Roll Out a Barrel of Hay
July 28, 2016
So many vintage cookbook authors believed deeply in industrialized food. To cooks of the thirties and forties, the promise of convenience products was extremely beguiling. It made for some good recipe writing. See here and in the extreme, here.
Which is why this recipe for a classic clambake from Ruth Berolzheimer’s United States Regional Cook Book, (published in 1949), is so appealing. There are no corners cut here; this will take all day. And before you begin, make sure you have a wheelbarrow of seaweed or hay on hand. (Not to mention an army of small children.)
One more thing: these real salt codfish recipes. When’s the last time you found dried salt cod in a New Englander’s larder?
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My grandmother made codfish balls, as we called them, very similar in ingredients to the codfish cakes above. We used salt cod in a wooden box and it had to be de-salted a bit before using. I loved those codfish balls. Turns out my sister hated them but loved the cornmeal cakes, which I hated. Had we known, we would have traded them (very carefully–we had to clean our plates back then). I love old cookbooks and have some that I hope in time will go to another cookbook lover. Some have great illustrations. Thanks for this article, Ruth.
P.S. I see that it does say to rinse the salt out, and I also had creamed codfish. Very yummy, I thought, and I was a kid, so if I kid loves it, it must be good. We had it over boiled potatoes.
My mom got this book as a wedding present in 1941. It was the only cookbook we had while growing up, and I kept it after she passed away. I remember making a number of the cookies and the pecan pralines, which seemed so exotic to us in California. My edition says copyrighted in 1939 and 1940.