Cooking Golden Era recipes

Discussion in 'Skills and Smarts' started by St. Louis, Jun 12, 2019.

  1. St. Louis

    St. Louis Practically Family

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    Location:
    St. Louis, MO
    Does anyone else here cook from 1930s-1940s cookbooks or magazine recipes?

    This is a hobby of mine, mostly to get myself to eat more veg & whole grains, but also to fit in with my general golden era way of living.

    I'd love to hear about your successes and not-so-successes. I'm not saying I'm a great cook -- I don't always have a lot of time to put together entire meals & I don't have a knack for making things look nice. But I do love making interesting recipes from the era. I enjoy the flavors and textures. Many of the recipes result in smooth, nicely balanced dishes that have some visual interest (well, or they would if someone else were building them) and fresh, not too exotic flavors.

    It's also quite surprising how nutritious these recipes are. These old cookbooks recommend whole grains, lots of vegetables, lots of leafy greens, don't overcook, pay attention to vitamin & mineral content, etc. I have some questions about the salt and sugar content, though I do think this has more to do with modern versions of some prepared foods that go into a few of these recipes.

    Yesterday I made a stuffed pepper: parboiled red pepper, stuffed with rice and various vegetables, topped with buttered breadcrumbs and parsley, then baked for a half hour in 375 degrees. I have to say -- it was delicious and looked really cute. This recipe shows up again and again, in every G.E. cookbook and in many magazines as well.

    If anyone would find it interesting, I could post a few recipes I've tried. I would enjoy hearing about anyone else's experiments too.
     
  2. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    I have quite a few early cookbooks, even though I don't cook very much due to my work schedules. Many of them were my grandmother's, and are in rags and tatters, with stuff torn off can labels and out of newspapers shoved randomly between the pages. One I particularly like is a 1930s volume called the "Searchlight Recipe Book," which is a good primer for basic Depression-era cooking -- nothing fancy, just simple meat-and-potatoes bread-and-butter meals that felt good on the stomach and kept you going for another day. Most of the seasonings tend to be bland, but that's not anything a bit of cayenne won't solve.

    Most of the cookbooks of the Era were pretty church-supperish, but occasionally you'll find some interesting "ethnic fare." I got a good recipe for Hungarian Veal Goulash With Dumplings out of a coverless mid-thirties cookbook I brought home from the dump, and it's very flavorful and satisfying when I have the time to make it. It's basically just stewed veal chunks in a paprika sauce, with boiled dumplings made from a simple flour batter, and it looks disturbingly like dog food on the plate, but it's extremely tasty, and I want some right now.
     
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  3. Colin G

    Colin G Practically Family

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    Location:
    Canada
    I make a lot of old-timey food and ethnic, home-style comfort foods like cabbage rolls, perogies, rouladen and blau kraut, Mexican pazole ect.

    Staples I grew up eating like stuffed peppers mentioned above, roast chicken, stews, roast beef and Sunday dinner things ect ect.

    I cook so my wife and I have leftovers to eat since I love my leftovers for lunch the next day and I refuse to eat fast food.

    I don't like to eat processed food or eat out really unless I'm going out for Chinese or to the local Afghan restaurant. I try to grow as much of my own produce during the summer and what I don't grow, I buy local from the farmers market.
     
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  4. Colin G

    Colin G Practically Family

    Messages:
    662
    Location:
    Canada
    Here is something my Grandma used to make for a family with 9 kids. They were a poor family with a single mom. My grandpa died on the operating table in the 30's during an appendectomy gone wrong.

    She would make this on Sunday to feed my dad and all my aunts and uncles when they were still at home. This is about as depression era as it gets.

    Make meatballs from some ground beef. A standard package size of a pound or so.

    Brown meatballs in a large oven proof dish or roasting pan.

    Add 1 large jar of home canned tomatoes. 1 large store bought can is ok.

    Add 1 tin of canned peas ( or two if you like more peas like I do) with the liquid. ( I know it sounds weird but trust me. )

    The liquid from the canned peas adds some kind of tasty magic that I can't explain.

    Cook this wonderful mess in the oven for about 45 min to an hour and once done the meatballs are in this wonderful tomato gravy with the peas.

    Serve with mashed potatoes and have at it. This will stick to your ribs and is similar to meatloaf.

    This is one of my favourite comfort meals to cook and I think of my grandma every time I make it. I got my wife hooked on it too now and we fight for the leftovers.
     
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  5. 1930artdeco

    1930artdeco Practically Family

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    Location:
    oakland
    I have several cook books-even a Searchlight or two- and one recipe that I refuse to even try to contemplate is 'cow brains'. I know what you can catch from nerve tissue....:( But most recipes I try out are from way before my time i.e.60's and back.

    Mike
     
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  6. Vera Godfrey

    Vera Godfrey Practically Family

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    Location:
    Virginia
    I have several vintage cookbooks. My favorite is one from the 40's. It has a section that has daily menus for every day of the year. I use them a lot, but I usually substitute proteins since a lot of the recipes call for organ meat.
     
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  7. St. Louis

    St. Louis Practically Family

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    I agree about the organ meat. Though when I was small, I liked rabbit kidneys, one of my grandmother's specialities. I find it odd now that I loved the rabbits but didn't seem to mind eating their stewed kidneys. I've grown more squeamish in the intervening years.

    My favorite cookbook author, Ida Bailey Allen, has a couple of very useful wartime books -- one is explicitly meant for women who work outside the home & are still expected to do most of the cooking (though she does indicate that husbands ought to pitch in.) Her book on low-cost cooking has some horrifying recipes in it, including roasted opossum (she admits it has a "peculiar" flavor) and woodchuck. I found the process of trussing a woodchuck so disgusting I actually became nauseated.

    I don't mean to mock 1940s sensibilities. In fact, most of this hobby concerns figuring out what people liked in the Era, and how to make my own eating habits healthier.

    The other day I made an interesting salad that consisted of a peeled tomato, stuffed with celery, radishes, and peas. I mixed the stuffing with a little miracle whip to get it to stay in the tomato, which was supposed to be carved into a flower shape first. It really was good & quite healthy, though my tomato looked a little ... sad.
     
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  8. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    The Depression forced a lot of city people to eat things they might otherwise have found unpalatable, while country folk had long been accustomed to eating what they could forage. I used to dread the nights when we'd have to eat clams or mussels my grandfather had picked up at the shore, along with boiled dandelion greens from the dooryard. Imagine my surprise to learn that people from away would pay good money for a meal like that.

    Organ meats -- or "offal" -- were very very popular during the Depression, and remained so in lower-income households well into the sixties. We ate a lot of fried tripe when I was growing up, and my very favorite food of all was boiled calf's heart.

    Ida Bailey Allen got around. She had a cookbook especially compiled for sale in Woolworth's stores, and I still have my grandmother's copy thereof, complete with copious annotations. Allen also did a lot of specialty cookbooks for her various radio sponsors, including one for Coca-Cola which features more uses for that particular beverage than you ever thought humanly possible. Ever try grapefruit salad steeped in Coke?
     
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  9. GHT

    GHT I'll Lock Up

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    5,873
    Location:
    New Forest
    Rabbit was about the only plentiful meat that you could buy in the UK right up until 1954, when wartime rationing was finally lifted. Rabbit stew and suet dumplings was on the menu of every household, that and liver. Ugh, how I hated liver, it looked like a piece of shoe leather on the plate, probably tasted like it too. Many years later I found an Italian recipe for lambs liver and bacon. I gave it a go and very tentatively tasted it and, amazingly, found it to be rather good. The recipe was called Roman Liver.
     
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  10. 3fingers

    3fingers One Too Many

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    1,553
    Location:
    Illinois
    My family's diet was somewhat unconventional when I was a kid. A lot of wild game and things that were not common. I've always liked liver. As long as the donor steer wasn't a heavy drinker, you're good to go. It is excellent with breaded tomatoes and/or creamed peas. I also eat a fair amount of braunschweiger, which is pork liver.
     
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  11. St. Louis

    St. Louis Practically Family

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    Location:
    St. Louis, MO
    3fingers, this is off topic, but your signature line cracks me up.

    I loved liverwurst when I was a kid. We also ate a fair amount of liver, and we always cooked the gizzards & organ meats of chickens. Do people still do that? This isn't something I would ever make now.

    One thing I've noticed is that magazine recipes from the late 20s through the mid 40s tend to be quite complicated & architectural. Vegetables & meats are arranged in fancy geometric designs, and each section is handled separately -- you boil some ingredient, then assemble it with a fried one, then make a sauce & bake the whole thing. Then you decorate it with (generally) edible garnishes.

    Yesterday I made a "noodle ring," which is another recipe that shows up in many early 20th century cookbooks. It involves layering cooked noodles in a greased ring pan, then adding sautéed onions & other types of cooked vegetables, and finally making a cheese sauce (cheese, milk, breadcrumbs), and finally stirring in beaten eggs into the sauce. Then you pour the sauce into the ring & bake it.

    It was very good & quite comforting. I made it from whole grain elbow macaroni, so I guess it was somewhat healthy. This is fairly typical of recipes I find in these cookbooks: smooth, not too spicy, filling, attractive. Since yesterday was Sunday I had all day to mess with the ingredients, but I sure couldn't cook something like that on a work day.
     
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  12. David Conwill

    David Conwill Call Me a Cab

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    Location:
    Bennington, VT 05201
    We've had enormously good luck with what we just call "1937 Waffles" that come from a Philadelphia Cream Cheese magazine ad from, you guessed it, 1937. I've yet to actually make the cream-cheese sauce, but it sounds delicious. Also, I just pour this batter into our countertop waffle iron and it works great.

    1937 Waffles.jpg
     
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  13. GHT

    GHT I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    5,873
    Location:
    New Forest
    Apologies for the misogynistic tone of this reply, but as you work it's not the easiest thing to do in coming home and spending a couple of hours preparing a meal. My wife and I are childless and we still think that it's a big ask to come home and start again with a meal preparation. Back when the recipes that you talk of were current, rarely did the wife go to work. She stayed home, raised the kids and, in truth, was the general cleaner, cook and bottle washer.

    What can you draw from that? Well it certainly gave the children a good start in life, it probably made every husband lazy and it robbed the lady of the stimulus that only a working life can bring. I say all that because I grew up in a household that had no mother, she died young. I and my three siblings learned to cook clean and keep house, if we didn't we would live in a slum.

    Drawing a veil over that it did at least teach me self sufficiency, I can, and still do, cook. (we have the luxury of cleaning and ironing fairies)
    I do remember that our meals were always an assortment of vegetables with the meat, whatever it was, being the centrepiece on the plate. It wasn't until I travelled that I learned Mediterranean cooking. Dishes like paella, risotto, pasta & bolognese, the all in one sort of meal, very healthy too. Discovering vegetable dishes like lyonnaise potatoes, was a real eye opener, not to say eye watering when peeling the onions. I probably didn't eat garlic until I was an adult, or use spices and herbs to enhance flavours. And as far as I can remember, we never had anything like a deliberate vegetarian meal, like for example, Mushroom Stroganoff.

    That said, I do miss simple meals like steak and kidney pie with boiled potatoes and fresh vegetables. Another British favourite was called bangers & mash, banger being a colloquialism for sausage. Tonight's meal would have been on the menu of old. I'm cooking cottage pie, it's cooked ground beef and onions topped with creamy mashed potatoes, then grilled until brown. Yesteryear the vegetables would have been served separately, but I'm throwing in finely chopped leek, salad pepper, carrot, spring onions and mixed herbs.
     
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  14. 3fingers

    3fingers One Too Many

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    Location:
    Illinois
    Dr. Hertzler was a Kansas MD who was considered a brilliant doc and teacher and obviously he was a pretty witty philosopher as well. He was a man of the era, passing away in 1946.

    Livers and gizzards are still popular. I love chicken livers, but I never could abide gizzards. I'd rather chew on an automobile tire.
     
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  15. St. Louis

    St. Louis Practically Family

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    612
    Location:
    St. Louis, MO
    GHT, that didn't sound misogynist at all. Since I cook from mostly early 30s through mid-40s cookbooks and magazines, I do come across wartime recipes that take current conditions into account. For example, many will try to save on sugars and fats in order to minimize points. I also have a cookbook that is specifically geared to women who are engaged in war-work. The recipes are all supposed to be time-savers, but I have to say, most of them take at least a half hour. The author makes it abundantly clear that this is considered a quick-cooked meal.

    On a side note, speaking of sugar & fat, I mostly cook the recipes exactly as called for. It's an experiment at the moment; I don't really need the extra calories (ahem) but I do find that I'm not tempted to snack & I don't do as much "stress eating."

    When I go to work I bring an old tin lunchbox & pack it with a very elaborate lunch -- sandwiches, gingerbread, fruit, cut-up raw veg like carrots or celery, a tiny jar of olives or little gherkins, and maybe a hard-cooked egg. That kind of a lunch keeps me full & happily working all day. I'm not ravenous when I get home.
     
  16. Radiospector

    Radiospector New in Town

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    I ran across the first volume of the Woolworths service cookbook by ida Bailey allen for a dollar at a book store. It was published in 33 and the original owner had wrote dates on some pages from 1934 . The biscuit recipe in it is great and a few of the desert recipes are built on top of the basic biscuit dough. Her dinner recipes cover everything from veal cutlets to rabbit stew.
     

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    Last edited: Jun 24, 2019
  17. David Conwill

    David Conwill Call Me a Cab

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    That's fun, Radiospector! Does the title "service cookbook" indicate this was the food prepared for the lunch counters?
     
  18. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    That's the one my grandmother had. Good, basic working-class food.
     
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  19. Radiospector

    Radiospector New in Town

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    It doesn’t say, the forward in the book is geared more towards the Woolworths costumers and talks about mrs Allen’s chefs trying new recipes for those who aren’t able to visit her New York location to try recipes.
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2019
  20. Vera Godfrey

    Vera Godfrey Practically Family

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    Location:
    Virginia
    I went to an estate sale this morning and bought several cookbooks from the 30's and 40's and one from 1961 (Betty Crocker's New Picture Cook Book). I'm excited to go through them! One is a little cookie jar shaped pamphlet from a sugar company with cookie recipes in it. I'll share pictures in the thrift store thread when I get home later.
     
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