Boiling Point: Familiar names, foods in 1950 cookbook

Jim Hillibish

Food often is the great memory lane of our lives. Good eats vastly outlast their cooks. Face it: For many of us, we’ll be remembered most vividly for our meat loaf.

Gretchen Jefferys sent me a 1950 cookbook, a peek at how our mothers cooked 60 years ago. She said I would recognize a lot of the contributors. I did. Many of these were my parents’ friends: English, Syler, Pieper, Ketler, Werren ...

Then came Page 35. The Pumpkin Custard Pie recipe sounded familiar. So was the name at the end — Betty Hillibish, my mother.

Hers is a remake of the standard pumpkin pie into a light, fluffy, beautiful thing and amazingly good under a topping of whipped cream. It’s still a must at our Thanksgiving. Mom always served it saying, “I hope this will be all right,” as if one could possibly blow such a simple recipe.

The dishes in “Tasty, Tested Recipes” are simple with few added flavorings and a dearth of seasonings. It includes some of our quirky linguistics of the day, including “mango” for green sweet pepper and “garlic beans” for garlic cloves. Some ingredients are rarely seen today: green cherries, lump butter, cube sugar and sour milk.

I’m certain each recipe was carefully selected, and the committee that created the cookbook faced the impossible job of balancing the number entered with the few published. Some would be left out, and feelings hurt for a long time.

What makes these homegrown cookbooks priceless is none of these are dogs. For something this public, you would only submit your finest recipe long proven by your family.

We find Grace Ransom’s definite risk-taker, Glorified Rice. This includes marshmallows. Mildred Culp’s Woodchuck is fried mangoes, Velveeta cheese, pimentos, mushrooms and six hard-boiled eggs.

When they mention “cans,” they often meant home-canned, far different than the commercial stuff. “Laying on onions” meant to thinly slice and put them on top.

“Horse-radish sauce” was an uncommonly good seasoning. Mrs. Charles Peterson provided the recipe: “Three tablespoons horse-radish mixed with 1⁄2 cup heavy cream, whipped.”

Thank you, Gretchen, for sharing these still cherished recipes with us.


1 can pumpkin pulp

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

2 well-beaten eggs

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in

1 cup cream or milk

1 tablespoon melted butter

1 unbaked pie shell

Combine ingredients in order given. Pour into 9-inch unbaked pie shell. Bake at 450 degrees for 12 minutes, then reduce to 350 degrees for about an hour, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Jim Hillibish writes for The Repository in Canton, Ohio. Contact him at