Introducing the Clara Project.

My recent acquisition of a stack of vintage (ca. 1934 or so) recipe cards, from Primitives & More in Milford, OH, got me thinking. And you agree: Something cool must be done with these old recipes, for such dishes as Nut Meringues, Beef en Casserole ‘Parisian Style’ and Frozen Banana Salad).

So, beginning the first week in October will commence The Clara Project—named after Clara Shenefelt, who penned (or typed) these recipes originally. All due credit goes to Rob, who suggested this once-a-week recipe project.

Once a week, I’ll draw one recipe card from the deck, prepare the dish, photograph it (and the recipe card), and share it here with you. Where it’s appropriate, I’ll also include notes on how to modernize the recipe. I’ll talk about what works—and what flops. This exploration will run through the end of the year, unless we have the momentum to keep going.

Part of the fun will be the randomness of the draw, though I reserve the right to a couple of mulligans if I pick something icky (I’ll let you know when I pass on a recipe), and to ingredient substitutions if the recipe calls for cauliflower or brussels sprouts (which are banned in our house, sorry) or items that aren’t readily available as they were in the 1930s (like salt cod or smoked tongue).

I hope you’ll join me in this weekly hop into the culinary Wayback Machine, when we’ll experience what it was like to cook and eat 75 or so years ago. And that you’ll share your own family recipes if anything you see here prompts a memory.

You’re in this with me, right?

37 thoughts on “Introducing the Clara Project.

  1. Excellent idea! I see a book in the making. But don’t dodge that smoked tongue — it would get everybody talking. (Yes, I cringed when I wrote that, but it was such a softball that I couldn’t resist…)

  2. Brilliant! How many of us talk about our grandmother’s recipes or Aunt Susie’s cream pie? I love old recipes and the feel you get looking at the old recipe card, a little stained and worn, but filled with memories. I’m hooked on your idea already!!

  3. I did that with my grandmother’s clipped-from-the-newspaper-recipes, I didn’t photograph the results! Some of them dating to WWII, at least the ones where I could see the date. She had penciled in her changes or rewritten them and taped her version and the original together. The recipes were in a paper grocery bag rolled up and tied with a string. When I found one I liked I tried it and then wrote it in my handwritten cookbook/recipe log I guess you’d call it. I especially liked the sketch of a cow and the cuts of meat that came from the “parts”. It was a lot of fun for me – have fun with it! I like to read your stuff and look forward to reading what you find!

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