Thursday, December 3, 2009

Time Travels with a Cook Book

I have this cookbook that was my grandmother’s. It’s yellow and stained and 623 pages. The cover has a double row of little women in old fashioned cooking frocks lining up to a big heart. The title of the cookbook: “The Settlement Cook Book. The way to a man’s heart.” It’s compiled by Mrs. Simon Kander of which there used to be a nice photo page, though it’s been ripped and lost except for a small piece where you can see her handwritten note, “Very Truly Yo---Mrs. Sim----.“ The inside cover states, “Tested Recipes from The Milwaukee Public School Kitchens, Girls Trades and Technical High School, Authoritative Dieticians, and Experienced Housewives.” It’s the twenty-eighth edition, enlarged and revised, September 1947.

I brought it out the other day to look up a recipe and while waiting for my tea water to boil, I started browsing the rest of the book. It’s been a while since I really looked through it and I’m pretty sure I hadn’t read the beginning of the book since I’ve become the Warrior Princess of Health. Actually, I may have never read it before. Boy, did I not know what I was missing!

Here are the “Three Golden Rules for an adequate diet:”

I. Eat something every day from each of the seven basic food groups.
II. These seven food groups are: (1) Green and yellow vegetables, some raw—some cooked, frozen or canned. (2) Oranges, tomatoes, grapefruit or raw cabbages, or salad greens. (3) Potatoes and other vegetables and fruits—raw, dried, cooked, frozen, or canned. (4) Milk and milk products—fluid, evaporated, dried, milk, ice cream, or cheese. (5) Meat, poultry, fish or eggs or dried beans, peas, nuts or peanut butter. (6) Bread, flour, and cereals—natural whole grain or enriched or restored. (7) Butter or fortified margarine (Vitamin A added).
III. After you have had the above—eat what you may desire, providing you are not on a restricted diet.

I have to say that I was surprised at the nutritional knowledge in the cookbook. The idea of needing raw foods and whole grains seemed to have gotten lost in the years following, which is why it surprised me so. However, there were quite a few things that seemed year-appropriate:

Mother’s milk is the best food for the newborn baby. If, however, the mother hasn’t enough milk to keep the baby contented . . . bottle feedings must be used. Bottle feedings are made by mixing definite quantities of cow’s milk or evaporated milk with water, then adding some sugar to make up the calories needed for the baby’s growth.

Every baby should receive orange juice and cod liver oil or their equivalent substitutes. These are usually started during the first month of life.

Between the second and third month, most babies appear dissatisfied with milk alone.

It goes on to say that cereal is the first food usually fed to babies but as the baby gets “older” he usually refuses it and then it’s time to introduce vegetables, usually between the third and fourth month. It gives a whole schedule too—with times and what should be fed at what exact ages. It even has a “diet for the pre-school child” with recipes such as SCRAPED BEEF, FLOUR-BALL, OATMEAL GRUEL and CRACKER GRUEL. What follows this section is “Invalid Cookery” with liquid diet recipes such as ALBUMENIZED MILK, ORANGE EGGNOG, TOAST WATER and BEEF TEA.

Many of the recipes call for “saccharin to taste.” It also often talks about foods being “irradiated.”

There’s a whole section on milk starting with the advice that “Milk should be cooled quickly after it comes from the cow and kept cold.” And there are definitions for the different kinds of milk such as FORTIFIED, HOMOGENIZED, CERTIFIED, EVAPORATED, CONDENSED, SKIM, BUTTERMILK AND SOUR MILK (of which directions are given as to how to make it, “preferably with raw milk.”

There’s also a substantial section on coffee starting with instructions as to how “to clear boiled coffee” using egg shells. “Three egg shells will clear one cup of ground coffee.” And then there is “Egg Water.” Here’s the recipe:

1 egg
1 cup cold water
pinch salt

Wash and break egg in large cup or pint jar, beating constantly while pouring on 1 cup cold water. Cover and place in refrigerator for future use. For each cup of coffee use 1 tablespoon of the egg water.

It never does explain why egg should be added to coffee. The rest of the section talks about proportions used in making coffee and recipes for BOILED COFFEE (USING EGG WATER), COFFEE FOR 40 PEOPLE (why 40?), INSTANT COFFEE, DECAFFEINATED COFFEE, DRIP COFFEE, PERCOLATED COFFEE, CEREAL COFFEE (I have no idea) and LEFTOVER COFFEE. There’s also a reference to ICED COFFEE (see page 532).

It then becomes a somewhat standard cookbook, though some recipes are reminiscent of older times (and Bugs Bunny episodes) like FRICASSEED GOOSE, SUCCOTASH, and WELSH RAREBIT.

Some recipes I’m thinking of trying, if just for the names, like RINKTUM-DITY and ENGLISH MONKEY. There’s a BUTTERFLY SALAD with the ingredients of pineapple slices, candied fruit, pistachios and asparagus tips and a dish called SHRIMP WIGGLE.

In the back of the book are several pages dedicated to canning. Finally, Chapter 45, Menus, gives advice on PROVISIONS FOR 40 PEOPLE (again!) and FOOD COMBINATIONS, such as FRIED LIVER AND BACON, FRIED ONIONS, MASHED POTATOES, APPLE SAUCE. Following this useful list are suggestions for “Home Dinners,” an “Oyster Supper,” a “Chinese Supper,” “Sunday Night Suppers, “Buffet Suppers,” “Cocktail Parties,” and several pages of “Luncheon Menus.” There are more too, for club parties, tea parties and a children’s supper party. The “School Lunch Menus” include "(No.1) Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches, page 322." Following that are "Holiday Menus" for every imaginable holiday. There’s even a page and a half of “Meatless Dinners.” The book ends with the last page, “TO BUILD A CAMP FIRE” and “CAMP COOKERY,” including how to broil a rabbit or squirrel.

I am inspired to try a few things. Maybe it’s that I just saw the movie “Julie & Julia” where Julie decides to cook all the recipes in Julia Child’s cookbook “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” in a year’s time and blog about it each day. I will not do that, but I may be back once or twice if I do have a story to tell while cooking up some English Monkey.

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