Friday, October 12, 2012

My Vintage: Recipe Books

This small collection of antique and vintage recipe books is the last souvenir my mom picked up for me when the family was clearing out my grandparents home (which, excitingly, my brother's family will be moving into shortly). As such a huge book lover, this is one of my most treasured mementos.

To make it easier, I've numbered the books one through four and will talk about each individually as well as some of their common features that I love.
#1: Let's Cook it Right!, Publication 514, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food (no date)
#2: Treasured Recipes, compiled by Chisholm Women's Institute, Powassan, Ontario, 1972
#3: The Modern Family Cook Book by Meta Given - published by J.G. Ferguson Publishing Company, Chicago, 1961
#4: The American Woman's Cook Book, National Binding, edited by Ruth Berolzheimer - published by Culinary Arts Institute, Chicago, 1953

First off, I was delighted to find out how old these larger two are!

They are full of awesome housekeeping and menu-making advice, a wide range of recipes and wonderful photographs and illustrations. Just take a look at that unhappy pot (and that orange one is simply darling!):

One thing that seems to be common in vintage recipe books (but not so much in modern ones) are these cute sayings:
They make me think of a sign my grandma might have hung in the kitchen at the cottage.

I also found that these vintage cook books dedicated sections to meal planning and balancing a healthy diet... something that should probably be more of a focus in modern cookbooks! That being said, the suggested menus seem to be a bit large, until you remember that our portion sizes have grown significantly since these books were published. They aren't all that appetizing either... 

OK, let's take a look at each of the books individually. First, Let's Cook It Right!
This one is small, but packed with great information on cooking times and food preparation. The illustrations and cover are pretty sweet too.

Here are some Treasured Recipes - first though, we need a close-up of that cover:
How awesome is that? This book was released for the 60th anniversary of the Chisholm Women's Institute - I'm pretty sure this is a cake and costumed participant at the celebration event.
I love this book because it was produced locally - all the recipes are signed by the women who submitted them. The ads and extra recipes written by my grandma are the best part.

The Modern Family Cook Book boasted about its new colour photos - and you can see why:
The dated recipes and homemaking advice make me laugh (the first recipe I flipped to included MSG!) - but that fish diagram and the mod cover art are so good!

Lastly, The American Woman's Cook Book:
This one is probably my favourite. It's chock full of awesome advice, divided somewhat randomly with those lovely indents and also has some hilariously dated material. It's a hefty one too - heavier than the other three combined!

I think the very best part about these books isn't what's printed in them though - it's all the little extra bits and pieces that my grandma left behind:
I'm really looking forward to trying some of her recipes and digging more deeply into these.

Do you have any vintage cookbooks? Do you use them for cooking or crafting purposes? (I'm really tempted to use some of these lovely pages in my journaling... except I can't bear to tear them up.)

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