Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Luncheon at the Twin Oaks Tavern

First edition cover (fair-use image from Wikipedia)

The Postman Always Rings Twice, by James M. Cain, was published in 1934.  It's a super-fast read (the edition I checked out from the library was only 116 pages) about a drifter who ends up as a mechanic at a road-side diner in southern California, the Twin Oaks Tavern.  He falls in love lust with his boss's wife, who happens to want her husband out of the way.  The moral?  Karma will get you one way or the other.

I wanted to read a book that would go well with my new (to me) copy of Modern Meal Maker, published in 1935 in San Francisco.  It gives menus for breakfast, lunch and dinner for every day of the year.  I decided to catch up on important reading from 1934 first, because most people were probably still getting through books from 1934 in early 1935.  By reading books published at the time, I'll have menus to go with my reading!

Here's a luncheon menu from Modern Meal Maker, which I thought was very "diner."  I even served it on my (admittedly anachronistic) chartreuse Harmony House Symphony dishes, which were manufactured for Sears Roebuck in the 1950s.

Cream of Potato Soup
Corn Muffins 
Fruit Salad
Coffee, Tea or Milk

The cream of potato soup uses leftover cooked potatoes. It's a good idea when you're baking, roasting or boiling potatoes to cook extras, because they're so useful. You can use them for mashed potatoes, but also in soups or in pies (like the Pyrex Chicken Pie).

I made up the fruit salad recipe to use up the leftover pineapple rings from this post.  You don't have to use canned fruit, though.  This time of year in Kansas, it's really difficult to get ripe fruit of any kind, because we're out of the growing season locally and everything has to be shipped in, meaning it will probably never be ripe!  The bananas took a week to ripen!  I figure that if I can't have local seasonal produce, I might as well get it from a can or from the freezer section.  I've even heard that canned and frozen fruits and vegetables have a smaller carbon footprint than out-of-season fresh produce.  Plus, I just adore canned mandarin oranges.
Cover of Modern Meal Maker; I have a copy from Dinosaur Dry Goods and a copy from Cookbook Addict.
First page--I love the stars! 

Cream of Potato Soup

2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 cups milk
2 cups peeled, diced and cooked potatoes (about 2 medium potatoes)

Bring water in the bottom of a double boiler to a boil. In the top of the double boiler, melt the butter, then stir in the flour, salt and pepper and cook, whisking continuously, for about 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk, then add the potatoes and turn the heat down to medium. Cook for 25 minutes, stirring frequently, until nicely thickened.

Serves 4

Adapted from Martha Meade, “Cream of Asparagus Soup” in Modern Meal Maker (San Francisco: Sperry Flour Company, 1935), 338.


Corn Muffins

1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 eggs
2 cups milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350˚ Fahrenheit. Grease two 12-cup muffin tins and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the egg and milk and beat with a wooden spoon for two minutes. Pour in the melted butter and stir again to combine. Pour batter into the prepared muffin tin and bake in the middle of the oven 20 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.

When the corn muffins are finished baking, cool a couple of minutes in the tin on a rack and then turn out of the tin. The muffins should be served warm and can be wrapped in a bit of tin foil to reheat (300˚, about half an hour) the next day if you have leftovers. Enjoy spread with butter.

Makes 2 dozen muffins

Adapted from Louise Bennett Weaver and Helen Cowles LeCron, “Corn Bread,” A Thousand Ways to Please a Husband: With Bettina’s Best Recipes, the Romance of Cookery and Housekeeping, Complete New Revised Edition (New York: Blue Ribbon Books, Inc., 1940), 315.


Fruit Salad

2 ripe bananas, sliced
1 cup diced drained canned pears (15.25 oz. can)
1 cup drained canned mandarin oranges (11 oz. can)
1 cup diced drained canned pineapple

Combine all ingredients and refrigerate. When ready to serve, divide into four bowls. Leftovers can be kept in the refrigerator.

Serves 4

Adapted from Martha Meade, “Fruit Salad” in Modern Meal Maker (San Francisco: Sperry Flour Company, 1935), 79.


View recipes on Scribd


  1. while I'm sipping my coffee, I'm viewing your photos and imagining these muffins are here right now and I'm munching them.

    Have you see the movie "the postman..."? I like this cover very much. Have you noticed how letter fonts also go vintage, the pass of time is evident in the design as well.

  2. Ok, sorry for so many messages:) now I see that it only says "Vele", as my friends call me and it doesn't reveal my identity.

    So I apologize for bothering you.

  3. I saw the movie, but never thought to get the book . . . I never heard of Cookbook Addict . . . Very interesting. I'm off to take a better look.

  4. I actually haven't seen the movie. I always try to read the book before I see the film version, so now I get to watch the movie!

  5. Dear friend, and have you seen the movie To kill the mocking bird? It's beautiful. nothing to do with your post here :), but it ocurred to me.

  6. We read To Kill a Mockingbird and watched the film in my 7th grade English class. It's one of my favorites!

  7. FUN!!!! Yummy!!!! I love the addition of the fruit salad. My mom used to make something like this and throw in mini ,marshmallows! :)


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