Internet recipes are convenient but there’s something about a cookbook
Most people do not have the same obsessive fascination with vintage cookbooks as I do and so fortunately, there is usually a plentiful supply of them out there for bargain prices. Last week, my mom ran across an online “yard sale” with tons of goodies priced $2-$6 and I went totally crazy over the wonderful selection. What collector could resist “The Beautiful Wives Cookbook” from 1970, or the Knox Gelatine [sic] Cookbook from 1977?
One of my favorites from this recent influx is a small, simple book with a plain, yellow dust cover called “Escoffier’s Cook Book of Desserts, Sweets, and Ices”; it has a glossary of moulds along with all the titles of the recipes in French, and its publication date listed as MCMXLI.
Books from that era and forward, through the 1950s, ‘60s, and ‘70s, were usually quite proper and featured recipes from highly-trained chefs who could easily tell you what words like poele, gaufrette, macedoine, and aiguillettes mean. These author / chefs were folks (usually men) who could explain how to make Beignets a la Bourgeoise by advising to “Cut a stale brioche crown into slices, and dip these into fresh, sugared cream, according to taste” and then to “drain them, sprinkle them with sugar, and serve them on a napkin”… a bit different from the glossy, simplified, popular volumes of today. And though I am glad to have those contemporary choices that take busy lifestyles into consideration, I have to admit that looking over the fads (especially during the era of the “Food Mafia”) of generations past, is truly a pleasure.
Of all of my new acquisitions, I may be most excited about a book called “A World of Menus and Recipes” by Gertrude Bosworth Crum, also the author of the subscription service called ‘Menus By Mail’, a service Jackie Kennedy purportedly was dependent upon for its sophisticated recipes and suggestions.
Mrs. Crum advises using a ring mould for the Julienne of Beets in Aspic for a “Weekend Luncheon” of Crab Salad and hot French bread in “A World of Menus and Recipes.” She goes on to recommend filling the center of the ring with the crab salad. Did Mrs. Kennedy’s cook serve this dish with the suggested Compote of Cooked Fruit and Chocolate Cookies? Could she have served a Cold Salmon with Sauce Verte [sic] and Swedish Cucumber Salad for a late lunch after a day of riding in the country? Who knows? It’s fun to think about it, anyway.
The more mainstream, middle-class-directed books like “Betty Crocker’s New Good and Easy Cookbook”, are interesting and wonderful as well. I have a few editions of this useful book; there was a recipe folded and stuck inside the front cover in my newly-acquired, 1962 edition. “Butter-Barbecued Beef Loaves” from a 1965, yellowed Los Angeles Times, is definitely a treasure.
My entire collection of cookbooks range drastically in age, style, and subject. I have books from the Victorian era and one written by a freed slave. I have a couple of Julia Child First Editions and I also have an original 1961 Amy Vanderbilt (cookbook, not etiquette book.) It is so lovely, as it includes an inscription, another fading tradition. The note reads: March 28, 1964. “To Janice, May your future kitchen tasks be made a little easier, and perhaps more pleasant, when you use this book. Hope it will prove to be very useful and something you will like as well. All best wishes for a lifetime of successes, happiness, and good living for you both, now and throughout all your future. With love, Aunt Clyde.”
Butter-Barbecued Beef Loaves 1965 Los Angeles Times Home
- 2 pounds ground chuck
- 2 eggs slightly beaten
- ½ cup cracker crumbs
- ½ cup finely chopped red bell peppers
- ¼ cup milk
- ¼ cup catsup
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 8 onion slices
- Butter BBQ Sauce
- ½ cup butter
- ½ cup chopped onion
- ½ cup catsup
- ¼ cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoons chili powder
- 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- Dash hot sauce
- Combine beef, eggs, crumbs, red pepper, milk, catsup, salt, and pepper. Divide the thoroughly-combined mixture and divide into 8 portions. Shape the portions into loaves, and place them on equal sheets of aluminum foil. Top each loaf with an onion slice, and 2-3 tablespoons of the sauce. Bring up the sides of the foil and fold down onto the meat in tight double folds; fold ends over to close in the meat. Cook in a pre-heated, 375-degree oven for 25-30 minutes.
- For sauce:
- Melt butter then add onion; cook until tender. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for about 5 minutes.