spanish for "The Saddest Baked Goods"

I love me some '70s health-food cookbooks. (You better too, or you are in the wrong place!) That's why I was thrilled to find a precursor to all those paeans to soy and sprouts in an antique mall grab bag:

El Molino Best Recipes was published in 1953 by El Molino Mills in Alhambra, California, to advertise uses for their stone-ground flour and other products (like Cara-Coa, carob powders and candies that were supposed to be "better 'n chocolate").

It is packed with recipes that sound positively scrumptious. You might think it would omit recipes for family favorites like buttery, flaky biscuits out of concern for health, but the company found a way to make them acceptable to the sprouts crowd:

My mouth is just watering at the thought of Wheat and Dry Skim Milk Biscuits, which do not sound at all like arid, marginally-edible hockey pucks.

The people at El Molino were ready to party, too. Need a cake for little Dorothy's birthday?

She'll be sure to flip over her Soya-Applesauce treat, loaded with wheat germ and raisins. (Or maybe she'll run away to Judy's house. Judy gets a marble cake with chocolate icing!)

Of course, there are uses for Cara-Coa too. Need a sneaky way to get out of being roped into bake sales?

Bring Cara-Coa Nugget Cookies and make sure to give away a few free samples. The ladies' club will "forget" to ask for any more contributions after everyone chokes on the "chocolate" chips....

If the thought of all this health food is making you crave a cocktail, you're in luck! El Molino offers this lovely recipe:

Rice Polish Cocktail! Just blend milk with the leftover outer layers of rice, you know, the ones we now normally use for animal feed. If you really want to go wild, throw in some skim milk and carob powders!

I've got to be honest: this book really does make me wish I had a Cara-Coa carob powder tin to show off in my kitchen just because it's so bright and old-timey... But I've got no desire to make any of these recipes.


  1. Rice polish, what you use to keep your rice bright and shiny. Considering the fact that I won't drink furniture polish, I think I'll take the same stance on the rice polish. I'm also supposed to avoid eating soy, and well, I think I'm supposed to avoid eating the rest of the recipes featured here as well.

    1. I don't know if you ever listen to the gastropod podcast, but they have an episode about the history of cookbooks. Oh the progression of recipes over time.
      Now "healthy" recipes call for whey protein powder instead of dry milk. We've just progressed from one gaggy powder to another.

    2. I haven't listened to that one. I'll have to check it out.

  2. Ugh carob, makes my soul weep

    1. Yes! We used to have an old-school vegetarian restaurant/ bakery, and they had some carob "treats" mixed in among the normal, chocolate-containing ones. I'm not sure how many times I almost ordered something with carob before realizing my mistake just in time. Now they're out of business, and part of me wants to blame carob....