A packed lunch, 1914

I thought you might like to see this picture from the 1914 The Pure Food Cook Book by Harvey W. Wiley, M.D., and Mildred Maddocks of a proposed packed lunch -- look at those environmentally friendly containers! Well, except already they were using paraffin/non-natural-waxed paper, apparently.

Some retro but easy menus

To follow up on what I mentioned yesterday, that I had found that lots of retro menus actually were not super time-consuming, here are a few samples of interesting ideas that do not necessarily have to take a long time, from autumn in the specified cookbooks...

for breakfast
with some ideas from the 1910 The Hotel St. Francis Cook Book by Victor Hirtzler
waffles or rolls with honeycomb honey & fresh fruit

for lunch
adapted from the 1905 Mrs. Rorer's Every Day Menu Book by Mrs. Sarah Tyson Rorer
macaroni and cheese with tomatoes
green salad
baked bananas

for a snack
inspired by breakfast in the 1912 The Helping Hand Cookbook by Marion Harland and Christine Terhune Herrick

another snack possibility
inspired by a dessert with cider sauce I saw in a 1920s Australian cookbook
sweet cider

Making meal planning easier

After using some meal plans from about 1900 through 1945 that were actually very realistic about how long it can take to make lots of meals and snacks every day so had a variety of easy meals and leftovers, I realized how easy it could be to have varied meals -- I didn't have to start from scratch at every meal, even if I (as I do) were avoiding almost every premade item in the grocery store. Once I settle into a place, like most people I make extra of various foods.

At the same time it's extremely helpful to me to write down what I'm having at pretty much every meal and snack (unless I'm using an already-typed-up plan like in those retro cookbooks). That's where I stumbled the other week -- I felt like I had to fill the little blanks with amazing dishes that truly took hours for at least me to make. (Which was especially silly given that my life has recently become even more crazy-busy.)

Of course there was no need to cook for hours; we all have very high standards for food taste and other quality, but we also appreciate the wonderful taste of pure, basically unadorned vegetables and fruits and such. So, I came up with a chart in MS Word that reminded me not to plan to do more than I really really wanted and could do in a day (you're very welcome to make your own based on this, and yes someday I need to figure out how to offer PDFs, though in this case you probably want to customize to fit your own tastes):

The "moi" kits are an experiment for me. I realized that say I had some interesting Malaysian chicken in the freezer I'd made the month before but nothing that would go with it, because even though I'd gotten some stir-fry-type vegetables to go with it I'd then forgotten about the future menu and used them in something else. So I just got some unbleached, organic cotton drawstring bags in a large size and plan to tuck in food for which I have plans so it's not accidentally used in something else. Depending on where the food is, for a meal like this Malaysian one I'd also tuck in brown rice....I'm planning, if it's in a drawstring bag it means it's a whole meal for our family size that I can just grab and quickly put together on our busiest nights.

Ta-da! A new site: My Monster History Book!

You'll find a very different site, though also to do with history, over at...


It features my by-far longest work. Hope you enjoy!

Meal Kits vs The Old Way

Just FYI. We've tried an inordinate number of oh-so-popular meal kits. They sound so enticing. But the non-organic ones all made us terribly sick; I've found that non-"organic" seems to come with additives in addition to non-organic pesticides. In my area there's only one "organic" "meal kit" delivery service...and unfortunately we didn't really like the recipes. Looks like there are other options on the East and West coasts of the USA. (UPDATE: Woo-hoo, one of them arrived here, and we actually like it so far! It's the perfect balance for us of taste, ease, and variety -- it comes with 2 dinners from all sorts of cuisines that only take 10 to 45 minutes so far even for slowpoke moi and 2 breakfasts which I use for dinner sometimes if it's eggs, otherwise breakfast or lunch or snack like when it's a smoothie -- it's just enough to make my life easier right now.)

Anyway, most meal kits we've tried (not all) were more grocery delivery services -- it could take up to 2 hours before a meal was ready, and only like once was it worth the effort and time.

SO. I realized that for our tastes and health needs, Retro Is Better -- filling one's freezer with real food retro, being in charge of the recipe choices oneself retro. I've ordered a couple books from England that give promising-sounding menus that will organize me for say a week of dinners and even lunches -- and I definitely will use my long-beloved Kitchen Revolution cookbook more -- these experiences make me appreciate its always delicious recipes and consummate organization even more. Some of its plans take me up to 2 hours to make because I am slow -- but so did the god-awful meal kits! and Kitchen Revolution's plans always give me loads to keep in the freezer for future, effortless meals!

I made a document in MS Word to keep track of what we hopefully will soonish have on hand, again fitting our own health and taste (and budget) requirements: