Friday, November 14, 2014

"Elsie's Cookbook by Elsie the Cow [Elsie is the Borden Company's mascot] - Carrot and Potato Soup

Date I made this recipe:  November 9, 2014

Elsie's Cookbook (Elsie is the Borden brand mascot) by Elsie the Cow with the aid of Harry Botsford
Published by:  The Bond Wheelwright Company
© 1952
Purchased at Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks, NYC
Recipe:  Carrot and Potato Soup – p. 39-40

Faithful readers of advice columnist, Dear Abby, might recall that she often left a confidential message to a reader along the lines of "Confidential to [Sleepless in Seattle] Yes, the path you indicated you wanted to take is the right one.  Good luck to you."  I have to tell you that I always wanted the back story:  "What was the path?  Why is it right?  Why are you leaving us these encrypted messages, Abby?"  These things were unclear.  This did not deter me from being a faithful reader though and I enjoyed her column all the years that it ran, "encrypted" "Confidential to..." messages or not.  Her regular columns were hilarious.  Abby did not beat around the bush.

By the way, here's some interesting factoids about Dear Abby:  this column, which ran (officially) from 1955 to 2000, was penned by Pauline Phillips.  "Dear Abby" was her alter ego.  Pauline Phillips was married to Ed (Mort) Phillips from Minneapolis, helped build Ed Phillips and Sons, a liquor distribution company, now known as Phillips Distributing Company.  "Abby's" twin sister, Esther, also wrote an advice column called "Ask Ann Landers."  My local newspaper ran "Dear Abby" so I grew up as an Abby person although I did manage to peruse an article or two of "Ask Ann Landers" if the newspaper I was reading at the time carried it.

So for today's cookbook selection, I give you "Confidential to 'MM in Minneapolis'"
This cookbook was used to honor your recent purchase at Friday night's
Maiden Minnesota event.  Moo."

And that's all I'm going to say about that!  So let's talk Elsie the Cow.

Elsie the Cow was created in 1936 as the Borden company mascot/spokesperson.  Per Wikipedia, Elmer the Bull was created in 1940 as Elsie's mate but then later went on to become the mascot for Elmer's Glue.  At the time, Elmer's Glue [company] was a chemical subsidiary of Borden.  (I used to love to pour Elmer's all over my fingertips and then peel off the glue and look at the fingertip markings.  Which may sound odd to grownups but as a youngster, it was rather fun.)

I have to tell you, the cartoon drawings in this cookbook are delightful and hilarious.  I mean, look at the cover:  Elmer is wearing an apron, peeling potatoes and does not look at all happy about it.  Poor Elmer.  Methinks he should just accept his fate as a kitchen mate and be done with it.

Elsie's "no nonsense" approach carried over to the kitchen in the form of recipes that are just "straight up," stick-to-the-ribs kind of fare that were representative of the times (1952).  Nothing is overly-spicy, nothing contains a lot of unmanageable ingredients or steps and everything is pretty easy to make.  The downside is that many dishes looked bland or potentially bland to this cook's palate.  And so I made a few adjustments to my soup to ensure a better outcome.

It should be noted that not only are the ingredients in this book relatively simple, but there is a surprising lack of recipes featuring Borden's products and when a recipe does so, like this soup recipe, it just says "evaporated milk," without referring to Borden's.  This is a far cry from today's brand-name cookbooks that read like a mystery basket on the TV show "Chopped:"  And for your entree, you MUST USE..."Borden's evaporated milk..."  I find that refreshing.

So now that I've let the cat out of the bag when it comes to today's soup ingredients, let me just share a few other tidbits about the recipe:

Instead of using all water, as directed, I used half water and half chicken broth to give the soup more flavor.  I also use whole milk because I like it and can buy it in small containers.  And since I've been "burned" once before by pureeing a soup recipe that I think would have been better "whole," I did not puree this soup as directed.  And this made for a slightly thicker soup than I wanted so I should have added more milk – whole or evaporated – to thin it to my liking but I didn't.  But that's just my preference, not yours.

And finally, for those of you who are waiting for my usual and customary winter weather bitch, here you go: It's 19 degrees outside.  Winter as we know it has not yet arrived (December 21st is the solstice) but there is snow on the group and the outside temperature has gotten a little frosty.  We will not discuss how my attitude has gotten frosty as well.  At any rate, it's a perfect time of year for soup featuring Elsie's Borden products.  Enjoy.

Carrot and Potato Soup – makes 4-6 servings
1 ½ tablespoons bacon or vegetable fat
3 medium potatoes, diced
4 medium carrots, diced
2 medium onions, sliced thin
2 cups water
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon butter
2 drops Tabasco sauce
½ cup evaporated milk (Hint:  Borden's evaporated milk might be nice here!)
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
Croutons (for garnish)

Melt the fat in frying pan; add vegetables and cook for 5 minutes over low heat.  Put in 1 ½ cups of the water and cook until vegetables are mushy.  Sift flour on surface of liquid and stir until blended.  Pour in remaining ½ cup water and the milk.  Season to waste with salt, pepper, and paprika.  Simmer 10 minutes.  Press through a sieve, add butter and Tabasco sauce and return to low heat.  (Ann's Note:  I skipped this step as I like my potato soup to be on the chunky side.) Bring to a boil and stir in evaporated milk.  Pour into a large tureen, sprinkle top with parsley and drop in a lot of croutons.  Serve piping hot.  Ann's Note:  I added grated cheese and it was delicious!

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