Heirloom, by Beverly Hicks Burch


By Beverly Hicks Burch

Over at I wrote an article about collecting cookbooks. Of course, as many of you know Tall & Handsome and I enjoy cooking and collecting cookbooks. We both have our own individual cookbooks, and then ones we have gotten together since we’ve been married.

In the Helium article I mentioned a special cookbook. My mother gave me this cookbook several years ago and it just happens to be a cookbook she had when she was a young mom and wife.

The name of the book is The Modern Family Cookbook, by Meta Given. The original copyright was 1942 and there is a later copyright of 1953 and it has been out of print for a long time now. Interestingly, the inside hard cover of the book is also stamped with a copyright that says, “H. J. Heinz, Co.”

The cookbook is clearly reflective of its time. References are made at the beginning of the book to the US Government’s seven basic food groups, menu planning, and of course the obligatory dedication to Drs. Evelyn G. Halliday and Lydia J. Roberts of the University of Chicago for their contribution on the field of Home Economics. Nowadays, that may be a field held in disdain by some women, but in the 1940’s and 1950’s it was a respected and legitimate field of study and profession for many women and it did provide many helpful and useful purposes.

As you can see the book has seen better days. I can remember this cookbook from as far back as when I was in first grade in the early 1960’s. This cookbook represents a lot to me. It stirs up memories of my mother when she was young with two young daughters. And, it takes me back to a certain treat from the cookbook and an escapade involving my middle sister and that treat…

Momma used to make a brownie for us from this cookbook. It was unlike most other brownies…a cake brownie and not a fudgey type brownie. One cold winter day Mom made a pan of these brownies while I was at school. My sister Pam was home and Aunt Korinne was visiting.

This was in the days before it was common for every household to have a cloths dryer. Momma had done some laundry that morning and even as cold as it was, the laundry had to hung on the line to dry. Aunt Korinne stepped out with Momma to help make it a fast job…they hadn’t even slipped on a jacket. When they returned to the door did they ever have a surprise!

Pam, who was about three years old, had locked the door. Not only had she locked the door, but she had no intention of unlocking the door…at least until she finished off the pan of brownies. As they stood there, pounding, begging and pleading for Pam to open the door for them they could watch as she paced back and forth eating brownie after brownie until she polished off the whole pan! Needless to say, Pam had found her Turkish delight…

When I unpacked this cookbook and that memory came flooding back from the recesses of my mind, I thought I might share the recipe with you. The brownies are called Cocoa Indians. Hope you enjoy the little trip down nostalgia’s road…

© 2008 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

The Modern Family Cookbook, by Meta Given

Inside an Heirloom

Pam, age 8

Aunt Korinne

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