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Sunday, October 17, 2010


I was sifting through my stuff last night and chanced upon one of my grandmother's cookbooks that I've kept. It is old, stained, dog-eared, torn, stapled with other hand-written recipes or cut-outs of recipes from other magazines. I am talking about "Our favorite Recipes -- Monday Afternoon Club" published by the same group in Baguio City, 1963.

Yes, the cookbook is older than me. It's as old as my brother. But he doesn't cook. Anyway, I read all the way through the book (it's not that thick, after all) and truly imagined how it was when slow-food was the norm. The foreword of the cookbook reads:

Monday Afternoon Club of Baguio was founded in 1933 by Americans living in the Philippine Islands. Now it is a cosmopolitan women's club, still predominately American, devoted to charitable aid to Filipinos in a number of widely differing ways.

It was thought that the favorite recipes of such a group of women would be unique in their international derivation, and would be of wide interest, whilst the sale of the book would bring much needed money for the charitable projects.

Some of the recipes have been contributed by friends of members generously giving the club their well-tried favorites. A few of the recipes are similar but none is exactly the same as another. The result varies slightly to suit different tastes.

To make the book readily understood by all, the editors have included a table of metric, avoirdupois and other equivalents, a glossary of foreign words and hints on adjusting quantities for altitude.

We in the Philippines wish you all GOOD COOKING!

Nowhere in the cookbook are we to find out, however, who the editors were. In the page fronting the foreword, there is on the lower right side the printer's name (Baguio Printing) and below it is written "Weaving by: Easter School". There are no photographs that accompany the recipes, so I presume the cookbook must have come with a woven satchel. Or perhaps a woven bookmark? The book is divided into sections like Hors d'oeuvres, Soup, Salad & Dressings, Bread & Rolls, Fish, Poultry & Sauces, Meat, Cheese & Sauces, etc. Below each recipe is the contributing member's name.

One would notice, that even though most of the members were American, the recipes they shared belied their European roots, and so you would see Swedish Cabbage, Berlin Doughnuts, Sauerbraten, Irish Stew Casserole to name a few. American regional cuisine is also represented in the likes of Bostonian Spread, Virginia Chicken-Apple Salad, Baked Salmon (New Orleans), North Carolina Brunswick Stew (this last one shared by Betty Ploeser wherein she writes at the end; "Tar Heels like this dish served with hot corn bread and a green salad").

There are a few Filipino dishes shared by some members. It is not surprising that these dishes are deemed classics when it comes to Filipino fare. And so you have Pancit Luglug shared by Joving Santiago, Coco-Chicken Adobo by Mary Ann Rosales, Morcon  and Chicken Relleno by Jolly Serron,  Pancit Molo by Margarita Kolodzik, Fried Lumpia by Martha Plagens and Empanadas by Madge Melton. I am curious to try two recipes shared by Violeta H. Adorable -- Potage de Garbanzos and Chicken Hinalog. The Chicken Hinalog being a dish gently simmered with tender leaves of the Tamarind and seasoned with patis.

Nowhere in the book will you find the mentioning of pressure cookers, microwave ovens, or non-stick skillets. Meat and Chicken stews were simmered for hours until 'meat easily separates from the bones'. Canned produce is rarely used save for evaporated and/or condensed milk. Other packaged items used were the usual flour, butter, baking powder and soda, sugar and salt of course, and the ever popular jell-o and marshmallows. Ditto raisins, dates and nuts and olives. Otherwise, all ingredients were deemed to have been bought fresh at the market. Pyrex was popular for the casseroles. Casseroles having the most entries in the cookbook.

My grandmother checked the recipes she had tried (the fountain pen's ink now a light brown) -- Empanadas, Ice Box Cake (the recipe called for peaches, but my Lola would use ripe mangoes instead), Pancake (from scratch) courtesy of the Baguio Country Club, Polvoron, etc. Lola didn't tick off any recipes for cakes or cookies, understandably so because Lola never baked. It was us, the third generation of cousins who would use the oven.

The recipes are easy to follow. Instructions are simple. Most ingredients were and still are available year round. That I think is the reason they did not include photographs. There is a recipe for The Original Chicken A La King by Ruth Pearson and is truly reminiscent of those toast cups filled with chicken that was popular up to the seventies during kiddie parties or luncheons. Baguio Country Club's Gazpacho and Raisin Bread are also included. The Twenty Four Hour Bean Salad and Roquefort Whirl Salad Dressing by Lourdes Gesner are both  tempting.

Here are some curiosities: Coca-Cola Salad by Martha West is a dish made from Raspberry and Cherry Jello, cherries, nuts, cream cheese, crushed pineapple and 2 Coca-Colas (8 oz. I presume as there was no other variant then). There is also the recipe for Ginger Beer by Elizabeth Mackenzie wherein she warns: "Leave for 24 hours then strain and bottle. Keep in the refrigerator or the bottles may burst." Or how about the recipe for Bar-Talk! by Sally Nordstrom -- it is a concoction of Scotch or Bourbon, pineapple, grapefruit and calamansi juices and soda poured over ice then garnished with orange slices. Ms. Nordstrom adds; "For holiday sparkle, float aluminum cut-outs with lighted birthday candles." Could Bar-Talk! be a pun on the highand term for drunkard i.e. Bartek?! There are also recipes for Clay and Home Laundry Soap. (For the very bored housewife, I guess).

The Buffet Supper For 100 contributed by Ditas Valles is as follows:

Smoked Beef Tongue
Roast Loin of Pork with Prunes
Rolled Roast of Veal
Ravioli in Tomato Sauce
Potato and Bacon Salad with Mustard Dressing
Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage
Lettuce and Sour Cream Salad
Cucumber Salad
Picked Beets
Pan de Sal                      Rye Bread
Dessert: Assorted Cheese Garnished with Fresh Grapes
Served with Crackers (salted & unsalted)
Fruit kabobs
Pineapple Chunks         Fresh Strawberries
Melon Balls        Lychees
Irish Coffee

(The recipes for the items above are seen in the succeeding pages of the cookbook)

There are numerous recipes for Apple Pie and its variants. Also loads of Chocolate Cakes. Towards the end is an Herb Chart naming various herbs and their more common and acceptable uses. There are also tips for High Altitude Baking (eg. Sugar; decrease for each cup -- for 3,000 feet -- no change; for 5,000 feet -- usually no change; for 7,000 feet -- 1 to 2 tbsps.)

In the section titled Treasure Pots: 40 tips for the homemaker is given. Here are the gems, I am suddenly reminded of Martha Stewart:

        No.  2: Toasting bread on your waffle iron is a nice change.
        No.  3: Place waxed paper over the butter knife to cut butter squares for serving.
        No. 17: Potato peeling and vinegar boiled in a kettle will remove lime deposits.
        No. 18: A handful of salt added to the rinsing water in winter will keep clothes from freezing to the
                     line. (Baguio had winter in the 60s?! See also number 37 below)
        No. 20: Egg white is useful in removing gum from clothing or hair.
        No. 22: To preserve bouquets: Put saltpeter in the water you use for flowers. Flowers will then keep                         
                     for 2 weeks.
        No. 23: Tea towels starched slightly will leave no lint on dishes.
        No. 35: Hot salt water poured into sink and drains helps to keep them clean and odorless.
        No. 37: Keep windows free from ice in winter by rubbing the panes with a sponge dipped in   

After this section is the page on Spot and Stain Removal Chart, which I am going to skip as modern day techniques/products abound. Or we're not just that attached to our articles of clothing as they were back then when clothes had to be made by the family seamstress or the tailor in downtown Session Road. Nowadays, it's off-the-rack, ready made, mall issued clothes for most of us.

I couldn't help but smile while reading the recipe for Beef Stew Margarita by Jerry Reed. It is written in a rush. She rattles off the ingredients and the procedure and mutters in the end; "Soothing for disgruntled males!!!" 

hahahahahaha   :-)

I leave you now with Lupita Coromina's recipe titled simply: DUCK

1 young duck, disjointed
Strong Beef Stock
Salt and Pepper
3 Doz. Olives
2 Onions

Chop the onions, duck liver, gizzard and heart with 12 stoned olives and mix well with sufficient hot stock to cover duck. Add seasoning and stir well until sauce is thick. Place pieces of duck in sauce and simmer for 1 to 1 and 1/2 hours. Add remaining olives and serve.

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