The Economical Cook Book

24 Feb

I come from a long line of women who might politely be called thrifty. Packrats, perhaps, maybe even hoarders, to be perfectly honest about it. And we all hoard cookbooks! In the midst of the game called “Let’s Pretend We’re Moving” I culled several pounds of cookbooks, inherited from my Mum, my grandmother and my great-grandmother. I sorted them by 1920s and before, 1930s, 40s, and then just more recent books.

The prize of this stash is a 350 page gem with the above name, published in 1905. My great-grandfather, Robert Lindenmeyer, owned a German restaurant in Baltimore until Prohibition put him, and a lot of other folks, out of business. I am of the firm opinion that this book came from the restaurant.  The first two recipes are for oyster stew. Both call for 100 oysters and three pints of “good milk”, plus butter and flour, “rubbed to a paste”. You could have stood a spoon in it!

White potatoes are pared thin, cooked in boiling water to hardly cover them. When they are tender, remove them with a slotted spoon, drop them immediately into ice water to force the heat to the center of the potato, and then return them to the boiling pot to reheat. This method assures them to be mealy and white. My grandmother put a bowl of ice water on the kitchen table and tossed hot potatoes back and forth. It was the only way I knew to cook them, until the Late and Unlamented made such fun of me that I stopped. (He wasn’t worth the trouble, anyway.)

Young green peas should be boiled for half an hour. If full grown allow three quarters of an hour. Asparagus was cooked for 45 minutes to an hour! You didn’t necessarily need a knife and fork as much as a straw.

Here is a Springtime Bill of Fare for a family of five or six:

First course: Green-pea soup

Second course: Baked Shad

Third Course: Roast Lamb with mint sauce. Green Peas, Asparagus, Potatoes, Sliced   Tomatoes

Fourth course: Lobster Salad

Dessert: Rhubarb Tart and Boiled Custard.

And quietly roll away from the table.


7 Responses to “The Economical Cook Book”

  1. tiggerlyss February 24, 2020 at 9:50 pm #

    My mom grew up during the depression and continued to live like she was in the depression. This helped her live through my father’s lack of funds from alcoholism. I have learned from her how to not waste anything. I have worked hard on eliminating packratitis.

    • thisendoftheswamp February 24, 2020 at 10:40 pm #

      My grandmother lived through two World Wars and the Depression, and Mum was born in 1921, and the Depression hit when she was eight. Honestly, I do carry over some of that, um, thriftiness, but I wouldn’t have made it if I hadn’t.

  2. Alien Resort February 24, 2020 at 10:26 pm #

    The dinner sounds good but you would need considerable practice to learn those processes.

    • thisendoftheswamp February 24, 2020 at 10:43 pm #

      This cookbook is old enough that the recipes are fairly vague to start with, and baking with a wood or coal burning stove would have been a real challenge. One particular recipe tells you to garnish a meal with crisp bacon: “brown it well and throw it all around”. Not sprinkle it over the dish, just throw it around.

      • Alien Resort February 24, 2020 at 10:53 pm #

        It would require trial and error.

  3. Stephanie L. Robertson March 9, 2020 at 7:17 pm #

    Yummmmm! Although, I can’t imagine baking in 100 oysters, oyster stew sounds good for tonight.

    • thisendoftheswamp April 11, 2020 at 9:55 pm #

      It’s good to “see” you again! How are things in Alabama?

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