In memoriam

I lost a very dear loved one this week. He was a good cook, and he loved to cook. Another loved one straightening the kitchen of his ailing widow found a little stack of recipes that he had chosen and set aside to make for his loved ones when his last, quick illness called him away.

May we all be lucky enough to be busy choosing and making delicious treats for our loved ones to the last.

Romaine with Amazing Avocado Salad

Mash a bit in a mixing bowl
  1 avocado

Put on top
  a little minced onion
  about 1.5 tsp white wine vinegar
  about 1.5 tsp lemon juice
Let it sit for a few minutes while you clean and place onto individual serving plates
  about 1/2 Romaine lettuce -- or another not-super-flavorful lettuce

Mix in a little bowl and set aside
  at least 1 tbl lemon juice
  about 1 tsp maple syrup
  1 to 1.5 tbl olive oil
  salt to taste

Then stir into the avocado mixture
  1/4 preserved lemon, diced (I love the recipe in the new cookbook by Alice Waters, My Pantry! except I add saffron to it)
  1 tbl olive oil
  at least 2 tbl fresh basil cut or torn up
  nice salt to taste
  whole-milk yogurt to make it a nice texture, up to about 6 tbl

Then put the avocado mixture on top of the lettuce, mostly in the middle for looks.
Pour over the vinaigrette, especially over the lettuce.
Sprinkle over top
  1/4 cup salted roasted pistachios

Much adapted from Young Lettuces with Herbed Avocado in Bon Appetit magazine; they point out very rightly that this recipe takes care of the problem if all you can find is somewhat tasteless lettuce at the market!

Come into the Kitchen, 1930?

This cookbooklet was, as they say, well-loved, and my copy is missing its cover; this cover is from the American version rather than the Canadian one I have. (Mine only features testimonials from ladies in Canada.) (You can get the American version free at !)

I enjoyed the 1920s-style portrayals of life in North America. I date it by the fact that they spoke of how a survey was made in 1929 that proved it was a wonderful product to a lot of people; the introductory remarks below sound like the nice illustrations were consciously retro even in those days.


The below comments about the dooms of not taking this "compound" are quite alarming to the poor consumer. Were many girls unable to attend school regularly??
 I used to enjoy a bar-cookie-type dessert like this when I was a child, quite possibly made by my great-grandmother; I should try this or a similar recipe...

Generous hospitality

Patrick Leigh Fermor in his Mani: Travels in the Southern Peloponnese, 1958:

A glass [is] put between his fingers and a slice of roast lamb offered on a fork or a broad leaf...[There is a] remarkable...individual care of [visitors]....It is the dislocation of an entire household at a moment's notice that arouses astonishment. All is performed with simplicity and lack of fuss and prompted by a kindness so unfeigned that it invests the most ramshackle hut with magnificence and style.

 A picture of one of the remarkable settlements in the same region, from a Greek travel site, (note I've never used their services):

Best Chocolate and Cocoa Recipes, 1931.

This is so lovely, including some lovely stories and cultural references...

 the back cover...

We still get Baker's chocolate in the USA, but not in all these varieties, nor with such charming illustrations....

A wonderful harvest-time idea from Europe

I'm told there is a tradition in the Italian Alps (though hmm it also sounds very German) called Torgellen where people walk to various cooperating farms and wineries to enjoy the harvest -- that sounds like an interesting way to celebrate harvest time....If anyone knows about it, it would be nice to hear....

Jane Ashley's Newest Recipes for Better Meals, 1952.

This large booklet was sold to people who used corn products from a certain manufacturer: corn syrup, corn starch (including for laundry apparently), and a line of corn-starch-thickened puddings of which I've never heard, Kre-Mel.

I must admit it's the first cookbook I've ever seen with advice on ironing! and not say tablecloths but clothing....

I'm going to try their dessert and bread recipes but pass it on if they don't appeal to us; the savory dishes were too corn-syrup-y for us.

A cool old cookbook

I discovered this through one of my favorite food blogs, . You can get the e-book version free at !
Here's a better, photo view of the same kitchenette:

Soupy cookbooks from the 1970s and from the 1940s.

Most-for-the-Money Main Dishes, from 1975, included recipes for foods that did not actually include soup, which was generous of them. Some did include Spam, though! which I actually find delicious occasionally!

It also had interesting metric education, which I remember was pretty much just a fad in my school years! It wasn't until I moved overseas that I really used metric much.

One of their money-saving tips was not to shop more often than necessary....

Cooking with Soup, from (I'm told) 1972, has more recipes than I would've guessed: "608 skillet dishes, casseroles, stews, sauces, gravies, dips, soup mates and garnishes"!

I love their mix-and-match lunch ideas...

...and their almanac!

...and their menus!

But I was ready to look at another retro cookbook, reached into my "grab bag" of smaller cookbooks, separate from the larger ones I'd just enjoyed, and lo and behold another Campbell's soups cookbook, what was the chance?! This one from (I'm told) 1946, Cooking with Condensed Soups, by Anne Marshall:

It was fun to see its retro illustrations -- and also to compare the recipes with their 1970s versions. I definitely thought the older recipes much more tasty-sounding!

A Snack Reminiscent of Childhood

I just had my take on the April 23, 2012, Woman's World's PB&J Smoothie; it was amazing.

Just put into a blender and puree; makes enough for 2 or 3 people:
about 2 cups fresh strawberries
about 2 cups plain yogurt (I just adore Brown Cow's Cream Top)
2 tsp vanilla paste (I use Williams Sonoma's Ground Tahitian Vanilla Beans; after using paste I don't think I can return to plain extract! and Williams Sonoma's packaging is so easy to spoon from and looks gorgeous on a shelf)
1/4 c creamy natural peanut butter
2 Tbsp honey (I used a delicious one from Germany, Breitsamer's Rapsflower Blossom, I found at World Market, but I think any would do in this recipe)

(This is a re-post from this site's predecessor.)

Betty Crocker's Picture Cook Book, 1950.

I recently got (not in the booklet set I usually mention in this "series") the Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook from 1950 (though in the facsimile edition because the old ones I found were obviously very well loved).

Its introduction speaks of a brown-covered Gold Medal Cook Book as being its predecessor, which you can download from , and a fascinating site, , talks about versions of that old book...and ties it back even farther to Miss Parloa's cookbooks, which I've enjoyed free from links such as -- where you can read such gems as "It seems as if electricity might, in the near future, do the beating of breads, batters, ice creams, etc."

That fascinating site hasn't been updated in 10 years, so I'd like to mention its explanation of how Betty Crocker was created -- if its writer lets me know (I don't see how to contact him), I'll omit this long quotation -- I do see the writer is Frank Daniels, who's written very valuable retro cookbook information in at least one book, this one:

and various sites:
1921 saw the introduction of "Betty Crocker," quite by accident. Washburn-Crosby held a contest, awarding pincushions to those who could assemble a jigsaw puzzle that depicted people carrying sacks of Gold Medal flour. Over 30,000 people reportedly responded, prompting the company to set up a means of responding. Since so many people had questions about recipes, a character was created that would symbolize the company in response to inquiries. After William G. Crocker, a recent director of Washburn-Crosby, the name "Crocker" was chosen. The affable name of "Betty" was selected to be her first name. Various employees submitted signatures, one of which would represent "Betty Crocker"; the design handed in by Florence Lindeberg was determined to be both legible and distinctive and was chosen to represent the fictional character. The Betty Crocker kitchens were opened, and home economists were hired to test recipes. A cooking legend was born.
He also mentions on this site that Betty Crocker had a 45 RPM record and ideas for "Cake & Coffee Time"! From 1957.

This 1950 cookbook has somewhat newer, but still very retro nowadays, ideas. What I've found most interesting so far:
...It calls for using only "cooking salt" which is bought in a "bag" and is saltier than "other" salts.
...It suggests equipment for steaming foods (as in puddings, Boston brown bread, not vegetables), including a large "kettle" pot and a round and a fluted mold. I still often see this in British but not in American cookbooks.
...It assumes most of its readers have a kitchen cabinet with a bread box and a cake safe.

...Of course that cabinet has things like Betty Crocker soups, which I've never seen, and speaking of cakes her "party cake" mix (which looks like a white cake) and her Devil's Food cake mix and her "Ginger Cake" mix (which looks like a fancier gingerbread, but like it baked in a rectangular or square pan).
...For storage, she does recommend plastic bags and foil and covered refrigerator dishes (I assume like the glass or metal ones I see in antique stores), but also "waxed paper, cheesecloth, rubber bands." She also has a good idea probably for fresh clean herbs, to put them into covered glass jars.
...She mentions one might own an incinerator for garbage, though also a disposal.
...She has a good idea, that if you just have some cheese left over, you might want to grate it and keep it in a covered glass jar for convenient use.
...There's a lot of advice on softening hardened foods such as bread, and on heating without a microwave, which could be useful if you prefer to use non-microwave approaches.
...She's actually more careful about tea than I am (though I have run across suggestions recently that indeed one should be very careful about this to preserve the antioxidant value); she suggests ever only having one week's worth open and keeping it in the refrigerator after opening. (Ditto for coffee, which I have often heard nowadays.) (I've seen old grocery offerings of loose teas, of which surely one could just buy what one needed for that week or so.)

Fascinating and useful!

My Eggplant Caponata

I use this as a flavor-intensive small side dish or as a relish.

Note: If you hate eggplant you probably won't like this much. Otherwise, this is heavenly! It's as good or better than some I've had imported from Italy.

Do the ingredients very much to taste; these are only very general ideas of what I like.

Saute until soft in olive oil (not much yet; add some water if you have to):
about a cup of halved then sliced onions
Add and continue sauteeing (adding water as necessary) until soft:
a big eggplant cut into medium cubes
Add and simmer about 20 minutes:
about 4 or more oz tomato puree or paste (for paste you might need to add more water)
a spoonful of sugar
about 2 Tblsp or more of white wine vinegar or sherry vinegar (you can always add more at the end)
a big handful green olives (stuffed if you like)
Add near the end:
a big helping capers (about 1-1/2 Tblsp; do not rinse)
a few torn leaves of basil if you have it (optional; I usually omit)
Stir in off the heat:
a generous amount more of olive oil (say 3 Tblsp)
Then taste and add salt, more vinegar if necessary.

I prefer this chilled. It doesn't freeze well but keeps maybe a week or a bit more in the refrigerator in a glass jar. 
(This is still one of my favorite recipes! It's re-posted from the old version of this site.)

Vegetable-Rich Fried Rice

Have a heaping cup of already cooked rice available.

Saute in 2 or 3 Tblspn light olive oil until softish
  1 large onion or 2 or 3 leeks chopped
Add and simmer until vegetables are pretty much cooked
  about 10 oz mixed vegetables (my favorite is finely chopped baby corn and regular corn! and green beans and carrots)
  1 Tblspn soy sauce
  1 tsp gin (or rice wine if you have it)
  1/2 tsp sugar (or a bit less)
  1 tsp salt (sorry it's not as good without it)
  1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  about 1 Tblspn Oriental sliced ginger or fresh, chopped
  about 2 tsp garlic paste or fresh
  1/2 cup water
Then stir in the rice, then stir in if you'd like to make this a main course
  3 to 5 eggs
Stir until the eggs are cooked and the rice is hot.
This freezes pretty well even with the eggs.

(Much adapted from my favorite-ever Chinese cookbook: Rice Braised with Mixed Vegetables in Daniel Reid's Homestyle Chinese Cooking.)

(from previous incarnation of this site)

My new favorite cookbook!!!

This is sort-of a follow-up to my mention that I was going to try a new-to-me cookbook, at , especially

I am super excited about a cookbook delivery I got yesterday, which had a cookbook I only recently discovered, The Kitchen Revolution by Rosie Sykes, Polly Russell, and Zoe Heron. I don't think it ever caught on in America; I had to source it from Great Britain. It's from 2008. Its design is a charming notebook style.

It has so much of what I've long wanted in a cookbook -- and which the authors themselves said they had not been able to find -- it's complete dinner plans for the year including grocery lists and a recipe each day. Mind you, I've not tried any recipes yet; if they're good too I shall have to make a new category of books (finally!) that have both fabulous menus and fabulous recipes. Each week has these options; I'm listing them in my favored order in which to use them assuming I'm getting groceries the day I start using them:

  • a very quick meal featuring all very seasonal foods (tho all the menus pay attention to what's in season) 
  • a longer-prep meal that gives you leftovers for some other meals (like mine this coming week is extra cooked fish)
  • two other very quick meals that use those leftovers
  • one more longer-prep meal that gives 2 full meals so one day is no-work
  • another very quick meal, perfect just before you grocery shop, made of staples in your pantry or larder
Mind you, these are real meals -- so many American "menu plans," especially those that claim to be economical, have like 1 vegetable serving spread among 6 people, and don't even mention one might at least want to add a generous salad. I've noticed that British sources are more careful about that. It's also far closer to my own what-works-for-me nutrition -- I'm seeing frequent vegetarian and seafood options.
The update: These recipes are DELICIOUS! And I am super difficult to please!

The recipes are also extremely interesting -- I actually made a seafood soufflé last night, an interesting vegetarian repast with a dip another night, and possibly the best fish I ever made another night -- and along the way have already compiled 3 extra meals in the freezer! The recipes are not the fastest I've ever tried, but they are worth the time, and fun to use -- I realized after using one of them that I was definitely in the hands of experts and could just relax and follow directions and everything would turn out great. If you try the book and are slowish in the kitchen like I am, add some minutes to their suggestions "About x minutes before you want to eat...". Also be aware that they have the healthy and economical approach of making a lot of foods that can be bought for faster cooking -- like the careful instructions on roasting red peppers and also corn on the cob -- I substituted jarred and frozen, respectively.

I am SO happy with this book! I'm adding a new Cookbook Column of Fame theme...

Breads You Bake...with Yeast, 1951? 1959?

This isn't the best yeast bread cookbooklet ever -- maybe it's too short to be that -- but it has some nice basic recipes with different toppings or fillings to give variety. I love having lots of options when I have a bowlful of yeast dough to use. And bowls from this book will be big ones -- the book features a bread recipe that makes 3 loaves, with instructions on doubling it for 6 loaves!

Unfortunately my copy of this booklet is missing a lot of its back page, which looks like where they had their publishing date. Let's see, it's also hole-punched with 5 holes, apparently for something Betty Crocker offered her patrons. I see that professional sellers are dating this 1951. Amazon has it as 1955, but the General Mills logo the booklet still has looks older than that, however, to me -- though it's not on an online collection of logos....

I'm seeing other 5-hole-punched booklets by her of Cake Mix Magic and Frankly Fancy Recipes, but not a mention if this was an actual series she released. It would have made a fun series, with such enthusiastic titles....

A wonderful site I just discovered at mentions a quite empty ring binder from the late 1950s, and also speaks of several 5-hole-punched booklets like mine, including that Frankly Fancy one which is dated 1959 here, AND the yeast bread one I have. Perhaps they were meant to be placed in that binder. Um, probably not; the sellers on Abebooks who mention it at all say there are only 3 rings. (Speaking of binders, my 1950 Betty Crocker's Picture Cookbook's rings are perfect for me to slip in this booklet with its yeast bread chapter.)

A Daybook Entry

I'm trying for the first time to join with the lovely people over at...
who write about their simply real days....The catch for me is that the only really active blog I have going right now (this one) is about food...but it's not much of a catch, because it is a very rare day when I'm not doing something about food!
For Today...Monday August 3, 2015
Outside my window...
are lots and lots of green trees of many sorts, and glimpses of a nearby cabin-like home. We moved recently and are so very very happy here.
I am thinking...
of the fun time I've been having over the last couple months haunting nearby thrift shops, on the hunt for lovely old lamps I find are more reliable than brand-new ones these days.
I am thankful...
I got reassured about one other need, for a mirror in which I can actually see myself to check if I'm presentable, that indeed these thrift shops carry them, it's just I'll need to keep looking to find something I adore.
I am wearing...
my coolest cotton dress, purplish! that I wore with a pinkish little sweater to go out earlier today.
I am creating...
a very new project to do with menus...
I am going...
to visit our children soon.
I am wondering...
if I should change tonight's menu, it's sounding less wonderful to me than it did yesterday, though it has the advantage that it will use the last of the dill that seems to be going bye-bye out in my teensy garden.
I am reading...
A.A. Milne's (as in Winnie the Pooh) collection of columns he wrote for Punch magazine long ago.
I am hoping...
a very dear friend's pregnancy will continue to be marvelous.
I am learning...
more about old London from an old Folio book. Just up to Richard II today.
In my garden...
um, having trouble with the dill. Any ideas for if I want to try again next year? All the other herbs are doing pretty well.
In my kitchen...
Last night some delicious chicken that was in the freezer with some okay noodles and vegetables also in there, made better with the jus from the chicken -- my husband called it Pasta au Jus.
This morning a nice muesli from Megan Gordon's Whole Grain Mornings book, served with some pretty good fresh raspberries -- the only half-decent organic berries I found in a grocery store I (for this reason) rarely frequent.
Tonight was going to be an old New York Times menu...

A favorite quote for today...
One goes through life…leaving books unread, music unheard, pictures unseen, and though it is very reprehensible, in some ways it is comforting to think that there are so many lovely things yet to be learned. - Beverley Nichols, A Thatched Roof
(another book I'm reading, just as slowly as the A.A. Milne one)

A peek into one of my days...
Up with the birdies and their admiring indoor kitties.
Very slow breakfast.
Ready for the day.
Work on my projects -- most to do with history, most with food history.
Visit with loved ones.
Easy lunch.
More project work, usually more the studying/research kind.
Cook dinner.
Relax with Mr. Wonderful Husband.
One of my favorite things...
The Ocean.

Marvelous Meals with Minute Tapioca by Miss Dine-About-Town, 1938

Love this one! Miss Dine-About-Town makes it clear that she hasn't actually tried cooking any of the recipes, but has tried and loved them all as they were made by others. In other words, it's charming.
I The Menu Addict also adore its many menus, even including this nice vegetarian one.
 Of course it's got lots of ideas for tapioca including many variations on tapioca pudding...

Fish and Seafood Cookery by Booth, 1930

This cookbooklet is the best of retro -- interesting and useful.

It's not always useful, mind you. They claim that it's safe to let seafood thaw on your counter -- and suggest that you thaw your shrimp "on a clean soft towel" -- and I doubt that's a paper towel. Of course that would soak up the unwanted liquid nicely...but I don't like to deal with raw non-vegetarian bits in my laundry.

As often happens, this company offered more varieties of frozen seafood than we often find today, including several types of pike.

They say that in the past fish was only available inland on Fridays, how interesting (to do with religion surely that it was available even then). 

Hmm, it claims that seafood is "the oldest of human foods." Perhaps because archaeologists found a lot of shells and such in ancient settlement sites?

Speaking of archaeology, I see I need to date this booklet, as there's no mention of when it was published. Clues include...
There's an "Eleanor Harvey" maybe who wrote the intro -- I'm not sure I'm reading her signature properly. Any mention of her online?...Not this one, it looks like.
It's by Booth Fisheries -- when were they in business?...Hmm, looks like they were bought by Sara Lee and may still exist.
They claim that "quick frozen" is the "newest and most modern form" of dealing with seafood. That seems to have come about in the early 1920s.
They use not plastic but cellophane in their "modern, sanitary" packaging. However, it seems that waterproof cellophane at least was not available until the late 1920s.

So I'm guessing 1929 or 1930....And duh I just thought -- Look at the professional book sellers, what do they say?! 1930! Good.

One nice-sounding and easy recipe they include, to serve over cooked fish, is their Anchovy Butter, in which you mix melted butter with mustard, mashed anchovies, lemon juice, a bit of sugar, and parsley.

The more things change...

An 1839 editor-publisher-writer in England complained of the same thing some of us (at least I!) complain about in today's food markets, that they carry fewer varieties of many foods, and many are brought from far away:

Ah! what a goodly sight was Holbornhill in "my time." Then there was a comely row of fruit-stalls, skirting the edge of the pavement from opposite the steps of St. Andrew's Church to the corner of Shoe Lane. The fruit stood on tables covered with white cloths, and placed end to end, in one long line. In autumn it was a lovely sight. The pears and apples were neatly piled in [half-]pennyworths. [He describes many varieties.] Such "golden pippins" as were then sold [have gone up much in price], and the true "golden rennet" can only be heard of at great fruiterers. The decrease in the growth of this delightful apple is one of the "signs of the times"! The finest apples...for these they demand and obtain very high prices; but instead of London in general being supplied, as it was formerly, with the best apples, little else is seen except swine feed, or French, or American apples. The importations of this fruit are very large, and under the almost total disappearance of some of our finest sorts, very thankful we are to get inferior ones of foreign growth. Really good English apples are scarcely within the purchase of persons of moderate means.

-- from the entry for July 4 in The Every-Day Book by William Hone

This picture is from later, by the famous Edmund B. Leighton (1852-1922); it's called "An Apple for the Boatman." I'm guessing that apple was grown in England.

I may actually be somewhat current

I read in (well, last month's -- hmm, make that May's since I actually am writing this post a little early) Food and Wine that "re-creating the culinary past is a growing trend worldwide..."

They say it is "inspired in part by star chef Heston Blumenthal, who researches recipes at The British Library and serves them at his restaurant Dinner." They speak of food historian Mariana Kavroulaki who "has produced banquets for The Archaeological Museum of Delphi."

Dinner has a marvelous website! -- where I learned how electricity changed mealtimes! Of course it was easier to have the biggest meal, which had the most prep, when it was daylight in order to work!

I adore how he labels his dishes by their year! A small sample from that site:

Treasury of Good Food Ideas, from the Kraft Kitchens, 1963, 1964, 1965

This is a pretty generally useful older cookbook, especially if one likes cheese! I found it interesting that Kraft in those days offered a wider variety of cheeses, including even more variations on cheddar.

I of course liked that part of this book emphasized culinary history, though at a very light level. It included of course a Mr. Kraft making his first processed cheese, much earlier than I realized -- 1915 -- on a very old-fashioned stove.

There's a free download from MIT! about Kraft's history at .

Speaking of free or not, today's Kraft foods has a magazine I never heard of nor saw, not inexpensive, Kraft Food & Family. Has anyone seen it? I saw it through their official website, .

I also found it interesting that Kraft used to sponsor some TV shows, from which the main part of my copy seems to come; they mention they had visited "weekly...for a great many years" with their readers through "the electronic marvel of television." I see on Wikipedia that they sponsored The Kraft Music Hall (a summer replacement for the Andy Williams Show) from the 1950s to 1970s and Kraft Suspense Theatre in 1963 and 1964.

The copy I have includes a separately numbered section on, surprise, cheese, which was brought out a year later than my main part, and a smaller section also on cheese brought out the next year.

The introduction to the main part of the book mentions that they were planning such sections, this one and also on Salads and on Barbequing. However, I've only been able to find online the sections I already have. Has anyone heard of more actually having been published? I do see another, differently bound edition, though. Perhaps they found it unfeasible to add sections just yearly?

I also found the physical style of the binding interesting -- it has a built-in way to prop it up.