Project Fine Print

I will try to make every one of Meta’s recipes in “The Modern Family Cook Book” preferably by following a full day’s menu on the day of the year that it is listed on.  The rules I will abide by are as follows:

1) I will try to make each recipe as true to Meta’s original vision as possible (even when my ideas of personal taste conflict) so that I can experience each menu as close to the intended results as possible.

2) I will not make a substitution unless I am (to the best of my ability) unable to find an ingredient due to availability.

2b) It turns out that I will also make an substitution if I really feel like it.

3) I will make each recipe EXCEPT for any containing organ or other meat “sundries.”  Everyone has a line and this is mine.  Jellied anything, weird uses of mayo and foods not to my person tastes are still fair game.

3a) One more exception: I’m not going to can anything myself.  It would add a layer of planning and complexity I’m not prepared for.  I’ll make substitutions in the spirit of the project.

3b) Wait!  Another exception:  I have a bread maker and limited time so yeast bread recipes are going into the machine.

4) When Meta doesn’t specify the type of an ingredient, I will go with my preference in keeping the ingredients used in the book.  (For example, if the menu calls for “bread” I will feel free to use wheat bread since it is used elsewhere in the book.  Ditto for “cheese”; sometimes Meta specifies “American” but when she doesn’t I’ll use cheddar, Colby or some other common cheese type according to my preference).


15 thoughts on “Project Fine Print

  1. Hi. I LOVE Meta Givens’ cookbook! Someone gave the 2-volume set to my mother as a wedding gift so I grew up with the book in my household. It has since come apart, the pages browned with wear, my mom passed away last year at the age of 84. I especially like the Plain Roll Dough recipe that was on page 273 of the book that I (my mom) had. Somehow, that page is missing from what’s left of my copy of the book. Would you mind sharing that recipe with me? Thanks so much. Belinda


    • Plain Roll Dough

      8 to 8 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
      2 reg cakes compressed or 2 pkgs dry gran yeast
      1/4 cup lukewarm water
      1 tsp sugar
      2 cups milk, scalded
      2 tsp salt
      1/2 cup sugar
      2 eggs, beaten
      1/3 cup melted shortening

      Sift flour and measure. Crumble compressed or turn gran yeast into lukewarm water, stir in the 1 tsp sugar; let soften 10 min. In a 4-qt bowl, combine hot milk with salt and sugar and cool to lukewarm. Then add yeast mixture and eggs and stir thoroughly. Beat in half the flour until smooth, then the cooled shortening. Stir in all but 2 TBSP of the remaining flour and mix in thouroughly with hand. Turn out on board or pastry cloth sprinkled with the rest of the flour; cover dough with bowl, let rest 10 minutes. Then knead until dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 min, adding no more flour for kneading. Shape into ball, place in the washed, greased bowl, turn once to bring greased side up. Cover with a damp cloth, let rise in warm place until double, about 1 1/2 hours. Punch down, turn dough over, cover and let rise until double. Then share into rolls as desired.


  2. Me and my friends last night were talking about cookbooks and I told them that I had a really old cookbook of my mothers it was given to her in 1950 as a shower gift (the printed year 1948) and we were looking at it and laughing at some of the creation in the book, we were so impressed with the 365 day meal plan and when you look at it – it really was very simple (maybe lacked some spices) but over all good meals. I am missing a few pages as it stops at 934 and the front and back are no longer there. But I love that I have a piece of history and thanks to your website (we googled the cookbook name) it has me thinking I might try a few. I love your rules as well, I agree any organ meal no thanks. Cheers


    • Great recipe! Here it is:

      202 Hermits

      1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

      1/4 tsp salt

      2 1/4 tsp baking powder

      1/2 tsp cinnamon

      1/2 tsp cloves

      1/2 tsp nutmeg

      1 egg, beaten

      3/4 cup sugar

      1/4 cup milk

      1/3 cup melted shortening

      1/2 cup seeded raisins

      Preheat oven to 425. Sift flour and measure. Re-sift with salt baking powder and spices. Stir in egg, sugar and milk. Add shortening; beat until smooth. Stir in raisins. Drop spoonfuls on greased baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes. Makes 2 dozen cookies.


    • Hi Dee–Here it is (in two recipes since the tea ring is a variation on the bread). The tea ring recipe also references a third recipe that I’ve put in brackets. Hopefully it isn’t too confusing!

      87 Swedish Tea Bread

      1 pkg fast granular yeast
      1/2 c. lukewarm water
      1 c. scalded milk, cooled
      3 2/3 c all purpose flour
      1/3 c sugar
      3/4 tsp salt
      1/3 c melted butter, cooled to lukewarm

      Soften yeast in the lukewarm water. Add lukewarm milk and about half the flour, to make a soft batter; beat well. Cover and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk. Add sugar, salt, melted butter and remaining flour, and the following fruits and nuts:

      1/2 c seedless raisins
      1/2 c chopped dates
      2 TBSP shaved candied citron
      6 candied cherries, chopped
      1/2 c sliced pecans

      Mix lightly; then turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead for 10 minutes. Place dough in a clean buttered bowl and let rise in a warm place (about 85 degrees F.) until doubled in bulk. Shape into 1 large loaf or 2 small ones, place in buttered bread pans, and again let rise until doubled. Bake in a moderate oven (375 F) for about 15 minutes; reduce heat to moderate (350) and bake 45 minutes longer, a total of 1 hour.

      87a Swedish Tea Ring

      Omit fruits and nuts from half the Swedish Tea Bread dough. Let the other half rise as usual; then proceed as for Cinnamon Coffee Cake [Instead of placing in bread pan, place the roll on a baking sheet. Wtih scissors, cut about 3/4 through roll, at 1-inch intervals. Lay the cut sections down flat, pulling one to the right, the next to the left, overlapping the sections on each side and leaving them attached in the center.], except draw the roll into a ring, joining the ends before cutting. Cut through roll starting at outside of ring, so sections are joined at inner edge. Lay sections down flat, overlapping. Bake as for Cinnamon Coffee Cake. [Brush the entire surface with melted butter and let rise until doubled in bulk. Bake in a moderate oven (375 F) for about 30 minutes.]


  3. Hi Heather! I am a little confused. It states to proceed as for cinnamon coffee cake. Is the baking time in the above paragraph (375 % for 15 min, the 45 min for 45 Minutes?) or is the cinnamon coffee cake elsewhere. Thank you!


  4. Thank You! Great recipe. I did not see a filling for it, so I used cinnamon chips, butter, brown sugar and pecans,
    I will have to control how often I makes these@


  5. I think you are cooking recipes from the cookbook I have been searching for. My mother’s copy is missing the cover and all of the pages are falling out. Can you tell me if there is an ISBN or anything where I can make sure I’m hunting the right book? I would SO VERY MUCH appreciate it. The version she has, has recipe 198 on page 183 as Cocoa Oatmeal Cookies. I thought I had found it but when I asked the owner, there was a different recipe on that page so I’m starting my search over again.


    • I’ve got several editions of the book. No ISBN (too early?), but my copy of the “New Revised Edition” First Printing, January 1961 has Cocoa Oatmeal Cookies on page 183. It has a gray cover and is a shortened version of the original at 632 pages. Hope that helps.


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