Thursday, July 29, 2010

Grandma's cookbook.

I acquired one of my grandmother's cookbooks not too long ago.  I don't know if she had a lot or if she used it a lot.  It is rather worn but that could be from storage etc.  I imagine my grandmother as cooking by experience mostly.  I did not know her well, I have only two memories of her.  She died when I was around 9.  I do not know how my mother got it (paternal grandmother) but she did somehow and I picked it out of the box of goodies she was offering along with a pair of gaudy costume earrings my daughter wanted, a cloth napkin, and a nicnak souvenir plate from USSR that perhaps one of my uncles picked up while on duty somewhere?   Anyways, This is Meals, Tested, Tasted, and Approved (Favorite Recipes and Menus From Our Kitchens to Yours) by Good Housekeeping,  copyright 1930, fifth edition 1932. 

The thing that is great about this cookbook is it actually has not very many recipes but is filled with helpful guides on everything from weight management to feeding infants and children, quick meals (which incorporates the paragraph "The last half-hour before serving.." seeing as how my quick meals take only 30 min. I am exhausted) and how to conduct formal and informal breakfast, luncheon, and dinner or "The Etiquette of Service"  This is my favorite part.

You will have to click on the images to be able to fully see and read.

I have put in images of the Informal Dinner.  This is what is considered a family meal or perhaps a guest or two.  Having parents who grew up during this time period, I am relatively sure that neither of their households consisted of meals like this.  My grandmother ran a farm kitchen.  No maid here. For sure.  Growing up we, as far as I was concerned, fully set the table for dinner.  Plate, spoon (big for dad), knife, fork, glass and often a napkin.  Sometimes there was a centerpiece, but for the most part that just got in the way and didn't leave space for the food.  Now my kids put a plate and a fork on the table. Period.  If they want a drink, they get up and get one.  If they need a napkin, they get up and get one, unless I have the foresight to think that what we are eating is potentially messier than normal or uses hands then I will sometimes grab a few paper towels and rip them into smaller pieces.  Frugality is the rule.  I also serve straight out of the pot.  Hot pads abound on my table.  The less dishes to wash of course.  Now if I happen to have (almost never) a fancier dinner with guests, this might get cleaned up a little.  Also I worked for catering for several years, even as a supervisor.  I set Tens of Thousands of tables.  Really.  We did banquets as large as 2000 for a ton of college students to as small as two big wigs.  I served Ambassadors and Queens and Prophets all the way to farmers and kids.  I Could set a table nice, if I Wanted to.

Look at that list of items needed just to set the table!!!!  and there are detailed instructions on how to serve set the napkins, right down to removing covers from serving dishes etc.  Everything!  Versus, of course, the Formal Dinner.    And what to do with the maid.  Take a glance at the previous section just above the title about the maids and their outfits from the formal section.

Really This is so precious.  I couldn't even begin to imagine living this way.  It's all Hollywood glamour and middle class image you see in the old movies but I doubt most of America lived that way.  Hello! 1932 depression!  Can you imagine all this during the great dust bowl where daily things were coated with a thick layer of dust?  One account I read of they would set the table with the plates upside down to keep as much dust off as they could before eating then quickly turning them over to put food on them and still getting 'salt and pepper' on it.

Still it's good to be reminded of all that properness and whatnot.  If I were to do this now, there is no way I could do the laundry and clean the house.  I would be spending half the day just setting the table.

I hope to try some of the recipes soon.  One of my favorite titles?  Main dish - Bacon and Bananas.


Julie said...

Wow... that is absolutely amazing!

Alyson said...

Wow, I bet some of the recipes are going to be great. Shannon and I went through some of grandma Brimhalls old cookbooks last summer, they were awesome!

Nicky said...

Alyson, are you talking about my mom? That big black one is my favorite. I don't know how old it is but it has some not very current directions in it.

Melanie said...

Just the items from the box would make an amazing novel. My mind is spinning with what you could do to explain the presence of an old cookbook, an earring and a USSR plate. Have you read The Forgotten Garden? I just finished it this morning. That's probably what has my mind thinking this way.

And as for setting a table, we use paper towels and hot pads too. I just can't justify all the extra work of doing all those dishes! Glad to hear I'm not the only one.

Alyson said...

Ya, your mom. That black one was cool, I can't remember how old it was either... But we made some brownies from it, but they were not called brownies, I don't think brownies existed back then, but they we were amazing.

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