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Vintage Summer Cooking

Updated on June 22, 2014

Summer Cooking in 1947

Summer cooking, in the days before air conditioning, was a very hot affair. Women were eager for recipes that would please their families, yet minimize cooking and time spent in the heat. Today, these vintage recipes can allow you to prepare a gracious meal, while you save money on utilities by not heating up the house.

This page is based upon an article on summer cooking originally published in the Louisville Courier-Journal Magazine on Sunday, July 6, 1947. My great-aunt, Madaline Penn, had saved these recipes over the years. She must have liked them, although she never served them to me that I recall.

The author, Cissy Gregg, begins by persuading women that they are much better off staying home in their own kitchens than having to cook in a mountain cabin, should their husbands decide to take the family on vacation. Ms. Gregg assures the ladies that if they prepare the following foods, their families will be so pleased, they will have no temptation to take any kind of trip that would carry mother away from her kitchen.

Enjoy these vintage recipes for summer cooking!

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Summer Cooking Poll - Reader Views on Summer Cooking

summer cooking gas burner
summer cooking gas burner

What is your view on summer cooking? Do you cook in the summer? Or do you stick with cold foods? Or maybe you make other arrangements!

Do you cook in the summer?

See results
summer cooking vichyssoise
summer cooking vichyssoise

Vichyssoise can be served either hot or cold. Try it as a summer food, and again in the winter.

In 1947 the leeks this recipe call for were sometimes hard to find. The author suggests very mild Bermuda onions as a substitute.


  • 4 or 5 leeks thinly sliced (include 2 inches above the white part) (2 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 2 cups potatoes sliced thin
  • 4 chicken bouillon cubes
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 3 cups hot milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 cup cream
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives
  • parsley or watercress


  1. 1. Saute' the sliced leeks in the butter, slowly for 5 minutes until golden, but do not let them brown.
  2. 2. Add the potatoes, hot water and one of the chicken bouillion cubes. Cover the pan and let this mixture cook over medium heat until the potatoes are tender.
  3. 3. Press the leeks and potato mixture, along with the liquid, through a sieve. (I believe now you could do this step in a blender).
  4. 4. Dissolve the remaining 3 bouillion cubes in the hot milk and add to the puree, along with the seasonings.
  5. 5. Add the cream and chopped chives or parsley.
  6. 6. Put this in the refrigerator until it is very cold.
  7. 7. Serve with thin wafer crackers.
Cast your vote for Vichyssoise

Vintage Soup Tureens - Serve Your Vichyssoise in Style!

Serve your soup in a vintage soup tureen for that special touch of authenticity and nostalgia.

fresh salmon for summer cooking
fresh salmon for summer cooking

Jellied Salmon Salad - A Truly Vintage Recipe

People don't seem to serve this much anymore, but this molded salad is the main part of the meal. It is colorful and visually appealing, meant to catch the eye. The author states, "As with all molded salads, the contents are nearly always shifted to suit both taste and what is to be had easily." So feel free to make any adaptations you deem necessary or desirable.


  • 3/4 cups cucumber chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons gelatin
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • green coloring (optional)
  • 6 or 8 stuffed olives
  • approximately 2 tablespoons green pepper
  • 1 cup flaked red salmon
  • 4 hard cooked eggs sliced


  1. 1. Soak gelatin in 1/2 cup of cold water.
  2. 2. Season the cucumber with the salt and pepper, and pour the vinegar over. Let this mixture sit for 15 minutes, then drain the vinegar off.
  3. 3. Heat 1/4 cup vinegar in a saucepan. When it boils, add the sugar, lemon juice and 1 1/2 cups water. Dissolve the gelatin in this mixture and allow to cool. You may add some green food coloring to this, if desired.
  4. 4. Rinse a salad mold in cool water, and pour in part of the gelatin. Allow this to set and then form a design with the olives on the top of the gelatin, holding it in place by dribbling more cooled gelatin on top. Dip hard cooked egg slices into unset gelatin and place them on the side of the mold to form a wreath around the olives. Set aside.
  5. 5. Add the cucumbers, flaked salmon, green peppers and any leftover eggs to the remaining cold gelatin. Pour this into the mold as well.
  6. 6. Chill molded salad in the refrigerator until set.
  7. 7. Unmold the salad onto a bed of lettuce and surround the salad with slices of tomatoes, avocado and green pepper relish rings (see recipe below) to make an attractive garnish.

Old Fashioned Salad Molds for Summer Cooking - Serve your 1940s summer recipes on vintage dinnerware

Buy a vintage salad mold to properly prepare this salad and allow for a beautiful presentation at the dinner table.

summer cooking peppers
summer cooking peppers

Green Pepper Relish Rings - Garnish for Your Old Fashioned Summer Meal

Prepare these relish rings to garnish the Jellied Salmon Salad (recipe above).


  • 2 teaspoons plain unflavored gelatin
  • 1 1/4 cups tomato juice
  • 3 tablespoons horseradish
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 medium-sized green peppers
  • cleaned and hollowed out.


  1. 1. Soften the gelatin in 1/4 cup of the chilled tomato juice.
  2. 2. Heat 1 cup of the tomato juice in a saucepan until just before it boils. Remove heat and add the softened gelatin, along with the horseradish, salt, vinegar and the lemon juice.
  3. 3. Pour this mixture into the green peppers, and chill until gelatin mixture is set.
  4. 4. Slice the peppers thin to garnish the Salmon Salad.
  5. 5. Serve with mayonnaise, or with the sour cream-horseradish sauce (recipe below).

Sour Cream Horseradish Sauce

Easily Prepared Dressing for Your Salad

Add prepared horseradish to thick sour cream to taste. If desired, add any leftover cucumbers that remain from your molded salad.

summer cooking corn on the cob
summer cooking corn on the cob

Corn Pudding - A Favorite for Summer Cooking!

The author posits that every meal needs a hot dish, "for the tummy." For this meal, the hot dish is corn pudding.

I remember my grandmother making her delicious corn pudding whenever the Blue Bonnet Market got their Silver Queen corn in. We would drive up there and buy a sackful of corn, and she would make a casserole full of the delicious concoction especially for my father.

This recipe calls for "top milk". While I am not certain what is meant, I suspect this is the milk that is below the cream in a bottle of non-homogenized milk. If this is the case, you may be able to substitute half and half. I will research it. In the meantime, maybe one of our readers will be able to enlighten us!


  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 2 cups top milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • red pepper
  • 3 cups corn kernels (first clip the tops of the kernels and then using the back of the knife drain every dribble from each ear of corn)


  1. 1. Combine the eggs and milk thoroughly ("beyond the degree even of a marriage ceremony," the author states).
  2. 2. Add the sugar, bread crumbs, salt and red pepper to this. Mix well, and pour into a greased baking dish.
  3. 3. Set the baking dish into a pan of hot water, then bake at 325 degrees for approximately one hour, until a paring knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

Mrs. J's Coffee Bread - A Sweet Bread to Serve with Your Meal

This recipe apparently originally was published in an unnamed cookbook by a "Mrs. Johnson." The original name for this bread was "Quick Sally Lunn."


  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups sweet milk
  • 3 cups flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder


  1. 1. Cream together the butter and the sugar, and then add the salt.
  2. 2. Add the eggs one at a time.
  3. 3. Sift the flour and baking powder together, and then quickly add this with the milk to the butter mixture.
  4. 4. Pour this into 2 greased and floured shallow baking pans; pie pans work well.
  5. 5. Bake at 375-degrees for 30 minutes or until the top is lightly browned.
summer cooking mint
summer cooking mint

The Caldwell Special Dessert - An Easy, Elegant and Delicious End to Your Old-Fashioned Summer Meal

The recipe for this special dessert originated with Mrs. George D. Caldwell, of Ridge Road in Anchorage, Kentucky.


  • Vanilla ice cream
  • Angel food cake
  • Chocolate syrup
  • Creme de menthe


  1. 1. Chill a large serving platter.
  2. 2. To serve: Tear the angel food cake apart into chunks, using a fork or your fingers. Place the chunks on one side of the platter. Place scoops of ice cream on the other side. Place the chocolate syrup and creme de menthe in a divided bowl in the center, or use two serving bowls.
  3. 3. For each serving, take a chunk of angel food cake and some ice cream, dribble chocolate and creme de menthe sauces over both. The author suggests using a large amount of chocolate syrup, and then topping it with a smaller amount of creme de menthe.
  4. 4. Garnish with fresh mint leaves, if desired.

Angel Food Cake - Vintage Summer Cooking

I would purchase an Angel Food Cake already made; but, if you would like to make one yourself, here is a suggested recipe.


  • 1 cup sifted cake flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sifted granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract


  1. 1. Sift the flour once and measure out 1 cup. Add the sugar, then sift together four times.
  2. 2. Beat the egg whites and salt. In 1947, before electric mixers, this was done with a rotary beater or a wire whisk.
  3. 3. When egg whites are foamy, add the cream of tartar, and continue beating until the eggs hold peaks, but not to the point of dryness.
  4. 4. Add the rest of the sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time, beating each time until the sugar is just blended. Fold in the vanilla and almond extract.
  5. 5. Sift approximately 1/4 cup flour over the batter and lightly fold in, repeating until all the flour is used up.
  6. 6. Turn the batter into an ungreased 10-inch tube pan. Gently run a spatula through the batter to dislodge any air bubbles.
  7. 7. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes.
  8. 8. After removing from oven, invert the pan for one hour, until the cake is cool. Cut the cake out of the pan.

Buy a Rotary Egg Beater - Make your vintage recipes the old fashioned way!

I had planned to spotlight a vintage-looking rotary egg beater, but all of the ones at Amazon seemed cheaply made. I decided to spotlight this one instead, because I have always been happy with items made by the OXO Good Grips company.

OXO 1126980 Good Grips Egg Beater, NO Size, White/Black
OXO 1126980 Good Grips Egg Beater, NO Size, White/Black

This company makes good-quality products. I have items from Good Grips that I have been using more than twenty years.


Vintage Rotary Beaters - Just Like Grandma's!

Here are some genuine vintage egg beaters.

summer cooking chocolate sauce
summer cooking chocolate sauce

Chocolate Sauce - A Decadent Topping for Your Dessert

If using store bought chocolate sauce, Ms. Gregg recommends doctoring it by adding one or two tablespoons of melted butter or margarine to increase the flavor.

If you want to try your hand at making a homemade chocolate sauce, try this one!


  • 1 square unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/3 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • pinch of salt


  1. 1. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler over hot water.
  2. 2. Add the butter and pour water into the pot gradually, stirring constantly.
  3. 3. Bring to a boil, then add the sugar and corn syrup.
  4. 4. Boil the mixture for five minutes.
  5. 5. Cool slightly, then add the vanilla and salt.

What is your favorite summer meal? - How do you handle summer cooking at your house?

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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Interesting recipes ... might have to give them a try.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      You are so clever to research summer recipes from a time before air conditioning cooled the kitchen. I love Cissy Gregg's motivation -- to stay in her own (relatively) convenient kitchen instead of cooking over a camp stove!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      That angel food cake dessert sounds yummy!

    • traveller27 profile image


      6 years ago

      Back for another look - nice theme for a lens.

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 

      6 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      Last night we had fresh butter beans, fried okra, sliced tomatoes and canteloupe. yummy

    • Paul Ward profile image


      6 years ago from Liverpool, England

      The Caldwell Special looks like a killer :)

    • Mauhro profile image


      7 years ago

      great lens. delicious

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 

      7 years ago from Central Florida

      I'm a lazy cook, but sometimes it is worth the effort to make one of these vintage recipes. They always taste so good. Our moms and grandmothers were good cooks.

    • Nancy Hardin profile image

      Nancy Carol Brown Hardin 

      7 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Thanks for sharing this lens. Thumbs up!

    • tracy159 profile image

      Tracy Smith 

      7 years ago from Maryville, TN

      My husband loves angel food cake. I think he'll like the corn pudding as well.


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