My grandmother, who we referred to as "Mammam", always used Watkins' Pure Vanilla when she baked. She thought that their vanilla was the best, and that pure vanilla was worth the added cost over extract. When I found, recently, that Watkins' vanilla is still available at Target, I was thrilled and bought 4 bottles in one trip! I prefer to buy the smallest bottles because I think it stays fresher as I use it.
While roaming around the flea market at Canton, Texas, weekend before last, I was equally excited about my discovery of this 1938 Watkins' Cookbook. It is a blue, hardback cookbook that sold for $1.50 in the thirties. This example of cooking and advertising history, published by The J.R. Watkins Company of Winona, Minnesota, is worth your search. Fortunately my find is in very good condition. There are full page ads included in the cookbook for Watkins' cocoa, extracts and fruit syrups. For any history enthusiast, the advertisements make the book that much more interesting. The recipes in this cookbook have the expected wartime flavor; money and time-saving dishes all using Watkins' products.
In the thirties, some food items were expensive or in short supply (just like today!) so there are recipes for "One-Egg Cake" or "Two-Egg Cake", as well as, "Lima Bean Loaf" for a meatless meal. It covers a wide range of menu items, but I believe, because of Watkins' fame for baking supplies, the section for baking is the star of this book!
One of the more unusual baking recipes is for a Chocolate Angel Food Cake. I plan to try the recipe for Watkins' Jelly Roll, too. This book gives the history of the company and its sales strategy; good American salesmen selling great American products, including a map locating the 10,000 Watkins' dealers. Above the map it claims to be, "The Largest and Oldest Institution of its Kind in the World".
Our sample recipe today is a great way to use up that ripe banana that always seems to be lying on the kitchen counter.
Page 155 Watkins' Banana Frosting
Pulp of 1 ripe banana
2 C confectioners' sugar
1/3 tsp Watkins' Almond Extract
Sift sugar, slowly add to mashed banana. Blend to smooth paste. Add flavoring. (I think this would be great on a chocolate Texas Sheet Cake and then drizzle with chocolate!)
LATEST ADVENTURE IN TEXAS: SOUTHLAKE FOR JAPAN FUNDRAISER LAST WEEKEND (great bands, fantastic taco bowls, all-around-fun-time!!)