The True Meaning of Grace and Charm

March 31, 2016

IMG_5134If you ever find yourself in an upstate New York used bookstore hunting down old recipes, you’ll be forgiven for missing this book. That frou frou flower on the jacket does not exactly  telegraph food.

I’m so glad I gave it a chance. On the first page we discover that this purported etiquette book, published in 1946,  is in fact a product of the Westmorland Sterling Division of the Aluminum Cooking Utensil Co., of New Kensington, Pennsylvania. Its author: Nancy Prentiss, Director, Westmorland Sterling Advisory Service.

Here she is:IMG_5135

Her noble mission:


And now for the food. (We’ll talk silverware tomorrow.) Here are a few casual menu ideas for occasions large and small:IMG_5142


But the “Round the World Menus” were what most fascinated me. Would the (suburban, white) readers of this manual know what a preserved egg was? Or where to buy birds nests. And where would they ever find the manioc to make farofa? Amazing!IMG_5141




A Few Vintage Gems…..

March 30, 2016


When I picked this up I focused on the title – and completely missed the subtitle. So I was surprised (and I’ll admit a bit disappointed), to open up this 1961 book and discover that the “famous kitchens” were the likes of Dow Chemical (owners of sponsor Saran Wrap), Seven-Up, General Mills, etc.

Inside I found, among other things, the single least appealing recipe I’ve ever read. And here it is:

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That is saute or broil – as if these little hockey pucks weren’t going to be tough enough!

And then there’s this little gem:

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This recipe is slightly more appealing… although I cannot, for the life of me, figure out what that bottle of soda is doing in with the shrimp.



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A Few Perfect Recipes for this Chilly Day

March 28, 2016

Was planning on making a boeuf bourguignon – and then I happened on this recipe in the February, 1978 issue of Gourmet. I love the name – it’s so evocative – and I realized it’s been a long time since I made a beef carbonnade.  So I’ve changed my mind; today’s stew will be made with beer, not wine.  I can hardly wait to start.

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Flipping through the pages of the issue, I came upon this anchovy souffle, which also piqued my interest.  I love the idea of that smoked cod roe sauce, and I just happen to have some Japanese mentaiko in the freezer. Should work perfectly.

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And then there’s this fascinating soup; don’t you love the idea of adding that split of Champagne?

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Finally, because this issue is almost forty years old, I couldn’t resist this ad.  Isn’t it nice to know that some things don’t change?  This “Food Preparer” looks exactly like the one sitting on my kitchen counter right this minute. Except mine is red.

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Looking Backward: Eighties Multi Culti

March 27, 2016

IMG_5098The Minnesota Heritage Cookbook, which practically waved at me from my bookcase this morning, is a beautifully earnest expression of mid-eighties high multiculturalism. Not to mention a fascinating look at changing immigration patterns.IMG_5088As I flipped through the pages, beguiling breakfast bread after beguiling breakfast bread begged to be considered. But it was these savory dishes – and a very strange pudding – that caused me to linger. (If you’re making the curry, add the fresh coriander or parsley to the onions and garlic, not the spices.  It’s strangely out of order. And cut way back on that oil; one cup is ridiculous.)

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