Thursday, May 19, 2011

Meals for Small Families

My bestest friend Diane picked up this little gem for me yesterday.

It was published in 1929 by Laidlaw Brothers Publishers, Chicago. I love the black and white illustrations, and the insight into kitchens of the era it provides. Check out the inside front cover:

Here's the table of contents, complete with a magazine ad pasted in over the copyright page. The Pillsbury ad contains a recipe for "Eatmor Cranberry-Apple Pie" (sic), complete with a politically incorrect picture of a musket-toting cherry-tomato pilgrim chasing a turkey:

Here's the title page:

I'm not sure what sort of dancing thing this is. Perhaps a tomato?

This recipe for Canadian Christmas Cake contains 6 cups of flour, 12 eggs, and more than 18 cups of fruit and nuts. Wonder what the quantities would be if the cookbook was aimed at large families?

One of the reasons I love old cookbooks is that they let you peek into the kitchens of their era. For example, in this book, many recipes call for washing the butter. A quick Googling disclosed the process. Click here if you'd like to learn how to wash your own butter, Fannie Farmer style circa 1918.

The introduction to the Cereals chapter reads as follows:
"Cooked cereals occupy an important food position on the average daily menu. These may be cold or hot. They make a good breakfast dish, easily prepared.

To be tasty and digestible, long cooking is required, averaging from 45 minutes to 3 hours in a double boiler, a fireless- or pressure-cooker. The cereal is easily prepared during the process of getting dinner. In cold weather the boiler can be set on the radiator and allowed to remain all night. This offers a very excellent form of long-time, slow cooking. In the morning, a few minutes will be sufficient to reheat the food."
The first recipe in this section is for Cream of Wheat, which specifies that you allow at least 45 minutes for cooking! Cornmeal mush and oatmeal should be cooked for 3 hours, and rice for 1 hour!

The Introduction to the Desserts chapter is also interesting. Looks like refrigerators were just becoming mainstream:
"With the modern iceless ice box maintaining an even temperature at all hours the dessert problem has been practically solved. Many concoctions are easily made in the freezing trays with a minimum amount of trouble and it is economy to make a desert sufficient for two meals when it can be kept in perfect condition. This saves both time and fuel.

Today, it is possible for a hostess to prepare most of a meal hours in advance of its actual serving. When preparing the dinner tonight she also can do much towards the actual preparation of dinner for tomorrow through the medium of the ice box."
I'm still going through this little treasure of a book, and will post a few special recipes from it over the next few days. Come back for more!


  1. Your grandma once said the hardest thing she had to do after all of us kids left home was to learn to cook for just two !! Dad

  2. I think that dancing critter might be a Dutch oven.(Handles for ears)Cyndi