Cooking Up a Little Nostalgia as Gifts, Dinner for Holidays

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), December 10, 2014 | Go to article overview

Cooking Up a Little Nostalgia as Gifts, Dinner for Holidays


I'm a wee bit too young to be considered a "Boomer," so I didn't use a Toas-Tite growing up, but that hasn't stopped me from becoming infatuated with this old-timey sandwich maker that has been brought back to life by a couple of graduates from Hersey High School in Arlington Heights.

Growing up in Mount Prospect, sisters Jan Feigenbaum and Sue Caldwell enjoyed warm gooey sealed-crust cheese sandwiches their mother made on the Toas-Tite maker. The cast-aluminum cooking gadget was popular from the mid 1940s to early 1950s and disappeared from the market in 1953.

After spotting an original Toas-Tite at a yard sale, Sue, who now lives in Hoffman Estates, and Jan, who lives in Long Island, New York, decided a new generation needed to experience original "hot pocket" sandwiches.

After trying one out myself, I can see why Bed, Bath & Beyond has these stocked for holiday gift-giving. Toas-Tite costs $29.95 and appeals to the Boomer generation and anyone who loves fun cooking gadgets.

The vintage-styled box and instructions include recipes for pies and savory snacks, but for my first sandwiches I went with old-school toasted cheese. Keep in mind that the Toas-Tite must be "seasoned" with cooking oil before its first use, and make sure to coat the inside with cooking spray (or better yet spread butter over the bread) for easy release. Resist the temptation to let the filling ooze out the sides or you'll have a gooey mess on your stove top. My second Toas-Tite session included heated breakfast sausages and cheese and I'm plotting grilled PB&Js (no peanut butter dripping out the sides) and chicken and cheese "quesadillas" for my next experiments.

Making memories: Remember that cake your mom and grandma used to make every Christmas? What was that called again? Don't let that memory melt away. Capture it in "Cooking up Memories," a culinary journal.

The hardcover book ($19.95) is meant to be presented to a beloved cook in your life and opens with "These are some of the wonderful things I remember you making. Please will you include the recipe for these within this collection as well as others you think I will like ..."

Entries prompt the receiver to write about how she/he learned to cook, favorite meals and mealtime memories and the like. It's not meant to be work, but a delicious stroll down memory lane. Pages at the back are set aside for recipes. …

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Cooking Up a Little Nostalgia as Gifts, Dinner for Holidays
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