A page from home economics, circa 1930

There is quite a lot of information included on these pages concerning cereals. The entries are not about boxes of cereal purchased from a grocery store, but about the actual grains rice, wheat, oats, corn. It’s easy for us to forget that in the early 20th century, while processed cereal was available in the store, these grains were also available in the whole grain state for various uses. Young women were taught the nutritional value of the various grains, as well as how to use them.

This knowledge of food values would help women as they entered their adult life with a family to cook for and presumably helped them select the most nutritious foods.

Toward the end of this section you will find general cooking information for grains, which includes “cook them a long time” and “wash them before cooking”. Some of these instructions are common sense still, but for those who have never cooked rice on the stove, for instance, they might be good pointers. I thought this section was interesting because of the nutritional and general information, but also you can just imagine Irene sitting in class writing down what the instructor said as the lecture progressed. Considering that many other sections did not have a comprehensive definition or description of cooking methods, I wonder if this lesson was early in the class and eventually Irene stopped taking notes.


Banana Layer Cake

This is another recipe with little information, and does not include a baking temperature or time. I believe this falls back again on a cook’s knowledge. So often I find vintage recipes that don’t include these pieces of information and I think women just knew based on their experience. Of course, modern women are not full time housewives for the most part, so we don’t bake cakes every day or even every week. We have modern conveniences like cake mixes to rely on and we don’t have to remember optimal baking temperatures because for the most part recipes and mixes have the information printed out for us. I suppose a time when girls attended trade school and home economics was a popular class in school, the knowledge such as the optimal temperature to bake a round cake vs a loaf cake might have been easily accessible or just known. (By the way, I don’t know either so don’t worry!)

Banana Layer Cake

Cream 1/2 cup butter, add 1 1/2 cups sugar, mix well, stir in 2 egg yolks. Sift 2 cups of cake flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt three times. Dissolve 1/2 teaspoon soda in 1/2 cup sour milk, add alternately to mixture. Add 1 cup mashed bananas and lastly fold in 2 stiffly beaten egg whites.


There’s a lot to unpack there! Let’s reframe it.

Banana Layer Cake

1/2 cup butter

1 1/2 cup sugar

2 eggs, separated, whites stiffly beaten

2 cups cake flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup sour milk

1 cup mashed bananas

Cream butter and sugar well. Stir in egg yolks. Sift flour, baking powder and salt. (Modern flour is less likely to clump, so you don’t have to do it three times) Dissolve baking soda in sour milk. Add flour and milk mixtures to butter mixture a little bit at a time, alternating between flour and milk. Make sure it is all combined well. Add the mashed bananas. Finally add the stiffly beaten egg whites and gently combine, being careful not to knock out any loft.

Pour into two greased 8″ round cake pans. (Or more depending on how much batter, I have not made this yet! Fill them half full.) Bake at 350º 30-35 minutes, checking for doneness with a toothpick. When the toothpick comes out clean the cake is done. Set on racks to cool, and turn out of the pans after 10-15 minutes. Allow to cool completely before moving on.

Make a filling – vanilla icing or even a cream cheese icing would be nice

When cakes are completely cool, split them in half to make four layers. Put a dab of icing on the cake plate, then a layer of cake, then a layer of icing, then a layer of cake, etc. until all layers are stacked. Ice the top and sides if enough icing remains. Bonus points, add some chopped nuts on top.

500 Cake

I’m not really sure what the 500 in 500 Cake means. Possibly $500, but why not put the dollar symbol? I have a recipe for Oscar’s $100 Cake that dates from this general era, so a $500 banana cake recipe seems a bit of an expense! The town of Cudahy is a small one located in Wisconsin. The house is modest, on a  corner, with a view of fields. It doesn’t appear much changed from the time when Mrs Albert Ollmann was making this cake. I found a lovely and very complete history of the town on the Cudahy Historical Society page. Seems like a sweet, small town.

500 Cake

1/2 cup butter

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 eggs

1/2 cup sour milk

1 cup mashed bananas

1/2 cup chopped dates

1/2 cup chopped nuts

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 cups flour

Cream shortening (i.e. butter) and sugar, then add eggs. Beat all together and add sour milk with soda, mashed bananas, dates and nuts, then flour and baking powder.

Bake somehow… Try: pour into greased loaf pan and bake at 350º for 30-45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Puff Ball Do-Nuts

From Mrs Ervin Eilers, today we have Puff Ball Do-nuts. They sound a bit like donut holes to me. Yum!

I have not tested this recipe and rarely use hot oil for cooking. If you decide to try it, use caution with the oil or fat that you use. Maybe even use a donut fryer, that may be safer.

Puff Ball Do-nuts

Two eggs, well beaten, mixed with 1 cup sugar, 1 cup milk, pinch of salt, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 2 1/2 cups flour and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Have the lard smoking and drop in by very small teaspoons. When too large teaspoons are put in they will not bake through.


2 eggs, well beaten

1 cup sugar

1 cup milk

Pinch salt

2 t baking powder

2 1/2 c flour

1 t vanilla

Lard or oil for frying

Combine all ingredients. Heat fat. Drop by small teaspoons into the hot fat (possibly use a teaspoon measure rather than a spoon from your silverware). Test one and see if it comes out right. Adjust amount of dough and cooking time as needed.

Ham and Cheese Croquettes

Well, this is unfortunate. The recipe ingredients are listed, but the method was cut off! Backing up, a croquette is a breaded and fried ball-like item. They are usually round, disc shaped or oval. The insides are generally meat and/or potato. So, it’s similar to a deep fried dumpling I suppose. Croquettes date back hundreds of years and may be founded in Jewish cuisine. They are popular worldwide and have many regional variations. They are frequently served with a sauce, either béchamel or other, based on the filling.

Ham and Cheese Croquettes

3/4 cup hot milk

26 salted crackers

1 cup American cheese, grated

12/ cup cooked ham, ground

1 egg

Salt & pepper

Pour hot milk over 1/2 cup finely crum-

Possible method: pour hot milk over 1/2 cup finely crumbled crackers. Stir to combine until smooth. Add in cheese and ham. Mix well. Allow to cool completely. Once cooled, form balls or patties with 2 T of the mixture. Dredge through flour, then egg, then the remaining cracker crumbs. Deep fry until golden. Drain on paper towels and season with salt & pepper.

Roosevelt Simplicity Salad

This particular recipe can be firmly dated to 1933. I found a mention of it in the New York Times archives from March 14, 1933. It was apparently very popular at the Congressional dining room.

Roosevelt Simplicity Salad

1 cup seasoned mayonnaise

1 cup celery

1/2 cup white cabbage, shredded

1/2 cup red cabbage, shredded

1/2 cup green peppers, chopped

1 cup cooked carrots, diced

1 cup cooked peas

Mix ingredients and blend. Serve on crisp lettuce garnished with sliced stuffed olives or pimento strips and additional mayonnaise.


Orange Cake

I hope everyone had a nice week off celebrating American Independence, or just enjoying yourselves. In the spirit of summer, today’s newspaper recipe is for an Orange Cake, sounds lovely. It came from Mrs Le Roy Mohnke at 1680 S. Pearl Street. I believe this was in Milwaukee, WI. Just for fun, I did a quick Ancestry search and found not only Le Roy Mohnke, but also a number of other Le Roy Mohnkes with variations on the spelling – Leroy, LeRoy, Monk, Monke, etc. Interesting! One possible match was for Le Roy Mohnke born in 1895, married to Elizabeth in 1920, and then a Le Roy Mohnke Jr born in 1928 and married to Delores. The fun (or funny) think about genealogy is that it can often draw you in the wrong direction – there are a surprising number of Le Roy / Leroy Mohnke / Monks. In this instance however, I think it is a match to each other at least. There’s no telling if Elizabeth or Delores wrote this recipe for Orange Cake, or when.

Orange Cake

Beat 5 yolks for 5 minutes, add 1 cup of sugar gradually, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, juice of 1/2 lemon, 1/2 orange, and 1 cup flour which has been sifted with 1/4 teaspoon baking powder. Beat egg whites stiff. Fold in lightly. Bake in 3 layers in moderate oven.


Boil 1 cup water, juice of 1/2 lemon, 1/2 orange, and 1 teaspoon cornstarch. Dissolve in 3 tablespoons water. 1 egg yolk, 1 teaspoon butter. Put between layers.



Orange Cake

5 eggs, separated

1 cup sugar

1/2 t vanilla

Juice of half a lemon

Juice of half an orange

1 cup flour

1/4 t baking powder

1 cup water

Juice of half a lemon

juice of half an orange

1 t cornstarch dissolved in 3 T water

1 egg yolk

1 t butter

Beat 5 egg yolks for 5 minutes, gradually add sugar, vanilla, and the first 1/2 of the juices. Sift flour with baking powder, then add. Separately, beat the egg whites stiff. Fold into the cake mixture gently. Bake in 3 layer tins that have been sprayed with baking spray or greased and floured. 350º until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before assembling.

For the filling, boil together water and the second 1/2 of the juices, along with the cornstarch dissolved in the water. Add to this 1 egg yolk slightly beaten and the butter. When firm, spread between the layers.