After I wrote that entry on the Frankfurter Noodle Casserole (which, as Chaos has pointed out, is really just mac n’ cheese with hot dogs), I got interested in finding more vintage cookbooks.
Side note: If you have vintage cookbooks sitting around the house that you no longer want, I would love to give them a new home. I will even spring for shipping. Let me know.
Of course, where do you go when you want something weird, unusual, or old? Yes, folks, it was off to eBay I went.
I searched by the cookbook I already had, the Watkins Company Cookbook, and found several copies for sale. Then I noticed this one seller was auctioning a lot of cookbooks, several of which were small booklets. It also included a copy of the Watkins cookbook from 1926, I believe.
No one had yet to bid, so I put in a max bid of $15. I kind of forgot about it, but fortunately I won the auction at $15! The seller immediately got the cookbooks in the mail, and I got them over the Thanksgiving holiday.
I was blown away by how many booklets were in this pack. The seller had mentioned maybe six or seven by name, but there are at least ten. I think I definitely got a good deal!
So I’ve been reading some of these cookbooklets in my free time, here and there. My favorite so far is To Your Taste: Butter. It was written in the 1950s, and it encourages women to cook with butter again, once the rationing was lifted following the end of World War II. And guess who it was printed by???
The National Dairy Council!
Hehe. No wonder they want you to cook with butter.
The inside front page lays down who this book is for: “dedicated to BRIDES, those who have been brides, those who hope to be brides.” Because, you know, cooking is wimmin’s work!!!
“If you’re eager to please your husband with your cooking — and what bride, new or old, isn’t — and if you have fastidious small fry, you’ll be delighted by how much they enjoy their meals when you cook with butter.”
Gotta love how sexist these little booklets are.
Page 6 features a drawing of a king at his dinner table: “something new?” is the header (the whole booklet is arranged by the old saying, “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue” as to what a bride should wear on her wedding day). It goes on, “No, HE’S not being fussy — really, he’s an easy man to please. He likes simple food that tastes good — like good butter on good bread, butter melting on mealy baked potatoes or topping creamy mashed potatoes or adding something special to just plain stewed tomatoes. He likes food with the sort of flavor that starts another husband saying to his wife, ‘What was it Jim’s bride served on those waffles tonight?'”
Because you know, the only way women had to compete back then was how well they took care of their husbands.
Think of the ideal 1950s housewife. The woman who was a lady in all her interactions, who vacuumed in pearls and high heels, who brought her husband his pipe and his slippers and a highball as soon as he came home from work, who made sure the children were quiet so they wouldn’t disturb the man of the household after a stressful day at work.
How far we have come since then.
Which isn’t to say that I wish we didn’t keep some of those traditions. For one thing, though I am glad that Kurt doesn’t lord his manhood over me, I think men are sold short nowadays. In the media, they’re portrayed as overgrown kids, as just another child that that wife has to manage. Whatever happened to a man acting like an adult and at least sharing the responsibility of the household?
Another thing, I am sick and tired of seeing people out shopping in their pajamas. I don’t care how old (or young) you are; you have no business being out in public in your nightclothes, unless you are standing in line at CVS with a huge bottle of Nyquil. I don’t expect people to dress up like they did in the 1950s, complete with gloves and hat, but at least put on a decent pair of jeans and a nice t-shirt. In other words, get dressed, people! An addendum to this would point out that slippers are not proper footwear. Yes, you may get the newspaper from your front lawn while dressed in a robe and slippers, but any farther away from your house and you need to put on shoes.
Hmmm, well, it always surprises me the tangents I go off on when I’m writing!
At any rate, let me leave you with a recipe from the “something old” section of this booklet, one that makes my mouth water. But I can feel my arteries hardening, just from reading the recipe. Enjoy!
Butter-fried chicken … and butter is its secret
2 to 3 pound dressed young chicken, cut-up
3/4 cup flour
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 pound (1/2 cup) butter
2 cups milk, or more, for gravy
Coat chicken Great-Grandma’s easy way: combine flour, salt, pepper in paper bag; add chicken, few pieces at a time; shake. Melt the butter slowly in heavy skillet or chicken fryer* till butter bubbles or drop of water put in it sizzles. Add the meaty pieces of chicken; reduce heat; brown lightly one on side, 15 to 20 minutes. (As these brown, add less meaty pieces, or use another skillet for them.) Turn chicken with tongs or 2 spoons. Cover tightly and cook over low heat 30 minutes or till chicken is fork-tender. Uncover and cook 15 minutes for that crisp crust with a flavor found only in butter-fried chicken. (Add liver, pre-cooked heart and gizzard last 15 minutes.)
*Great-Grandma made her chicken fryer — an iron skillet with tight cover. If your cover doesn’t fit tightly, add 2 tablespoons water while cooking; chicken re-crisps when uncovered last 15 minutes.