Saturday, April 30, 2011

A Vintage Cookbook

I came across a fabulous discovery yesterday. As my British friend would say, “I took a nosy through Mum’s books.”

What I found was a cookbook, with a copyright date span of 1942 through 1946. There is an inscription in what could be Grandmother Ophelia’s handwriting: “This book belongs to…” and then in Momma’s handwriting afterwards she writes that it’s now her book and writes out her full name. Momma also wrote that this book will go to me. What a priceless discovery!

Not to say I’m taking it now. No, it’s not my time. But, I am taking a “nosy” through its 951 pages!

I can tell this 1946 hard back edition of the Woman’s Home Companion Cook Book, introduction by Dorothy Kirk, was used often in its day. It gives me warm fuzzies seeing how many pages are dog-eared noting recipes I know my grandmother and/or mother have used. I have left the points turned down, to go back and someday use the recipes myself. I must handle the book gingerly as the cloth covered binding has frayed along the edges! It is a treasured book, indeed.

While scanning through the pages, several things caught my eye. Back then, we had eight food groups. Why do we only have five now?

The “current” food groups are:
  1. Grains (was Group 8)
  2. Vegetables (was Group 5 & 7)
  3. Fruit (was Group 6 & 7)
  4. Dairy (was Group 1)
  5. Protein Foods (was Group 2)

The totally missing groups (3 & 4) are “Eggs” and “Butter, other Fats”

What they said about Eggs:

Present-day cooks may smile at old recipes beginning, “Take the whites of two dozen eggs,” but they heed nutrition experts who recommend one egg a day for every member of the family – or at least four a week. Insist on that, say the dietitians – be hard-boiled about it!

Yeah, right, like I’m going to take the whites from two dozen eggs for anything! I don’t care what it is, that’s one recipe I would skip!

What’s happened to the butter/fat group? Isn’t that like the WD-40 for our bodies? And, is an essential part that helps us with keeping up our energy levels? Anything and everything can be taken to the excess, moderation is the key!

I found it noteworthy, they didn’t lump all vegetables and fruits together. They gave more detail and separation. I hear all the time about how we should eat more dark green, yellow, and leafy vegetables. Interesting. My grandmother’s cookbook shows a separate group for them from the “fruits and vegetables” group.

Another with its own grouping is the “citrus fruits, tomatoes, and pineapple” group. They felt it necessary to separate this type from “fruits” such as apples, bananas, etc., that provide totally different nutritional needs.

They write:
Get acquainted with these eight groups of protective foods and include something from each in your daily meal plans. Your menus will then measure up to good nutrition standards and you can be pretty sure your family is getting the right food to help keep them fit.

I’m thinking these eight food groups are something to take more seriously. It’s really bottom-line what folks are currently talking about anyway!

I love the style of writing within this cookbook! The word charm or charming is used frequently. This is one example: (Emphasis added)

“Giving a party without a maid can be done with charm and a certain amount of style if you go about it naturally, avoid confusion and don’t attempt more than you can accomplish easily.”

And, one of the best pieces of advice shared:

“… remember that you are just as much a hostess in your own family as though you were entertaining guests, and you owe it to them to have your daily meals nicely served and as attractive as you can make them.”

While reading over these pages, images of Grandmother Ophelia busying herself about the kitchen, drying her hands on the apron she always wore, and wiping the drops of perspiration from her brow filled my mind and warmed my heart. I’m so thankful I took a noisy through Momma’s collection!

Do you have a cherished vintage cookbook within your collection? Does it stir memories? Please share!

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