Monday, April 12, 2010

My Obsession & Homemade Finger Paint

I have a secret to tell.

I have an insane obsession with old cookbooks. The older the cookbook, the better. I snatch them up at yard sales, thrift stores, book sales; anywhere I can get my grubby little hands on one. 

Photo courtesy of Tour Kittson County

A few weeks ago I discovered a secret treasure in my small sleepy town of 1,000. We have a thrift store. Granted it’s in a small (very small) room located in our Senior Center and it’s supplied mostly from the older people in our community. The seniors turn over what possessions their family’s don’t want and what left after the rummage sales before moving into the nursing home. The thrift store keeps what they believe will sell and donate the remainder to Goodwill.

Needless to say there are tons of antique and classic items in the store. The clothing and shoe fashions aren’t necessarily to my style but they have old records, books, cookbooks, dishes, trinkets, knick knacks, cookware and a myriad of other things I love to look and run my fingers over. Old things not only have a distinctive look, the feel different too. I love to to browse. Taking in all the history. Imagining the treasure's long and colorful journey. Even if I don’t buy anything, the fun is in the looking, touching and day dreaming.

Flikr photo fo Lefse by Litherland

During this visit I discovered a 280 page 1983 church cookbook. It’s full of all sorts of fabulous recipes. There are so many, I haven’t had the chance to give them all a thorough examination. But I will! I live in Scandinavian country so being a native southern gal, I’m not too familiar with dishes like Swedish Rusk, Potato Korv, and Lefse. A sweet toasted cookie, potato sausage, and a potato bread respectively. I’m looking forward to trying some of these dishes. I suspect the ingredients will be easier to locate since this is the type of food folks in this area prepare quite often.

I was quite surprised to discover a “This n That” section of the book listing recipes for play dough, finger Jello, plant fertilizer, finger paint. Today I’ll share the “Rainy Day Finger Paint” courtesy of Becky R. from the Evangelical Mission Covenant Church Centennial Cookbook of 1983.

Flikr Photo by Little Silver

1/2 cup cornstarch
1 envelope Knox gelatin
1/2 cup soap flakes
1 cup cold water
2 cups hot water
food coloring (as desired)

Combine cornstarch and 3/4 cup cold water. Soak gelatin in remaining 1/4 cup cold water. Stir hot water slowly into starch mixture. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture boils and is clear. Remove from heat and blend in softened gelatin. Stir in soap flakes until dissolved. Cool mixture. Then divide into a jar for each color. Cover jars to store.

Jenn is a SAHM of two energetic and imaginative boys, one sport lovin' tweenie girl, and wife to a fantastically devoted husband. She writes about family, good food, fun crafts, saving money and her adventures in gardening and sewing at the Frugal Front Porch. Stop by for a visit.


  1. I too love old cookbooks. My favorite is from the 1960's. The finger paint looks like fun!

  2. Soap flakes? Any particular type of soap?

  3. Annette,
    I would use a white soap like Ivory or Dove grated with a cheese grater. (similar to what many people use in homemade laundry detergent.) Both are usually okay for sensitive skin and have fewer sulfate ingredients.

    If you use a colored soap, just remember the color wheel when adding the food color or your colors might be a little off.

    Have fun!

  4. I have some old northern cookbooks that belonged to my mom and maybe some of her family. They are primarily from the 1950's and 1960's. One of the recipes was for Oxen Head Soup! LOL Yuck. I guess times were tight back then, too, and they ate anything that couldn't be thrown away!


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