Old Food? No, I’m not recycling leftovers.
I’m using well-worn family recipe collections to recreate a slice of mid-20th Century American life. It’s food with a history. Old Food, get it?
I’m not interested in perusing the old tomes from Betty Crocker or Fanny Farmer or Julia–although there are good times to be had with those collections. I’m more intent on sifting through the dog-eared and yellowing pages of promotional booklets that homemakers collected from the 1920s to 1970s. Women from that generation were getting to know and use modern kitchen appliances for the first time, and manufacturers and their home economists wanted to help them find success. At least that’s why I imagine these publications existed. Other booklets came from food manufacturers with lots of emphasis on flour and baking powder or shortening, and the majority of books in my collection extol the virtues of a pastry-rich life.
The content is prepared for homemakers who had more time than we do today for grocery shopping, food preparation and presentation, and I thought it would be fun to recreate some of their concoctions–maybe once a week or so–just for a bit of time travel based from my modern kitchen. When I can I’ll try to dig deeper and learn a bit more about the times, particular foods and cooking practices, so expect to see food and culinary historians appear in posts from time to time.
Like any voyage, I’m bracing myself for surprises–some good and bad, some delicious or disappointing, some applicable to life now, others out of the question.
One things’s for certain. I’ll do my best to channel the kitchen productions that were always underway at my Nana’s house. She and her coal-fired stove could produce the most delicious of things–from toast(she’d stick a slice of bread onto a long fork and hold it over the coals) and coconut cake to her Thanksgiving turkey. My husband’s mother and grandmother were also fine cooks, and some of the publications I’ll be using came from his side of the family.
There’s a lot of love in these books. These resourceful women cooked from the heart to feed their husbands and children, and I hope I can whip up, at the very least, some good food to serve around my own dinner table. Even in 2013, it’s still one of the nicest ways to say you care.