Add a slice of Americana to your Fourth of July with these vintage recipes
Create a vintage vibe for your Fourth of July celebrations with these recipes from all-time favorite Better Homes and Gardens cookbooks. The cookbooks, established during the 1930s Depression era, instantly became bestsellers. The signature red plaid cover showed up in 1941. With revisions based on trends of the changing times, and 35 million copies later, the cookbooks still are staples in many kitchens across America.
Cheese, Olive Appetizers
The 1965 version of this iconic cookbook featured a photo of a simple appetizer made with cheese, olives and pretzels. This snack is best assembled just before serving to keep the pretzel crisp. Here, it’s served along with all time favorite Ritz Crackers, which Nabisco introduced in 1934.
Cracker Jacks became popular from the song “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” with the words “Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jacks” written in 1908 and became forever linked to America’s favorite pastime. The baseball card prizes are now highly valued collectors’ items.
This year, use them at your celebration as party favors. They were first served at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893 as a mixture of popcorn, molasses and peanuts. Later, starting in 1912 they were sold in boxes with toy surprises enclosed. This treat was purchased in 1997 and is now distributed by Frito Lay.
Fried chicken always has been a popular Fourth of July party staple. Even in the 1950s, people were starting to use shortcuts like this crispy, baked potato-chip chicken published in Better Homes and Gardens in 1955.
2 cups crushed potato chips
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon paprika
Dash of pepper
1 (2½-3 pound) ready to cook, cut up frying chicken or, 4 bone-in chicken drumsticks and thighs
½ cup butter or margarine
Combine crushed potato chips, garlic powder, dash of pepper and paprika. Dip chicken pieces in melted butter; roll in chip mixture.
Place pieces skin side up and not touching in a greased jelly-roll pan. Sprinkle with remaining butter and crumbs.
Bake at 375 F, for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until browned and crispy. Do not turn. Remove to paper towels to cool slightly. Serve warm.
These cookies, topped with a candied cherry, were featured favorites in 1965 as shown in the book on the holiday cookie photo page. The texture is a mix of crunchy and soft and is best enjoyed as soon as cooled from the oven.
Dutch Cookie Wafers
Yields: 3 dozen
3 ounces cream cheese
½ cup butter
½ cup sugar
1 cup sifted flour
½ teaspoon almond extract
2 teaspoons baking powder
1½ cups crushed wheat flakes, cornflakes, or finely chopped pecans
Cream together cheese, butter and sugar; add extract. Sift together flour and baking powder; gradually add to creamed mixture, mixing well. Chill dough about 1 hour.
Shape into small dough balls; roll in crushed flakes or chopped pecans. Place 1½ inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Top with a candied cherry slice.
Bake in moderate oven 350 F, for 12–15 minutes. Remove from pan and cool on rack.
The mix of tart cherries and canned peaches makes an easy-to-prepare favorite Fourth of July dessert. The recipe is from the 1965 Better Homes and Gardens cookbook.
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup enriched flour
1 cup canned, pitted sour cherries, drained
1 large can (2 cups) sliced peaches, drained
¼ teaspoon almond extract
¼ cup cherry juice (We used maraschino cherry juice.)
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 uncooked pie shells
Mix sugar and flour; sprinkle 1⁄3 of mixture in 8-inch pastry-lined pie pan. Add drained cherries and peaches. Add almond extract to cherry juice. Pour over fruits.
Sprinkle with remaining flour-sugar mixture and dot with butter. Make lattice-top crust and secure edges. Sprinkle lattice lightly with sugar.
Bake in hot oven 400 F, for 40–50 minutes. Cover edges of pie shell with protector ring or foil to avoid over-browning.
Although the story of George Washington telling the truth about chopping down his father’s cherry tree appears to be a fable, he is known to have loved Martha Washington’s recipes using cherries. Here, revised from her own “Booke of Cookery,” and copied by an unknown hand in about 1749, is a recipe for preserved cherries. This recipe is quite sweet, but the cherries would be good spooned over desserts such as ice cream and cakes or use the syrup for beverages and cocktails.
Martha Washington’s Preserved Cherries
4 cups fresh cherries washed, with stems removed and pitted
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
Boil sugar and water in a wide pan to make a syrup. Add cherries, bring back to a boil and then simmer and cook 20–25 minutes, skimming off foam from the top.
When cherries are tender and juice is reduced by about half, remove from heat and cool. Place cherries in a sterile glass jar, add syrup, seal tightly and refrigerate.
This caramel apple recipe is in the 1965 Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, but this recipe is a similar version still printed on packages of Kraft Caramels. Still a favorite American treat, caramel apples were created in the 1950s by a salesperson from Kraft Foods using leftover caramels and dipping in apples.
5 apples (wax-free organic apples work best)
1 package 11-ounce Kraft Caramels
2 tablespoons water
Finely chopped walnuts
5 pop sticks
Wash apples and dip in boiling water to remove any wax. Dry thoroughly, remove stem and insert pop sticks in top end of each apple. Refrigerate apples about 1 hour.
Cover large platter with buttered parchment paper. Unwrap and melt caramels with water on stovetop on medium low heat until caramels are completely melted, stirring constantly. Or using the microwave, decrease water to 1 tablespoon and microwave on high 2½ to 3 minutes or until completely melted, stirring after each minute. Let set a few seconds for caramel to thicken slightly. Then roll apple in caramel, removing bottom excess caramel with a spatula. Roll in chopped walnuts. Place on buttered parchment. Chill in refrigerator until coating is firm.