Sunday, June 10, 2007

My Grandmother's first Cookbook

In 1952 my Grandfather and Grandmother were married. There first dinner together as a couple consisted of sardine sandwiches, Grandpa thought this was an interesting meal for their first night as husband a wife, but ok. The second night for dinner Grandma served sardine sandwiches. Grandpa thought ok my new wife is very good at watching her dollar, this is a nice thing as newly weds. On the third evening they were married, you guessed it, sardine sandwiches. Grandpa decided it was time to ask. Do you know how to cook? My Grandmother's answer was no, not at all. So my Grandfather bought my Grandmother her first cookbook, and that cookbook was Modern Encyclopedia of Cooking, with the caption: "A modern cook book, complete in every detail, brings the latest development in home economics into your kitchen for a simpler, better and richer life". My Grandmother did learn to cook from this cookbook and if I remember correctly, she wasn’t half bad.

A few years my Grandfather gave me that cookbook and I treasure it more then any other cookbook I have. It has all the basics you need to be a home cook in 1952, from how to pluck a chicken, carve a deer, or make a pie crust. Today I am going to share a little excerpt from the cookbook.

How to Make the Best Fruit Pies
When a Fruit pie is double or single crusted, lattice-covered or with a streusel top, the bottom should be as flaky as a top pie crust, tender and richly but not heavily browned. The fruit should no longer be raw, but should still retain its original form and have a natural lively flavor. There should be enough slightly thickened juice with a clear fruit color and flavor to keep the fruit moist and enough extra juice to flow slightly when the pie is cut. A thin, watery juice in a pie is difficult to eat, and both flavor and food value are lacking. Old-time good cooks rarely used any thickening in fruit or berry pies, but most of them used a little baking powder in the pastry. The addition of baking powder produced a thicker crust that was puffy and porous. The inside layers of such pastry absorbed some of the excess fruit juice, but the juice remaining was beautifully clear in color. The juice if these pies did flow some when the pieces were cut, and the wedges were not as neat appearing as they would have been if thickening had been used, but to folks who remember those pies, their eating quality has never been surpassed.
Present day standards for good pie also strive for excellent flavor of old-time unthickened pie fillings without sacrificing the crisp, flaky bottom crust…

One of my favorite things about having this cookbook is that I know what some of the families favorite recipes were from how stained the pages are.


Erin S. said...

What a great post! Thanks for sharing this family story, and thanks for stopping by my blog. I'm from the Midwest originally (Wisconsin) and my family's from Michigan, so I'll be sure to stop by frequently.

Truffle said...

What a lovely story! I adore heirloom cookbooks and this one looks particularly treasured.

b said...

That's really cute. Cool that you still have the cookbook.

Stephanie said...

Maybe you should create a gourmet sardine sandwich and post about it?!