Tag Archives: vintage cookbook

German Warm Potato Salad (Warm)

I make cold “picnic” potato salad often. My family loves it. (So do I). But I have never made as much potato salad as I did last week.  A forgotten bag of potatoes in my pantry was starting to sprout. I should know better than to buy potatoes by the bag.

potatoesSo, following my trend of thinking of my waste-not-want-not ancestors in aprons, I got to work making potato salad.  All those potatoes in one big cold potato salad would get very boring, though, so I made the German warm  potato salad that I do not make quite as frequently.  I usually turn to my favorite old Joy of Cooking Cookbook, but decided to look for something a little different.

I dug out a thoroughly dilapidated spiral-bound cookbook from my mother’s Home Ec teaching days. Harriette Anderson Kaser taught many subjects, but when I was in high school she was teaching home economics and all my friends took her class. I didn’t. Instead, ironically, I went home and started dinner.

Home Ec teachers got lots of product books, like the Joys of Jell-o book I’ve used here before. Their national organization also pulled together cookbooks featuring favorite recipes of the teachers across the nation.  My copy of Favorite Recipes of Home Economics Teachers: Salads has been used so much that the cover and the first few pages are missing, as well as the last pages of the index and the back cover.

This image is from Amazon, and says it was published in 1964. I thought it was a bit older, but this must be the same book. Click on the image if you would like to purchase your own.

There are some really strange recipes in here, along with an endless variety of old favorites like bean salad or carrot salad or chicken salad. It is a source of endless experimentation for the curious cook.

I was looking for an authentic Pennsylvania Dutch warm potato salad recipe that my German Ancestors might make.  The one I found, did come from Pennsylvania and seemed authentic except that it included olives, which did not strike me as a food that German immigrants would have at hand.  I substituted dill pickle, which they could have on their canning shelves.  Warning–if you don’t like vinegar–like my friend Kerry Dexter, who commented on the Sauerbraten recipe–you’re not going to like this sweet and sour, warm potato salad. But, hey! It has BACON.

Note: I did not include a picture, because next to cooked oatmeal, this is about the least photogenic food I can think of.

German Recipe: Pennsylvania Dutch Warm Potato Salad

Serves 12
Allergy Egg
Meal type Salad, Side Dish
Misc Pre-preparable, Serve Cold, Serve Hot
Region German
From book Favorite Recipes of Home Economics Teachers: Salads


  • 10 medium potatoes (cooked in jackets)
  • 2 small onions (diced)
  • 3 stalks celery (diced)
  • 4 medium slices bacon
  • 2 heaped tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 eggs (beaten)
  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 8 hard-cooked eggs (sliced)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 dill pickle (diced)


1. Dice potatoes (peel if you want, or leave skin on).
2. Combine diced potatoes with onions and celery and set aside.
3. Fry bacon until crisp. Drain and crumble into the potato mixture.
4. Stir flour into bacon grease and mix to make a paste. (Adding more if necessary).
5. Combine eggs, sugar, dry mustard, salt and pepper with water and vinegar. Stir into bacon-flour paste.
6. Cook sauce over low heat until thick. Pour over potato mixture and mix lightly. Stir in dill pickles and gently add hard-cooked eggs.
7. Sprinkle with paprika or parsley. Serve while warm, or refrigerate to marinate for several hours, then either reheat or serve chilled.


The recipe in the book called for carrots and I skipped those. I also do not eat onions, so left out the onions, with no loss. I substituted dill pickle for olives.

I also used less sugar than called for (1 cup) because I felt that left it too sugary.

The recipe was contributed by home economics teacher Mrs. Sandra Mock, Pequea Valley High School, Kinzers, Pennsylvania

Reminder: You can find an index of some of my favorite cookbooks–vintage and not–on their own special page: Food Books that Stir Family Memories.

How to Freeze Pear Pie Filling

Pear Pie filling

Pear pie filling package

When life hands you too many pears–make frozen pear pie filling.

Although this is not exactly a recipe from my ancestors (who did not have freezers!), I like to think I’ve adapted the recipe using some of the principles of my ancestors who wore aprons.

  • Frugality–never letting food go to waste.
  • Love of fruit desserts. They seemed to be constantly inventing new ways to use fruit.
  • The popularity of pie-A  penchant passed down from at least my grand father and grandmother through my mother and probably back farther than that. That’s how I learned to make a Perfect Pie Crust.


Pear pie filling

Frozen pear pie filling.

Sonnenberg Cook Book

I adapted the frozen pear pie filling idea from the spiral-bound, vintage community cookbook, 150th Anniversary Sonnenberg Kidron 1819-1969 Cookbook, which was a gift from my mother-in-law. That cookbook (and that church) comes directly from my husband’s Mennonite ancestor heritage.

And feel free to go wild. When I baked the pie following the recipe below, I added dried cherries and chopped walnuts.

The next time I pulled a frozen packet out of the refrigerator, I popped in in a pie shell and topped it with a streusel topping instead of a top crust. (1/2 C brown sugar, 1/2 C butter and 1 C flour, mixed with fingers for a crumbly topping.) For that version, I had to cover lightly with foil during the last half of the baking so the streusel would not get too brown.

Here’s the basic recipe, which is very flexible.

Pear Pie – Frozen filling


  • 4 quarts pears (Peeled and sliced. About 4-5 pears per quart.)
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup Minute Tapioca
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons nutmeg


1. Mix sliced pears with all other ingredients, and let sit for 15 minutes.
2. Line four pie pans with heavy-duty aluminum foil, extending the foil on all sides so that you will be able to seal the filling.
3. Pour the pear mixture into the lined pans and fold the foil loosely over the filling.
4. Freeze until solid. Fold the foil tightly to seal and remove the foil packet from the pan. Replace in freezer.
5. Filling can be frozen for up to 6 months.
6. When ready to bake, line pie pan with pastry, unwrap the filling and drop it into the unbaked pastry. Dot with butter. Top with a top crust.
7. Seal edges and cut slits in top crust. (If you want to make it sparkle, brush with milk and sprinkle with sugar.)
8. Bake at 425 degrees for one hour.


Yes, this is an enormous recipe.  If you don't have that many pears, it is easy to cut in half for fourths.

See my recipe for Perfect Pie Crust.

The recipe for pear pie can be used for berry pies or rhubarb or apple pie, adjusting the amount of sugar and the thickening according to how sweet or juicy the fruit is.


Molasses Apple Upside Down Cake

An Apple Molasses Upside-Down Cake with a little help from Harriette and Betty

I started the day in a frugal mood.  A bowl of apples shoved to the back of the refrigerator, were threatening to wither and turn brown.  Oh no! My grandmothers and great-grandmothers would not stand for that!

Remembering that incredible butter and molasses spread I had discovered along with this recipe for pumpkin/cornmeal bread, I cored and sliced the apples and threw them in a skillet with butter.  When they were nicely browned, I drizzled them with molasses.

Apples and molasses

The apple slices browned in butter and molasses

But what do do next?  Maybe put them over a cake? It was time to pull out one of those vintage product cookbooks from my shelf.  This one–Betty Crocker’s Cake and Frosting Mix Cookbook (1966)–seemed perfect.  Betty always has a suggestion, and this book takes you from the basics of baking (with a mix of course) to some fancy decorating.But everything in the book seems doable for the ordinary person.

I love how the illustrations show imperfect decorations.  See the dribble on that little petit four in the foreground?  It makes the reader feel that they could do this do.  Maybe our expectations in the 1960s were a bit tamer than today?  Unless you count the expectation that we would polish silver and actually have a tea party with several kinds of cake.

But back to the recipe search–as I thumbed through the book, I saw several pages of upside-down cake recipes, including an apple upside-down cake. Ah-ha!

One of my mother’s go-to desserts that we all loved, was pineapple upside-down cake. How I loved that gooey syrupy top that surrounded the pineapples and maraschino cherries that Harriette Kaser baked on the bottom of an iron skillet, until it was carefully turned upside down in all its glory.

The Betty Crocker Cake Book suggests using one jar of cinnamon apple rings, drained, instead of pineapple slices in their basic pineapple upside-down cake recipe.  Pour 1/4 cup of butter (1/2 stick),  into the cake pan and top with brown sugar and  the pineapple slices and cherries.

Betty Crocker cake mix

Betty Crocker cake mix and recipe for Upside-Down cake

I already had a skillet with apples browned in butter an molasses (instead of brown sugar).  All I had to do was arrange them, mix up the Betty Crocker© spice cake mix and pour it over the top.

 upside-down cake apples

Cooked apples arranged for upside-down cake.

The book suggests using one-half of the prepared mix. Because my skillet was a little larger than a regular 9″ cake pan, I used a bit more than half. ( I made the remainder of the batter into cupcakes, to freeze for later.)

The cake needs to bake at 325 degrees (since the pan is dark), and took about 45 minutes.

With upside down cakes, you must invert them on the serving plate immediately when they come out of the oven.  With a cake pan, that is fairly easy, but with a heavy iron skillet and a heavy platter, it is a challenge.  As you see, it didn’t break up and fall apart (whew!), even though I did not get the cake centered on the platter. Imperfect. Just like a real cook.

Apple Upside-Down Cake

Apple Upside-Down Cake

The only remaining challenge is letting it cool before I can dig into that molasses-buttery goodness.

Apple Molasses Upside-Down Cake

Serves 10-12
Prep time 20 minutes
Cook time 1 hour, 10 minutes
Total time 1 hour, 30 minutes
Allergy Egg, Wheat
Meal type Dessert
Misc Child Friendly, Pre-preparable, Serve Cold


  • 1/4 cup Butter
  • 3 tablespoons Molasses
  • 5 Small apples (cored and sliced)
  • 1 box Spice cake mix


1. Melt butter in iron skillet
2. Stir in sliced apples. Cook until soft (about 20 minutes), stirring occasionally.
3. Drizzle molasses over and stir to coat apples. Arrange apples in an attractive pattern in pan.
4. Mix cake mix according to directions on package
5. Pour 1/2 of the batter into the skillet on top of the apples.
6. Bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. (Or bake 45 minutes at 350 degrees if using a 9" round cake pan)
7. When you take skillet (or pan) out of oven, immediately invert onto serving platter. Leave skillet on top of cake for about ten minutes. Lift off and let cake cool on platter.
8. Serve plain or with whipped cream.


You can use the remainder of the cake batter to make a one-layer cake or 9-12 cupcakes, following baking directions on cake mix box.

If you do not care for spice cake, substitute another flavor of cake mix.

Used copies of Betty Crocker’s Cake and Frosting Mix Cookbook are available at Amazon.com. If you purchase through this link, you are supporting AncestorsinAprons.com and helping with my research. Even though it costs you no more, I make a few cents on each sale through my links. THANKS!