27 July 2009

How Mama Could Cook

William Randolph Hearst was the master of invention. When he needed a column for women to run in his papers he simply invented a woman to write for his papers, Prudence Penny. In the late 30' and 40's Hearst's paper, the New York American, hired Dorothy Malone as their Prudence Penny. For twelve years she dispensed advice on cooking, housekeeping, entertaining and child rearing.

Dorothy Malone, was a failed ballerina. After dancing and teaching school, Malone found her true calling as a newspaper reporter. Malone attributed her knowledge of cooking to her mother. When Malone decide to publish a collection of her mother's recipes, she chose to use her name over her profitable nom de plume. The resulting book, How Mama Could Cook, blended her mother's recipes with Malone's memories of her headstrong and flamboyant mother.

Malone’s Mama was a bit of an “Auntie Mame” character. Malone explains her in a succinct list of attributes.

Mama Knew Everything
Mama Had Everything
Mama Was A Feminist To Her Soul
Mama Had Drama
Mama Could Cook
Mama’s Parties Always Ended Up In The Kitchen

Mama was not adverse to using her feminine wiles even with her support of women. Malone tells us:
“she considered femininity the strength , hope and light of the world. She believed not so much in women’s rights as in women’s privileges, and she never hesitated to spread the idea.”
As much as she believed in femininity, she also believed in pies. Mama considered pie “man’s most appealing dish.” Her show stopper was her famous Petticoat Pie.

Petticoat Pie

4 tablespoons sugar
5 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk
3 slightly beaten egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla

Combine sugar, flour, and salt in the top of a double boiler. Add the milk and egg yolks, mixing thoroughly. Cook over boiling water for about 10 minutes, stirring all the while, until the custard thickens and is smooth. Then take from the fire, put to cool, stirring occasionally to break up any skin; when the heat is out of it, pour into a baked waiting pie shell, the rim of which is fluted like a starched petticoat.

Cherry Glaze

2 cups pitted cherries
1 cup sugar
1 1 /4 cups sherry juice
1/3 cup cornstarch

Drain the juice from the cherries, heat to the boiling point. Blend together sugar and cornstarch, add enough cold water to make a smooth paste, then pour this into the boiling cherry juice. Cook for about 3 minutes, until smooth and very thick. Cool slightly, fold in the drained cherries, and pour over the cream filling. The top the pie with swirls of sweetened whipped cream so only the pie’s stiffly fluted edges show.
So, the next time you need a tire changed, offer to bake a pie and have some man change it. Me and Mama know you can fix that tire, but we also know you can bake a pie!

The Los Angles Times recently ran an article about Hearst's "fictional" women's writers, but alas, it never mentions Dorothy Malone, or her Mama!

1 comment:

  1. I can't change a tire and don't want to learn. I love the fact that men (well, some still do, since most are "metrosexuals" now!) would gladly do that, just for a smile and a thank you. Men are happier with simple things--something we women should learn. ;-)


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