The Clara Project: favorite vintage recipes.

Late last summer, I happened into Primitives & More, a vintage shop in Milford, OH, and found a treasure—one that has since inspired much culinary exploration here. The find? A collection of vintage recipe cards, circa mid-1930s, which (according to a signature on many of the cards) belonged to a woman named Clara Shenefelt. These old recipes offer a window into another era of home cooking, when gelatin salads, scratch cakes and dishes like “veal and potato puff” were a la mode.

I’ve experimented with many of these vintage recipes (see The Clara Project for a listing of all the recipes), and come to know a little more about the collection’s former owner.

The Cincinnati Enquirer featured the project along with several of Clara’s recipes: one-bowl chocolate cake, French salad dressing, cheesy chicken shortcakes, simple orange-avocado salad and potato chip cookies.

Yahoo! also picked up the story of these vintage recipe cards. As did The New Yorker’s Grub Street food blog. Holy mackerel!

Here are a few more of my favorite old-fashioned recipes from the collection:

hot fudge pudding cake—pudding meets cake in this super-easy and mighty delicious old-fashioned dessert recipe

Easy recipe for old-fashioned chocolate pudding cake

old-fashioned meatloaf, updated—meatloaf is such a favorite, and Clara’s collection includes a classic meatloaf recipe; I’ve updated it with a delicious glaze and a fun new serving idea (plus, the leftovers make crazy-good meatloaf sandwiches)

Great homemade old-fashioned meatloaf recipe from the 1930s, updated for today

pecan pie bar cookies—the original recipe for these nutty bar cookies was a flop, so I updated it with delicious results

Pecan Pie Cookie Bars #writes4food

classic chicken croquettes—another home-cooking classic, the chicken croquette is traditionally formed into a ball and deep-fried; my update is simpler and a little more healthful

Chicken Croquettes Recipe #writes4food

simple old-fashioned sugar cookies—really, homemade cookies don’t get any easier than this easy sugar cookie recipe

Old Fashioned Almond Sugar Cookie Recipe #writes4food


About The Clara Project
Once a week, I’ll make and share a recipe from a collection of vintage recipe cards that were written in the 1930s by Clara Shenefelt. See all the Clara Project recipes.


7 thoughts on “The Clara Project: favorite vintage recipes.

  1. I saw the piece on Yahoo News and, on the One Bowl Chocolate Cake, YES to sour cream–the thick stuff we put on potatoes! I have a wonderful chocolate cake recipe that includes an entire carton of sour cream and it adds a moistness and tang that really makes the cake something special.

  2. Hi, Bryn – I, too, saw the article on Yahoo and felt compelled to stop by and leave a comment when I saw the orange/avocado salad. I wonder if Ms. Clara didn’t have some sort of French influence in her life, as the way her avocados were served are precisely the way they are usually served at home in France. My husband is from the Languedoc area and we usually simply slice them in half, fill the crater with a little oil and vinegar, and serve the halves with a spoon, which is a pretty common way of serving them in that area. Too, French families tend to make their salad dressing from scratch each day using nothing more than olive oil, Dijon, and vinegar, so I’m not surprised that her version isn’t anything like the weird red stuff one finds in the states. Looking forward to reading more; what a lovely project this is going to be. :-)

  3. I read this on the Yahoo new page and it made me think of all the recipe cards I have from my mom and what stories are behind some of them. She taught me to cook and how not always to use a recipe. I am thankful for the work you have done on this and look forward to reading more.

  4. I, also, read this on Yahoo, great story!! I wouldn’t let the recipe cards of my grandmother’s get away, not so much for the food preparation instructions but because they were in her handwriting. All my faves she had already taught me, I just couldn’t turn loose of that last connection.

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