Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Cookbooks, Calories, and Chemicals

**There is still time to enter the extract giveaway!!**

I'm currently working on another recipe post, but in the mean time, I thought I'd share some fundamentals from my kitchen. (And by another I mean MANY others-- I'm baking for a party this weekend, so BRING ON THE CUPCAKES!!!!)

A few people asked me if I will 'lighten up' some of my recipes. The answer is....not really...well, only sometimes. I do appreciate a good, healthy, well done low fat recipe, but most of the time, in my opinion, a 'lightened up' baked good is just not worth the calories. Anyone who has ever counted weight watcher points or carbs or sugars or anything else of a dieting nature can tell you that you still kill a whole lot of your daily allotted points/calories/carbs/etc. with most low-fat baked things. And, often times, there are a lot more steps and ingredients in low-fat baking. There are some low-fat deserts that are scrumptious, and I have a few I will post for sure; but, usually I'd rather make a real, full-fat version of something and just not eat it all the time.It's more important to me that I really enjoy something than it is to be able to eat it constantly. I'll do my best not to go all Paula Deen on you and put seven sticks of butter in one cake, but if you are looking for low-fat, diet, baking; this is not the blog for you. (I'm supposed to be on a diet, too, so, work out the logic on that one....oops......) :-)

This kind of goes along with the 'first' point, but, I'm not a fan of artificial sugars or food dyes. This is part of my hesitation with some low-fat/low-sugar recipes. It's also why you won't see me post a red velvet cake recipe until I find a good one made from beets or other natural red sources. I'm not going to pretend I'm so awesome that I avoid all dyes and artificial sweeteners, but I do try to. I admit to being a fan of Diet Coke, Lean Cuisine and to putting Splenda in my coffee, but I try to avoid chemicals where I can, and baking is one of those places. Again, I am not steadfast-- I do color my cake icing and use sprinkles and all that sort of thing-- I just try and keep it in moderation.

You may have noticed in my sidebar I have the information on two vintage Betty Crocker Cookbooks. These are my cooking 'go-to' for all occasions. Why the vintage ones, you ask?? Good question.

Fore one thing, they are familiar to me. My mom used the 1969 version when I was growing up and my Grandma has always used the 1950's picture version. I've known what page apple crisp is on in the 1969 version since I was 10.

The biggest factor in my choosing vintage book is that somewhere in the time between 1969 and now, a lot of cook books, even really good cook books, started creating recipes that ask you to add things to a cake mix or other packaged item. There is nothing wrong with this, but, basic baking is simple enough that I would rather bake from scratch and not use a packaged item; I generally think that scratch baking tastes better. I'm not saying I've never doctored up a cake mix, I just, generally, like to make my own.

Finally, these old Betty's are solid, proven, classic recipes. They do have some fancy stuff, and, yes, there are some strange outdated things that you only hear about now when Betty Draper throws a party on 'Mad Men'*, but mostly it's just basic, fundamental baking. You don't need fancy tools for most of the recipes and they are written so you can follow them no matter your skill level. The 1950's version even has pictures and diagrams just as the title would suggest.

So, if you are in the market for a good cookbook, I suggest one of these. The 1950 version has been reprinted and can be found in stores. I'm note sure about the 1969 version. I got my copy though a hand-me-down, but I think some used bookstores and amazon have copies.

*I totally want to throw a 'Mad Men' party and bust out all the outdated recipes in these books while we drink gin fizzes and wear fancy dresses.........anybody with me???

Betty Crocker did not ask me to write this; they are not compensating me in anyway. In fact, they probably don't want me writing this because I'll have to tell you that I really don't like their newer books due to the cake-mix-effect mentioned above.


  1. I have one recipe I'm willing to break the cake-mix-effect rule for - a lemon cookie that's basically cake mix and cool whip. Besides that, Sandra Lee can take a flying leap.

  2. I totally want to have a Mad Men party!! Oh the dresses!!!

  3. I'm with you on trying to stay away from artificial stuff! I'd choose a higher-calorie brownie made with real sugar, than an artificially sweetend one!

    My mom gave me a newer Betty Crocker cookbook when I got married and I love it!

  4. Just polished off one of my eldest's cookies. Made with real sugar. can't beat it. Like you say - as long as you aren't doing it all the time - well, it never did our parents any harm. It's this generation that has so much fast food, biscuits, sweets, take outs... readily available to gorge on that have got it SO wrong. (And yes I count myself as guilty in that category. Not as bad as a lot of people but this belly didn't just materialise over night!)

    Bring on the lush stuff! Simple cooking is my kinda cooking :)

  5. I'm totally in on Mad Men party just so I can wear the clothes :-)