Grape-Nut Pudding – A New England Marvel

As you can imagine, I have lots and lots of vintage cookbooks. I find reading them comforting, and I always dream of cooking all the recipes.  One recipe that shows up frequently in early to mid-20th century cookbooks is Grape-Nut Pudding.

Growing up, I liked Grape-Nut cereal. Then when we moved to New Hampshire, I discovered the amazing taste of Grape-Nut ice cream.  A New England tradition, I was hooked on the unusual taste and texture of the ice cream. I figured Grape-Nut pudding would be equally tasty. I’d been meaning to make the pudding and finally this weekend made this easy and very yummy recipe.

Grape-Nut cereal was introduced in 1897 by C. W. Post, a former patient and then competitor of Dr. John Harvey Kellogg. Grape-Nuts was first marketed as a health cereal, good for the brain and nervous system. The health claims were just a tad outlandish, to the point that Collier Magazine refused to accept ads from Post.

As time went on Grape-Nuts was part of a number of interesting ventures. Thanks to the cereal’s light and compact character, it’s nutritional value and resistance to spoilage, Grape-Nuts were not only the sponsor of the Admiral Byrd’s exploration of Antarctica in 1933, it was also used in 1953 on the first assent of Mount Everest. The cereal was also eaten in WWII as jungle rations. Pretty heady stuff for a cereal!

The other neat thing about Grape-Nuts is their groundbreaking marketing ideas. Post promoted the cereal with an ad campaign that positioned Grape-Nuts as “the most scientific cereal in the world”. Boxes of the cereal came with an 11 page pamphlet called “The Road To Wellville” written by Post. In-store tastings and sample give-aways also helped to entice consumers and Grape-Nuts became an almost instant hit. And Grape-Nuts was the first cereal to feature a coupon. This coupon gave housewives one cent off of their purchase which doesn’t seem like much, but I’m sure the cereal was pretty cheap back then.

One of the earliest references to Grape-Nut Pudding is in a 1901 church cookbook from Boston. By the 1920s the recipe was commonly found especially in community and church cookbooks. And of course Post used the recipe in magazine ads as seen here.

I had a huge choice of recipes to follow, but chose a recipe submitted by Grace Nye Smith in the 1949 Cook Book by the Evening Alliance of the Unitarian Church, Chelmsford, Massachusetts. Her recipe was a bit vague, so I did look on-line to learn a bit more about how to cook the pudding. I’ve added these tips to the recipe.

Grapenut Pudding (how they spelled it in the cookbook)

  • 1/1 c. grapenuts
  • 2 c. milk
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 1 tbs. molasses
  • 1 egg, separated
  • dash of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Scald the milk (which means heat it just to the boiling point)

Pour over the grapenuts and let this cool in a bowl

Separate the egg

Beat the egg yolk with the sugar, molasses and dash of salt

Beat the egg white until stiff

Pour the egg yolk mixture into the grapenut/milk mixture and stir (if the milk is still hot, make sure you temper the egg yolk by putting a few spoonfuls of hot milk into the egg and stirring. This keeps the egg from cooking when it hits the hot milk)

Gently fold the egg whites into the mixture

Pour it all into a buttered 2 quart pyrex dish

Put this dish into a pan and fill this half-way with hot water (and make sure you don’t accidentally pour the water into the pudding like I did.)

Bake for an hour

The resulting pudding is a creamy custard with a nice nutty crust at the bottom from the Grape-nuts. Served warm it is divine. I was going to whip some whipping cream, but quite frankly it didn’t need it.

 

 

Aunt Lil Bakes with Weight Watchers

I love to bake and I love to eat. And I hate to exercise. The result – some unwanted pounds that keep adding up. So Aunt Lil joined Weight Watchers. This isn’t my first time, so I know the ropes. Portion control is key, as well as tracking what you eat! But, no matter what, I didn’t want to give up baking and cooking good meals. But thankfully, there are many great recipes out there for people watching their weight.

So with that in mind you’ll be reading about experiments with food that’s good for you, but still very tasty.

Right off the bat I scored big! I needed a dessert to take to a cook-out yesterday along with a heck of a lot of will power and strategies to not go crazy. I won’t bore you with what else I ate (or didn’t), but I do want to write about this super moist and tasty Carrot Cake found on the Weight Watchers website.

Carrot Cake with a Lemon Glaze (7 points for a small slice)

  • 1 c. flour
  • 1 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 c. packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 c. unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 c. shredded carrots, finely grated (about 1/2 lb carrots)
  • 2 tsp. ginger root, fresh, grated (I substituted 1 tsp. dried ginger)
  • 4 fl. oz carrot juice

Icing:

  • 1/2 c. powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 2/3 tbs. low fat cream cheese at room temperature

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Generously coat a bundt pan with cooking spray

Grate the carrots

The most tedious part of this cake

In a medium bowl, whisk together both types flour along with baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon, set aside

Using an electric mixer in a large bowl, beat both sugars with eggs and melted butter until light and fluffy

Add applesauce and beat again just a bit

Fold in carrots and ginger

Working in small batches, add flour mixture, alternating with carrot juice until batter is blended

Beat on high for 30 seconds more

Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth top

Bake until a tester inserted in cake comes out clean, about 50-60 minutes

Cool cake in pan for 15 minutes

Turn cake out onto a wire rack and cool completely

While cake is cooling, combine icing ingredients in a medium bowl (I waited a bit here to make sure cake was really cool)

Blend powdered sugar with vanilla extract, lemon juice, and cream cheese until smooth with no lumps

Once cake is cool, drizzle this glaze on top of cake so it runs down edges

The resulting cake was very moist and had a wonderful rich flavor. I find many carrot cakes to be way too sweet, especially with the gloppy cream cheese icing people heap on it. The carrot cake recipe I just linked to – a very traditional recipe – is 785 calories and used 2 boxes of cream cheese! I found that the cake I made has the perfect amount of sweetness with a strong carrot flavor enhanced by the cinnamon and ginger. And was far better for me.

Everyone loved it at the party. If you are dieting, Weight Watchers says this should be served in 16 small slices. If you’re not worrying about this, have as big as you’d like and enjoy!

Farmers Market Finds

Since Farmer’s Markets are finally in full swing here in upper New Hampshire, I decided to try some recipes from Farmer John’s Cookbook: The Real Dirt on Vegetables, 2006. This is a great cookbook divided by the seasons. There are many creative recipes that help you use your bounty if you have a garden. Or [...] Read more »

Greetings from Rangoon

No, I’m not on some exotic vacation. I’m instead cooking from my latest vintage cook book find, Rangoon International Cook Book, 1956. I at first hesitated about buying the book, as its title implied that the book would be filled with 1950s recipes from Southeast Asia. In fact it’s an amazing mix of recipes from [...] Read more »

Shepherd’s Pie – Scottish Style

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Meat Loaf – An American Institution?

Along with hamburgers and hotdogs, meat loaf ranks up there as a food that’s “as American as apple pie.” But it turns out its origins go quite far back to Roman times. In the oldest written cookbook found to date, Apicius de re Coquinaria, is a recipe for ground meat patties mixed with bread and [...] Read more »

A Tale of Two Rubes – Pies That Is

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Convict Cookies from the Pillsbury Bake-Off

Hopefully this title caught some people’s attention. And yes, it says convict as in convicted criminal. Read on to learn how an innocent 13-year-old won a prize in the 1952 Bake-Off and then went on to a life of crime. I needed to make cookies for an event where I work. I decided to try [...] Read more »

Kale Soup For a Wet Spring Day

The cookbook shelf brought me to Heart of the Home: Notes From a Vineyard Kitchen by Susan Branch from 1986. I’ve used this cookbook fairly frequently as the messy pages attest. The Kale Soup recipe called to me. I’m a total sucker for kale and sausage soup. Susan Branch is a prolific writer including of [...] Read more »

Broonie – A Gingerbread with a Past

First of all I encourage you to resist. Yes, resist eating this gingerbread when it comes out of the oven. All Broonie recipes say to wrap the cooled gingerbread and store it in an airtight container for three days to let the flavor and texture mellow. Yes, they are right. More on this later. So [...] Read more »

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