Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Food: Recipes, cookbook reviews, food notes, and restaurant reviews. Unless otherwise noted, I have personally tried each recipe that gets its own page, but not necessarily recipes listed as part of a cookbook review.

Easter Candy-Cane Ice Cream—Wednesday, March 27th, 2024
Peppermint ice cream with peanuts: Peppermint ice cream, from the 1928 Frigidaire Recipes, made with candy canes and sprinkled with peanuts.; peanuts; ice cream; Frigidaire; candy canes; peppermint sticks

Peanuts and peppermints was probably a song in the sixties.

As regular followers of Mimsy Were the Borogoves know, I have a tradition that spans from Christmas to Easter. I keep the candy canes from Christmas and make a dessert from them to help celebrate Easter Sunday.

There is a spiritual meaning to the ubiquitous Christmas candy cane. Whether that meaning was part of their invention or not, we don’t know, but as Catholics often do, we have invested this celebratory food with spiritual meaning. We just don’t know if that meaning was part of the candy cane tradition from the start. Once you see it, however, it’s hard to forget: the candy cane is a shepherd’s staff. The next time you see a nativity painting, take a look at the staffs the shepherds are holding. Very likely, they’re going to have the same shape as a candy cane.

Even today, the curved shepherd’s staff is ubiquitous in Catholic ritual. Every bishop has one. Their crozier is a shepherd’s staff, and it has the candy cane loop.

St. Patrick stained glass window: Stained glass window at Saint Patrick’s church in San Diego, California.; San Diego; Catholicism; stained glass

At St. Patrick’s in San Diego, St. Patrick bears a shepherd’s staff.

Candy canes also—turn one upside down—represent the letter “J”. Of all the symbolism attributed to the candy cane, this, I’ll admit, is most likely to be ex post facto.

The white and the red, much like a barber’s sign where the colors represent blood and bandages1 represent Christ’s blood and purity.

Vermont Boiled Cider Pi—Wednesday, March 13th, 2024
Cider Pie with Peanut Butter Ice Cream: Boiled Cider Pie and Maple Peanut Butter Ice Cream. Two great Vermont recipes that go great together.; maple; pie; ice cream; Vermont; peanut butter; boiled cider

Cider pie and peanut butter ice cream. Pi Day doesn’t get better than this.

Tomorrow is Pi Day. And have I got a unique pie for you this year!

One of the more obscure discoveries I made while researching the El Molino Best cookbook was Ellen and Vrest Orton’s Cooking with Wholegrains. It was so good that I included their recipe for Green Mountain Hermits in my announcement that I’d made El Molino Best available for download—even though it has nothing to do with El Molino Mills except that if you’d made it in the fifties you might have used their cornmeal.

It was so good that I went looking to see if the Ortons had written any other cookbooks. And it turns out that Vrest Orton, in 1973, wrote The American Cider Book. I was able to find a copy on the Internet Archive and it was unique enough, with enough very interesting recipes, that I tracked down a print copy.

That book provided what is probably my most common breakfast eggnog. It also provided this year’s Pi Day pie, Vermont Boiled Cider Pie.

This is an amazing pie. It’s very much unlike any apple pie I’ve ever had. It’s creamy, rich, and the filling almost literally melts in your mouth.

You may be wondering how to get boiled cider. It’s not generally available outside of the northeast, but it’s easy enough to make if you can get apple cider. Put at least five times as much cider into a pan as you want boiled cider. Then simmer very low for a few hours until it reaches the consistency of maple syrup. That’s the entirety of Vrest Orton’s instructions for making boiled cider.

Catching up with Eddie Doucette—Thursday, March 7th, 2024

“One thing about AM radio, after the sun goes down, is picking up a faraway signal through the interference and the ether, where the magic crackles through a speaker. This is how people in the Midwest learned of Eddie Doucette in the late 1960s, broadcasting play-by-play for a fledgling NBA expansion team, the Milwaukee Bucks.”

Catching up with Eddie Doucette is a really nice interview with Chef Eddie Doucette’s son, the great sports broadcaster, in this week’s Shepherd Express of Milwaukee, where he had his breakout broadcasting Milwaukee Bucks games in the late sixties.

Eggnog for Breakfast… and Beyond!—Wednesday, February 14th, 2024
Drink Your Breakfast!: Social media image for breakfast eggnog blog post.; breakfast; egg nog; eggnog

One of Bill Cosby’s greatest jokes involved a dad angrily making breakfast for the kids. His four-year-old asks for chocolate cake, and the dad is about to say no—very angrily—when the list of ingredients flashes through his mind.

Eggs. Eggs are in chocolate cake! And milk! Oh goody! And wheat! That’s nutrition. Chocolate cake… coming up! Now, you need something to drink with your chocolate cake, something breakfast. Grapefruit juice! Eggs, milk, and wheat in the chocolate cake. And… I didn’t have to cook.

That is a righteous conclusion. Chocolate cake is a great breakfast. With milk for kids and coffee for adults. (And leave the grapefruit juice for anyone who complains about chocolate cake for breakfast.)

More commonly, however, I do eat mildly healthier. Breakfast lassi, for example, from yogurt and various other flavorings. But while yogurt drinks make for a fine breakfast, they’re not the only option for a drinkable breakfast. And I’m not talking about the traditional pejorative meaning of a drinkable breakfast. Although it may well have been born from just such a drink.

Eggnog. Think about it. Eggs. Eggs are in eggnog! And milk! Oh goody! That’s nutrition. Eggnog… coming up!

Preferably without grapefruit juice.

While we normally think of eggnog as a holiday drink with heavy spirits, that as the only way to make eggnog appears to be a late twentieth century interpretation. Eighteenth and nineteenth century versions used wine, fortified, yes, but nothing like brandy or rum. And from the earlier twentieth century many of my vintage recipe collections include nogs that either don’t have alcohol or don’t need it. In fact, most of the recipes that have “nog” in their title and include eggs in the recipe either don’t call for alcohol or make it optional.

If those recipes are anything to go by, eggnog used to be very popular not just for Christmas parties or even parties in general, but as a general beverage for any occasion. Or even for breakfasts or brunches without need of an occasion. The Sunkist eggnog I’ve included here is literally from a book titled “…recipes for every day”.

The earliest recipe for eggnog in my collection is in the 1916 Table and Kitchen from Dr. Price’s Cream Baking Powder. It describes its “Egg Nog” as:

My Year in Food: 2023—Wednesday, January 31st, 2024

In My Year in Books I wrote that quite a few of the books I read this year were cookbooks. This may have been my most interesting year yet for cookbooks, vintage and modern. Besides the cookbooks I’ve acquired, I completed or began three projects in 2023 that were each fascinating in their own way.

Most importantly, in June, I published Tempt Them with Tastier Foods, a collection of recipes from Chicago-area chef Eddie Doucette, who was also the face of IGA groceries throughout the country. This was a fun project—especially testing some of the recipes Doucette encouraged people to try. He’s mostly forgotten today, and that’s a shame. He was a pioneer television chef in Chicago in the fifties, and went on to promote the fun of cooking around the country and around the world.

Crêpe with orange sauce: Crêpe Suzette, from Eddie Doucette’s 1954 television show, Home Cooking.; oranges; Eddie Doucette; crêpes

Eddie Doucette’s delicious and easy crèpe suzette.

Orange Nog Breakfast Eye Opener: Orange Nog Breakfast Eye Opener, from Tempt Them with Tastier Foods, the Recipes of Eddie Doucette.; breakfast; oranges; Eddie Doucette; egg nog; eggnog

His wonderful orange nog breakfast beverage.

I also went through a 1950 recipe calendar and began a survey of early refrigerator manual/cookbooks, each of which I’ve written about elsewhere.

It was definitely my most interesting year for travel. This is the first time I’ve been to a place that officially doesn’t speak English.1 I went to Italy, and it should come as no surprise that the food was amazing.

I began the trip in Venice, for an Adriatic cruise. Our group stayed at the Molino Stucky Hotel on Giudecca before sailing, and even the hotel food was amazing.

The food only got better after we set sail. In Kotor, Montenegro, a cookbook author and chef opened her home to us and we had a sit-down meal of local foods and local wines. A planned drive to an archaeological dig in Santorini was canceled, so I wandered about the island on foot catching the sights. One of the sights was a restaurant in the middle of nowhere at the top of a tall hill.

Looking back over 1950 in vintage cooking—Wednesday, January 3rd, 2024
Distracted vintage chef: Last year’s vintage cookbook jealous of this year’s.; cookbooks; memes; food history; vintage cookbooks

On December 28 of last year, I posted A 1950 recipe calendar for 2023 and wrote that:

I’m looking forward to trying a new recipe from this calendar each month come January.

I didn’t use as many of these recipes as I would have liked. Life kept intruding, and new cookbooks kept beckoning. But I did manage to try July’s Banana Cream Whip recipe well after the Fourth, August’s Date-Peanut Butter Filling for summer guests, November’s Cranberry Ice Box Pudding for Thanksgiving, and December’s Fruited Peanut Butter Rolls for Christmas.

I remade October’s Bacon-Corn Fondue over the holidays, as I planned to do, although I didn’t use ham this time.

Given how few recipes there are per month, I do wonder how often members of the Hope Lutheran community brought the same dishes to get-togethers! Fortunately, making these recipes 73 years later I didn’t have to worry about someone else bringing the same one.

Independence Day’s Banana Cream Whip is such a lovely and simple recipe, I’m surprised it’s not in the Chiquita Banana Recipe Book.

Banana Cream Whip

Banana Cream Whip

Servings: 4
Preparation Time: 1 hour
A 1950 recipe calendar for 2023
Hope Lutheran 1950 calendar of recipes (PDF File, 11.7 MB)


  • 1 cup mashed bananas (2-3 bananas)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ⅛ tsp salt
  • ½ cup whipping cream, whipped


  1. Mix bananas, lemon juice, sugar and salt.
  2. Fold in whipped cream.
  3. Chill.
  4. Serve as is, with sliced fruit, or sprinkled with granola.
Eddie Doucette’s Potato Bread—Wednesday, November 1st, 2023
Potato Bread: Potato Bread, from Eddie Doucette’s “You Can Have Fun With Yeast” in the Alton Evening Telegraph of April 4, 1967.; bread; potatoes; Eddie Doucette

Friday is National Sandwich Day. If you’re having a backyard barbecue or picnic, or just making sandwiches for lunch, consider making this light, flavorful potato bread to help celebrate the occasion.

I found this recipe in the April 4, 1967, Alton Evening Telegraph. It was part of a media blitz for Eddie Doucette’s “French Cooking Can Be Fun” show at Alton’s Monticello College. There was a lot of cool stuff in there, which you can see in Tempt Them with Tastier Foods. Tempt Them is a free download, and it’s also available in print if you (as I do) prefer having a book in the kitchen.

I can’t overemphasize how much fun Eddie Doucette’s recipes are, how much joy he takes in spreading the message that “cooking can be fun”.

The article that featured this recipe is “You Can Have Fun With Yeast”. It’s a typically upbeat and encouraging article from Chef Doucette. He starts off quoting his mother about the importance of bread, talks about the nostalgia, drama, and romance of working with yeast, and ends with a positive affirmation about the pleasures of home cooking:

With our modern mode of cooking and baking it is a pleasure to produce sumptuous light taste-provoking baked goods, whether it be for your own table, a surprise gift for a dear friend, a church social or what-have-you, I’m certain you’ll find you can have “Fun With Yeast.”

It’s an upbeat sentiment that others can only see pessimistically.

When I was growing up nobody could show me how to bake bread—and it’s only gotten worse. It seems such a shame that as a culture we don’t teach our children about the basic things in life—bread making, gardening, sewing—and the value of work. At some point, all these things got to be beneath our dignity. If you can’t work with your hands, you lose the richness of your life and the sense of being productive. — Edward Espe Brown (Flour Power)

Doucette’s unstated motto is, why complain that people don’t bake, when you can instead show people the joy of baking? That cooking can be and is fun!

Salted, roasted, pumpkin seeds—Wednesday, October 25th, 2023
Jack shows he’s got guts: Jack-o-lantern: “Jack shows he’s got guts.”; Hallowe’en; pumpkins

The process of making a jack-o-lantern is truly a gory one, well-suited for Hallowe’en. Depending on your proclivities, the most gorious is that all of Jack’s slimy viscera must be removed, usually by reaching in and tearing them out by hand. It’s a messy process, but without it your jack-o-lantern will rot much faster, and won’t be able to hold a candle securely or keep it lit.

But Jack’s innards don’t all have to be tossed. When looking for a good use for pumpkins this year, I was surprised to find that I hadn’t already posted this recipe for roasted pumpkin seeds. I love pumpkin seeds, and this recipe is so good and so easy I use it year-round for other squash seeds, such as the butternut squash I made yesterday as I write this.

Pumpkin seeds are the best of squashes for edible seeds. They’re a great size and have more meat. All of the seeds from inside the pumpkin should be kept for this great salty snack.

Clearing the seeds off Jack’s gut-strings is a further mess but well worth the work. The easiest way I’ve found to clean them is to put the guts into a big bowl, cover them with water, and then remove the seeds by hand. Many will come out easily; others will have to be pulled loose from the wet, stringy entrails. The seeds usually separate easily by squeezing them at the point where they attach to the strings.

When I wrote last year that “I’ve taken to carving two Hallowe’en pumpkins so that I have more body parts left over” a good part of it was so that I’ll have more pumpkin seeds. It’s very easy to go through an entire pumpkin’s seeds very quickly.

You’ll need to carve the pumpkins at least a day ahead of when you need the seeds: the critical step in this recipe compared to more complicated recipes is that the seeds need to be soaked in very salty water overnight. This, I suspect, tenderizes the seeds as well as infuses them with flavor. Previous recipes I’ve tried tended to make chewier pumpkin seeds with less flavor, even if they used more spices.

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