26 July 2013

Wheels of Steel and Frozen Bananas

(Bear with me. I'm wallowing in nostalgia.)

You might well ask why I have two copies of the New York times Natural Foods Cookbook. Well, a close reader will note that one of them is "new".


And the old one has fallen apart.


The one that unbound itself had been my mother's, and there were two recipes in it that I remembered from my childhood. So, when I found the "new" one in a used bookstore one day, I bought it, thinking fondly about wheat germ snickerdoodles and wheels of steel. The wheels of steel are indeed a fabulous cookie, but the wheat germ snickerdoodles don't really do it for me anymore.

After we cleaned out her house, I brought home the old copy; I think its spine gave up the ghost on the journey. I was going to just toss the broken book in the recycling, but paging through it nostagically, I found marginalia, notes from my mother. And then, because I couldn't help myself, I read through the entire cookbook. Her notes are one thing, but oh what a mess of whimsical sounding recipes are in there. Consciousness III Pudding, followed some 60 pages later by Consciousness III Cookies? How about Bone Marrow Gruel or Mystery Fruit Thing? Definitely a product of 1971.

Upon consideration, I've decided that the blue ribbon winning recipe from the original New York Times Natural Foods Cookbook is this:

Simplest Dessert of All
1 Ripe Banana
Peel banana and freeze. Serve frozen and whole with napkin wrapped around the bottom, or sliced into serving dish.
Yield: One serving
Note: Frozen banana has the consistency of ice cream and tastes delicious.

Really? That needed page space and ink?

My mother doesn't seem to have made any of the really outlandish recipes; her notes show a tendency towards soups, casseroles and cookies. And chicken livers.

BORING:
Mushroom and Barley Soup
Cold Cucumber Soup III

OVERDONE, NOT CRISP ENOUGH:
Sesame Baked Chicken

Just a check mark:
Potato Soup
Raisin Cookies
Whole Wheat Fruit Cookies
Wheat Germ Snickerdoodles

GOOD:
Cracked Wheat Casserole
Potato Meat Loaf
Musart Sprouted Beef Loaf
Lentil and Barley Stew

BLAH:
Six-Layer Dinner

NO:
Luscious Chicken Livers

SUPER:
Chicken Livers with Sour Cream

OK:
Winter Casserole
Soybean and Vegetable Casserole

Starred, with a nice five pointed pentagram
Wheels of Steel
Ginger Cookies
Homemade Graham Crackers

Because this all started with the Wheels of Steel, here's the recipe. They're sort of oatmeal raisin cookies with peanut butter. Delicious nostalgia, worth making.



WHEELS OF STEEL (adapted from Jean Hewitt's Natural Foods Cookbook)

INGREDIENTS
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 t. vanilla
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup non-fat powdered milk
3/4 t. salt
1/4 t. baking powder
1/4 t. baking soda
3 tablespoons milk
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup raisins
3 tablespoons sesame seeds

DIRECTIONS
  • Preheat oven to 375°F.
  • Cream together butter, peanut butter and brown sugar. Add egg and vanilla.
  • In a separate bowl, stir together flour, wheat germ, powdered milk, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Add flour mixture to the creamed butter/sugar mixture and mix well.
  • Add liquid milk, oats and raisins, and mix well.
  • Blob the dough out onto greased (or parchmented) cookie sheets. (The original recipe has you make nine enormous cookies out of the whole batch of dough. I like smaller cookies than that. Maybe I should call mine Poker Chips of Steel. Or, Floppy Disks of Steel.)
  • Leave plenty of room for the cookies to spread. Sprinkle with each cookie with some sesame seeds.
  • Bake 10-12 minutes or until done.
  • Cool on cookie sheet for about 5 minutes and then transfer to a rack.

7 comments:

alejna said...

How wonderful to have found your mother's notes.

My mother has never had much interest in cooking, but I'm realizing that I would have loved to have seen my grandmother's cookbook notes, if she had any. (Though come to think of it, she didn't have a great interest in cooking either--she mostly did it because it needed to be done, and she was the one to do it.)

ozma said...

I love this.

And now I feel like I have a even greater sense of your mother. Because how much cooler could a cookbook be?

I am going to be looking for this book in used bookstores probably for the rest of my life! The 1970s version of the NY Times Cookbook is the one to have and I felt like a rockstar to cook from it. My mother in law always used it. And the Joy of Cooking.

ozma said...

I love this.

And now I feel like I have a even greater sense of your mother. Because how much cooler could a cookbook be?

I am going to be looking for this book in used bookstores probably for the rest of my life! The 1970s version of the NY Times Cookbook is the one to have and I felt like a rockstar to cook from it. My mother in law always used it. And the Joy of Cooking.

kathy a. said...

any idea why the cookies are called "wheels of steel"?

sweet to find your mom's marginalia! and also a new version of a well-used classic.

V-Grrrl said...

I bought that cookbook when I was a newlywed vegetarian. I think I made lentil burgers using a recipe I found in it.

leanne said...

I have an old Joy of Cooking at home though I haven't ever used it much -- I used to make the pinwheel refrigerator cookies (I think that's what they were called -- it's been a long time). A lot of the recipes I use now I've found on the Web.

Anonymous said...

A week ago I left a thankful comment about the Wheels of Steal recipe, but when I got home and tried it I realized it was not the recipe I was looking for. I speculate the two pages of the cookbook I had in my recipe drawer had Wheels of Steel on the first page, but the recipe I was looking for was was perhaps on the reverse of that page, or possibly one or two pages further on. Anyway the cookie recipe I was looking for had sunflower seeds in it, so perhaps it was called sunflower seed cookies? So far I have not yet turned up this recipe using Google, so am hoping you can look through your cookbook, find it, and post it/send it to me? This would surely make you my heroine of the year ... ;-) Thx Rick@rickstewart.com