How America Eats | An old cookbook

For twelve years–beginning 1948–Clementine Paddleford traveled around the country collecting material for her now classic book, How America Eats (1960). Each set of recipes she gathered from farm wives, diner cooks, restaurant chefs, or just the lady in town famous for her caramels is prefaced by an introduction to the person and place. In my opinion, she has a very lovely writing style. She must have been a delight to be around.

My plan is to post a recipe or two from, for example, Mrs. Alwood Baker of Freeville, New York at my blog. I’ll tease Clementine’s introduction and link to the full one here. Her book is organized by region, so we’ll get a nice picture of America in the 1950s. And maybe we’ll catch the interest of a few readers.

From a few days ago–the tease at the blog.

A taste of things to come | Clementine Paddleford’s Vanilla Caramels

Published on November 27, 2022 by Marica

As soon as I get it together we’re going to travel with Clementine Paddleford around These United States of America collecting the stories and recipes that she’ll publish in her famous cookbook, How America Eats (1960). For now, as it’s the start of candy-making season, we’ll stop in at Mrs. Baker’s farm in Freeville, New York (very close to Ithaca).

Freeville has this photo on its website. These are the real American places Clementine sought out.

“Mrs. Alwood Baker of Freeville, New York, is an expert candymaker. Chocolate dipping is one of her special accomplishments. She did her first chocolate dipping her senior year in the Home Economics Department of Cornell University.

Mrs. Baker is a farmer’s wife who once made sweets as a pin money business. Not any more. She hasn’t the time now with the 180-acre farm humming with varied activities. But at Christmas Mrs. Baker, with the help of daughter Gertrude, makes pounds and pounds of candy to fill the gift boxes. The chocolate creams are wonderful but her fudge is perfection. Soft, tongue-melting, rich as Croesus. Give the gold star to the caramel fudge, a silver star to the kind made with sour cream.

I took Trudy’s advice and got the recipe also for her mother’s nut torte. “The best thing she makes,” said the young daughter. And just for good measure I took the recipe for the steamed fig pudding that graces the Bakers’ table each Christmas Day.”—Clementine Paddleford, How America Eats (1960)

Clementine Paddleford’s Vanilla Caramels