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Word & Web

This Book Holds Sweet Memories

September 16, 2000|MARK CHALON SMITH | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

BOOKS

You don't have to cook to enjoy "Old-Time Brand-Name Desserts" ($13, Smithmark Publishers, 2000). I'm about as familiar with the ways of the kitchen as I am with the rules of cricket, so I naturally slid past all the recipes. What held me were the period illustrations and many historical tidbits that spice Bunny Crumpacker's book.

Crumpacker has dug into the archives for concoctions, pictures and advice from "America's most trusted food makers" between 1875 and 1950. The brands are familiar: Borden's, Del Monte, Hershey, Birds Eye, Knox and Jell-O, among others.

Desserts include Sunkist's "Lemon Pie Unique," Hershey's brownies, Baker's devil's food cake and Davis Baking Powder's apple custard.

The author notes that processed foods were (and still are) the staple of these recipes. That may be contrary to what we see as wholesome today, but housewives back then craved these products for their cooking ease.

Crumpacker also points out rice was first cultivated in China more than 5,500 years ago; oranges were first grown around 4,000 BC; the earliest cheesecake recipe is credited to Cato the Elder, a Roman statesman; and ginger was the first Asian spice to be successfully grown in the Americas, in Jamaica where it was easily exported to the States. And that's just the start of the trivia.

From Bathroom to Oasis

Bathrooms used to be what everyone needed but rarely thought about. That's changed. Bathrooms are now a big priority when it comes to initial designs or renovations, and Andrew Wormer's "The Bathroom Idea Book" ($30, Taunton Books, 2000) taps into that.

Wormer begins by showing what others have done to turn their bathrooms into areas that go beyond utility and right into luxury and opulence. These mini-oases are probably too much (and certainly too costly) for most of us, but the author also offers more down-to-earth suggestions and plans to accomplish them.

THE WEB

A Home That's Comfortable

Honeywell's "health" pages (http://content.honeywell.com /yourhome/health/health _1.htm) are, of course, a commercial for the company. But several features can help make your home safer and more convenient.

There are links on installing security and surveillance systems, with special attention to protecting newborns and small kids. Other areas go into improving indoor and outdoor air quality, drinking water, air-conditioning and heating.

Interesting Orchids

Orchids are hot. "60 Minutes" recently had a segment on this exotic's popularity and several Web sites underscore what amounts to a near-obsession.

There are dozens; here are some of the best: Orchid Mania (http://www .orchids.org), All About Orchids (http://www.theaos.org/orchids/index .shtml), Orchids of California (http://www.orchids.org/ooc/), and the Orchid Photo Page (http://www.orchidworks.com).

* To have a book or Web site considered for this column, send information to: Home Design, The Times' Orange County edition, 1375 Sunflower Ave., Costa Mesa, CA 92626. Mark Chalon Smith can also be reached by e-mail at mark.smith@latimes.com.

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