Tag Archives: vintage cookbooks

apple crumb pie

Caramel Apple Pie with Pecan Crumb Crust

As a new bride, I was reluctant to start making pies because my mother made such great pies. When I worked up the courage, I started with the American classic, Apple Pie. After all, at my Grandma’s house, the rule seemed to be that it was okay to have more than one kind of pie for dessert, as long as one of them was apple. When I baked my apple pie, I relied on my American classic cook book, Joy of Cooking.

For a long time, apple pie was about the only pie I made. I finally braved the wilds of other types of pies, and am still experimenting with new twists on old favorites. This caramel apple pie with pecan crumb topping melds the original Joy of Cooking apple pie recipe, with a technique I saw mentioned in a Facebook pie baking group. Then I borrowed the crumb topping recipe from another vintage cookbook, Better Homes and Gardens, and gave it a different twist.

The first challenge with the seemingly simple apple pie is deciding which of hundreds of kinds of apples to use. Most older cookbooks recommend Granny Smith, however, people are gravitating toward sweeter apples, and I found that Honeycrisp makes a very good pie. Just be sure to adjust your sugar depending on how sweet the apple is. Here’s a chart to help you decide.

I first saw this chart at my local Sprouts Farmer’s Market grocery store. It is a helpful guide. to sweetness in apples.

Here is my cobbled together recipe–for two smaller pies so you have one to eat and one to share. I hope you like it.

apple crumb pie

Caramel Apple Pie with Pecan Crumb Topping

New twist on America's favorite: Apple Pie. Recipe for two pies–one to share.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword apple, pie, vintage
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 11 hours 25 minutes
Servings 12 slices
Author Vera Marie Badertscher


  • 2 Disposable pie pans
  • Food processor


  • 8-10 Apples Peeled, cored and sliced. See Notes
  • Pie Dough for two shells
  • 1 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 3 tbsp Corn starch
  • 1 1/2 tsp Penzey's Apple Pie Spice See Notes

Crumb Topping

  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 1 1/2 Cup Flour
  • 2/3 Cup Butter
  • 1/2 Cup Pecans


  • Mix brown sugar, salt, corn starch and spices. Pour over Apples and place them in refrigerator over night.
  • The next day, heat oven to 400 degrees.
  • When ready to bake, strain off liquid and boil until reduced to thin syrup. Let cool slightly before adding back and mixing with apples.
  • Line two 8" pie pans with dough, and heap half of the apples in each.
  • To make Topping, mix sugar, flour and butter, and pulse a few times in food processors, just until there are no large clumps. Add pecans and three to four times more to incorporate pecans.
  • Scatter topping on apples in pans. Apples should barely show.
  • Put pie pans on cookie sheet and insert in 400 degree oven. Bake 45-50 minutes, until topping begins to brown. Check after 30 minutes and cover edge if it is browning too fast.
  • Serve pie with ice cream or whipped cream.


If you have very sweet apples, you can cut back on the sugar used.  If your apples are not juicy, you may want to add some water or bottled apple juice when you are boiling  down the juice.
Of course, I recommend my Perfect Pie Crust, however, feel free to use whatever pie shell you prefer. The topping is the star in this pie.
I specified Penzey’s Apple Pie Spice in the recipe, but if you don’t have any, you can substitute 1/2 tsp. Cinnamon; 1/4 tsp nutmeg and 1/4 tsp cardamon (if you have it on hand). The Penzey’s mix is  very nice and I have found that I use it in a lot of ways besides apple pie–other fruit pies, cinnamon/sugar toast, baked puddings, etc.

Deviled Eggs and Other Devilish Foods for Halloween

Looking for Halloween food? How about something Devilish? Deviled eggs, anyone?

deviled eggs

Take a bite of deviled eggs.

From what I’ve read, deviled foods were popular in the 1700s, when all kinds of things were highly spiced, particularly with mustard and pepper and labeled “deviled.” Things odd to us today like deviled mutton and deviled tongue might be on the menu. Deviled shrimp and crab became popular in the 1800s and early 1900s.


Deviled Eggs

Deviled Ham

Deviled Ham Advertisement from 1905

And then in 1871, Underwood started marketing Deviled Ham, which comes in a very similar can today. If you automatically associate deviled ham with blah white bread sandwiches, check out the Underwood website for their modern recipes.

Rector’s Restaurant, NYC

The Rector Cook Book 1928

The Rector Cook Book 1928

My vintage cookbook from Rector’s, a competitor to New York City’s Delmonico’s in the 1880s, has several devilish recipes, none of which are terribly spicy.

Deviled Oysters does not sound too extreme with its “pinch of cayenne in oyster liquor and hot milk and cream to sauce the oysters.

Stuffed Deviled Crab Rector uses one pound of crab meat with a cream sauce that is seasoned with a few grains of cayenne and a teaspoon of dry mustard, Worcestershire sauce. Again, not too devilish hot.

Deviled Virginia Ham á la Rector achieves devilishness by simply smearing mustard on the ham and sprinkling with breadcrumbs. The  ‘á la Rector’ comes in the presentation–surrounded by a ring of rissotto.

The Rector Stuffed Eggs sound a lot like our deviled eggs. The recipe calls for mixing the yolks with parsley, cream (instead of mayonnaise). The eggs are seasoned with salt and pepper and a few grains of cayenne. George Rector also presents a recipe for hard boiled eggs stuffed with a pate de fois gras mixture. He assures the homemaker that they will perfectly acceptable if you use liverwurst instead of fois gras.

See a common thread here?  Cayenne pepper.  Recipes commonly call for mustard in deviled foods.


1925 Cook Book

1925 Cook Book Cover

Let’s jump up to the 1920’s and look at my vintage Buffalo Cooking School Cook Book. This book, inherited from my great aunt Maud, lists Deviled Crabs, Deviled Eggs, Deviled Fowl, Deviled Oysters, Deviled Sandwiches, and Deviled Tomatoes.

Those last two intrigued me. But I don’t think I’ll be making deviled sandwiches any time soon. Here’s the description:

Deviled Sandwiches. On Boston Brown Bread, you spread a mixture of almonds, sweet pickles, Worcestershire sauce, chutney, and cottage cheese, seasoned with a little paprika. UGH!

Deviled Tomatoes sound a bit more promising. Cook slices of tomatoes in butter, sauce with butter, mustard, sugar, hard cooked egg yolk and a raw egg, seasoned with mustard and vinegar.

Deviled Eggs.  This book has a totally different take on deviled eggs. Instead of stuffed hard cooked eggs, they slice the hard cooked eggs. Then they warm them in a sauce of catsup (!), mustard, butter, a little paprika and Worcestershire sauce.

I’ll save a discussion of Devil’s Food Cake for next Halloween, but if you want to read even more about devilish foods, this Smithsonian article covers everything.


Deviled eggs with paprika

Deviled eggs with paprika

Now on to my favorite--Deviled Eggs, as they are generally made today– with mayonnaise and mustard added to the yolks.  According to the History channel, commercially made mayo didn’t come along until early in the 20th century. That may explain the Rector recipe that uses cream.

At any rate, the least devilish item I can think of, and one of my family’s favorites, Deviled Eggs.

Deviled Eggs

Serves 8
Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 20 minutes
Total time 30 minutes
Allergy Egg
Meal type Appetizer, Salad, Snack
Misc Child Friendly, Pre-preparable, Serve Cold
Deviled eggs are not as devilish as the title suggests. Easy to make and endlessly adaptable, a favorite of all.


  • 8 hard boiled eggs
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise (Miracle Whip or Kraft Salad Dressing)
  • 1 teaspoon mustard (prepared)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon relish (sweet or dill according to your preference)
  • paprika or dried parsley (for garnish)
  • salt (to taste)


1. Slice eggs in half and scoop out yolks into a small bowl. Places whites on a serving plate.
2. Mash yolks with fork.
3. Mix mustard, mayonnaise or salad dressing and relish into yolks.
4. Fill egg whites with yolk mixture with spoon, or by piping.
5. Top with sprinkle of dried parsley or paprika.


Everyone has their own way to hard boil eggs for deviled eggs. I will just hand on a couple of my tips:

  • Use eggs that are at LEAST a week old (two is better).
  • Let eggs come to room temperature in pan of water before starting to cook.
  • Plunge cooked eggs into ice water and gently crack all over. Let cool completely before peeling.

If you are cooking for company, cook a few extra in case a few don't crack open nicely.

The yolks of six large eggs will yield about a cup of cooked yolk. Measure your seasonings proportionately to the number of eggs you have cooked (or quantity of yolks.)

Feel free to up the spiciness in your deviled eggs.

Toppings can vary according to your tastes. Some suggestions--cocktail shrimp, sliced olives, pieces of pimento, diced pickle, pieces of carrot or other raw vegetable. Let your imagination fly.

By the way, the argument continues to rage at our house about which sandwich spread is best for all things–including deviled eggs–Miracle Whip or Kraft’s Mayonnaise.  Oh well, there are worse things for a family to fight over.  But this family split guarantees that I’m not taking sides on which you use in your deviled eggs.

Why is Miracle Whip not “mayo”? Because food standards call for 65% vegetable oil in mayonnaise, and Miracle Whip has something less than that. That makes some people like it because of its taste emphasis on sweet and spicy rather than oily. But, whatever works for you and your family is what should go into your deviled eggs.




A Bit of Mystery about a Harvard Beet Recipe

Although she did not generally get fancy with vegetables, my mother Harriette Anderson Kaser, nearly always took canned beets and made a delicious sauce for them.  I later learned the beet recipe was called Harvard Beets, but I never really knew what it had to do with Harvard. Nor did I know where she got the idea for the sweet and sour sauce, although I know that my grandmother, Vera Stout Anderson liked to make things with sweet and sour sauces.

Thumbing through a bunch of old pamphlets and booklets and mother had collected, I discovered one that might have been her inspiration.

25 Ways to Cook Fresh Vegetables Cook Book. Well worn cooking pamphlet.

25 Ways to Cook Fresh Vegetables Cook Book. Well worn cooking pamphlet.

Close up Vegetable cookbook cover Vegetable cookbook inside cover

In 1940, the director of the Culinary Arts Institute “One of America’s foremost organizations devoted to the science of Better Cookery’ [Their capitalization] published booklets to encourage Americans to eat their vegetables.  Since the government was encouraging Victory Gardens, there no doubt was a need to help housewives figure out what to do with all that produce.

Beets from Farmer's Market

My own haul from the local Farmer’s Market, including beets, squash and carrots.

Beets, once thought of as food fit only for fodder for pigs, had finally earned their place on American dinner tables. THe 1940 “250 Ways to Cook Fresh Vegetables” includes ten recipes for beets, including both Harvard Beets and Pickled Beets. My own family’s favorite beet recipe is Pickled Beets and eggs, which I shared with you when I was talking about Thanksgiving Recipes last year.

1925 Cook Book

1925 Cook Book Cover

Fifteen years before the C.A.I booklet, The Home Maker’s Cooking School Cook Book  in addition to general cooking instructions, only came up with one beet recipe: pickled beets.

The Rector Cook Book 1928

The Rector Cook Book 1928

Writing about his turn-of-the-century restaurant Rector’ s in New York City, George Rector in 1928 had one beet recipe which he called “Beets, Home Style.” He combines pickled and harvard styles into one recipe, by adding cloves to the sauce.

Interestingly, none of these cookbooks address cooking the greens, and I did not realize that beet greens are delicious until a couple of decades ago. I prize a big generous bunch of leaves with a bunch of beets like those in the picture above. They are milder and cook more quickly than most greens. A little butter and salt and pepper and they’re great!

But I digress.  All the cookbooks agree on the ingredients for the sweet and sour sauce that is sometimes called Harvard.  I chose to cook the Rector beet recipe, only adding some water.  My beets (which look red in the photo above) turned out to be heirloom white beets which is why they look pale in the photo below.

Oh, and if you read all this way to find out the origin of Harvard Beets–I never found out.  Even Yankee Magazine  admitted not knowing for sure, although there do exist some lame theories.  For a complete history of the evolution of beet dishes, and some very interesting recipes including a beet recipe for cake (!), see the Food Timeline. I say eat them and enjoy them, to heck with the history.

I am giving you both the Rector Home Style Beet Recipe and the Culinary Arts Institute Harvard Beet recipe, so that you may compare and choose. By the way, feel free to use canned beets. I do not recall mother cooking fresh beets, and this sauce adds zip to the canned product.

Rector Cook Book Beets Recipe

Serves 4-6
Dietary Vegan, Vegetarian
Meal type Side Dish
Misc Serve Hot
From book The Rector Cook Book (1928)


  • bunch Beets
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon corn starch
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 6 cloves (whole)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon butter


Cook Beets
1. Cover the beets with boiling water and cook until soft. The time required for cooking depends entirely on the size and age of the beets. Skin the beets while hot by holding them under cold water. Slice the beets and keep them hot while you make the following sauce to pour over them.
Make Sauce
2. Mix sugar and corn starch. Add vinegar and cloves and let mixture boil for five minutes. [I added water as well]
Marinate beets
3. Pour over beets and let stand on a warm part of the range for thirty minutes. Add 1 T of fresh butter just before serving. Stir and serve.


The Rector Cook Book which reproduces recipes from a very famous turn of the century restaurant in New York City, calls this "Beets, Home Style." Their recipe does not call for any water, but in my opinion, it is too strong without a little water in the sauce. I used the recipe with four medium sized beets, but there would have been enough sauce for twice that many beets.

C. A. I. Cookbook Harvard Beets Recipe

Serves 6-8
Dietary Vegan, Vegetarian
Meal type Side Dish
Misc Serve Hot
From book 250 Ways to serve Fresh Vegetables, Culinarty Arts Institute, 1940 (Pamphlet)


  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons corn starch
  • 1/3 cup vinegar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 4 cups beeets (cooked)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper


1. Combine sugar and cornstarch; add vinegar and water and boil for 5 minutes.
2. Add beets and simmer 1/2 hour.
3. Add butter and season with salt and pepper
4. Slice or dice beets.