Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Funny Old Things (My 1950 Cookbook)

For years and years I thought I had drawn that dog. It looked like something I might have drawn and it felt like something I might have drawn. It was in Mom's 1950 Betty Crocker's Picture Cook Book:



I always loved that the picture was upside down. Mom told me that I drew that picture and she told my brother that he drew that picture. At some point I thought she was just being diplomatic. I then realized that she probably had no idea who drew the picture, but she certainly knew it was either me or my brother. So she was always half right. Once I realized that the book was published in 1950, it seemed pretty obvious that it was my brother who drew the dog. He was born in 1957 and I was born in 1961.


In probably the early 1980's, I decided to "fix" the binding on this book. I used some high quality grey cloth duct tape that I had "ended up with" from the tv production company I had worked for. And by "high quality" I really mean just that because that duct tape binding job is still holding strong and steady after almost 30 years. That's good tape.

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I love the recipes. There are a few classics like white sauce or roux, but most of it is obsolete such as the cheese sandwich loaf, the Prune Cream Pie, and the strange dessert recipes using popular cookies of the time (I guess like how now people use Oreos in stuff). There's quite a list of lamb recipes and lamb is no longer a regular meat staple here. I think you can only get it at Christmas. Almost any food item in the book has a "...with dried beef" which says a LOT about the times. And the seasonings? Salt and pepper.

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Speaking of the times, 1950 was right at the beginning of the cold war and so there are no Russian foods in this cookbook. No beef stroganoff, no chicken kiev. They kept Italy also to a minimum: spaghetti and tetrazzini. No lasagne, no manicotti. They of course could not leave out the French because as is the case with ballet and war, most basic food terminology is French. And they keep it basic. There is no quiche. And hot? The things they call "hot" have a dash of chili powder. No cayenne or chipotle.

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Another funny thing is that foods that were the rage at one time have come and gone since this book was published. There is no mention of chateaubriand and the only mention of fondue is a bread and cheese casserole.

Another thing I like is the back of the book is so much darker. I guess the front got sun faded over time. That makes me think the book spent some time out in the open. But not in use, or the front cover would not be so faded.
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It's 61 years old. That's eleven years older than me. Many of the recipes sound kinda icky with a big use of ketchup and cracker crumbs along with the ubiquitous dried beef which as I mentioned earlier was a sign of the economic times and lots of the recipes are just weird, but I really really love that old cookbook. It makes me smile. Pretty much like that dog that I didn't draw.

6 comments:

VioletSky said...

I have a few old cookbooks from the 40s and 50s, too. they are great for the basics. no new cookbook tells you how to boil an egg or make white sauce.
I always used to get a kick out the 'invalid' section.

haphazardlife said...

I have my mom's old cookbook from the 50s when she got married. "La Cusine Raisonnée" (Logical cooking - more or less). Back then everything was better if it was scientific. And damn some of those recipes are scary.

Come to think of it, funny I should have the book when I don't cook...

lgsquirrel said...

I believe that book is what they call a family heirloom. Precious and priceless.

mrwriteon said...

It's amazing how tastes change, isn't it? I realize how lacking in any pretense to cuisine my childhood was. My dad thought Franco-American spaghetti was exotic.

geewits said...

VioletSky,
~~Everyone I know boils eggs in a different way and all swear by the outcome.

Jazz,
~~Well, you do like to read.

LGS,
~~Yeah but it has nothing on another one I have. I thought I had posted about it but can't find it. I guess I'll get to that.

Ian,
~~That's the weirdest synchronicity I've had in ages and I have lots of weird synchronicities. Today I saw a Chef-Boy-R-Dee ad (same company as Franco American) and it featured an old clip from the 50's. And anyway I'm jealous that you got to eat that. My dad was a stickler and we couldn't have stuff like like that, so of course, we craved it.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Betty Crocker was not the most modern of Cookbooks even back then....It was all pretty basic stuff. I have some old Cookbooks from those days and there are still recipes one would make today..."The Joy Of Cooking" was one my mother had and I still have it.....I was 18 going on 19 in 1950....That seems a lifetime ago, in a way---and, only yesterday, in another.
How great that you still have this treasure,