When we bought our little farm, we told the elderly woman who’d been living there she could leave behind any junk she didn’t want to move and we’d deal with it.  In addition to quite a few tools and farm implements, she left behind two shelves full of books, including some old, faded cookbooks published in the 1950s.  Chareva looks up recipes in those books now and then and noticed some interesting entries recently.

The first was the opening of the section on poultry in a Better Homes & Gardens cookbook.  The section was titled To Clean Poultry:

Pick poultry dry or dip into hot, not boiling, water until water penetrates the skin.  Grasp feathers close to skin and pull in the direction they grow, not against it.  Cut off wing tips if desired.  Singe by holding dry bird over direct flame, turning to expose all parts of the body.  Remove pinfeathers with tweezers, or use the dull edge of a knife.

Cut around vent and make slit almost to the breastbone.  Insert hand and carefully loosen entrails from back and sides; pull out, making sure lungs are removed.  Push back skin of neck; cut off neck close to the body and remove windpipe.  Separate gizzard, heart, and liver and cut away gall bladder attached to liver, being careful not to break it.  Cut through thickest part of gizzard; open and pull out sac.  Remove oil sac from tail.

Gizzard?  Gall bladder?  Lungs?  How many cooks these days would even know what those look like?  I don’t think I could identify a gall bladder.  We’re so far removed from our food these days, it’s actually surprising to find a cookbook that describes how to clean a chicken.

Another interesting section in the same cookbook is titled Your Daily Food Plan.  Here are the recommendations:

  • Leafy green and yellow vegetables:  one or more servings per day.
  • Eggs:  preferably one each day, at least four per week.
  • Milk and cheese:  Children through teens, 3 ½ cups to one quart of milk.  Adults, 2 ½ to 3 cups.  (There are conversions listed for cheese.)
  • Potatoes and other vegetables: two servings per day.
  • Citrus fruits:  one per day.
  • Meat, poultry, fish:  one serving every day.  Include liver, heart and other organ meats.
  • Breads, cereals:  some each day.
  • Dry beans and peas, nuts:  one or more servings per week.
  • Fats and oils:  some every day and as needed in cooking.

We went from those recommendations in the 1950s to being told to avoid eggs, butter and whole milk and to consume 6-11 servings of grains per day in the 1970s.  Boy, that sure worked out.

In an old Betty Crocker cookbook, Chareva found this introduction to the Meat section:

Meat has been the backbone of man’s diet from the beginning of time.  Wild fowl and fish were devoured with the deer and wild boar which the caveman brought from the hunt.  The great feasts of medieval times were made up of meat and very little else.  It is not strange that food in those times was referred to merely as “meat.”

Less than fifty years ago in our own country, any dinner or banquet worthy of the name included a separate fish course, a main course usually referred to as “the roast,” an “entrée” or made-dish such as creamed sweetbreads or chicken patties.

Family and guests in a famous Washington mansion at the beginning of this century started Thanksgiving Day with a Porterhouse steak and codfish balls for breakfast.  The dinner a few hours later began with oysters on the half shell, followed by cream of chicken soup.  Next came fried smelts with tartar sauce.  All this was the prelude to the roast turkey with cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, baked squash, boiled onions, and parsnip fritters.  Following was chicken salad, then a venison pastry.  The traditional mince and pumpkin pie shared honors as dessert with ice cream and hickory nut cake.  Fruit and cheese topped off the meal.  In the even, a supper was served including cold roast turkey and scalloped oysters.

Today we are content with a serving of meat, poultry or fish for dinner.  Without one of these three, it is an unsatisfactory meal for most people, undoubtedly because they miss essential nutrition elements. All three give adequate amounts of high quality protein and B-complex vitamins.  Only fish also gives some vitamin D, and fish is a good source of vitamin A.  Meat is particularly rich in iron and phosphorous for blood and bones. Shellfish and salt-water fish contain more iodine than other common food.  In addition, the fat of these foods is a rich source of energy … it also adds flavor and eating enjoyment.

That’s what your grandmother or perhaps your great-grandmother knew about cooking and how to feed a family.

Too bad we decided Grandma didn’t know as much as all those experts in the 1970s.

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48 Responses to “Your Grandma’s Cookbooks”
  1. Bradlee C. says:

    Well, my grandma smoked 2-3 packs of cigarettes a day. I’ll defer to Betty Crocker.

    Probably a good idea in that case.

  2. Trina says:

    Funny, I stumbled on this video of Jack Lalanne today (must be from the late 50′s or early 60′s?). He’s telling people to stop eating sugar and eat protein and veggies. I was amazed he knew the score even back then. No doubt he lived to 96 in great health. Dr. Davis mentioned he refused to see a doctor at the end of his life. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=LJVEPB_l8FU

  3. Michael Cohen says:

    I am a cook and have many cookbooks. One is a Chinese food cookbook from the 1930′s. All of the stir-fry recipes call for lard.
    Another is “The Yankee Cookbook” 1939 edition. The classic Boston baked bean recipe calls for a Quart of pea beans (almost 2 lbs), 1 1/2 TBL Brown Sugar and 1/4 C of molasses. “Cape Cod cooks add 1/2 C cream in the last half hour of cooking”
    A modern book called “Barbecue USA” has a recipe called “Beanhole Beans” which calls for 1 Lb beans 1/2 C molasses,1/2 C Ketchup, 1/3 C Brown sugar (or more to taste). That would roughly equate to 2 2/3 C of sweeteners in the older recipe or roughly 10 times the sugar.

    Yikes.

  4. JK says:

    Ah, our grandparents knew what a good diet was as you can see from your books. This knowledge was passed on from mother to child and the girls were thoroughly instructed what to do and how to cook such meals whenever affordable. Home cooking was something to be proud of. Making sure that sufficient food was preserved and stored for the winter was an essential job for the whole family. That included slaughtering animals and preserving the meats in autumn. I have helped as a child. Until food became too easy to buy in the supermarkets, almost cheaper then home grown food. And preserving food was left to the industries. Industries who started to use science to bamboozle us about what was in our food. And to use this science to bamboozle us about the “health” benefits of their food. Scientific Correctness became the order of the day. And still is. This SC stops us now often from being able to buy wholesome, healthy food. Like it’s sibling, Political Correctness, SC is being used to blackmail people into believing that deviation from the rules set by the food industries employed scientists would be akin to blasphemy. The law makers followed to make sure we would not deviate and now we see too often that growing one’s own food has become a sort of crime. What interesting times we live in…

    Yes, and we have many interesting years ahead of us.

  5. nonegiven says:

    I remember my grandma saying she was going to have chicken for dinner. Then she walked out the kitchen door, grabbed a chicken and jerked its head off with her bare hands.
    My husband remembers when his grandparents split a hog with another family. He walked into the kitchen one day and there was half the hog’s head sitting on the table, it had been cut right down the center and his grandma was about to make headcheese. (Headcheese is gross)

    My mom remembers her grandmother walking out back, selecting a chicken for dinner, and breaking its neck with one twist of her hand. She also remembers none of them ever gave grandma any backtalk after seeing that.

  6. Dan Hall says:

    Rant Alert! Look at all of the whole foods listed in that recommendation. How could that not be better than what is recommended now. I doubt that even the bread, cereals and oils were as bad, as they are now. At least animal derived fats were included. Even the grains were not the mutated dwarf wheats, that most breads and cereals are made from today. I know correlation does not prove causation, but why don’t the health experts see at least a possibility of relationship between the mutated, processed, low fat and sweetened foods people eat and are told to eat and the myriad afflictions that are prevalent today.

    I know that I’m preaching to the choir, but I needed to get that out. Unfortunately, I’m probably angrier now, than when I started.

    Now, I’ll just bang my head against my iPad. I’d like to rap my knuckles against the heads of people in the USDA and FDA and ask if there is any intelligent life in there.

    Thanks for reading.

    PS, Tom, “Telling Writing” is on the way. Will it provide guidance on proper punctuation? I’m the most confused person in th world, when it comes to using commas, colons, and semi colons. Do you have any other recommendations. Thanks

    “Telling Writing” is mostly about turning dead “Engfish” prose into lively prose. I can’t think of any good books on punctuation.

  7. Justin B says:

    In a weird coincidence, the season premiere of The Looney Tunes Show a few weeks ago was about “grandma’s cookbook” as well. Sadly, it went entirely in the wrong direction. Bugs Bunny got fat off of the recipes from the cookbook, and the catchphrase of the episode that everybody kept telling him was “Nobody should eat that much butter”. You know, because our grandparents were much fatter than we are now, right?

    Well, they did have a point: bunnies shouldn’t eat butter.

  8. Pierce says:

    I found a cookbook at my grandmother’s beach house (to be fair, I think she’d picked it up a few years ago in a yard sale, but it was of her generation) that was a very mainstream one. It may even have been Betty Crocker. It had all the normal stuff and then a section on “game,” with recipes ranging from squirrel to bear. Yes, bear. Nowadays there are people who won’t even eat chicken unless it’s boneless and skinless breasts. I guess times have changed.

    Wow … it would take a brave hunter to go after a bear.

  9. Brian Schultze says:

    Google Books is a great place to find old cook books from the mid 1800′s. I looked up how to make butter in one of them, the recipe started out “First make sure the cow’s udders are clean…”.

    I love it.

  10. Trina says:

    My husband and I were just lamenting that when my grandmother cooked chicken or turkey it always came with the neck, liver and other “stuff”. The organs were wrapped up inside the cavity of the bird and she would take them out and put them in the pan with the bird to cook. I haven’t seen those things come with the bird in years. As a young child, I always wanted the liver – they tasted so good cooked that way. She also told us stories of how her mother (my great grandmother) managed a farm with my great grandfather in Saskatchewan. She had 15 farm hands to feed two meals a day. She got up before the sun and made everything herself. She went out and killed the chickens and plucked them and cooked them. I would listen to these stories and wonder how she did it – I couldn’t imagine it … we’re spoiled today.

    Are are indeed. Chareva wants to learn to clean and cook an actual chicken. Among our future plans for the farm is getting a rooster, expanding the flock of chickens, and plucking out some males for dinners.

  11. Linda R says:

    Yup, I have that exact copy of Betty Crocker’s Cookbook sitting here in my kitchen.
    When I was still married and living on a farm in Nebraska, I cooked from scratch and used those recipes a lot, mainly to feed hubby who never had a weight problem, held down a full time job and kept the farm going as well. Unfortunately that was back during my low fat/count calories/walk my butt off outside days, struggling to lose 30 pounds and hungry all the time because I also baked tons of homemade bread with regular white flour. This was during the 80′s and 90′s, I was just starting to hear about Dr. Atkins, no internet to learn from, lots of frustration.
    If I only knew then what I know now……………………………………………….

    My thoughts exactly.

  12. Craig says:

    I have a friend who is an avid hunter and one of his favorite cookbooks is an old edition of “The Joy of Cooking.” Apparently hunters seek out the old editions because they are full of wild game recipes that got removed a couple decades ago.

    I may have to find one of those. We see deer on our land and I may decide to bag one someday.

  13. Reeda says:

    I have a soft spot for old cookbooks. The thing that jumps out at me in my 1965 Better Homes & Gardens Meat Cook Book is a section on the different cuts of meat and the methods one should use to prepare them. In all the pictures, the cuts of meat are insanely fatty (even to my low-carb eyes). In fact, almost all of the photos throughout the book show the meat cooked in all its fatty glory. No trying to make anything look lean here. Even the recipes that call for chicken breasts are full of butter and cream.

    And yet we weren’t talking about an obesity epidemic back then.

  14. Re: Bunnies eating butter …

    Wasn’t that the first “scientific evidence” of the health dangers of cholesterol? Rabbits were fed cholesterol, which they’re not adapted to, and they developed atherosclerosis. http://www.westonaprice.org/thumbs-down-reviews/cholesterol-wars-steinberg

    Yup. They fed animal fat to herbivores and thought the results were relevant for humans.

  15. Pat says:

    OT – for Dan Hall, “Eats, shoots and Leaves” is all about punctuation, and pretty funny too.

  16. Reeda says:

    @Dan Hall: Consider ordering The Writer’s Digest Grammar Desk Reference. I have the 2005 version, but there is one that is more recent. It covers punctuation, grammar, and basic errors in style. It uses examples from published sources (so you don’t have to feel bad about making errors–even the pros do it!), shows you the error, and shows you what the correction should be. Very straightforward and useful. Easy to use.

  17. Marilyn says:

    Gizzards! I just bought a package when I ordered some kosher chicken a while back. They’re waiting for me in the freezer.

    You do’t have to go back to the 1950s to see how things are changed. My 1970s cookbooks show cuts of meat with FAT on them!

    If you want a hilarious book about how NOT to write, take a look at “Anguished English.”

  18. Bevie says:

    I love old cookbooks! I cook often out of the 1940 Better Homes cookbook and people wonder why meals at my house taste so much better that they are used to. It is the real food ingredients! I was shocked a few days ago that a fairly intelligent individual that I work with had no clue what part of a pumpkin got eaten. I think it had not occurred to me that it was no longer common for people to cook it from scratch. I don’t think I have even seen a new cookbook with instructions for cooking a whole pumpkin in a long time.
    For those who do not have access to a real live heritage cookbook, many old editions are available digitally through Gutenberg Project and the like. I have a 1912 edition of the Boston Cooking School cookbook on my Nook with recipes for things like lamb kidney and real bone based broth, right alongside chops and roasts like it was normal everyday food. Let’s face it, it WAS everyday food then. Those lucky bums.
    –Dan Hall, go find a copy of “Eats, Shoots and Leaves” for punctuation advice, concise and amusing.

  19. Marilyn says:

    The woman who played Betty Crocker from 1949-1964, “. . . moved to the Pacific Northwest with her second husband, Naval Air Cmdr. Laurence Gordon Cumming, and taught English as a second language, which she continued until December 18, 1998, giving her final class three days before her death. Cumming died on December 21, 1998 at Harrison Hospital, Bremerton, Washington, aged 93.

    Maybe she ate plenty of those fatty cuts of meat pictured in those cookbooks ? ? ?

    Judging by the recipes, yes.

  20. Susan says:

    With few exceptions, I cook all of mine and my husband’s evening meals. This, on rare occasions, will include venison from deer that my husband shoots. He is an awesome “crack” shot! I am always impressed when I watch him hunt. I am hoping he bags a elk this year. Anyway, one year we decided to butcher the venison ourselves instead of having to pay to have it processed. We happened to have a elderly couple at our home who were helping us butcher our deer and we were helping them butcher the one that my husband had shot for them. We were quite a sight! All four of us had knives in our hands. Our older lady friend actually had a small hatchet in hers as all the good knives were already spoken for. We had surgical gloves on, the deer was gutted and laid out on our dining room table and there was blood on everyone. I had to laugh at the sight of us, because it was actually Halloween evening! Fortunately, we had not had a “Trick ‘R Treater” in years!

    That sounds a bit messy.

    Years ago I had a comedy gig in Montana. The club put us up in an awful hotel. There were signs on the doors: Hunters, do not clean game in your hotel room. So I knew the reason there were big dark spots on the carpet in my room.

  21. Derper says:

    Wow… that’s a messed up cookbook… torture a chicken like that without the decency to kill it first?

    That was the CIA version, I guess.

  22. tess says:

    :-) coincidentally, i wrote on this subject a few months ago….

    but while reading your posting, i became irresistibly tempted to tell about a book of MY grandmother’s. she was in college studying home economics about the time of the Great War, and i have a couple of her textbooks. :-D one, entitled “Textbook of Cooking” kept pointing out what an important nutritional source of energy sugar is!

    she was an outstanding cook, my grandmother … but unfortunately obese. she died of cancer at 86.

    Apparently future generations took that message to heart.

  23. LXV says:

    I was telling my mom about some new recipes and foods I was trying. After I told her about my new liver recipe and my husband’s penchant for eating buttered brussel sprouts as an after work snack, my mom laughed and told her I eat exactly the way my great-grandma did.

  24. LCNana says:

    For Dan Hall above, just google something like “Pocket Guide for Correct Grammar” and you’ll get something. Or look for grammar books used by journalists – they would show you the kind of grammar you are used to seeing in papers and magazines. Google “style and usage” and lots will show up.

    Tom, Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking also shows how we used to cook in the 50s. Lots of meat/fish/poultry, and most of the veggies are cooked – not the huge amounts of “roughage” aka salad that we choke down now. And of course her favourite BUTTER.

    Thanks for getting us to think of the good old days when food was just, well, FOOD!

    Yup, she was big on butter.

  25. Marilyn says:

    One thing missing from this discussion of old cookbooks: Tell us where to get the good meats we used to be able to get. Everything’s been wrecked. Chicken thighs are no longer dark meat; they’re white and dry like chicken breast — even the “organic” or “free range” chickens. Pork chops (“the other white meat”) are like so much cardboard. . . No matter how much fat one adds, they simply don’t taste good like they used to.

  26. @Bevie – You’re right about Project Gutenberg. Here’s the bookshelf: http://www.gutenberg.org/wiki/Cookery_%28Bookshelf%29

    @Tom – Those stains on the hotel rug sound like a setup for an episode of Dexter.

    And my own favorite old cookbook described an interested way to preserve sausage: http://cooklikeyourgrandmother.com/2008/10/more-remarkable-danish-recipes/

    That same night, I stepped out of bed to go the bathroom and something grabbed my toe. Not exactly the best gig of my life.

  27. Pat says:

    “Food that really Schmecks” is an old Canadian Mennonite cookbook – and the recipes are wonderful. I gave away my paperback when I went low-fat and regretted it, but now I have the e-book.

  28. Sue D says:

    I guess I missed out in the good old days (b.52). My memories are not as fond. Breakfast was toast or cereal, lunch chicken noodle soup, mac & cheese or a sandwich. For dinner, we did have pressure cooked roast beef or pork a couple times a month, hamburgers, hot dogs, potatos, other starches and casseroles. The only seafood was either frozen breaded stuff, fresh lake perch fried to death or rarely, smoked fish. Vegetables were from a can as were soups and most fruit. Ham or turkey was a holiday treat shared with many. Living in America’s Dairland, we did have lots of milk, butter and ice cream.

    I think many of our food choices back then and today are socioeconomic more than nutitional. You eat what you can afford. Which is why so many people make seemingly bad choices. At least back then, we did eat somewhat less processed junk and real dairy products. But what seems to have tipped the balance to obesity, is portion size.

    Portion size and a higher proportion of refined carbohydrates in those larger portions.

  29. sapphirepaw says:

    Last Thanksgiving was the first time I tried to cook the giblets from the turkey. That was an interesting experiment. Most of it turned out okay.

    I can’t seem to find it on the shelf tonight, but I swear we have an antique cookbook lying around somewhere that specifies a minimum of 3500 calories per day, up to 5000 for laborers. I wish I could find it so I could give the exact figures and year of publication.

  30. sapphirepaw says:

    OK, so I found the book: it’s “Mrs. Allen’s Cook Book” by Ida C. Bailey Allen, copyright 1917, apparently in the days of “scientific cookery” when calories were new and confusing. Anyway, the calorie requirements I poorly remembered…

    A man without work: 2450 calories. A man doing moderate work: 3000 calories. A man doing hard work: from 3400 to 5500 calories.

    They further have a chart with the breakdown of calories for each activity level. I crunched it in Excel, and their numbers consistently work out to: 1/6 of the calories from protein, 1/4 from fat, and the remaining 7/12 (aka 58.3%) from carbohydrates.

    It’s interesting that carb-heavy diets and calories-in/calories-out were around in some form even before 1920, but I don’t know if anyone actually ate like that back then.

    I doubt very many people ate what we’d consider a low-carb diet, but I also doubt they consumed the high amounts of sugar and white flour that people do today.

  31. Bret says:

    Back before my low carb awareness revolution, I saw an old episode of The French Chef on omelettes, when Julia said that an omelette would make a “lovely little lunch” alongside a green salad. I remember thinking, “How is that a whole lunch? There’s no carbohydrate…it’s not balanced.” What a dummy.

    Julia Child lived to be two days shy of 92, by the way. I don’t think there’s any mystery as to why.

    To heck with balance. Give me more butter.

  32. Galina L. says:

    People in previous generations did’t fear any food – fatty cuts, sweet deserts, organ meats, whatever. There is something particularly fattening in American food supply. Right now I am in Russia visiting my mom. Genereal crowd looks strangely theen (I know they are not particulerly healthy). In metro maybe 1 – 2 out of 100 people look overweight. Threre are a lot of junk nowadays sold in stores, bread is consumed with every meal, fast food is getting more popular, everybody cooks with sanflower oil.

  33. Martha says:

    @ Dan Hall, in addition to “Eats, Shoots, andLeaves” which is well-written, grammatically correct and hilarious, there is another great, funny, correct book on the differences in journalistic style called “Falling Into a Comma”. Apparently there was a big difference of opinion about correct usage between New York and Chicago newspaper editors.

    On topic. I can remember watching my grandfather dispatch chickens and other dinner birds with a hatchet and then helping him pluck them, before going indoors to help my grandmother clean them. FYI, a gall bladder is a small, round, green organ full of yellow-green bile that is supremely bitter and will ruin any meat the bile touches ( and can’t be washed off). Also, FYI, water birds (ducks, geese, etc.) must be plucked dry – hot water opens the oil glands at the base of each feather and makes the feathers too slippery to grab. I got a kick out of watching a cooking competition on TV where the famous chefs were presented with ducks with the feathers on and tried the hot water method to pluck them. The chefs failed miserably, as I sat back and shouted rude things at the TV.

    If I ever take up hunting on our land, I have a lot to learn to avoid ruining any birds I bag.

  34. Marilyn says:

    “Farm Journal’s Country Cookbook” 1959/1972
    Chapter 1. Meats. The Menu Focus
    Chapter 2. The Poultry Quartet
    Chapter 3. Fish and Game Roundup

    In the third chapter:
    5 venison recipes
    2 pheasant recipes
    6 wild duck recipes, 1 wild goose recipe
    3 rabbit recipes
    AND
    1 roast racoon recipe!

    A quick glance over the meat recipes revealed no recipes that began “trim the fat from the meat.”

    Roast raccoon … I but nobody makes that one anymore, not even here in the south.

  35. Underground says:

    Cooking game, or even non-mass produced chicken or turkey is quite different. For instance even the “whole” chickens in the grocery have quite a bit of a sodium and other preservative liquid injected. This not only makes them heavier (price per pound) but changes the cooking characteristics. People added fat because it would tend to dry out otherwise.

    When we cooked dove breasts we would often wrap them in bacon and grill them. Squirrel usually goes in a stew of some sort. Fried rabbit is awesome on it’s on, although it’s pretty good with a heavy cream sauce.

    I’ll wager most people in the US today have both a) never been truly hungry and b) never killed, cleaned and prepared their own food. Or even gathered plant based foods in the wild. There is a satisfaction that comes from that process which is hard to convey. And you’ll surprise yourself what you’ll readily eat if you get hungry enough. And not even care. That little voice that says “Ohh, I’m hungry” becomes a persistent shout that drowns out a lot.

    I saw this video today, a farmer in KY is supplementing his cow’s feed with surplus candy instead of corn because corn prices are too high. Feeding candy to achieve the same effects as corn, ergo corn = candy. Although I think this point was lost on the reporters.
    http://money.cnn.com/video/news/2012/10/09/n-cows-eating-candy.affl/

    Doesn’t surprise me the reporters missed that angle.

  36. Lauren says:

    I have my great grandma’s 1931 Home Searchlight cookbook. What always impresses me about it is how simple everything is. Simple ingredients. Simple directions. Good food.

  37. mezzo says:

    Checkout Mrs. Beeton’s book of household management – no lean meat there but plenty of udder…You can download it from Project Gutenberg http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/10136
    Kindle-Version without pictures. And you don’t need to have a Kindle, just the free App for your PC.

  38. Chris says:

    Hi Tom,

    Not sure if you have commented on this before, but, I am wondering if you have any opinion on the annual push for flu shots? Do you consider them worthwhile for all age groups. I am a 43 yr old male. Do you get one?

    As always, I appreciate your opinion.

    Thank you,

    Chris

    I haven’t looked into them one way or another. We don’t get flu shots in our family, but we do take vitamins D and C and seem to avoid the flu that way.

  39. BawdyWench says:

    Dan Hall, although it’s more on grammar than on puncutation, “The Transitive Vampire: The Ultimate Handbook of Grammar for the Innocent, the Eager, and the Doomed ” is one not to miss. The Victorian graphics with subtitles alone are more than enough reason to get this book. Check out this link, and look at some of the pages inside.

    http://www.amazon.com/Deluxe-Transitive-Vampire-Ultimate-Handbook/dp/0679418601/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1350830422&sr=1-1&keywords=transitive+vampire

  40. Marilyn says:

    And ANOTHER thing! . . . Not only are the meats of today a mere shadow of what once was, so are the fruits. I opened a bag of organic frozen strawberries this evening. They’re just frozen white acidic globs with a thin layer of pale red around the outside. Mom’s garden strawberries used to be red throughout. Now even the locally grown strawberries are like the frozen ones I bought — white with a thin shell of red. And they’ll rot before they ripen, if they ever would. (I sometimes wonder if the folks who go on about how the fruits of today are so much bigger and sweeter than “primal” ones ever bit into any of the fruit sold in today’s supermarkets.)

  41. Ruth says:

    Everyone needs a copy of Mrs Beeton! I do occasionally use her recipes (not the toast sandwiches or toast tea…) and the sections on choosing household staff are very entertaining!
    Both my mum and grandmother were trained home economists so there are plenty of old fashioned cookbooks around (and I use my great grandmother’s loaf tins to make almond bread and meatloaf). In fact in her final exam my mum had to make jugged hare – not a very popular dish these days…. Many of the older books use a lot of sugar, but the creamy rich sauces are well worth picking out!

  42. oliviascotland says:

    My daughter’s currently enjoying plucking and drawing a duck … It’s a bit haphazard, but the mess is all part of the fun! Mind you, she could probably have used some of the instructions in that book (or maybe I should have looked out my grandmother’s copy of Mrs Beeton). Oh well, only one more duck and six pheasant to go – we should have figured it out by then!

  43. Kim says:

    I love the daily recommendations. Pretty sound advice. Of course most of us here wouldn’t eat the daily bread/cereal serving. Then again, freshly milled whole wheat or oat kernels are a far cry (nutritionally speaking) from anything sold in a grocery store today.

    We have an old 1936 Better Homes & Gardens cookbook. The recipes all use lard, of course. I’ll have to go through it again and see what it says about cleaning chickens!

  44. CeeBee says:

    I have my mother-in-law’s 1943 edition of the Woman’s Home Companion Cookbook and my aunt’s 1948 edition of the Boston Cooking School Cookbook. My favorite recipe for mayonnaise is in the Boston Cooking School book.

    My husband tells about his grandmother in south Mississippi going out and killing, plucking, and frying a chicken early on Sunday mornings before heading over to church to teach her Sunday school class. I look back at what my own grandmothers were able to do and I’m appalled at the fact that although I have more formal education than they ever dreamed of, I am incapable of caring for my family the way they did for theirs.

    Living in a more rural area, there are still folks around here who process their own hogs, beef, whatever game they hunt. One of the ladies who works in the beauty shop told me not too long ago that they were adding on to their smokehouse. She said, “You know, I guess that’s how you know you’re a redneck – when you’re expanding your smokehouse!”

    I wouldn’t mind becoming enough of a redneck to own a smokehouse.

  45. Brian says:

    I second the recommendation for Eats, Shoots and Leaves. Great grammar info and very funny to boot.

  46. Serena says:

    Old cookbooks are grand.

    This site is a treasure trove. There are cookbooks from 1798 to 1922:

    http://digital.lib.msu.edu/projects/cookbooks/html/browse.html

    There are also many cookbooks at archive.org.

    Here is one of my favorites, The American Woman’s Cookbook:

    http://www.archive.org/stream/americwomanscook00delirich#page/n3/mode/2up

    Thrift stores are good places to find old cookbooks. :)

  47. RoRo says:

    I still agree that the way of cooking back in the good ‘ol days is the way it was meant to be. I grew up in the 80′s and my family had farm animals in our backyard or knew exactly where to get them. We are a large family we lived in the city and we learned to grow our own fruits, vegetables, and meat. We were rather poor, but food was always plentiful. All of our foods are what is now called organic. Fresh eggs, milk, and we even made our own cheese.

    The pigs, cows, goats, and chickens were well fed and sometimes fed the same veggies we would grow. The animals were lean and so were we.

    One thing I did notice was that when we did buy meats from the store they didn’t cook the same and most of the time the content size of meat would shrink…we never had this problem with meat from our backyard. Something was different yet better.

    Each of the children learned a different task I was assigned as the family butcher and being a girl it was uncommon and the neighbors would often come over and watch in amazement…I think I was 10 at the time. My brothers all had a different talents one did the killing, skinning, and of course cooking the organs into delicious meals. One thing is for sure we never wasted any part of any animal.

    As we grew older and were able to work we were able to afford the store bought foods and meats…and it tasted so different and now I find myself buying organic at expensive prices and this is the same stuff I could grow. Everything in the stores now contain so much crap that it doesn’t even seem real.

    But I will say if I had to survive in the wild I could.

    Grass-fed meats require a different cooking method.

  48. Steve Wilson says:

    Hi Tom, this post has me curious as to whether you’ve tried cooking in cast iron pans?
    So easy to season and to clean up without nasty chemicals, and the older stuff is a little bit lighter too. I’m in the UK where its hard to come by but have a traditional cast-iron round-bottomed wok and karahi and they’ve quickly became my favourite cookware. Currently saving up to get a pan or skillet as you Americans call them shipped over for frying up my bacon and eggs…and steak!

    We use cast-iron pans now, yes.

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