Ringtum Diddy AGAIN?

by Robrt L. Pela

My copy of Beth Bailey McLean’s Modern Homemaker’s Cookbook is signed by the author, whom the cover jacket proudly proclaims is the director of Martha Logan Service. Just what exactly that means is as mysterious as is this peculiar recipe, one among many in yet another oddball cookbook from my collection.

Mrs. McLean gives no indication what Ringtum Diddy is (a side dish? an entrée?) or why it has such a peculiar name. I like to imagine a scenario in which a 1940s housewife is seated at her kitchen table, flipping through cookbooks in search of the perfect dish to serve her visiting in-laws. She passes recipes for Veal Surprise Birds and Cheesaroni and arrives at page 129, sits up straighter, and announces to the appliances, “Of course! Ringtum Diddy!”

Ringtum Diddy (which I admit I have a hard time typing, and an even harder time saying aloud) appears to be some kind of sauce. Neither why you’d make it tableside nor what to serve it with once it’s cooked is explained. And as for what its name means? You decide, and let me know.


¼ cup butter 1 cup shredded sharp cheese 1/3 cup flour 1 cup hot milk ¼ teaspoon soda 1 cup tomatoes ½ teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon paprika ½ teaspoon dry mustard Dash of cayenne Crackers or toast

Melt the butter in a heavy skillet (or chafing dish, and make Ringtum Diddy at the table in front of your guests, while someone else tosses the salad). Spread the cheese over the butter. Sprinkle flour over the cheese. Don’t stir. Cover and cook very slowly until cheese melts and bubbles up through the flour, about 10 minutes. Stir in hot milk. Now stir in soda mixed with tomatoes and seasonings. Stir and simmer until blended. Serve generously on crackers or hot toast.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Robrt L. Pela has been a weekly contributor to Phoenix New Times since 1991, primarily as a cultural critic. His radio essays air on National Public Radio affiliate KJZZ's Morning Edition.
Contact: Robrt L. Pela