Spry cookbook

An old Spry cookbook shares a basic pastry mix that can be used to make pie crusts.

A good friend recently came to visit, bearing one of my all-time favorite guilty pleasures — a bag full of old cookbooks, cook booklets and magazine clippings collected by her mom.

You can tell that her mom and mine were of the same generation. Some 30 years ago, cleaning out my parents’ home after they had died, I had a similar stack. The booklets came from small appliances our moms had acquired, from food manufacturers and also included the colored paper pull-out section from Women’s Day magazine.

Being the moms of the ‘60s, it should have come as no surprise to find both had copies of ”Knox On-Camera Recipes” from Knox gelatin, touted as “A completely new guide to gel-cookery.” I remember some of the on-camera gems from my childhood — and I gag at the not-so-fond memories of tomato aspic, Golden Salad and Perfection Salad. Veggies and fruit should not be surrounded in a slimy gelatin, and cut from a molded shape.

There was also another old cookbook friend in the gift bag — “Tuna As You Like It.” When I was a kid, mom served tuna burgers (you don’t want to know ...), tuna loaf and tuna pizza burgers — all from that book. To this day, the only way I’ll eat tuna is in a tuna salad sandwich.

The recipe book for the Sunbeam electric frypan was familiar, too. I used to have the frying pan pictured on the cover of the booklet, which I inherited from my mom. There are a few recipes I want to try, but I’ll skip the salmon patties (just a fancier reincarnation of tuna burgers).

When I was a child, mom always had a large glass jar of pie crust mix in the refrigerator. She would make it once and then have enough mix to make several pies. She would scoop out some of the mix, add water and proceed to turn it into pie crust.

I was surprised when flipping through a cookbook published by Spry (now no longer made, but identical to Crisco) to find making the mix was a thing in the 1940s and ‘50s. Spry claimed it was “your own homemade pie mix. Always ready ... easy to use” and urged people to “make up this recipe twice and you will have enough mix on hand for a dozen pies ... ”

And with the holidays right around the corner ...


Mix 7 cups sifted all-purpose flour and 1 tablespoon salt. Divide 1 pound (2 1/2 cups) Spry into two equal parts. (Crisco can work here instead!)

Step 1 for tenderness — cut in first half of Spry until as fine as meal. Cut in lightly.

Step 2 for flakiness — cut in remaining Spry until particles are the size of large peas. Do not overmix.

This recipe makes 10 1/4 cups of mix, enough to make 6 one-crust pies.

To make two-crust pie dough, use 3 cups pastry mix, add 5 tablespoons cold water and mix into a dough. To make a one-crust pie, use 1 3/4 cups mix and 3 tablespoons water.

Store you pastry mix in a covered container like a big empty Spry can. The mix need not be refrigerated — it will keep sweet and fresh right on the pantry or kitchen shelf.

Margaret Button can be reached at mbutton@berkshireeagle.com or 413-496-6298.