Tag Archives: Cooking with Carnation

To Make a Cake

“To bake a cake . . . bake the cake like the mix on the package said to do” Margie Blake, Fun to Cook Book (1955)


I Can Haz Kake?

My Gay-Gay tells this great story about her roommates at Lindenwood coming back to the sorority house from their Home Economics class with a bewildered sort of look.  “We tried this new thing called ‘cake mix’,” they said.  “You just add an egg and some butter, stir it up and put it in the oven to make a cake.”

So I guess I wasn’t too surprised when the Carnation Fun to Cook Book my friend Kelly got me “To counteract (my) progressive childhood” taught our young Margie Blake (Daughter of Carnation Cooking Goddess Mary Blake) how to make a cake by simply following the directions on the box.  Any box will do, I guess.  I was going to use her peppermint frosting recipe, so I got plain old Duncan Hines vanilla cake.

Look, I’ve tried to bake cakes from scratch, I really have.   And occasionally they turn out not-terrible, like the Moxie cake I made Matthew for his birthday, but for the most part, they turn out so mediocre that it’s not worth the effort.

A cup of oil, three eggs and a little water later, I had cake mix, only some of which was on my knees.  And 30 minutes after that, I had a cake, most of which will be going directly into my gaping maw.  In a way, I suppose, this was progressive–not having to bake from scratch left a woman more time to attend social functions like bridge club or the Association of University Women, allowing her to get out of the kitchen and expand her horizons.

Next, of course, came the frosting.  I used the “Candy Cane Frosting” recipe, because it has Carnation Evaporated Milk, natch.

And it did not end well.

The cookbook is geared towards seven year olds whose mom still has to use the can opener for them (recipe for soup: 1 can soup, add Carnation Evaporated Milk, heat, serve) and yet I, with my MFA hanging on the wall above where I write this, ruined the recipe.

Cake is So Damn Unpretty . . .

Cake is So Damn Unpretty . . .

I don’t know whether it’s the humidity or that I’m a kitchen idiot, but the frosting turned out very watery and I now have a cake that looks like the Most Disgusting Sandwich in the World.  It tastes okay, sure, but it’s not pretty.

The Best Pot Pie Pretty Much Ever

“Remember to keep plenty of Carnation Evaporated Milk in the cupboard.  No other form of milk has as many uses as Carnation!” Mary Blake, Teen-Time Cooking With Carnation


And speaking of yummy . . . .

I don’t mean to brag, but I’ve pretty much conquered pot pies.  Yep, got it down.  And this one is 60’s housewife easy, so you can hold your daytime typing gig and still be home in time to get dinner on the table when your man gets home from work, but loose enough where, if you’re so inspired, you can do it all from scratch.  It’s inspired partially by the chicken and bacon jacket pie that Ian had when we were in London to see Ewan McGregor in Guys and Dolls.

The Glam Geek’s C&B Pot Pie

1/2 Rotisserie chicken (or leftovers from a previous chicken dinner) shredded

4 strips bacon (get the really good, thick cut, applewood smoked from the butcher–none of this frozen, Oscar Meyer junk)

1/2 sweet onion, roughly chopped

1 bag of frozen veggies (California mix or stir-fry)

1 box frozen pie crust, thawed (you’ll need both pieces)

2 golden potatoes, cooked and mashed to your liking (leftovers or from the grocer’s deli counter may be used)

Really good sharp cheddar (I got some amazing, extra-aged NY sharp cheddar from Sperbeck’s in Cooperstown)

Carnation evaporated milk

Put the veggies on to steam. Fry up the bacon until crisp and drain on paper towels. Using at least half the bacon grease, saute the onions until glossy and mellow.  Reduce heat to low. Tear up the bacon and toss it in there, along with the chicken.  Heat until warm and douse with Carnation Evaporated Milk until covered and then throw the steamed veggies in there too.  Make sure everything is coated with milk, add herbs to your taste (I like sage, thyme, a little tarragon, some parsley and basil, then just enough pepper to taste–no salt, though, the bacon takes care of that) then set aside.

Roll the pie crust out into a deep pie pan (you might need to use a square casserole dish)  Spread the mashed potatoes over the bottom, then grate the cheese over that.  Add the meat and veggie mix, cover with the second crust and bake in a 400 oven until the crust is golden brown.


Cooking With Carnation (Part 1)

“The smart girl fills her cream pitcher with Carnation . . . brings out richer coffee flavor”  Mary Blake, Teen -Time Cooking with Carnation


It’s Fun To Be a Housewife!

Ian found this little cookbook for me at a local ephemera show and it is simultaneously awesome and terrifying.  Mrs. Blake suggests you put Carnation Evaporated Milk in burgers (Hamburger On a Stick) Tuna Salad (which she suggest you make instead of being a “Sad Suzy”) and other disgusting recipes I’ll absolutely be trying throughout the rest of this project.

Naturally, we drink a lot of coffee at the newspaper, but without a fridge, we’re stuck with powdered milk, which none of us like but all of us use (except Jim, who, as a consummate newspaper man, takes his black).  

I brought in some Carnation evaporated milk and Thom in sales was the first to eagerly try it out.  He was impressed.  “I don’t have to add a ton of sugar!” he said.

I tried it out next and was similarly impressed.  It wasn’t better than milk, but it was sure as hell better than the powdered stuff.  And back at the homestead, I’ve got some Whoopie Pie flavored coffee, which would probably be neat with “the milk that whips!” and some raw sugar. (except that I left my can opener at work–twice.)

It’s also got 1/3 the calories of regular milk, which makes me feel less terrible* about messing up my diet last week.


*I’m kidding.  I didn’t feel terrible at all.