Recipes for Vintage Books and Magazines

Looking Backward: New York, 1948

February 16, 2017


When I’m in need of escape, I often troll through my collection of vintage restaurant guides.  Today I’m taking a little journey through Lawton Mitchell’s Knife and Fork in New York. 

It was 1948. Jackie Robinson had just broken into the major leagues. The subway carried two billion riders every year. And on Broadway, Marlon Brando was starring in A Streetcar Named Desire.

When the show was over, people might stop in for a bite at El Borracho:IMG_0647

Where they were sure to grab a few of these (in those days everybody smoked).images-1images-2

Beforehand, they might opt for a little tidbit at everybody’s favorite deli (topped off, of course, with a piece of strawberry cheesecake):



In the mood for something unusual? There was always the possibility of the exotic tortilla.  Note the pencilled in prices!




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First Lady

February 4, 2017

Where’s Melania?

Isn’t it strange that she turns out to be the least likely First Lady in history to opt out of the traditional role?  For much of American history brilliant and successful women (think Eleanor, Hillary and Michelle) have resigned themselves to being the power behind the throne, becoming Everybody’s Mom for the duration.

Suddenly we have a woman with no career to give up, simply opting out of the role and declaring independence. One more paradox of the Trump era. It’s going to be fascinating to watch.

What would a traditional First Lady be doing right now?  Giving tours of the white house, taking charge of  official entertaining, redecorating the family quarters, choosing a new chef and deciding which plates to use at state dinners.

Not to mention presiding over the upcoming Easter Egg Roll, which draws some 35,000 people. The tradition dates to the 1870s and Rutherford B. Hayes. Legend has it that when a group of egg-rolling children were shooed away from a neighboring lawn, he invited them to come to the White House on the following morning. When the guards opened the gates, the children had multiplied.

Here’s a picture of the roll during the JFK years from “Entertaining in the White House.” IMG_0590


This one’s undated: IMG_0588

And while we’re talking White House rolls, I couldn’t miss the opportunity to share this rather strange recipe from Lou Henry Hoover:




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When the White House Kept Cows

February 2, 2017

9b959ff43cf84714a59553ac13b324c9President William Howard Taft (seen here in The Philippines) was undoubtably one of the most spectacular eaters to ever live in the White House. At 335 pounds, he was also the largest. Though he lamented his weight (and even kept a food journal in an attempt to slim down), he never outran his lust for the delicious.  Rumor has it that once, in desperate need of a midnight snack, he had a diner car attached to his train in the middle of the night.

Taft’s white house cook was primarily a grill master: Taft desired steak three times a day. (This was, after all, in the days when men routinely consumed five pounds of meat at grand Beefsteak dinners.)

Taft’s breakfast? A 12-oz steak, two oranges, toast, and copious amounts of coffee. Lunch was more steak, lobster Newberg, potatoes, pates, boiled vegetables, bonbons and pie. Dinner was a repeat, except that Taft doubled down, eating twice as much –  and almost always began the meal with turtle soup.

To satisfy the family appetite, First Lady Helen Taft kept several pet cows to supply fresh milk. Meet Pauline Wayne, a champion milk cow, standing in front of what’s now the Eisenhower Executive building.


And here are some puckish workers, demonstrating the impressive capacity of the president’s custom-made bathtub: taft_bathtub

And finally this absurd account of Taft being served one of his favorite dishes.




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More from Ike the Cook

January 31, 2017

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Can’t help it; in these fraught times, the notion of a President and General who loved to cook is so appealing that I keep going back to the book.  Here’s the President, at Camp David, making breakfast for the staff.

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Ike obviously liked cooking for crowds; the following recipe feeds sixty. I love the straightforward quality of the ingredients; note that it calls for a roux made with marrow bone fat.

FullSizeRender (19)Turns out that Ike didn’t just cook; he was also a rancher and gardener.  Here’s Mamie in the corn.

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A few more of Ike’s no-nonsense recipes:

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Ike in an Apron: The President Who Cooked

January 30, 2017

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My family were never friends of Ike; we were Adlai people all the way.  Still, from where we now sit, the man looks like a saint.  Turns out he did more than issue a warning about the military-industrial complex; in a time when real men wore no aprons, Ike did all the family cooking. He’s looking better all the time!

This is from Ike The Cook. I found a copy on my bookshelf, but if you want one, you can find it here.

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Here’s Ike and Mamie on their wedding day – a surprising picture since you’re used to seeing them only as grandparents.  Who knew they were both so beautiful!

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Here are a few of Ike’s favorite recipes:

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And because I can’t resist, here’s Ike in his apron.


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