Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Kitchenology (1931)

Good morning! How was everybody's Monday?

I picked up this copy of Kitchenology with Principia Friends at a sale a week or two ago, blatantly disregarding the self-imposed embargo that has been placed on cookbooks in my house. Second only to etiquette/manners manuals, cookbooks are one of my top estate sale foibles. You show me handwritten recipes in the front, and if the price is right (usually under $2), I'm a sucker for a book full of mid-century or earlier foodstuffs. Plus look at this cover!

This copy of Kitchenology was literally falling apart at the seams, having been lashed back together with Scotch tape at a time sufficiently long ago for the adhesive to have all but disintegrated-- some of these scans are not my best work, but I was concerned about the daddurn thing falling to pieces before I could give you a chance to get a look at it! To say the least, it was well loved, and there are plenty of written-in and stuck in on notecards recipes. On the title page and its facing page alone, we have recipes for such diverse course offerings as "Julie Child's [sic] Crepes Batter", "My Divinity", "Teriyaki Sauce", and "Pumpkin Bread". Warning: do not try these together. 

Click on any of the images for a full-size version:

This book is a total cutie for the reminds me of Carole Lombard movie title cards...urbane, cosmopolitan, and still somehow adorable. "Principia Friends" refers to the Principia Mothers' Club, who organized and published the cookbook to raise funds for the Principia School. What's the Principia School, you ask? A school for Christian Scientists in Missouri (and later Illinois, and then back in Missouri, in the same town Matthew's Memaw lived for thirty years! How crazy!). You can read all about their school's history (since 1898!) here. I don't know much about Christian Scientists, but they turn out p-r-e-t-t-y cute cookbook.

Here, the owner has added "Famous White Pound Cake", "Blue Cheese Buttermilk Salad Dressing", "Swedish Pecans", "Pralines", and "1 2 3 4 Cake Polly Ring". Not sure what the last one is, but it sounds good! I like the emphatic underlining on the pecans recipe. ONE STICK OF BUTTER! No more, no less!

Pound cake, bran muffins, and more pecan recipes. This lady must've had a pecan tree?

Jeannette Mann's Apple Cake recipe shares a page with Canapes and Cocktails. I MISS BOTH CANAPES AND COCKTAILS. It seems like it's well nigh impossible to reintroduce these to modern Americans without the goofiness factor of our declassé twenty-first century factoring into it and, as it so often does, ruins the whole blamed thing. I would LOVE to throw a party where everyone hangs at the edges of sofas, eating aspic and sipping strong vermouth, in slinky bias cut gowns and dinner attire, but you know someone would show up wacky shorts and a cardboard top hat, and I would be so disillusioned with the whole process as to give up on it entirely. Why won't people in our generation "play the game"?

One of the interesting aspects of the cookbook is the contribution of several recipes by Mrs. Tatsuo Takaki and  Mrs. Miyo Matsukata of Tokyo, Japan. On this above page, you can see their recipes for "Tamago-Toji" (a Japanese soup) and Tamago Tofu, respectively . While the book seems to be pretty much a basic cookbook, there are a few exotic recipes from authentic sources (including curry, later in the chapter)-- imagine how exotic Japanese food would seem to the average midwesterner in 1931! There's also a (crookedly scanned, my bad) section on meat substitutes. Was Christian Science popular in Japan? Is there something about being a Christian Scientist that might encourage meat substitution (though there are meat recipes in the book) or are they just particularly foward thinking with regard to vegetarianism? I don't know! You decide.

More adorable illustrations. Each chapter is begun with a quote in verse, and the one for entrees reads:

After the fish, before the fowl, 
One has respite in a way
When he may pause and catch his breath
And dally with the suave entree.

Well! You didn't know they were poets as well as cooks, did you? Kitchenologists, excuse me...I meant kitchenologists. Aren't the entries here so-o-o-o 1930's? "Macaroni and roundsteak"  and "chicken loaf" especially. I'm glad there's no calorie count! When contributors give their own names, rather than their married names with their husband's name listed, I can gawk at names like "Nellie Lou Broom" and "Verna Holmquist" and do I love to gawk at old names. Can Nellie Lou Broom be my stage name?

Some recipes for sandwiches. I really think these are an underutilized party food option. The book that changed my culinary life, Square Meals by Jane and Michael Stern, taught me how to make these mango chutney and cheese sandwiches, and another that was raisins and jam and something else, that were the star attraction of a party I had shortly there after. Do you know how cheap bread is compared to 90% of ingredients you would throw together for a menu? Also, cut into little stars and hearts with crusts discarded, they look so hi-tone. If you're planning a bash soon, consider sandwiches! How Wallis Simpson would dainty watercress and cucumber sandwiches be? Thought so!

Last but not least, the front and back inside covers are decorated with this, a literal interpretation of the title, in which our dainty, Mary Astor-looking homemaker consults her telescope to a constellation of cookery! Look at the little baby chef in the big dipper. I'm in love all over again.

Do you have any dogeared or heirloom cookbooks, yours or ones you've picked up, at home? Do you have any particular vintage recipes you wish people would bring back in fashion? All you at-home chefs out there, chime in! :)

See you tomorrow!


  1. 1. I seriously want to attend a canapes and cocktails party. Darn that cardboard hat guy!
    2. I collect old Betty Crockers, mostly from the '50s, mostly for the graphics. Well, totally for the graphics because those recipes are not lo-carb and sometimes include Jello.
    3. If you are taking Nellie Lou Broom, I'm claiming "Verna Holmquist" in case I ever become a burlesque dancer. I think it's totally the new Dita Von Teese. Or...not. Still. I like it.

    1. I'd go see Verna Holmquist!!!

    2. The canapes and cocktails theme is becoming more and more appealing in the party planning part of my brain. I may just have to have some tough named Schatze in a tuxedo at the door to roust out those "not dressed for the occasion", haha! I would also see Verna Holmquist, especially if that was the headlining act at say the Holiday Inn Lounge. We love it!

  2. I love cookbooks and etiquette book too! I'm not sure that I could have gotten past the handwritten, pumpkin bread recipe on the title page without firing up the oven. Mmmmmmmm....pumpkin bread!!!

    1. That's what they'll put on epitaph: "She never met an etiquette book she didn't like". Or a pumpkin bread, for that matter!

  3. G-ma gave me a paperback Fannie Farmer when I got married. THAT'S the best cook book! I wore it out and started on a second, then a third. The mention of pound cake reminded me of a strategy I used in coping with my second-born. He was one of those kids, you know, the type that you would labor to put to bed at night.I would finally sit down to relax, and he would trot back into the living room, bright-eyed and bushy tailed. Repeat 17 times.
    I thought, I gotta come up with a strategy! So I began teaching him to bake. I would pick out the ultimate fatigueing recipe...Fanny Farmer pound cake. Six eggs, each beaten in thoroughly, endless cups of flour, dough stiff as a stoat. All by hand with wooden spoon. Everyone enjoyed the fruits of his labors, he learned to make a mean pound cake, and he was too tired at night to send Momma to the state pen for child abuse. How's that?!

    1. I've heard of Fannie Farmer but I don't have that in my collection! Travesty. I love your creative solution to childhood bedtime induced ADHD-- bake, you little scamp, bake! And like you said, the whole family benefits, and you're not in lockup. I'd call that a win.

  4. I've got oodles of cookbooks. It's an obsession I've had since I was little. Most are mid century, some older...and some aren't recipe books at all, they're old Oldsmobile manuals with recipes stuck over the pages (my great grandfather owned an Oldsmobile dealership!). But my favourite recipe book that I make goodies from most often is....wait for it....The Nancy Drew Cookbook: Clues to Good Cooking! In fact, I just had the Twisted Candles Peach Crisp last night sans peaches, add apples! Other recipes that get replayed often are Ivory Charm Shrimp Curry and the Tapping Heels Griddle Cakes!

    1. "Tapping Heels Griddle Cakes" = a most intriguing recipe title! I'll have to get my hands on that Nancy Drew cookbook.

  5. Well Nellie Lou, you KNOW I have a plethora of old cookbooks. Must stop. I now tell Paul to not let me buy any more. I have enough recipes to last me until the second coming.

    Off to go put cubes of pumpkin bread and divinity in crepes and top with teriyaki sauce. Yum! ;-)

    1. Haha, thank you for calling me by my true name. As to your recipe suggestion, don't do it, Lauren! Think of your reputation! DON'T DO IT! :)



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