Monday, February 13, 2012

1935 Vintage Cookbook: An Introduction, Part 1

My mother found an old cookbook while she was thinning out the contents of one of her book cases the other day. I borrowed it out of curiosity. It is called "The New Art Of Buying, Preserving and Preparing Foods" Presented by General Electric Kitchen Institute of Nela Park, Cleveland, Ohio. It was copyrighted in 1935. Did you notice that the table on the cover is shaped like an artist's palette? As if just saying "The New Art of..." wasn't enough to drive the point home. Cookbooks, food styling, and cookbook photography have come a LONG way!

Notice the price. $1, in 2012 that would make this little 112 page promotional cookbook about $17, with tax it would be a little over $18.

It was obviously designed to help sell GE products but some of the recipes don't sound half bad...granted some of them do sound half bad or even all bad: tomato aspic or clam juice cocktail anyone? But it also has meal planning guides, menus, and other helpful tips.

I love this book and the glimpse it gives into the era it was written. There are some things that seem completely absurd today, but there are other parts of the book that are just plain good advice. The basics of cooking haven't changed much, just the tools we use.

I'm going to cook my way through a few of the more interesting recipes and see how they turn out. I'm sure there is going to be much googling involved because some of the ingredients I've never heard of before, and they may not be available.

Excerpt: "In the General Electric Kitchen, one kilowatt hour of electricity will do an hour's work of 13 people. If you had a servant laboring continuously for 13 hours in your kitchen she could do no more than that one little unit of electrical energy." Oh good! My servants are going to be soooo relieved!

Excerpts: "A General Electric range automatically cooks the meal and she can be miles away. She can go shopping--or wherever she wishes--and when she returns her dinner will be piping hot and ready to serve, at any hour she desires." I wonder how many people actually burned down their homes trying this tip? "A General Electric dishwasher actually washes and dries all of the dishes, silverware, pots and pans in 5 minutes." 5 minutes?!? Really? Because 77 years later our massive leaps in technology mean that the faster setting on my dishwasher still takes at least half an hour, the deep clean cycle takes almost 2 hours to wash and dry. How clean were those dishes really getting? "Magic electric servants work for her, giving her new joyous hours of freedom--hours she can spend in any way she chooses." I wish I had magic servants!

Here are the next few pages from the book.

Lost youth and beauty? Hahahaha, now we pay to exercise and here they were trying to cut it out! Do you notice how the basic layout of the kitchen didn't actually change? I kind of doubt just replacing the existing appliances with electric ones really saved that many steps.

Stayed tuned for next week's exciting topics! Such as: The New Art Of Preparing Food In Advance, Food Preservation And The General Electric Refrigerator, Economy In Food Buying Larger Market Orders Will Save You Money, and The New Art Of Entertaining.

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