May 16, 2017
Last week’s plucky Portland cookbooks left me eager for more from the Pacific Northwest. So here’s the first of several books, published between 1896 and 1944, that offer a small taste of early Seattle. Keep in mind that when Clever Cooking was first published in 1896, white settlements were less than 50 years old.
Old cookbooks often show traces of their former owners. But I’ve rarely seen a cookbook as personal as this copy of Clever Cooking, which Mary Packard has written all over.
Here’s a sweet, economically-minded detail:
This rice pudding cream pie (of sorts) looks delicious:
And then the book itself. Here’s a beautiful omelette recipe:
Chop 4 dozen truffles.. Perhaps to be serve alongside the definitively titled…
I find Mrs. Bone’s Kentucky Roll so confusing I almost have to try it:
And last, the original vegan gelatin: sea moss farine was made of the seaweed known as Irish moss or carrageenen.
May 8, 2017
Here’s another cookbook from Portland, Oregon, a 1973 reprint of a 1913 cookbook published by the Portland Woman’s Exchange. As James Beard reminds us in the introduction (Beard was born and raised in Portland), the Woman’s Exchange was a national movement dedicated to providing otherwise unemployed people with a market for their crafts. (When Beard wrote the introduction, the New York Woman’s exchange still existed).
Of the Portland Woman’s exchange, where the pictures below were taken, Beard writes:
I remember it as an old residence on Fifth Street, where it ran a small restaurant and sold excellent food, such as English crumpets and muffins, wonderful cakes, beautiful candies, and other items that could be ordered specially.
This rich (and perplexing) scene features a table-side chaffing dish:
A lovely teaching environment: Many of the book’s recipes have a distinct West Coast flair. I wonder how easy it was to get coconuts in 1913 Portland:
Here’s a mulligatawny-inspired approach to eggs: Mashed potato in cakes:
And this astonishing recipe for bitters gives you a glimpse of an era when sugar was still sold in huge loafs, and housewives mixed up herbal tonics. (The closest thing I can find to Buchn is the “buchu” plant native to South Africa.) In all the early 20th century cookbooks I’ve perused, I’ve never encountered anything quite like this:
Curious about mandrake? This Matt Simon article, about the hallowed root is worth a read. Medieval Europeans believed that mandrake uttered a blistering scream when it was uprooted. (See below.)
And for fun, here’s an old sugarloaf, which fell out of production in the United States in the late 19th century with the rise of granulated sugar. The nips next to it were used to cut it:
May 7, 2017
It’s ramp season – and it won’t last long. Looking for new ways to use the pungent leaves – I’m kind of tired of the ubiquitous ramp pesto – I went to one of my favorite old cookbooks.
Published in 1984 in fairly funky black and white, this is an American classic, filled with real recipes by real people. They offer a number of ways to use ramps.
If you’re planning on foraging for ramps, read this first:
April 28, 2017
I have a great fondness for these early ads for Grape Nuts, which was originally marketed to men with the promise that it would help them “win money and position.” That one little sentence tells us so much about the time.
The cereal, which contains neither grapes nor nuts, was developed in 1897 by C.W. Post, who was a patient (and then a competitor), of Dr. John Harvey Kellogg. It was one of the first commercial products marketed as health food.
Shelf stable, the cereal later became part of the jungle rations issued to soldiers during WW II. It went on, of course, to be used in many other ways – including as part of a classic New England ice cream treat.
Here’s a recipe for Grape Nut bread I found in one of my vintage cookbooks from 1946.
Should you want to make your own, here’s a recipe from Serious Eats: homemade Grape Nuts.
And just because, I can’t wait to try this:
April 24, 2017
Another gem from my bookshelf, more rich southern cuisine, in this case from the Mississippi bayou. Like so many old spiral bound recipe books (this one was published in 1975), Bayou Cuisine was the work of a church group – in this case, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Indianola, Mississippi. Refreshingly, whoever put this cookbook together was conscious of the diverse peoples who contributed to Southern cuisine, and the recipes reflect that. It’s chock full of really interesting entries.
Here’s a trusty looking recipe for one of my favorite southern desserts, chess pie, from Mrs. Charles Graeber. It’s one of those desserts you could almost make a meal of.
And then here’s a classic bourbon ball recipe. (Let these sit a few days before serving so the flavor have a chance to mingle.)
And this slightly insane recipe; I wish I knew what inspired it!
And last, some fascinating (and psychedelic) sauces to slather on roasted meats. I’m guessing they’re vaguely Chinese inspired: