When the Los Angeles Times held cooking courses from 1913 through the 1940s, the classes usually centered on a particular theme. One week it might be a certain ingredient, another week a type of ethnic cuisine.
The second class, offered by Bertha Haffner-Ginger on Feb. 13, 1913, featured “Spanish-style” cooking, though she announced at the outset that she was “not going to make the hot dishes such as tortillas, enchiladas, tamales and frijoles.” Instead, she prepared “milder dishes,” including stuffed baked chicken and a salad of avocados (formerly called alligator pears), red cabbage and green chiles.
One year later, on Feb. 14, 1914, it was “Cake Day” at The Times School of Domestic Science. The free public lecture and demonstration taught several hundred students how to mix, bake, ice and decorate with pastry bags so that “a plain loaf cake becomes a thing of beauty.”
“Special classes” of 17 students each also focused on specific lessons. One covered diet and nutrition; another was designed for nurses, explaining cookery for the sick. Held three days a week at The Times beginning in 1913, the small classes provided each student with a stove, work surface and utensils. Ten lessons and a year’s subscription to the paper cost $25; five lessons and a six-month subscription cost $13.50.
Occasionally, Haffner-Ginger would lead groups of students on shopping tours of various local markets and food distributors. Then, back at the Times, she’d demonstrate what to do with the purchases (much as today’s cooking instructors do after visits to fish markets and fresh produce stands).
In her “Spanish-style” class of 1913, Haffner-Ginger called attention to the use of California ingredients, including “Sylmar-brand olive oil from the famous San Fernando olive orchards and the avocados raised in Pasadena, Whittier and other points in Southern California.”
By Feb. 17, 1932, The Times’ cooking school demonstrated “many new and delicious ways to use oranges in cooking.” Clearly, the interest in home-grown ingredients hadn’t waned. In fact, turnout had been one of the largest in recent memory. On Feb. 22, the new director of what was then the Home Service Bureau--Ethel Vance Morse, using the pseudonym Marian Manners--shared results of the class with readers in her weekly “Requested Recipes” column.
“Yes, indeed, the golden orange is versatile,” she wrote. Five days earlier she had prepared orange nut bread, stuffed baked oranges, an orange-ham-noodle ring, orange sponge cake pie and raised orange rolls. Each recipe had been a success, and Manners decided to put the “very popular orange roll” recipe at the top of her column.
Today, we can see why: The rolls are superb. They’re light, fluffy biscuits with a piece of orange baked inside, and they have a delicious orange flavor, enhanced by Manners’ sweet orange butter spread. Serve them for breakfast or as a dessert. They’re sure to become popular all over again.