Gold Medal Flour, Betty Crocker and Miss Parloa all had their beginnings in Washburn-Crosby Co. Along with last week’s post on escalloped salmon, I discovered this elegant minced cabbage in Miss Parloa’s New Cook Book, which was originally published in 1880 by Washburn-Crosby Co.
Its successor General Mills reprinted this same worthy account in the twentieth century. This latter company, however, is better known for publishing recipe books under the pseudonym Betty Crocker, who never existed, unlike our illustrious 19th century writer Maria Parloa.
In 1921, before the above transfer of title, Washburn-Crosby was first to use the name “Betty Crocker”. This came as a result of their being inundated with 30,000 entries, in a contest promoting their Gold Medal flour.
Many of these participants asked questions concerning baking. Washburn-Crosby discerned that the replies would hold more influence if signed by a woman; thus, the inspiration for this sham Betty Crocker, which was derived from the surname of a retired company director.
General Mills continued in this tradition, after it was created in 1928, when it began merging Washburn-Crosby with 26 other U.S. flour-milling companies. This, then the world’s largest flour mill, initially portrayed this fictitious authority photographically, in 1936, as a gray-haired home-maker. Her image was frequently revised throughout the last century, as Betty Crocker was used as a major brand name for their various products. (See more history at my 1880’s Clam Chowder-2017/01/30-1880’s Escalloped Salmon-2017/04/17-and 1880’s Ozark Honey-Oatmeal Cookies-2017/10/30.)
It is jarring when we learn the falsehood of long accepted traditions, like the authenticity of this established person, for truth is fundamental to our stability. We implicitly search for verity in all things, cooking included.
Rejoicing occurs when a good source for teaching the basics is found, such as those required for food preparation, as well as the execution of life; I hope you will discover these fundamentals present in my writings.
May you come to rely on my receipts, preparing them with the ease with which they are intended. They may look lengthy at times; this is because I spell out shortcuts with care, for in a sense my blog is like going to cooking school. Quickly you learn my simple, creative techniques, thus gaining the ability to follow my recipes adeptly.
This effortless minced cabbage comes with the height of freedom. Enjoy!
- Silver Dollar City Edition of Maria Parloa’s Miss Parloa’s New Cook Book (Boston: Estes and Laurait, 1880); this facsimile was published at an unknown date during the 20th century.
- James Trager, The Food Chronology (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1995), pp. 434, 456, 488.
1880’s Minced Cabbage Yields: 4 servings. Total prep time: 25 min. This is adapted from a recipe in General Mills’ Special Silver Dollar City Edition (copyright date unknown) of Maria Parloa’s Miss Parloa’s New Cook Book, (Boston: Estes and Laurait, 1880).
Note: this can be made ahead and reheated just before serving.
1 1/2 lb green cabbage
2 tbsp oil (Coconut oil is ideal for quality and flavor here; avocado oil is also good; olive oil is carcinogenic when heated to high temperatures.)
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1 tsp salt, or to taste (I prefer a coarse salt here, such as a kosher salt or Trader Joe’s coarse sea salt. )
- Chop cabbage either by hand, or more quickly, by using the slicing attachment to a food processor. If using a food processor, cut cabbage in pieces that will fit in its feeder tube (see above photo). Set aside.
- Heat oil over medium heat in a large sauté pan, in which you have placed a small piece of cabbage. When it sizzles, add rest of cabbage, and stir well to evenly distribute oil; cook until vegetable is limp, stirring frequently. Meanwhile go to next step.
Make roux in a small sauté pan: melt butter over medium heat, add flour, and stir with a wire whisk. Cook until mixture is a light brown, about 2 minutes; remove from heat and set aside (see photo).
- When cabbage is soft, add salt, and stir well.
- Blend roux into vegetable, cook until consistency of cabbage is somewhat thickened, stir continually.
- When done, remove from heat. May serve immediately, or better yet, make ahead, and reheat just before serving. When it sits, cabbage juices form in pan; as you reheat it, stir in juices and loosened fond, which is obtained by scraping these caramelized pan drippings and browned bits off bottom of pan, using a wooden or plastic cooking spatula. This adds great flavor! (See top photo for finished product.)