Jun 18, 2013


Every one has a collection of some type.  It makes us feel good to gather the things we like.  I find this a fascinating insight as I watch my youngest grand son, Mr. M, not quite 2 year old yet.  He will sit on our couch and pull all of his little toys on to the couch around him.  Like he is holding court over all of his little cars, stuffed animals, action figures and such.  It is so cute.

At any rate, from an early age we have this desire to collect the things that touch us in a special way.  Be that silly giddy feeling we have by just seeing an item, or maybe a particular item causes a smile to cross our face for no apparent reason.  My mom collected decorative plates from all the places she travelled.  She also collected photos, lots and lots of photos, of all kinds of things, for years and years.  I had one aunt that enjoyed the beach and collected all kinds of things that she would find on her walks.  One aunt collected salt and pepper shakers.  I would love to collect them, have absolutely no room or way of displaying them.

I have random collections.  Depending on the mood I am in during that phase of my life.  At one time I collected cows, angels, thimbles, miniatures and such.  The last two I still pick up from time to time when ever we go on a vacation. Thimbles, like shot glasses, are small to carry and display and also cheap as far as souvenirs go.  One thing that I have always collected as been cookbooks.  All kinds of cookbooks.  Loose recipes, printed recipes, internet recipes, hand written recipes.  My favorite kinds of cookbooks are actually the fundraiser kind.  Like for a church or school or club.  Members submit their favorite recipes, then they are published with their name in the book.  I have a weakness for church congregational cookbooks.  I have lost count of how many cookbooks I actually have.  I am so excited that when we remodel the kitchen I will have some shelves to display all my books.  At the moment, they are tucked away in a closet, very hard to get to when I want one. 

I have over the years been really fascinated in old cookbooks.  The older the better.  My mother's side of the family comes from Germany and it is rumored that her father's family were Pennsylvania Amish.  This hasn't been proven by genealogy but based on the amount of family recipes with Amish influence, it would seem to be true.  My dad's side of the family all cooked what you would call "home-style" or "country".  Both sides of the family were farmers.  Different crops as they were in different parts of the state, but they still cooked with recipes that were carried down to them, and they grew up and started their families during the depression era so going to their home was like eating a meal from the old days. At the moment cookbooks, recipes from the 30's and 40's are of great interest to me.  More on that later.

So...on with my story.  Recently I had purchased a copy of "My Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook" that had been published in 1936, the seller described it as having loose hand written pages with recipes on it included in the book as well as some handwritten notes on some of the book's recipes.  Those are the best kind.  My mom would write in her cookbooks "Good" or "Never Again" or "Excellent" depending on how the recipe turned out.  Back to the story though.  I received my package, all excited, only to open it and find the wrong book inside.  The seller had accidentally mixed up the two shipments, sending my book to another buyer and his book to me.  Doing the right thing, I repackaged the book and sent it to the correct buyer.  Sadly, the other buyer has not been so kind.  He has refused to send me my book, has ignored repeated email request to do so.  Thankfully the seller was a very honest person and not only refunded my initial payment, but refunded me the cost of shipping for my sending the other buyer his book.  I was understandably disappointed as it is really difficult to find the old cookbooks still in decent shape, when you do, they are sometimes pricey.  I am not willing to put a lot of money in to my addiction.  I was however fortunate to find a copy of the same book that had been listed, but published in 1938.  I really didn't care, it was still in the time period I was looking for.  I purchased it quickly, and it was even cheaper than the first book I had ordered.
It arrived today.  I was pleasantly surprised that the book was in such excellent condition for its age.  Some water damage has caused the last few pages to stick together, but they are all blank pages included in the book for writing notes or recipes in.  I don't really need them.  The biggest surprise however was when I opened up the cover to find that the book was published in 1930, not 1938. So happy.

The thing that I am drawn to the most about recipes from this time period is the simplicity of them.  No fancy techniques, no expensive ingredients, no bias toward red meat or for organic.  Things weren't processed back then the way they are these days.  Especially looking at where my family roots come from, farmers, they were working families that lived in rural areas.  They needed meals that fed their body.  They ate to live.  Now days it seems that people live to eat.
Here is a part of one of the pages in the cookbook, it explains how to plan a meal that is nutritious.  Yes, the food pyramid or what ever they call it these days, has changed over the years but to look at it makes total sense.  I love that they suggested a quart of milk a day per person.  Of course, now a days about the same amount is suggested, if you add up the consumption of all things dairy...milks, cheese, yogurt.  Also included are some suggested menus. 
Once again, the simplicity strikes me as appealing.  Their life style is reflective as well.  Dinner or supper is the main meal.  Fresh fruits, vegetables were the norm for daytime.  The dishes prepared for a meal was also reflective of the season.  They were experts at making use of the growing seasons.  Remember, they didn't have chemically preserved foods.  They canned and preserved the vegetables while they were fresh and in season to have during the months that wouldn't be available.  Total pioneers of "sustainable" food sources long before it was the fad.

I wish often that I could back to that time and live there.  As long as I could take my electric washer/dryer, mixer, computer and sewing machine to name a few.  Life and all it's expectations were more simple, purer, back then.  Families took care of families, people had morals, had ethics, believed in church and country.

Enough of my ramblings.  I have to get to the store to pick up a 10 inch iron skillet to make a recipe I found from the 50's for tonight.  I had something else planned for tonight, but have a lot of ground beef left over from the party last night since only a third of the invited showed up.  So...off I go. Thanks for stopping by and come back often.





No comments:

Post a Comment