Thursday, October 25, 2012

Recipes From Utah Power & Light Home Economists Are Back!

Clara Christensen of UP & L gives a cooking demo in Richfield.

Back when it was known as Utah Power & Light, Rocky Mountain Power had a group of home economists who taught cooking classes in the community. Along with the chopping and stirring, they mixed a generous pinch of advice on how to conserve energy, what to do in a power outage, or how to use electrical appliances such as the food processor or microwave oven.
Home cooks eagerly awaited the latest booklet or calendar filled with new recipes. Being able to sample them was the icing on the cake.

Although the home economist program was discontinued about 20 years ago, the recipes live on in a new "Centennial Cookbook" published by Rocky Mountain Power. Over 600 of the recipes developed and cooked by those home economists are contained in the book, as well as small historical vignettes.
About five years ago, I did a "reunion" story for the Deseret News about  the home economist programs with both UP & L and what was then Mountain Fuel Supply. I ran a few of the recipes from that era, and I heard from several readers who wanted to get their hands on more of those recipes. So, I'm glad to hear that some of the UP & L recipes can be found in this new book.The book is being sold for $15 each at the Utah Power Credit Union offices, with the proceeds toward a foundation for college scholarships. (Utah Power Credit Union locations can be found here:
Two former UP & L home economists, Margaret Oler and Kathy Hoffman, compiled the recipes from the company's historic booklets and brochures. Both are still work for Rocky Mountain Power employees, although no longer as home economists. 
  "It was an absolute delight to take a look over the decades and put this book together," said Oler. "I started out as a home economist, and I loved it."
  In putting together the collection, "We discovered that the recipes really reflected the era that they came from," said Oler. "For instance, Sacky's Olympus Salad came from the early 1980s, at a time when people were shifting from a lot of canned foods to fresh ingredients such as fresh broccoli, and tastes from other parts of the world."
Another recipe, Cashew Pea Pods, in the late 1980s, reflects how palates were moving from standard meat-and-potatoes to more exotic flavors. Chicken Wellington took advantage of a new convenience product, frozen puff pastry.
Another recipe from the 1940s was a from-scratch cake that used canned sweet cherries.
These recipes came from a long tradition. In the 1920s, utility companies began hiring home economists to encourage people to replace their wood-burning stoves with new gas or electric ranges and the old icebox with refrigerators. 
This  1920 photo in the cookbook shows Lulu Bates demonstrating electric ranges, refrigerators and washing machines.
   Later, in the '70s and '80s, the UP&L specialists introduced consumers to the microwave, showing how it could be used for tasks such as roasting potatoes and baking cakes.
   As public concern grew for the environment and utility costs, the company put more emphasis on emphasis on energy conservation, Oler said. Today, instead of cooking shows, the company offers incentives to update old energy-demanding appliances with high-efficiency models.
  Here are a couple of recipes from the cookbook:
   2 cups rotini pasta
   2 bunches broccoli
   1/2 cup bottled Italian salad dressing
   2 cloves garlic, minced
   1/4 teaspoon pepper
   1/2 teaspoon salt
   1/2 teaspoon basil leaves
   1 4-ounce can sliced olives
   1 4-ounce jar diced pimiento
   1/2 cup chopped green pepper
   1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
   Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, rinse with cold water and drain well. Separate broccoli flowerets and chop stalks. Steam broccoli 5-7 minutes until tender-crisp. Drain, plunge into cold water and drain well.
   In a small bowl combine dressing with garlic, pepper, salt and basil. In a salad bowl combine pasta, broccoli, olives, pimiento, green pepper. Toss with salad dressing mixture and cheese. Serve cold.
— "Centennial Cookbook" by Rocky Mountain Power

1 6-ounce package frozen pea pods, defrosted and drained
1 8-ounce can sliced water chestnuts, drained
2 cups fresh mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup green onion, chopped
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon sugar
Dash of garlic powder
Dash of ginger
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
1/2 cup cashews
In fry pan or wok, combine butter, mushrooms and onions. Saute until tender. Stir in pea pods and water chestnuts. Combine soy sauce, cornstarch, sugar and seasoning and add to vegetables. Cook until tender-crisp, stirring often. Mix in cashews and serve. Makes 4 servings.
— "Centennial Cookbook" by Rocky Mountain Power

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