Tag Archives: old cookbooks

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.


How to Make Three Big Messes . . .

20 Dec

. . . Out of a smallish one.

At the party on Sunday we needed some extra space for the hot food, so we unloaded what had been the microwave stand, and shoved it out of the kitchen into the dining room. I haven’t needed it a for the microwave since we remodeled the kitchen in 2013, so I’d been using it to store (i.e. pile up) cookbooks. The Squire put them in a carton and stuck it in the laundry room.

I worked at my “temp job” on Monday, so he stacked every thing on the end of the dining room table for me to sort out when I had the chance. Honestly, he was hoping I’d dispose of some of it, but I am genetically unable to toss out any sort of printed matter. Pass it along, Yes. Trash it, NO.

So now, it is spread all over the table. I tried just making stacks of things. I have cook books and pamphlets from the 20s, 30s, and 40s. A book on how to use your new electric icebox. Another on what to serve and how to manage a dinner party if you do not have a maid. Back in the day, Baltimore Gas and Electric used to have two-page giveaways, full of hints and recipes.  (I have several years worth of those, if you’d like some.) Wartime recipes from both my mum and my grandmother. Betty Crocker recipes from the 50s and 60s.  And we won’t even mention the newspaper clippings!

The Wartime booklet is interesting. Hospitality during the war was an important way to enjoy companionship and keep up your spirits, but with butter and sugar – among other things – being rationed, it was tricky. Cakes were made with honey or corn syrup instead of sugar. Mum told me that even wedding receptions during the war were more akin to covered dish suppers than the catered affairs we think of today.

Speaking of newspapers, I found a 32-page Baltimore Sun insert from December, 1973, full of international recipes and stories from Baltimore homemakers. Bavaria, Russia, Poland, Romanian, Venezuelan, Czechoslovakia, Italy, Estonia, and the West Indies. You can gain a couple of pounds just reading this collection. Not just cookies, but meat and vegetable dishes, customs and traditions.

I’ll probably end up piling it all back onto the microwave cart, no further along than when we started.


A Good Summer Dessert

24 Jul

When my Mum died, most of my inheritance consisted of a massive collection of cookbooks that she had inherited from her mother. If you need a recipe from the 20s, 30s, or 40s, I’m your girl. A lot of them are teaching women how to get the most out of their new “electric ice box”.  I’ve often joked that my grandmother could have fed Coxey’s army with a pound of ground beef and a handful of oatmeal – and I know where she found the recipe!

And so, without further ado, I give you . . Ribbon Ice Box Cake. I found this in a booklet featuring “Pet Condensed Milk; Irradiated for extra Vitamin D”. The recipe includes amount for fixing two, four, or six servings, but I always make six. No more trouble to make enough for several meals.

Mix together . . . 2 whole eggs, 1/2 cup powdered sugar, 1/2 cup crushed pineapple, well   drained, and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Save the pineapple juice.

Cook over boiling water for about 4 minutes, or until thickened.  Chill.

Meanwhile, dissolve 1 package orange gelatin in 1 cup boiling water. Add 1/2 cup                pineapple juice, 1-1/2 teaspoons grated orange rind (optional), 1/4 cup powdered sugar, and 1/8 teaspoon salt.

Cool, then add 1/2 cup Pet Milk.  Grease an 8×4 bread pan with Crisco or similar product.  Pam doesn’t work.

Chill until mixture begins to thicken. Beat with a rotary egg beater or and electric mixer until light and fluffy.

Pour half of the gelatin into your prepared pan, and cover with a layer of graham crackers. Top the graham crackers with the pineapple mixture, cover the pineapple with a layer of crackers, and then pour in the rest of the gelatin. Chill until firm.

To serve, run a knife around the edge of the pan, cover with a plate and flip it over.

This is one of The Squire’s favorite desserts.  Enjoy!