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Dead chefs: Yankee plum pudding

During the early 1900’s, pre-packaged items were starting to emerge on the market. In addition, Americans were looking for alternatives to lard, which was a common staple in many recipes of the time. Enter a product called “Cottolene”. Cottolene was similar to Crisco, but made from beef tallow and cottonseed oil.

The pairing of the two was a creation from the waste products of the cotton and meat processing industries. Cotton seeds were often left over from the processing of cotton, and beef tallow was collected in vats after cutting and molding meat products. A company called N.K. Fairbank capitalized on these items, and created Cottolene. Cottolene came with its own cookbooks as well. Here is a recipe from one of these cookbooks entitled Fifty-Two Sunday Dinners by Elizabeth Hiller. It was written in 1913. This book is featured at Project Gutenburg. The book illustrates how to use and care for Cottolene in recipes from appetizers to desserts.

2/3 cup Cottolene
1 cup N. O. molasses
3 cups flour
1½ teaspoons soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon cloves
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup sweet milk
1 cup seeded shredded raisins
1 cup English Walnut meats broken in pieces

Cream Cottolene, add molasses; mix and sift flour, soda, spices and salt; add alternately with milk, reserving enough flour to dredge raisins and nut meats; mix well and turn in buttered molds. Steam three hours. Serve with Brandy.

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