Tag Archives: Harriette Kaser

Welsh Rabbit Is Not Rabbit and Welsh Rarebit Is Not Rare

Tomato Welsh Rarebit is pure comfort food. Perfect for a cold and snowy day. (Since I live in Southern Arizona, you’ll pardon me if I just go ahead and make it without the chilly atmosphere.)

Welsh Rarebit  also has the benefit of being easy to make and economical, which I’m sure was an attraction for my mother, Harriette Anderson Kaser.

For such a simple dish–basically melted cheese on toast or crackers, with tomatoes added, the dish has a complex history.

Tomato Welsh Rarebit

Tomato Rarebit with parsley

The most likely history  traces it to 18th century Great Britain. I believe cooks probably made it earlier in the versions without tomatoes–which didn’t arrive in Europe until the New World had been discovered.  The dish is associated with Great Britain and qualifies as “pub food.”  This is not the kind of meal you would find served on fine China in a white-tablecloth restaurant.

Perhaps the name came about because the British looked down their noses at food from Wales and Ireland and Scotland as “common”. And rarebit is rare only in that the word does not appear alone. It always is modified by Irish or Scotch, or more commonly Welsh Rarebit.

But what is a rarebit? Apparently, it is a corruption of “rabbit”.  And therefore Welsh Rabbit/Rarebit would mean a dish for people so poor they couldn’t scrounge up even so common a meat source  as rabbit.

And then there is Rumtum Tiddy (or Rinktum Tiddy), a name to win your heart, which seems to be the same dish, sometimes with variations, but then there are variations galore in Welsh Rabbit.

People who insist on linguistic distinctions only refer to Welsh Rarebit as melted cheese thinned with beer and poured over toast. When tomatoes are added, the fastidious language police would call the dish Pink Bunny or Blushing Bunny.  However I’m perfectly comfortable with calling my mother’s version Welsh Rarebit, or Tomato Welsh Rarebit. (Or Rink Tum Tiddy, for that matter.)

I wanted to make the simple version that my mother made, which eliminated using eggs or beer. Since mother did not leave a recipe card (why would she for such a simple dish?) I started a search.

1925 Cook Book

1925 Cook Book

Wikipedia refers to Mrs. Glasse’s The Art of Cooking, published in 1747, which has recipes for Scotch rabbit, Welsh Rabbit and two kinds of English rabbit. My copy of The Buffalo Evening News Home Makers’ Cooking School Cook Book (1925) presents recipes for “Savory Rarebit,”    “Pink Bunny,” “Cheese and Tomato Rarebit with Bacon,” Scotch Rarebit” and “Welsh Rarebit.” Their Welsh Rarebit is served with bread dipped into the cheese, like a fondue, while the Scotch Rarebit is open-faced toasted cheese sandwiches, baked in the oven. Clearly anything goes.


Tomato Welsh Rarebit

Tomato Rarebit with bacon

Of the many recipes available I chose one from the website A Hundred Years Ago.com . That website reproduced a Good Housekeeping  July 1911 recipe for Tomato Rarebit.  I left out the onion in their recipe, but otherwise the recipe–without any of the optional ingredients– seemed to be exactly like the Tomato Welsh Rarebit that my mother used to make for a quick meal in the 1940s through 1970s. I do not recall her topping the Welsh rarebit with anything, but I put bacon on mine and parsley on Ken’s.

You can choose from the options as you choose. Those ideas come from various other sources.

The sauce can do double duty. It is delicious on the steamed broccoli that I served on the side, and poured over soft-cooked eggs and ham for breakfast. You could even spread it cold on bread as a kind of homemade Cheeze Whiz©. In fact, the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook version suggests making Welsh Rarebit with “grated American cheese, or nippy, spreadable cheese.”  Guess they were avoiding brand names.

Tomato Welsh Rarebit

Serves 2-4
Prep time 30 minutes
Cook time 20 minutes
Total time 50 minutes
Allergy Milk, Wheat
Dietary Vegetarian
Meal type Lunch, Main Dish
Misc Child Friendly, Serve Hot
Website A Hundred Years Ago


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3/4 cups milk (whole, skim, or evaporated)
  • 2 cups grated or diced cheese (Sharp Cheddar preferred)
  • 1 cup tomato soup (or finely diced tomatoes)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 4-6 medium slices bread
  • 1 dash *worchestershire sauce (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon *cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon *onion (finely diced- optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon *baking soda (optional-mixed in the tomato soup)
  • 2 *eggs (optional)
  • *fresh parsley (optional)
  • 4 medium slices *bacon, cooked and crumbled (optional)


1. Make white sauce (Bechamel) by melting butter, stirring in flour. Stir in milk over low heat until sauce starts to thicken.
2. If using soda in tomatoes, add the soda to the tomatoes.
3. Stir cheese into white sauce until it begins to melt.
4. Stir in tomatoes and seasonings, until cheese is melted smooth and the sauce is warm through.
5. Toast bread and cut in triangles. Place four triangles on each plate.
6. Pour sauce over toast.
7. Garnish with parsley or bacon if desired, or sprinkle with paprika.
8. OPTIONAL: If using eggs, after blending the cheese and tomatoes in the sauce, beat eggs, mix a few spoonsful of the hot sauce into the eggs and then mix the eggs into the sauce until well blended.


I am certain that mother would have used condensed tomato soup from Campbell's.  I used an organic, low-salt tomato soup in a carton from Sprouts grocery store.  When I make this recipe with my own twists, I will whirl fresh diced tomatoes or good quality canned diced tomatoes in the blender with a little cream.

Flour Sacks, Man Aprons and Daniel Patrick Moynihan

At Thanksgiving, when we each expressed what we were thankful for, I said I was thankful for the ancestors who left us stories and recipes and dishes and silver to remember them by.

“What about the aprons,” said my oldest son.

“Huh?” I said.

“You’re thankful for the Ancestors–what about the Aprons?”

Ah, yes…the aprons.  The drawer full of aprons is part of what got Ancestors in Aprons started earlier this year. So here are a few aprons that bring memories flooding back every time I open the drawer.

old aprons

My grand daughter wearing her great-great grandmother’s apron.

Grandma Vera's flour sack apron

Grandma Vera’s flour sack apron

My grand daughter wears Grandma Vera’s flour sack apron when we make Christmas cookies. That apron not only reminds me of Grandma Vera, but also of that wonderful, soft, colorfully printed material that flour used to come in. We used flour sacks to make aprons, but also to make skirts and summer tops and hot pads and on and on. It was a favorite material to learn to sew on. And it got softer and softer as it aged.

A worn out apron strap

A worn out apron strap

Grandma’s flour sack apron is pretty soft, but it is also wearing out around the neck band.



Harriette's Apron

Harriette’s Apron

My mother taught high school classes in home economics. Aprons were a favorite project–easy to cut and sew, and I seem to recall her telling me that this apron was one that a student left behind.  The hook and eye at the neck don’t work, and while the pinafore style offers lots of protection, mother had safety pins stuck in the shoulders, where she would pin it to her dress, since the student didn’t quite finish her project. There is no waist-tie.

Home Made Grandma apron

Home Made Grandma apron

As I said, aprons are an easy sewing project. And when I was a young mother I frequently made Christmas presents.  One year I made aprons for everyone in the family.  The two grandmothers–Harriette Kaser and Agnes Badertscher got this apron–“Grandma’s Helping Hands” with the hand prints of my two young sons (before the third came along).

Paul Kaser in apron

Paul Kaser in apron

I really had to laugh when I came across the pictures of my father and my Uncle Bill Anderson carving turkeys.  What sports, to wear those frilly aprons.

Bill Anderson in an apron

Bill Anderson in an apron


Lucky for them, in the 1960s when backyard barbeques became essential equipment for every home, and men reverted to their caveman roots, Man Aprons became the rule of the day. Here are two that my Father got as Christmas presents.


Grandpa Paul Kaser's apron

“Grandpa” Paul Kaser’s apron

Paul Kaser's Man Apron

Paul Kaser, griller, had his Man Apron




Before there were cute cat videos, there was the awesomely popular Garfield–the original Grumpy Cat. And even before that there was B. Kliban drawing CATS.

And my boys (three now, with hands much bigger than those on the grandma aprons, gave me a MomCat apron for Christmas. Years later, I learned that my sister Paula’s boys had given her the same apron.

Mom Cat Apron

Mom Cat Apron, design by B. Kliban

I want to mention one more apron that means a lot to me, although when somebody inherits it, they won’t recognize the reason I was so attached.  It has the logo of Roll Call printed at the top. Roll Call is the “neighborhood newspaper” for Congress and all the staff of the Members of Congress. When I was working for a congressman, I entered a cooking contest that Roll Call held, and was invited to the cookoff in Washington on Capitol Hill.

You can find the recipe here, because I baked Killer Corn Bread.  Each contestant was given an apron, and that’s the one in my drawer.  But I did not actually wear it during the cookoff. That’s because a Senator who was one of the judges wanted an apron and they had run out.  A manager of the cookoff asked me if they could borrow mine. I said only if the Senator signed the apron and returned it to me.  He agreed.

Roll Call apron

Roll Call apron. Bogie looks dubious.

The signature of Patrick Moynihan scrawled boldly across the front of the apron is almost illegible now, because, foolishly, I wore the apron to cook in, and I washed it.  Unfortunately, the pen he used was not waterproof.  I can still see a few strokes, and I can still remember how delighted I was to meet the famous Senator.

If you have forgotten who Senator Moynihan was and what he did for the United States–I suggest you look him up.  I was not of his political party, and yet I believe he was one of the most intelligent and creative legislators we ever had in this country.

Apron signed by Patrick Moynihan

See that double loop down in the right corner? That’s It! That is the signature of Daniel Patrick Moynihan. What? You can’t see it?

And that’s my thanks to the aprons.

Pearl Harbor Day and Ration Book Threaten Christmas Cookies

PEARL HARBOR DAY: DECEMBER 7 Two days from now we mark Pearl Harbor Day. When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, it changed the way Americans lived. And it made many changes in our family. Here are three men in uniform at Guy and Vera Anderson’s home in Killbuck, Ohio.

World War II Vets

Herbert and Bill Anderson and Frank Fair 1942

Men all over the country flocked to recruiting stations. Above is a picture taken in 1942 of part of our family’s contribution to the war.  My uncles Herbert Guy Anderson and William J. Anderson joined the Navy and were assigned to the Seabees. Both of them served in the Pacific, on small islands that we had never heard of before, and couldn’t find because their letters were heavily censored and we couldn’t get the name.s They liked to say that although the Marines claimed to be the first ashore on Pacific islands, the Seabees were there first, building the landing sites and airstrips.

The third man in the photo is my cousin Frank Fair, who was a pilot for the Army Air Force. The picture below shows another cousin, Donovan Anderson, grand-nephew of my grandfather, who joined the Coast Guard.  Not pictured is my cousin Robert Anderson, who also joined the Navy.  He and his father had at least one reunion in Hawaii during the war! Bob was actually too young to enlist–but that’s a story for another day.

Donovan Anderson

Donovan Anderson Late 1940’s Coast Guard

We were fortunate that all of these family members returned from the war with no physical damage.


On a less serious note, our Christmas Cookies were in danger because sugar was rationed, with the use of ration cards.

The life of civilians was affected by Pearl Harbor Day, too.  My mother and father and a three-year-old me lived in New Philadelphia, Ohio.  Dad had lost the sight in one eye as a child, plus he had a hernia, which was cause for his draft board to excuse him from service. But wanting to play his part, he walked the streets at night as an Air Raid Warden–watching for any light seeping out of windows during blackouts.  Even in New Philadelphia, Ohio, people were being careful that the Japanese or the Germans would not be able to drop bombs on their town because of someone carelessly leaving a light shining up to alert the bombers.

Perhaps the biggest change in daily life because of Pearl Harbor Day and subsequent events,  revolved around food.  I will devote an entire article (or maybe two) to that subject in the future, but for now, I wanted to share this World War II ration  book with you.

World War II Ration Book

World War II Ration Book

Mother went down to the Ration Registrars office on May 5, 1942 and got ration books for each family member–even the 3-year-old.  She signed for this one that is in my father’s name. There are three stamps left.

She also signed for one for me, Vera Marie Kaser, described as 3’2″, 34 lb., Brown eyes, Brown hair, 3 years old.

I learned from the Ames Iowa website (no longer current), that the ration books I have were the first issued after Pearl Harbor Day, and they were for sugar.

On the back of my ration book is a notation in pencil in my mother’s hand, “15 and 16 canning sugar” and  another pencil notation in someone else’s hand, “6-2-42 20#”. There is also a typewritten note, “8-25-42-19# second half canning allotment.”

On the back of Paul Kaser’s ration book, the typed notation says “8-25-42 – 29# second half canning allotment.” (that doesn’t mean 29# of sugar, it means stamp #29 was used.) At any rate, even with rationed sugar, the Christmas cookies and birthday cakes kept coming out of the oven, despite Pearl Harbor Day.