Tuesday, February 21, 2012

1935 Vintage Cookbook: An Introduction, Part 2

As promised last week, here are more photos from the 1935 GE cookbook, "The New Art" Created by General Electric Kitchen Institute.

Reading this book makes me nostalgic for a time I only know from the stories of my father and his mother. I think we really take for granted the availability of safe and reliable food storage and cooking appliances.

The fridge in the photo below is the same model that my great grandparents and their daughter, my grandmother had in their home. When I was little we would sleep over at my grandmother's house and I still remember laying awake in the dark waiting to hear the condenser on that fridge click on and start humming. For me it is a very comforting sound.

When my grandmother died 21 years ago, my father moved that old fridge into the garage at our family office. When we needed extra fridge space for open houses or parties we would plug it in and it still ran great. I LOVE things that last like that. Unfortunately I doubt I'll ever hear the sound of this style of fridge again. Last year my father gifted that fridge to his friend Jim Laub of Cache Valley Electric. The fridge had originally been purchased there and my father felt like Mr. Laub would be able to restore it to its former glory and be able to display it as a reminder of the company's beginnings.

These units really were a huge leap forward from old fashioned ice boxes. They were cleaner, easier to use, and with consistency of electricity you no longer had to hope your weekly ice delivery was on time.

I kind of wish they had actually taught the economics side of home ec in the classes I took at school. Sure we learned to cook and sew and plan a menu, but we didn't learn about thrift. I was fortunate enough to learn that at home from two very frugal parents who tried hard to provide us with a comfortable lifestyle while still saving money for the future.

If I ever get a new fridge I'm totally having a formal dinner party and making everyone hang out around the open fridge door. Totally.

Courses? Do you know how long it has been since I've had time to plan a meal that didn't all come out of one pot or microwave safe bowl or cereal for that matter? The meal planning principles are actually sound. The only challenge is finding the energy and desire to do the planning and then follow through on it.

For those of you who have always wondered what the difference between dinner and supper is, here's a handy guide http://www.differencebetween.net/language/difference-between-supper-and-dinner/ although there is no author listed and no research sited. Soooo, it could just be some random person's opinion...but hey it sounds plausible.

Yeah I hadn't heard of Macedoine Salad either. The googling is already getting out of hand. http://www.thefoodsection.com/foodsection/2006/05/salade_macdoine.html Uh, and molded spinach salad? This is one of the more normal recipes I could find http://www.ifood.tv/recipe/molded_spinach_salad It is a wonderment that jello salads are dying out, it really is, they are just delightful. Oh and Spanish cream is apparently a type of custard, had to look that up as well.

Sorry to break it to you, but we don't have a guest bed. If you are a house guest here you are sleeping on my shiatsu mat in the living room and getting Fiber One Honey Clusters for every meal, help yourself. Oh, and keep in mind the chinchillas are nocturnal and their wheel is VERY noisy. That means: no bed, no roasted duck, and probably not much sleep. The pears baked in ginger syrup do sound promising though.

The writers of this book love tomatoes, and gelatin, together, A LOT. Why do they serve sweet potatoes for Christmas dinner but not for Thanksgiving? By the way I'm not going to be roasting a goose, I don't even know where to find goose. Cornish game hens, guinea fowl, organic turkey, and rabbit...these I can all buy here, but not goose...unless someone feels like grabbing me one off the golf course, but seriously I'm not plucking anything.

Call me crazy but I don't think we have many After Theatre Suppers these days. I had a bowl of cold popcorn after we got home from a matinee of The Muppets at the Cinefour last night, but that probably doesn't count. Yesterday was president's day, but I didn't make the Washington Birthday Menu...maybe next year.

Beverages in these menus provide a challenge as no one in this house drinks tea, coffee, or alcohol. But hey, water for me, coke for Mike...it isn't authentic but it'll have to do. Here's a sneak peak at some of the recipes offered in the book. I'm sure mine are going to look like glorified dog food next to these, but I don't care as long as it tastes decent.

You'll find there is a slight obsession in this book of serving everything with a garnish of parsley or mint and/or a bed of iceberg lettuce.

My big question is. If I make these recipes, who is willing to be my guinea pigs? I make my coworkers suffer enough as it is with my experiments, I may just get fired on principle if I try to make them eat jellied tomato bouillon.

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