Can-Opener Cookbook

February 5, 2016

FullSizeRender-3Remember when can openers were dangerous?  The cover of my mother’s favorite cookbook reminded me how scary these ancient objects used to be.

My mother treasured Poppy Cannon’s Can Opener Cookbook, which was first published in 1951.  Mom bragged that she could “have dinner on the table in less than ten minutes.” No wonder, with dishes like this one.


Poppy Cannon, incidentally, was a fascinating character.  I’m amazed that nobody’s done a movie about her life. Born Lillian Gruskin in South Africa, she was constantly reinventing herself. She had a long affair with Walter White, head of the NAACP, and when they finally married the interracial union was considered so scandalous he tried to resign from his job.

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  • Judith says:

    Very odd that you need two separate saucepans and a casserole dish. I think I’d put the cold stuff in the casserole and bake. Were the directions meant to seem like the cook was a tally cooking? I love this post.

  • vicki abbott says:

    I cooked from that book as a very young bride with NO cooking experience or mother who had shared her cooking secrets. It was a lifesaver for me because the results were so bad that my husband took over the cooking duties. And he was a natural born cook who enjoyed doing it and I never had to cook after that.

  • Tom Steele says:

    I raise an eyebrow–sometimes both eyebrows–when a recipe includes anything canned, or when it tells you to “dot with butter.”

  • Joy Kramer says:

    Love the comments as much as Ruth’s message. That lower can opener from the book is, indeed, dangerous looking. This reminded me of the screw off strips on coffee cans that had a key that you rolled off that very sharp metal strip. Amazingly, I don’t recall ever cutting myself. Other things had those strips, too. They make things so safe for us these days… And I’d like to read about Poppy Cannon, is there a book?

  • Joy Kramer says:

    P.S. Poppy Cannon’s death was quite dramatic! She fell from the 23rd floor balcony of her apartment!

  • Tina Strong says:

    Remembering my mother’s (very tasty) enchiladas made with canned corn tortillas in my early 1960s childhood. The tortillas were thick, slightly rubbery and rolled without tearing after reconstitution in a hot chicken broth bath. Note: her chicken à la king was from scratch and I occasionally recreate it today.

  • Don Martin says:

    Ruth–Tonight I made Rabbit with Mustard Sauce from your 2004 Gourmet Cookbook and realized I needed to write and tell you how much I have loved you for so many years. I’ve read and loved all your books and most of your articles. I grew up on canned macaroni and chicken, and they have their place. But that rabbit was heaven. There is nothing like good ingredients and an excellent recipe. A Canadian fan.

    • Scott says:

      Poppy Cannon didn’t fall from her balcony as Wikipedia says. She suffered from depression and jumped. She was the editor of Alice B Toklas’ cookbook that included marijuana brownies, although it was not published with that recipe in the US edition.