Tucked in the very back of Mom’s cookbook is a tiny accordion-folded recipe booklet called “How to use your Treat-Time Toaster.” You can enjoy a scan of it below.
I had thumbed passed this booklet many times before but in late January 2017 I finally took my curiosity online to try and find out what a “Treat-Time Toaster” might actually be.
In just a few clicks I found myself at eBay where I discovered these toasters were in fact vintage grilled sandwich makers. These were the same things I remember being in our kitchen at Trailend Drive – Mom used them to fashion some of the coolest grilled cheese sandwiches ever!
After quickly checking with my older brothers about the whereabouts of our toasters, I sadly realized they were long, long gone.
Gone, too, was the company who made them – NuRod, Inc., based out of Monrovia California. So since I couldn’t score one of my own new Treat-Time Toasters, I found a set of two vintage toasters that I scored on eBay for about $30, including shipping.
A few days later a bountiful box arrived at my home and boy, was I excited! Soon my kitchen would be turning out delicious sandwich snacks. The possibilities were endless, thanks to the recipe booklet that contained 13 ideas for transforming mere bread into a myriad of mouthwatering delights filled with awe-inspiring ingredients like cocktail sausages, bologna, baked beans, raisin bread, marmalade, fried eggs and more.
Are you salivating yet?
The Treat-Time Toaster looked part flying saucer and part clamshell. Placing the toaster over campfire or stove in mere seconds you can create panini, grilled sandwiches, pocket sandwiches … anything your mind and appetite can conjure!
The toaster churns out culinary delights that remind me of those from the raclette tabletop grill, which has been a favorite kitchen accessory of mine for many years.
The adman in me appreciated reading the recipe booklet that appears to have been written by Donna Reade, who was Director of Consumer Service at Nu-Rod. I cracked a few smiles when I read passages like “You’ll find family and friends runnin’ back for more,” “Not only delicious but filling” and “M-M-M-boy!”
The folks at Nu-Rod also knew a little something about target marketing back in the early 1960s. I found evidence of ads for their Treat-Time Sandwich Maker in Popular Science, Boys’ Life, Mobile Home Journal, and V.F.W. Journal.
where did it all go wrong?
So if the Treat-Time Toaster is so awesome, why did it disappear from America’s kitchens almost as fast as it arrived?!
Based on my online research Nu-Rod was in existence from 1960-1970 and then their digital footprint is no more. Perhaps they were intent on connecting the Treat-Time Toaster with men more so than women? Or perhaps the name “Treat-Time Toaster” was too innovative at the time.
Whatever the case all I know is I’m glad I’ve reconnected my appetite with this fond foodie kitchen gizmo.
❤ While supplies last you can likely find vintage Treat-Time Toasters on Ebay or similar machines like these on the web. I ordered two so that I didn’t have to share my toaster with anyone else! Hey, twice the fun!
❤ The ingredients list below is for the most basic – and delicious – grilled cheese sandwich. But don’t let your imagination and appetite stop here – try any of the original recipes in the Treat-Time Toaster recipe book (below)… or you let your imagination go wild. My top three favorite sandwiches are grilled cheese, PB&J, and our own creation – a grilled caprese sandwich (shown above), crafted from mozzarella, fresh basil leaves from the garden and a few slices of red tomato.
i. ingredients (per serving)
2 slices | white bread (or artisan bread if you’re feeling très gourmet)
schmears | falfurrias brand butter
assorted | ingredients for your sandwich (melting cheese, crisp bacon, sliced tomato, etc.)
no-stick cooking spray or butter | to grease your toaster
(optional) to serve | your favorite condiments (ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, honey, etc.)
ii. what to do
1. Butter the outside of two slices of bread and set aside. Hey, if you’re feeling adventurous you can also butter the inside, if butter complements your chosen ingredients.
2. Top one inside with your chosen ingredients, making sure to keep things mingling toward the center of the bread.
5. Hold/Place the Treat-Time Toaster over campfire or medium-fired kitchen stovetop for 1-2 minutes on each side. I used my toaster inside over a gas range. I experimented a few times to find the right combination of flame and time to deliver the perfect oozy, gooey, buttery treat.
Serve warm with your favorite sides!
Founder and “Nostalgic Food Blogger” of Betty’s Cook Nook
A word about bread…
One of my favorite childhood memories happened when our elementary school (go, Northwood Unicorns) made an outing to San Antonio’s ButterKrust Bakery that graciously rested alongside 2251 Broadway Street.
I’m confident my love of carbs was born that day. In fact, every time I drove past the bakery (passenger or driver), the window somehow found itself miraculously resting so I could enjoy the waft of butter and bread while the wind whipped through my hair. Never underestimate the power of bread!
Yup. I scored this vintage spot for you!
I love reading about the history of food.
Researching and making my Mom’s recipes has become a hobby of mine and I’m often amazed at the evolution of food through the years – especially during my lifetime; I find that food is in many ways like fashion.
I enjoy taking trips down the international food aisle at the grocery store. It’s here I can be surprised and delighted with foods I’ve never heard of… not to mention the interesting and artful packaging.
My international food journeys remind me of the things I often mistakenly take for granted. Things like:
- Some foods are no longer available. I discovered this the hard way with one of my early BCN posts when searching for madrilène so I could make this tasty avocado soup. Also extremely hard to find? A garlic cheese roll. If you were a chocolate and caramel lover eating between 1973 and 1981, you likely remember the Marathon Bar which was sweet and savory braided deliciousness that was a treat about as big as a Texas sunrise.
- Packaging sizes have changed. I often find that cans and packaged foods are trending larger than they did in the good ole’ days. Supersize Me! And give me seconds. And please don’t forget the cheese.
- Food packaging has changed. Wine in a box? Get real. (Pssst – it is real)! Refried beans in a bag? Just heat ’em and eat ’em! Tomato paste in a tube? Totally tubular! Let’s get rolling!
A Cheesy Love Affair
I got super sucker-punched in the belly when I lived in Italy. I thought I knew most everything about the country – Heck, it was my seventh trip there. But living far and away for more than a couple of weeks taught me a lot about the presence and absence of food.
Most notably I learned that authentic Italy does not sell or consume yellow cheese. Wait, what?!? Yeah, no yellow cheese! You can imagine the sadness and horror that became my new face as repeated trips to every store in the region produced no yellow cheese. This Texas boy quickly developed a serious health issue when I realized there would be no yellow cheese for me. No homemade mac and cheese. No cheese n’ potatoes. No queso. NO QUESO?!?
This is the solid truth – had someone told me there was a store in a province within a one or two day walk from Tuscany, I would have walked there and back just to score a single log of Velveeta. Pinky swear it. Joe will back me up on this.
I begged our great friends Jeanie and David who were flying over from Texas for an Italian New Years to please, please, please bring me a block of Velveeta. And if they could also find it in their Texas-sized hearts to tuck some taco seasoning in their bag, I would be eternally grateful. And I am.
My dream came true for NYE 2012 when three beautiful blocks of Velveeta arrived along with several packets of taco seasoning, some Pace picante sauce, Rotel and even a bottle of Don Julio tequila. It was a Holiday to Remember! ← Read this post of mine to learn more about shopping Italian style.
Get On With It
OK, OK! So what does all this have to do with this recipe? Everything.
The optional yellow cheese? Yeah, forget about it. It’s not that you’re in Italy … it’s because this dish doesn’t need it.
Most notably this is a typical recipe circa 1970s that is less about sizzle and more about sustenance. No fancy presentation draped with a demi-glaze sauce. It’s good ole’ timey tasty. For me the combination of swiss cheese, ham and pickle was a delicious trio that packed a lotta taste. The mayo, onion and peas only sealed the deal.
foodie tips ~
❤ While perfect as a side salad my appetite was trying to find other ways to enjoy this aside from “just a salad.” I wound-up making lettuce cups out of mine and enjoyed every delicious bite. I think a toasted sandwich filled with the stuff would make the world a brighter place, too.
❤ American Cheese is optional for this dish; I did not use it but I love me some yellow cheese, as the story above reveals.
❤ Dill pickle lover? Check out my other post for Sauerkraut Bend’s Potato Salad… plus a video revealing the history behind the little pickle that made Texas famous.
1 box | Bird’s Eye frozen green peas
½ teaspoon | salt
1 ½ cups | water
1 ⅓ cups | Minute Rice
¾ cup | mayonnaise
½ cup | chopped dill pickle
1 teaspoon | onion, grated
1 cup | slivered cooked ham
1 cup | slivered swiss cheese
1 cup | slivered american cheese (optional)
to serve | tomato wedges (optional)
ii. what to do
1. Add the peas, salt and water to a saucepan. Cover and bring to a full boil.
2. Add the Minute Rice and mix to moisten all the rice. Cover, remove from heat and let stand for 13 minutes.
3. Add the mayonnaise, pickles and onion and mix/fluff with a fork. Chill in the fridge.
4. When ready to serve add the ham and cheese. Serve on lettuce with tomato wedges and enjoy!
Yields 6 servings
Founder and “Nostalgic Food Blogger” of Betty’s Cook Nook
Go Loco For Taco
The idea of “magic” was something I was obsessed with when I was in 5th grade. I dreamed of being a professional magician after seeing a store display on Broadway Avenue… a mechanical magician who could perform tricks compliments of his table, a cup and a few eye-shifty shenanigans.
Oh, yeah… I was hooked.
Magically obsessed, one day I drug my Dad and best friend Sean to Central Park Mall to a magic shop. My eyes rest upon on a magic kit and I knew in a blink it was meant for me.
Dad selflessly bought me and Sean each the magic cred (I remember triple digits, so it was a big deal ~ especially in the 70s).
Back at our upstairs playroom at 2927 Trailend, complete with black light, cloth-covered table and my instruction manual cleverly tucked underneath, I performed ~ almost flawlessly ~ some of the tricks I could decipher.
This recipe? Totally easy to make. And especially easy and great to eat!
1 pound | ground beef
½ cup | onion, chopped
1 package | taco seasoning mix
4 ounces | chopped green chilies, drained
1¼ cups | milk
¾ cup | bisquick brand baking mix
3 | cage free eggs
2 | red tomatoes, sliced
1 cup | monterey jack or cheddar cheese, shredded
to garnish | ice burg lettuce, chopped
to garnish | red tomato, chopped
0. Preheat oven to 400°F.
1. Grease a 10½” pie plate and set aside.
2. Cook and stir beef and onion until brown; drain, then stir in taco seasoning mix.
3. Spread in pie plate and top with chilies.
4. With a blender or hand mixer, beat milk, baking mix and eggs until smooth; about 1 minute.
5. Pour into pie plate.
6. Bake pie 25 minutes then remove from oven.
7. Top with sliced tomatoes and cheese; return to oven and bake until knife inserted in the pie’s center returns clean (about 10 minutes).
8. Cool 5 minutes then top with sour cream, chopped tomatoes, shredded lettuce and cheese.
Serves 6-8 Texans
Great For Breakfast Or Dinner
Foodie Tips ~
♥ Wanna spice up life? Add fresh diced jalapeños to the beef before you cook it. Adventurous!
Growing Up, Christmastime Meant “Tamaletime” For The Kikers
And living in San Antonio meant we had easy access to some of the best hand-made tamales on the planet.
This tamale pie recipe is a variation on the handmade tamales we enjoyed during the holidays. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do; you’ll find this savory pie won’t last long … In fact …
… “Here today, gone tamale!“
1½ pounds | lean ground beef
1 | white onion, chopped
½ cup | chopped green pepper
1 teaspoon | lawry’s brand seasoned salt
1 package | chili seasoning mix
1 pound | tomatoes, chopped
1½ cups | cooked and drained whole-kernel corn
1 cup | pitted black olives, sliced
1 cup | yellow corn meal
1 teaspoon | salt
2½ cups | cold water
1 cup | shredded cheddar cheese
0. Preheat oven to 350°F.
1. Brown the beef in a medium skillet, breaking up meat with spoon; drain and return meat to skillet.
2. And the next 5 ingredients and simmer 5 minutes.
3. Stir in the corn and olives; transfer to a 2-quart baking dish.
4. In a separate pot, combine the corn meal, salt and water, stirring until thick over medium heat.
6. Remove your pie from oven briefly to sprinkle with cheese then return to bake for another 5 minutes.
Makes 6 servings
Foodie Tip ~
♥ Let’s go all the way – why not garnish your pie with sour cream, chopped scallions, guacamole and jalapeño?!
I found the original recipe (below) in mom’s 3-ring black binder. I think mom was more likely to “clip” recipes in her early days until she learned the art of freestyle cooking; the green index card file contains many of the recipes that are handwritten indicating they were favorite creations of hers… or her friends.
Growin’ up in “San Antone,” my first memories of Italian food came in the form of Shakey’s Pizza Parlor off Austin Highway.
I don’t really remember the pizza much, but I do remember the experience and excitement of piling into the car to go pick it up. Shakey’s was the place for great family fun ~ especially for kids. Shakey’s had a magically cool player piano similar to the one we had at home where we spent countless hours singing with friends. I still have that piano!… To top your day, Shakey’s had party skimmer hats for the taking sporting bands around the top that read “Shakey’s” typeset in a blackletter-style font… and my favorite part were these little figure eight-shaped balloons you could blow-up and slide onto flat cardboard shoes; they’d stand on their own, transforming into the awesome shape of a happy pizza chef (at right). Why not watch this vintage video of the Shakey’s experience (and have a little laugh)?
So Italy. I’ve been lucky to travel to my far away home away from home 5 times (so far!) and have become somewhat of an Italian foodie snob. While this soup may not knock you over the head with “obvious” Italian flavor, when I close my eyes, the heartiness of the beans, carrots, tomato and parsley transports me back to my first tastes of Italy.
What a great memory that is.
You can read about my travel experiences to Italy at my other passion site at ForTheLoveOfItaly.com. More recipes, travel tips and pics, and fun stories.
Now, on to the soup!
1/2 cup | diced carrots
¼ cup | sliced celery
1 | diced tomato
1 cup | shredded cabbage
to taste | pepper
6 cups | boiling water
1 package | lipton brand beef flavor noodle soup
1 package | lipton brand onion soup
1/2 cup | kidney beans
2 tablespoons | chopped parsley
to serve | grated cheese
ii. what to do
1. Cook vegetables in boiling water, covered, for 20 minutes.
2. Stir-in pepper and soup mixes; cover and simmer 10 minutes.
3. Add beans and parsley. Heat.
4. Serve with grated cheese.
Foodie Tips ~
♥ You may have trouble finding the boxed soups; they are from the 70s. So sport your favorite 70s “cut-offs” and hold a soup-y seance. If you can’t find the soup with the noodles inside it, you can add your own; just make sure it’s a fine noodle, like Capelli d’Angelo (angel hair pasta). You can break the pasta into small pieces before cooking.
♥ In a pinch, you can do what I did and use grated mozzarella cheese. But try using a finely grated “hard” Italian cheese so the gooey cheese doesn’t overwhelm the soup. A couple of my favorites are Pecorino or Parmigiano Reggiano.
♥ Add a few sprigs of rosemary to the soup for a souper-dooper-booster of Italian flavor.
♥ You can double-up on the beans and some of the water, to make it more broth-y.
I’m freshly back from a two week adventure to Italy*, so there’s nothing more relevant to make this week than Italian dressing.
Italian dressing isn’t just for mere lettuce; you can use it to top sliced tomatoes, or marinate meats or potatoes before cooking.
So what are we waiting for? Let’s get shaking!
* Think I’m kidding about an amazing trip to Italy? Mouse over then click the pic below!
1/2 cup | EVOO
2 tablespoons | red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon | fresh basil, chopped (dried basil only if you must)
¼ teaspoon | fresh garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon | gray sea salt
to taste | freshly ground black pepper
If serving dressing atop sliced tomato:
also add | LOTS of green onion tops, sliced
also add | parsley
1. Prepare all ingredients and place in a dressing jar.
2. Shake, shake, shake!
3. Enjoy the dressing fresh or refrigerate it up to a week or two.
Foodie Tips ~
♥ I doubled the recipe. The more, the better.
♥ Try using a garlic press if you’re too tired to finely chop.
♥ You can also add some grated aged romano cheese to the dressing for an awesomely cheesy taste.
♥ If using as a marinade, add chopped green onion tops and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes … then grill.
♥ Try the tomato recipe on the recipe card if you want a tasty option for the dressing.
Who is “Mary Stephenson”?
We Kikers lived at 2927 Trailend Drive and Mary was the mother of the family living next door to us.
Mary was a fabulous foodie friend of ours and you’ll see a few recipes from Mary’s kitchen here at Betty’s Cook Nook.
Our two families spent many shared dinners and laughs together so I was happy to find some of Mary’s recipes tucked in Mom’s cookbook since the Stephensons were a magnificent and memorable part of my wonder years.
While my birthday is celebrated just 364 days each year, I’m sharing this recipe with you from one of mom’s favorite friends… Lela!
Funny, when I was a child, I didn’t even think twice about soup… and now I know I’ll love this gazpacho even before I eat it!
Get ready to cool off with this delicious foodie veggie favorite!
1 – 1 pound can | stewed tomatoes
1 – 10-1/2 ounce can | condensed beef broth
1 cup | peeled chopped cucumber
1 cup | chopped celery
1 cup | sliced onions
2 tablespoons | lemon juice
1 small clove | garlic, finely chopped
to taste | fresh ground black pepper
ii. what to do
1. Combine all ingredients in a medium-sized pot.
2. Over medium heat, simmer gently until onions and celery are tender (about 10 minutes).
3. Served chilled.
Foodie Tip ~
♥ Try fine-chopping the vegetables for a smoother consistency.
Foodie Fun Fact ~
The coordinates on the back of the card? I don’t know the relationship to the recipe, but it looks like they were set in mom’s handwriting (not Lela’s.) Looks like the coordinates will set you in the Gulf of Mexico just outside Corpus Christi… one of our family’s favorite watering holes. Maybe there’s a buried treasure there?
Lela’s actual recipe card is below!