Thursday, January 22, 2009


There aren't many things better than an old cookbook--except maybe two or three. ;o)

My friend, J, and i really know how to find the best places to get into trouble. And it's not that we are looking for trouble, necessarily, its just that we seem to stumble upon it.

Today was one of those days where we are reminded why we are such good friends (aka sisters of another mister): once we met up at 9 this morning, we had both had enough of reality and we were ready for some delusional time and therapy provided for us in the forms of a cup of coffee and lots of chit chat about our creative endeavours. While exchanging pleasentries and hugs, we were both secretly hoping to end up at one of the local yarn shops and the local quilt shop. Lo! and behold, she asked, "Would you mind going to the quilt shop?" To which i replied, "Punch it, Girl!" (she was driving.) :o)

Our first stop: one of the local coffee shops we always seem to snub in favor of eating at our favorite bakery. The coffee shop we stumbled on was one i used to frequent, but once the baristas did more texting than coffee making, i had to find a new place. Well, now it is owned by a cookbook enthusiast! Hooray! They had shelves of vintage cookbooks to dig through (some were even free!) and dig through we did. I found two beauties:

In all things cookbook, i trust J's opinions as her cookbook collection rivals that of the Library of Congresses in just the homemade meals faction of cookbooks. ;o) When she mentioned this was a good book, boy was i convinced she is the cookbook guru of our time. This book is the perfect pairing of quite fancy yet easy enough recipes and down home recipes for supplies that are used everyday in our home (and i'm not talking Blackberry Cordials here, but if thing get much worse around here, maybe that might prove a helpful item of everyday use.) wink, wink

Fancy Pantry by Helen Witty c 1986 Book has been revised in recent years

I mean, could you resist such a cute chapter referring to homemade, canned jams as "Little Put-Up Jobs"? That makes it sound so much more normal and everyday than say "Mes Confitures" which sound very labor intensive. (No offense, C. Ferber!)

Homemade vanilla! Hot dog!

This page on homemade spinach noodles will come in handy with my new pasta maker from my parents.

Could this be a hint of what's to come for next Christmas' gift recipients?

I had to included this because i just love the name. Wonder what inspired it? Was it the fact that it's practically the only recipe for relish in the book that doesn't use a hot pepper of some kind? Or maybe it is in honour of J. Wellington Whimpy in the old Popeye cartoon--remember him? Or maybe i just love the recipe because they refer to a hamburger as a "hamburger sandwich"

Then i spotted this beauty:

Cooking Menus Service by Ida Bailey Allen (of Ladies Home Journal fame)
c. 1924, 1935
Everything about this book is charming from the sketches of how the dinner table is set to the arranging of a kitchen to poetry about the virtues of good housekeeping to the recipes for living during the time of rationing. Who isn't doing a little of that these days on their own, eh?

With pages like this when i first opened the book, i knew i was a goner and this would soon be a book i'd paw through regularly. (Maybe not too much though, as i saw the same book for sale online through a vintage cookbook store in not as great shape as mine for almost $50!)

A true and proper table of contents i am a sucker for everytime! Even back then--2500 recipes??! Whoa! I guess us homemakers have always needed a little inspiration.
and any book that touts the "true value of a sandwich" is a good cookbook in my opinion. ;o)
(explaining the seemingly obvious...under Sandwich: "How to Use")
i love it!
...and a chapter on "feeding the sick"...and an index of "favourite radio recipes" that can be accessed and whipped out in a matter of minutes before it was time to listen to Amos n Andy. :o)

I don't know why i love them, but i've noticed i have a lot of cookbooks that i've recently purchased that explain things in way more detail than really needed. :o) The cupcake cookbook i purchased last month has a half page of a "definition" of the word "cupcake". Just because i am blessed with the gift of gab (thank you, Blarney Stone) must mean i like my cookbooks that way too, eh?

And this...this was too cute! If you read the first couple sentences of Mrs. Allens, you are transported into a completely serene and ideal kitchen. Then came the sentence about the canary in the kitchen and she had me rolling onto the floor. Wow! I guess my kitchen might never be beautiful, as the only kind of bird to grace it's space ever will be a roasted chicken and a likewise a turkey or two. :o)

Then in the back of the book, it has a few advertisements. This one was intriguing...

wondering where i might find a "laundress" these days?

All in all, i am mesmerised by the book's charm and historical importance. Some of the recipes and menus are appropriate too, so i think as well as a good laugh, it will also provide some new recipes to this family. I must have sat on the couch yesterday for a whole half hour reading through pages of it, letting it transport me to another time.
Then, as soon as i put the book down, i was transported back to reality with this face peering above me reminding me much of the hilarious "Simon's Cat" videos you'll find on YouTube. :o) Cats....

Boy, she doesn't look at all amused that her "laundress", moi, is distracted from petting her majesty by some old heap of a book. ;O)
P.s. to self: more cookbooks to consider--Visions of Sugarplums from Random House 1968 and Boston School of Cooking (1930's)

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Thanks for taking the time to read my silly lil musings. Hope you have a wonderful day!