Anyone who has known me for any length of time knows of my love of all things vintage kitchen.

I have shelves full of Pyrex on display, I prefer to set my table with vintage dishes and have cooked my way through two recipe boxes stuffed full of retro recipes. So when I saw “Betty Crocker Lost Recipes: Beloved Vintage Recipes for Today’s Kitchen” on my editor’s shelf, I greedily scooped it up and immediately pored over the two-page spread highlighting the past 100 years of food.

“Betty Crocker Lost Recipes: Beloved Vintage Recipes
for Today’s Kitchen.” Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. $25 Photos courtesy of General Mills and Houghton Miffline Harcourt

I’m always intrigued by older recipes – especially the ones from my parents’ childhoods that relied heavily on canned soup or gelatin. But, at the end of the day, I’m not really going to cook (and eat) those recipes. This collection of updated recipes saves me from options that are overly salty, full of fat or just bland. The introduction promises the recipes have been “lovingly updated for today’s ingredients and tastes.”

That promise seems to hold true. A handful of recipes call for Original Bisquick mix, but none seem to feature canned soup or other highly processed foods. Simple recipes that were popular in the 1950s have been updated to modern tastes, like the pork fried rice that now calls for mango or the lemon-broccoli salad that has been lightened up with Greek yogurt in place of heavy mayonnaise.

The recipes are divided into five sections – appetizers & snacks, main dishes, breads & coffee cakes, salads & sides and desserts – and none call for ingredients that are hard to find or require a trip to a special market. Many of the desserts can be baked using ingredients you likely keep stocked in the pantry.

The second you flip to the recipes you’ll find classic appetizers like olive-cheese balls, Havarti-cheddar fondue and hot crab dip (I’ll pass on the Frosted Liverwurst Pâté). None are particularly unexpected or complicated, but they’re certainly fun for a party.

For inspiration for a retro twist on a holiday party, this section includes a guide – complete with fun photo of a vintage tablescape – to a “Merry Kitschmas Party.” It suggests ideas for a retro menu, how to dress and what types of decorations to use. Other holiday guides include a “Retro Tiki Party” and “Time for a Tea Party.”

Each recipe includes either the history of the dish or a little anecdote about it. My favorite is the quote from an old Betty Crocker cookbook included with the Smoked Salmon and Dill Canapés: “They were designed to be eaten gracefully from the fingers.”

I found myself most drawn to the dessert section, perhaps because I often baked cookies as a child using Betty Crocker recipes. I couldn’t resist trying the Molasses Crinkles, a favorite I associate with church bake sales. The recipe is simple, easy to follow and didn’t disappoint. It’s a “lost recipe” I’m glad to again include in my (vintage) recipe box.

Gillian Graham can be contacted at 791-6315 or at:

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Molasses Crinkles

Makes about 3 dozen cookies

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/4 cup shortening

1/2 cup molasses

1 egg

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon salt

Granulated sugar

In a large bowl, mix brown sugar, butter, shortening, molasses and egg until well blended. Stir in remaining ingredients except granulated sugar. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour until chilled.

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Shape dough into 11/4- inch balls; roll in granulated sugar. Place about 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 10 to 11 minutes or just until set. Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheet. Cool on wire rack.