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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
Delineator. Betty Crocker. be it Lobster. appetizing. As a side dish. groups. Society ladies (yes. but you can still buy her cookbooks today. practiced by career and cookies made from scratch. measurements. from Meat Carving to Canning and Garnishes. Miss Farmer died in 1925 and her School of Cookery closed in 1944. as we spread our omega-3. eye-catching. Housekeeping Institute). 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. this one eventually vanquished its competitor. which no meal could be served without. This book. or Bouchés (pastry shells filled with 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. And as for the salad. a bland mix of overcooked vegetables having little to do with Chinese cooking). Meta Givens created a lovely. A Mockery of Good Food No vintage cookbook is complete without a recipe for Mock something. You can always rely on a vintage cookbook for a good biscuit or brisket recipe (not to 22 . make your food cute! After all. but surely her mother still used her cookbook. f Of course. vitamins and food ways in which one can cook sugar to make candy. 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. try not to feel too impoverished by today’s short list of “normal” foods. 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?).) 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. pop out the center.g Don’t be afraid to add a touch of sugar. was born in 1921 as a fictional food expert who signed all the letters written by the General Mills flour company. mention a Thanksgiving spread). but I imagine these must either be recipes rescued from disaster by the inspiration for a good name. You can even freeze it if you like. 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). Cherry Syrup. were either written by a single chef Institute of Chicago was established. who dedicated themselves to understanding what they of eye-catching. Croquettes (deep-fried creamed or mashed anything). Creamed Frankfurters or Baked Eggs in Tomato Cups. so you can’t go wrong.d Read this edition. streamlined title and attractive illustration of vintage dishes on the cover. of course. appetizing. my most tattered) is The and from the kitchen – but hopefully not at the same time. offers a smart treat for the eyes as well as the stomach. and labor-intensive did. What about Dessert? Get fancy with a Fig Loaf with Plum Sauce or a 1-2-3-4 Cake i. Fanny Farmer was already old-fashioned name by the time our modern homemaker set her Deco kitchen up. you’re making Stuffed Prune Saladh). which created the Delineator Cook Book. not approximate. Or keep it simple with oranges cooked in sugar on a mound of boiled rice with whipped or plain cream on the top. Try to be inspired by the creativity of the happy homemaker. so too are indications of our nation’s to the 1930s. and labor-intensive ways in which Another popular magazine. to solve the question once and for all whether Shrimp oppressive time sink. Rarebit. 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 push a few matchsticks of celery though. to the Delineator Institute. she includes creeds for the Meal Planner. no vintage cookbook review could be without an homage to Fanny Farmer and Betty Crocker. and the multitude wives and mothers. or the Deco-era drive for embellishment expressed through dinner design. Any fruit or vegetable will do. neither Waldorf Salad nor Pot Roast have changed a bit since the days of Deco. including a pass-through to the dining room and a kitchen bookshelf. First published in 1896. but we cannot strictly consider them Deco epicures. not oppressed by the work it takes to slice a carrot. and with which the Culinary Arts Cookbooks then. She was so popular they created a face for her in 1936. Many are available on specialized (Originally published in 1931 by Irma Rombauer. don’t feel you must start with lettuce. cabinet for deliveries that could be opened both from the porch Perhaps my most collectible (but alas. as now. the highly useful general cookbooks. Carrot and Raisin Salad. Get romantic with Snow Pudding or Spanish Cream. but I am a great advocate of science of efficiency was also the homemaker’s top concern. and the multitude of tomato sauce made with bacon. Panfried Tripe k or Peanut Chops l don’t sound appetizing to you. but I can’t help but admire the handsome cakes of domestic science. Chicken or Apple Pie. it laid the groundwork for domestic science with specific. no-nonsense guide to daily menu planning and stretching the food dollar in The Modern Family Cookbook. or Beef Heart. Grape Tapioca. and the Cook that pledge to care for to the family’s health and enjoyment of food as well as its budget. and feel free to mold it in flavored or unflavored gelatin.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. try something ethnic cooking comfort foods like Chicken á la King. Nearly half the recipes in each been known to feud over the 1929 edition of this darling book are for dessert. Popovers and Rice Pudding. promoting emerging standards c We should not on balanced dieting. with its handsome gray cover. the basics of the American Diet have not changed much since the 1930s. If Pork Scrapple j. the Food Shopper. 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. And when you take in the breadth of possibilities like Crab Meat in Cucumber Jelly. Along with menus for a full week of seasonal food for each month of the year. Nearly every cookbook of the era has a section on diet. But no matter what you choose to serve. was surely connected one can cook sugar to make candy. or sponsored by green cover. Where The American Woman’s Cook Book aims to educate the reader on everything it can about food itself. 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”). Deco is about design. from which The American Woman’s Cook Book was originally adapted in 1939. creatively disguise leftovers as Timbales (any starch or vegetable pre-baked in the shape of a cup to hold creamed or mashed anything). mayonnaise and pimiento (unless. And remember. but for a true Deco dinner. but her first cookbook was not published until 1950. the Art Deco Society) have galloping romance with sweets. on the other hand. and some collectors define their collections by region. try serving something that’s fallen out of our culinary lexicon – like Hash. a popular magazine from the late 1800s these charming books. Modern Priscilla Cookbook.themes. if you can ever get your claws Sifting flour always seemed to my feminist mind to be an on it. cookbook. tease yesterday’s celebrity chefs for calling for lard in their recipes. as all of the ingredients are printed in red lettering. and everything surrounding food from How to Measure for the Placement of a Monogram to Packing a School Lunch.
Creative salad recipes from different books include Frozen Cheese Salad. > K. Karrie piece of toasted bread a “Mock Almond” and the cook reading the recipe will get an immediate understanding of its shape. a b f And she tactfully doesn’t ever let on whether these were all the same person or not. “The Cala Lily is only one of the effective designs to be made of edible vegetables. Jellied Pear Salad. 3.. I still have leftovers.Bulk. Sweet Potato Salad and Rockwell Salad. Waverly.” – Modern Priscilla l A french-toast-like dish from the Vegetarian Menu of the American Woman’s Cookbook 24 . I made this for Gatsby this year and it was… well.OldCookbooks. Andes Price Guide to Cookbooks and Recipe Leaflets by Linda J.” c The five classes of food were designated as 1.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. In that case. you might just feel your tummy start to rumble. 3 cups flour. i j k pork cooked in cornmeal.Protein. 2 cups sugar. sliced and fried. g “Sweetbreads” is a lovely euphemism for “brains. Dickinson Collector’s Guide To Cookbooks: Identification & Values (Identification & Values (Collector Books)) (Paperback) by Frank Daniels www.” – Armour and Company. etc. Beet Relish. Norman. BAUMGARDNER.brussels sprouts in chicken ring mold flanked with whole carrots and accents of parsley and pimiento.” “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.Carbohydrates and Fats. I hesitate to give details since this is a respectable article on food.M. “The skewer is one of your most useful allies when using up small pieces of meat. and 5. 2. Md” e 1 cup shortening.” “Design for eating. which is a mixture of tomatoes and bananas served with whipped cream. d Prunes stuffed with Cottage Cheese.” But as you sit there in your sunny Deco kitchen with your percolated coffee. HIBBARD. or a corporation that sounds vaguely familiar.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.com www. 4. Co Where We Had Your 5th Bday Party – (Remember The Sparklers On The Cake?) – rescued By JAN F. 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. at least enjoy the pictures. lost like an armchair epicure in reverie about dinners of days gone by.. – American Woman’s Cookbook.Vitamins. – 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. – Meta Given “Tripe is the inner lining of the first stomach of the beef creature. not a gossip column.Minerals. 4 eggs. mayo and nuts. Design for Eating And if you have no desire to time-travel with your tongue. K.vintagecookbooks. 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. recipe advises saving prune juice to drink after simmering the dried fruit. Most of them are supplied by some official-sounding institute.
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