Saturday, July 30, 2011

Baking Soda - Appropriate (and Cheap!) Eco -Technology - 60's Era Ephemera

I do hope I'm not breaching any copyrights by publishing this, but it's just too dreamy...  To take the curse off it, I'll break my usually infallible rule of no advertising to include the brand name of my little baking soda book.

I love this book.  My cakes never come out as good as the one in the picture, mostly because I'm not prepared to go to the effort to make the right traditional frostings just yet, but it's what I aspire to.  Despite the proliferation of ready made deserts and instant cake mixes, a domestic cake made by an expert, like the one in the picture, is a marvel of simple equipment, no special ovens, and completely scratch ingredients that we just don't appreciate anymore!

The purpose of this post, however, is to do a service by publishing this wonderful piece of 1960's North American vintage literature for your edification. It's valuable for students of costume and design, anthropologists of recent eras, and of course, lists all the many things you can do with baking soda that most of us have forgotten. I mean, who uses the perfectly good word "dentifrice" anymore? The silver polish magic alone is worth the price of admission. And who lets that baby stay in the bath with a toothbrush in it's mouth? The scarf protecting our housewife's coif is darling enough, but my favourite image has to be the gloved hands snuffing out cigarettes in the giant car ashtray!

My sceptical mom still recommends soda baths for hives and irriations!
This is a 1969 pamphlette with lovely recipes that tries to encourage the use of soda in baking in particular, just as it was going out of fashion in favour of baking powder.  And why not?  The acid shift required to create the chemical reaction for soda makes it more difficult to use it for cakes and cookies, while baking powder acts with mere water.

The diapers on this baby are cloth and were left to soak between use and laundering.
I remember this being in my mother's collection, so it may have been in our family since it's date of publishing. Or maybe I picked it up at a thrift store. I've had it for so long, I'm sure I've forgotten by now... I use many of the recipes in this book, as well as many other vintage books, for the simple reason that most of them are far better than the ones in most modern books. The recipes assume some competency and skill with cookery, they don't usually cut corners, and they go into detail on presentation and technique. The results are almost always superior to comparable modern recipes, and learning the basics of what you are doing as well as why can help one become a better artist. It's only with the vintage recipe books that I have been able to reCreate so many traditional candies, pastries, beverages, and other edibles that make up our Stillroom and Global Peasant repertoire.

If anyone has any vintage caramel toffee or other great traditional recipes, I'd love to see 'em.  One of my future projects is petite fours!