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Provided by Rocky Mountain Power, Provided by Rocky Mountain Power
In 1920, UP&L's Lulu Bates showed homemakers how to use electric ranges, refrigerators and washing machines.

Back when it was known as Utah Power & Light, Rocky Mountain Power had a group of home economists who taught cooking classes in the community.

Along with the chopping and stirring, they mixed in a generous pinch of advice on how to conserve energy, what to do in a power outage or how to use electrical appliances, such as the food processor or microwave oven.

Home cooks eagerly awaited the latest booklet or calendar filled with new recipes. Being able to sample them was the icing on the cake.

Although the home economist program was discontinued about 20 years ago, the recipes live on in a new "Centennial Cookbook" published by Rocky Mountain Power. More than 600 of the recipes developed and cooked by those home economists are contained in the book, as well as small historical vignettes.

As a child, Margaret Oler went to Utah Power & Light cooking show with her mother. She was so impressed she ended up becoming a UP&L home economist herself, from 1981-91.

Now working in Rocky Mountain Power's external relations department, Oler compiled the recipes for the book from the company's historic booklets and brochures.

The book is being sold for $15 each at the Utah Power Credit Union offices, with the proceeds going toward a foundation for college scholarships. (Utah Power Credit Union locations can be found online at www.utahpowercu.org/contact.html .)

"It was an absolute delight to take a look over the decades and put this book together," Oler said. "I started out as a home economist, and I loved it."

In putting together the collection, "We discovered that the recipes really reflected the era that they came from. For instance, Sacky's Olympus Salad came from the early 1980s, at a time when people were shifting from a lot of canned foods to fresh ingredients such as fresh broccoli, and tastes from other parts of the world."

Another recipe, Cashew Pea Pods, in the late 1980s, reflects how palates were moving from standard meat-and-potatoes to more exotic flavors. Chicken Wellington took advantage of a new convenience product, frozen puff pastry.

Another recipe from the 1940s was a from-scratch cake that used canned sweet cherries.

These programs came from a long tradition. In the 1920s, utility companies began hiring home economists to encourage people to replace their wood-burning stoves with new gas or electric ranges and the old icebox with refrigerators. A 1920 photo in the cookbook shows Lulu Bates demonstrating electric ranges, refrigerators and washing machines.

Later, in the '70s and '80s, the UP&L specialists introduced consumers to the microwave, showing how it could be used for tasks such as roasting potatoes and baking cakes.

As public concern grew for the environment and utility costs, the company put more emphasis on energy conservation, Oler said. Today, instead of cooking shows, the company offers incentives to update old energy-demanding appliances with high-efficiency models.

Here are a couple of recipes from the cookbook:


2 cups rotini pasta

2 bunches broccoli

1/2 cup bottled Italian salad dressing

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon basil leaves

1 4-ounce can sliced olives

1 4-ounce jar diced pimiento

1/2 cup chopped green pepper

1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, rinse with cold water and drain well. Separate broccoli flowerets and chop stalks. Steam broccoli 5-7 minutes until tender-crisp. Drain, plunge into cold water and drain well.

In a small bowl combine dressing with garlic, pepper, salt and basil. In a salad bowl combine pasta, broccoli, olives, pimiento, green pepper. Toss with salad dressing mixture and cheese. Serve cold.

— "Centennial Cookbook," by Rocky Mountain Power


1 tablespoon butter or margarine

2 cups fresh mushrooms, sliced

1/2 cup green onion, chopped

1 6-ounce package frozen pea pods, defrosted and drained

1 8-ounce can sliced water chestnuts, drained

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon sugar

Dash of garlic powder

Dash of ginger

1/2 cup cashews

In fry pan or wok, combine butter, mushrooms and onions. Saute until tender. Stir in pea pods and water chestnuts. Combine soy sauce, cornstarch, sugar and seasoning and add to vegetables. Cook until tender-crisp, stirring often. Mix in cashews and serve. Makes 4 servings.

— "Centennial Cookbook," by Rocky Mountain Power

Valerie Phillips is the former Deseret News food editor and is the author of "Soup's On!" published by Covenant Communications. She blogs at www.chewandchat.blogspot.com. Email: vphillips@desnews.com