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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Women's Page From the 1950's

It started with rhubarb....
As I was making rhubarb cordial I got to thinking about the renaissance rhubarb is making  these days. It was once an old fashioned veg rarely enjoyed by anyone under 50yrs. I used to think there was not enough sugar in the world to make it palatable. 
My introduction to rhubarb was a mushy stewed stringy looking mass of dirty green. I was not greatly impressed. But that was in the past and I am now embracing the new rhubarb.
Anyhow, as I said, I got to thinking and wondered if there were any recipes in my grandmother's cookbook, I wondered how she might have used it.
I leafed through "Chocolate Tall Tales", "Strawberry Valentines" and "Ginger Blow-Away Sponge" and tucked into the pages I found a newspaper clipping called,

Domestic Diary
 by Jean Cooper.
Made two cakes using only three eggs; the first from the white the second from the yolks.
MOONLIGHT CAKE is made by creaming 1/3 cup of butter and adding 1 1/2 cups of SR flour, 1 cup of sugar, 1/2 teas salt, 1/2 cup of milk, 1/2 teas vanilla and mixing for 400 strokes (love it). Add stiffly beaten whites of three eggs; mix 200 strokes; spread in a greased layer tin and bake about 20 mins. When cold ice and cut into fingers or squares.
SUNSHINE CAKE - use the same quantities and ingredients, substituting yolks for egg whites. Bake in different shaped tin; ice with chocolate icing and sprinkle with nuts.

A little gem don't you think and handy for when you are baking for a fund raiser cake stall.

And then I got to thinking....
I wonder who Jean Cooper was?
And good old google brought up this page....

with another entry into the Domestic Diary, this time something about removing decals in the bathroom (I remember those!) The clipping is from the QLD newspaper The Courier Mail 17th January 1951.
The article items on this page are clearly targeted towards women and as you would imagine, so are the advertisements. What an interesting snapshot of society and times. There is a rather large article by Lady Cilento under the pen-name of Medical Mother who wrote for the Courier Mail for decades. She was an amazing lady and a real pioneer when it comes to vitamin therapy.

How about that ad in the lower corner for Super Sheltox (I remember that name too) household insecticide. The advertisement says, "You need only spray your home six times a year and still keep it pest free..." 
Thats because its DDT!
And what about the "Vitamin Fortified" Weet-Bix, they are still giving us that bunk on the packet. Not that I have anything against Weet-Bix but they do over exaggerate the nutrition.
No surprise there is also a weight loss ad, "Eat While You Slim".
A blast from the past.
So that's where rhubarb musings took me.
Down memory lane walking with my grandmother's eyes of the past and glimpses into the womens world of the 50s.
Tomorrow I should have some rhubarb cordial to tell you about.


  1. What a blast from the past for sure. Today I came across a cough syrup recipe from the 1887 edition of The White House Cookbook (as in where the President of the USA lives) .. a great 'time capsule' type of book. The syrup called for using opium :) .. some home health remedies included ingesting and applying turpentine as well.

    My favorite way to 'stew' rhubarb is to chop, cover with water, add sugar .. bring to a boil .. turn off the heat and cover with a lid. It keeps its shape and doesn't turn to mush. Just serve warm or cool. Our rhubarb is always the first thing that comes to life in the early spring. Two more months and counting (until spring).

  2. I'm with you on the 400 strokes - how very precise!

    Ginger Blow-Away Sponge sounds interesting.

  3. 400 strokes, sounds like something a convict would get for stealing the cake itself, hehe...

    Didn't you go on a wonderful little journey and all because of rhubarb.......

    Now I might see if I can find some Sheltox Tanya, as it actually 'saves you work', which has got to be a good thing!! DDT, eek......

    Look forward to reading about the rhubarb cordial., but tell me about your rhubarb plant Tanya. Obviously, it's a green variety which I've never seen before.

    Hope you are enjoying your weekend,

    Claire x

  4. YAY!... because I have rhubarb in the garden. It is only just hanging in there with the extreme heat we've been having... but it still there... just. Cordial sounds brilliant.
    I always love looking through old publications. It really does give us an insight into the daily lives of the women who came before us.

  5. Oh Tanya, what memories! It's been great reading those old articles. Thank you for posting them :-)


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