New Fangled Fireless Cookstoves

BBD_caloric cook bookThe Caloric Book of Recipes is antique store find. This volume was published in 1910 by the Caloric Company, with earlier editions published by the former Caloric Fireless Cookstove Co. This little hardbound issue originally sold for fifty cents. My cost – about ninety years later – was $9.50.

I hold the volume and try to go back in time, picturing a housewife from these earlier days with her new fireless cookstove. This was ‘new technology’ in her day and I envision that she treasured the cook book that came with her newfangled stove. Nowadays, most of us have shelves full of cookbooks, some of us too many to count, with more recipes than we will ever make in our lifetime. I don’t believe housewives in the early twentieth century had that luxury.

Here are a few tidbits from the book.


The steatite radiators can be heated on gas, denatured alcohol gas, oil, electric, coal or wood stoves or ranges. Care should be taken in not allowing the plates to get red hot.

BBD_Caloric cook stoveThe time required to give the radiators the desired temperature is from seven to twenty minutes, depending, of course, on the size and intensity of the blaze used. The radiators are tested as one would test a sad iron. When using two radiators, for baking or roasting, a good way is to het both over one blaze, one above the other, changing them at intervals of about five minutes. About twenty minutes will heat both plates over a single blaze.

With very little trouble you can save considerable fuel and time in heating your radiators by keeping them moderately warm. In the summer time place the radiators out in the sun if convenient and they will then become very hot by only a few minutes heating over a flame. In the winter time they can be placed in the window where the sun will strike them or better still on the registers, steam or hot water radiators or on the back of your heater. By following this suggestion, you can save considerable fuel and trouble.

I think my favorite part of this section is “The radiators are tested as one would test a sad iron.” I guess I won’t be able to cook with one of these, as I don’t know how one would test a sad iron. I’ve never had the dubious pleasure of using one.

One resource stated, “It manufactured the Caloric Cooker, a “fireless cook stove” and precursor to modern day slow cookers. Imagine, a crock pot without electricity, dating clear back to 1903.

BBD_Caloric logoHere are two unusual cake recipes. One is for Sand Cake, which I admit I’ve never heard of. The other for a Soft Molasses Cake. Molasses Cake is not unusual, but what I found interesting was the ½ cup of pork grease used in it.

Sand Cake – Cream scant three-fourths cup of butter with three-fourths cup of sugar, add gradually yolks of four eggs, a little grated lemon rind and 1 ½ cups of very dry flour. Fold in the beaten whites of the four eggs. Put tin into Caloric, using both radiators according to directions. Bake ¾ hours.

Soft Molasses Cake – To one cup of New Orleans molasses and ½ cup of pork grease, add 1 teaspoonful of soda, 1 teaspoonful salt, ginger and cinnamon. Sift 4 cups of flour, then thin to a soft batter with cold water. Bake 35 minutes, using both radiators.

The cookbook had some HELPFUL HINTS at the end, which were quite interesting. What they had to do with cooking, I have no idea. Here are a few that give us clues as to the differences between life now and in the early 1900’s.

  • A teaspoon of flour of sulphur dissolved in hot milk and slowly sipped is very good in case of sore throat.
  • To preserve maps, brush over each a solution of gutta-percha, which is quite transparent. This may be applied to both sides.
  • Scatter a few drops of lavender in your bookcase before shutting it up for the summer and you will find no book mold.
  • Soak your new brooms in strong hot salt water before using them; it toughens the bristles and the broom will last longer.
  • Wash your challies in rice water made by using one pound of rice to five quarts of water, strain and cool.
  • Apply common mud to a bee sting and the pain will disappear.
  • Try cucumber peelings for cockroaches; they will act like poison to them.
  • Put a little turpentine in the boiler in which your clothes are boiled; it will whiten them.
  • Celery, eaten abundantly, is good for neuralgia.
  • To prevent flies from entering house brush the screen doors with kerosene.
  • If a drawer sticks, rub a little fresh lard on it.
  • Sprinkle the cellar often with chloride of lime and it will be kept free from rats.
  • If a little kerosene is added to the water in which you wash your windows the effect will be much brighter.
  • A few drops of kerosene added to the starch will make the ironing easier.
  • A piece of camphor kept with your silver will prevent it from tarnishing.
  • Kerosene poured down the sink and boiling water immediate after will clean out a stopped up drain pipe.
  • When you plant sweet peas, have them running north and south; they bloom better.

With or without a Caloric Fireless Cookstove – may your cooking and cleaning days be fun … and easier than in 1910.


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