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o P h i s T i c AT e
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No collector of Deco memorabilia, or for that matter, no collector of cookbooks, should be without at least one.
the Deco Diet
THE VIRTUES OF VINTAGE COOKBOOKS
by Kristen Caven
Books shown from the cookbook collections of Kristen Caven and ??
The sparkling Deco Kitchen has become a design icon, with its cheerful colors and streamlined chrome appliances. But a kitchen is about more than its design. Put a glass of sunny, fresh-squeezed orange juice on a floral-patterned tablecloth, and imagine the smells of percolated coffee, fragrant fruit pies and sizzling onions to evoke the aproned person who made it her domain: the homemaker. In today’s busy world we rarely have time to bake from scratch, but we can gain a real appreciation for housewives of the past by spending a few moments (at a sunny table with a cup of percolated coffee, of course) wandering through a vintage cookbook.
were real. They had budgets to work with and mouths to feed. They had to squeeze every ounce of nutrition out of the food they served. Furthermore, they had to satisfy their inner creative urges while stuck in the kitchen all day. They knew the value of pot-liquor a and weren’t afraid to pour it over ice and call it a cocktail.
The Darker Side of Dinner at Eight
Flipping through these pages makes one realize what we have lost with our twentieth-century, saran-wrapped sensibilities. Even those with an open-minded palate may wince at the idea of roast squirrel or sweetbreads.b In the wonderful convenience we enjoy of simple, pre-packaged, international gourmet cooking from Trader Joe’s, we’ve lost sight of the darker side of dinner at eight. “Choose rabbits with soft ears and paws…” says Meta Given in The Modern Family Cookbook (1942), but she’s not talking about a trip to the pet store; “…stiffness is a sign of age.” Cooks of the Depression era could not afford to be squeamish. They took advantage daily of everything available to them, be it “Meat Sundries” or seasonal produce you never see at Safeway – like rutabagas, cress, and salsify. They used every part of a creature or vegetable, and made it look lovely when it came to the table. Even the ubiquitous gelatin with which they molded, or in earlier books, “jellied” everything from the soup to the nuts, comes from the broth of bones – and brings health to the body. As the world’s interest in science grew, new materials made modern life more convenient and stylish. And so grew the field
A Pot-Liquor Cocktail
No collector of Deco memorabilia, or for that matter, no collector of cookbooks, should be without at least one. A decade ago, gift books like Cakes Men Like and Helpful Hints for Housewives poked fun at happy homemakers of the past, piquing pop-culture interest with kitschy recipes like “Pork Cake,” and clever ideas like “Lemons for Loveliness.” But delightful reprints of promotional pamphlets are no substitute for the meat-and-potatoes heft of a well-loved cookbook. Even if you never open it up, a vintage cookbook can add a touch of authenticity and charm to a kitchen vignette, but take a moment to crack those musty, deckle-edged pages and you will find resources you never knew you needed: “Uses of Stale Breads;” “How to Care for Fats;” “How to Get Cooperation from the Family;” “How to Entertain Without a Maid.” Oh, it all seems funny to us now, but the concerns of Deco Housewives
She was so popular they created a face for her in 1936. and everything surrounding food from How to Measure for the Placement of a Monogram to Packing a School Lunch. neither Waldorf Salad nor Pot Roast have changed a bit since the days of Deco. f Of course. be it Lobster. Chicken or Apple Pie. to the Delineator Institute. Where The American Woman’s Cook Book aims to educate the reader on everything it can about food itself. Fanny Farmer was already old-fashioned name by the time our modern homemaker set her Deco kitchen up.) For years I have tried in vain to convince him not to inscribe each one in pene…but he at least has his heart in the right place in preserving the many stories of the past – including his own. Meta Givens created a lovely. or sponsored by green cover. not approximate. who dedicated themselves to understanding what they of eye-catching. Creamed Frankfurters or Baked Eggs in Tomato Cups. but for a true Deco dinner. of course. try something ethnic cooking comfort foods like Chicken á la King. as we spread our omega-3. Along with menus for a full week of seasonal food for each month of the year. from which The American Woman’s Cook Book was originally adapted in 1939. and feel free to mold it in flavored or unflavored gelatin. a popular magazine from the late 1800s these charming books. and push a few matchsticks of celery though. Panfried Tripe k or Peanut Chops l don’t sound appetizing to you. promoting emerging standards c We should not on balanced dieting. A Mockery of Good Food No vintage cookbook is complete without a recipe for Mock something. One wonders at the need for faking such things when other foods are perfectly delicious (Would you believe Modern Priscilla’s Mock Duck is made of flank steak?). a bland mix of overcooked vegetables having little to do with Chinese cooking). Croquettes (deep-fried creamed or mashed anything).g Don’t be afraid to add a touch of sugar. with its handsome gray cover. Society ladies (yes. First published in 1896. on the other hand. was born in 1921 as a fictional food expert who signed all the letters written by the General Mills flour company. pop out the center. were either written by a single chef Institute of Chicago was established. Or keep it simple with oranges cooked in sugar on a mound of boiled rice with whipped or plain cream on the top. she includes creeds for the Meal Planner. Rarebit. Popovers and Rice Pudding. cookbook. appetizing. Grape Tapioca. Deco is about design.themes. cabinet for deliveries that could be opened both from the porch Perhaps my most collectible (but alas. the Food Shopper. Nearly half the recipes in each been known to feud over the 1929 edition of this darling book are for dessert. Get romantic with Snow Pudding or Spanish Cream. the highly useful general cookbooks. You can even freeze it if you like. was surely connected one can cook sugar to make candy. the Art Deco Society) have galloping romance with sweets. Betty Crocker. vitamins and food ways in which one can cook sugar to make candy. and the multitude wives and mothers. as all of the ingredients are printed in red lettering. And as for the salad. you’re making Stuffed Prune Saladh). My father buys every with good enough credentials to put their names on the covers copy he can find of this three-inch thick book with the dark (like Amy Vanderbilt or Prudence Penny). but I can’t help but admire the handsome Wiggle is a gelatin mold made with shrimp and avocados or a cakes and cookies made from scratch. And when you take in the breadth of possibilities like Crab Meat in Cucumber Jelly. not oppressed by the work it takes to slice a carrot. but I am a great advocate of science of efficiency was also the homemaker’s top concern. try not to feel too impoverished by today’s short list of “normal” foods. if you can ever get your claws Sifting flour always seemed to my feminist mind to be an on it. Delineator. the all-purpose artifacts Many books provided a floor plan for an efficient kitchen of American appetites that I am lucky enough to have on my layout. as now.T h e s o P h i s T i c AT e An n uA l 2005 frankfurte creamed rs crab meat in cucumber jelly gr a p e ta p io ca Sifting flour always seemed to my feminist mind to be an oppressive time sink. Nearly every cookbook of the era has a section on diet. don’t feel you must start with lettuce. it laid the groundwork for domestic science with specific. but you can still buy her cookbooks today. creatively disguise leftovers as Timbales (any starch or vegetable pre-baked in the shape of a cup to hold creamed or mashed anything). which was a gift for subscribers Just as the roots of our norms for nutrition are recognizable in to Modern Priscilla. Modern Priscilla Cookbook. try serving something that’s fallen out of our culinary lexicon – like Hash. and the Cook that pledge to care for to the family’s health and enjoyment of food as well as its budget. Try to be inspired by the creativity of the happy homemaker. eye-catching. no-nonsense guide to daily menu planning and stretching the food dollar in The Modern Family Cookbook. This book. Any fruit or vegetable will do. Many are available on specialized (Originally published in 1931 by Irma Rombauer. but we cannot strictly consider them Deco epicures. mayonnaise and pimiento (unless. the basics of the American Diet have not changed much since the 1930s. Call a cut 23 Artifacts of American Appetites Time Travel with your Tongue Underneath our modern multicultural influences (the only “ethnic” recipe you’ll ever see in these cookbooks is Chop Suey. or Beef Heart. my most tattered) is The and from the kitchen – but hopefully not at the same time. If Pork Scrapple j. And remember. appetizing. Housekeeping Institute).d Read this edition. or the Deco-era drive for embellishment expressed through dinner design. Miss Farmer died in 1925 and her School of Cookery closed in 1944. and some collectors define their collections by region. from Meat Carving to Canning and Garnishes. Carrot and Raisin Salad. measurements. streamlined title and attractive illustration of vintage dishes on the cover. or Bouchés (pastry shells filled with creamed or mashed anything). enhanced vegetable spread on toast we should appreciate how Pamphlets and leaflets are also delightful to collect (my prize much they knew about the proper digestion of starches! The is called “Meat and Romance”). so too are indications of our nation’s to the 1930s. and with which the Culinary Arts Cookbooks then. practiced by career and cookies made from scratch. as it makes such a down-to-earth counterpart to an organization (such as Piggly Wiggly grocery or the Good any modern version of the gender-neutral Joy of Cooking. but I can’t help but admire the handsome cakes of domestic science. but her first cookbook was not published until 1950. but surely her mother still used her cookbook. Cherry Syrup. As a side dish. but I imagine these must either be recipes rescued from disaster by the inspiration for a good name. make your food cute! After all. and labor-intensive ways in which Another popular magazine. groups. no vintage cookbook review could be without an homage to Fanny Farmer and Betty Crocker. so you can’t go wrong. including a pass-through to the dining room and a kitchen bookshelf. and labor-intensive did. this one eventually vanquished its competitor. to solve the question once and for all whether Shrimp oppressive time sink. But no matter what you choose to serve. and the multitude of tomato sauce made with bacon. What about Dessert? Get fancy with a Fig Loaf with Plum Sauce or a 1-2-3-4 Cake i. offers a smart treat for the eyes as well as the stomach. mention a Thanksgiving spread). tease yesterday’s celebrity chefs for calling for lard in their recipes. which no meal could be served without. You can always rely on a vintage cookbook for a good biscuit or brisket recipe (not to 22 . which created the Delineator Cook Book.
Protein. – American Woman’s Cookbook. I made this for Gatsby this year and it was… well. Most of them are supplied by some official-sounding institute. not a gossip column. a b f And she tactfully doesn’t ever let on whether these were all the same person or not.Minerals. Mo – Who Clerked In A Kansas City Dept Store In The 30’s & 40’s And Probably Ended Up In Frasier Meadows [Psych Ward] @ Boulder – Whose Stuff Was Donated To The School – Same Book Used By The Taylors At The Lamp-post Restaurant In Boulder. 4 eggs.T h e s o P h i s T i c AT e OTHER RESOURCES Vintage Cookbooks and Advertising Leaflets (Paperback) by Sandra J. In that case. and 5. K. mayo and nuts.M. d Prunes stuffed with Cottage Cheese. 4. Md” e 1 cup shortening. or a corporation that sounds vaguely familiar. i j k pork cooked in cornmeal. – Meta Given (Perhaps in beveled barware over ice?) h “From A Great Collection Of Cookbooks Thrown In The Dumpster @ Burke Elementary School – Boulder Colo 2004 – MRS. BAUMGARDNER. remember the most important lesson any of these books have to teach us: it’s just as easy to cook oatmeal from scratch as from a package – and there’s nothing to throw away afterwards.” But as you sit there in your sunny Deco kitchen with your percolated coffee.Bulk. 3 cups flour.” c The five classes of food were designated as 1.com www. you might just feel your tummy start to rumble. HIBBARD. Waverly. recipe advises saving prune juice to drink after simmering the dried fruit. Dickinson Collector’s Guide To Cookbooks: Identification & Values (Identification & Values (Collector Books)) (Paperback) by Frank Daniels www. 2 cups sugar. I hesitate to give details since this is a respectable article on food.Vitamins. Sweet Potato Salad and Rockwell Salad. – Meta Given “Tripe is the inner lining of the first stomach of the beef creature. at least enjoy the pictures. Norman.OldCookbooks. etc.. Jellied Pear Salad.Carbohydrates and Fats. Co Where We Had Your 5th Bday Party – (Remember The Sparklers On The Cake?) – rescued By JAN F.com ( FOOTNOTES ) Pot-liquor is the vitamin-rich water left over after cooking vegetables or grains. and all of them have catchy quotes that could almost come out of a fortune cookie. “The skewer is one of your most useful allies when using up small pieces of meat. Karrie piece of toasted bread a “Mock Almond” and the cook reading the recipe will get an immediate understanding of its shape. Creative salad recipes from different books include Frozen Cheese Salad. “The Cala Lily is only one of the effective designs to be made of edible vegetables. Design for Eating And if you have no desire to time-travel with your tongue.brussels sprouts in chicken ring mold flanked with whole carrots and accents of parsley and pimiento. which is a mixture of tomatoes and bananas served with whipped cream.” – Modern Priscilla l A french-toast-like dish from the Vegetarian Menu of the American Woman’s Cookbook 24 . 3. > K. g “Sweetbreads” is a lovely euphemism for “brains. sliced and fried.” “Modern Milk Products add greatly to the success of making creamy thick soups” – Irradiated Evaporated Milk Institute “The lordly lobster is still the aristocrat of the festive occasion. Beet Relish. Andes Price Guide to Cookbooks and Recipe Leaflets by Linda J. lost like an armchair epicure in reverie about dinners of days gone by. I still have leftovers.” – Armour and Company.. 2.vintagecookbooks.” “Design for eating.
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