your favorite vintage cookbooks
i am in love with vintage cookbooks. at first i was drawn to the imagery... made little gift tags out of them for food-related gifts. now that i am actually trying the recipes, i am findiing many of them to be incredible... especially the cookies and baked goods. of course there are some trends i'm not fond of (books focused on certain products, esp. canned), but for the most part i've been really delighted. any favorite vintage cookbooks you'd like to suggest? i consider vintage at least 20 years old and although half of the chowhounders out there might curse me upon reading this, i'd like to not discuss the joy of cooking. yes, it is a great basic but i'm looking for something with a bit more personality. thanks for your ideas!
for years i poured through and collected contemporary cookbooks and although i certainly enjoy them, it is hard to keep up! i am looking for books that are full of stand-by recipes. i equate this with an album you like from beginning to end (bowie's ziggy stardust anyone?)... something that is tried and true and would keep you afloat for months at a time.
Years ago, when my ex-husband's parents were alive, we would leave NYC for weekends at their home in Conn. She was a totally "old-school" cook. She always had great pies and her special "Texas Chocolate Cake" baked when we arrived. Since she was Polish, she made great pierogies and other dishes...and never, ever, ever gave me a recipe. She actually didn't have many cookbooks either. A community, or church cookbook here or there, but one book that she had. I coveted. "Mary Margaret McBride" 's encyclopedia of cooking. My God in Heaven, this book was greatness. It seemed like it was about 900 pages thick. The photographs were disgustingly entertaining. Strange and unusual dishes that made the weirdest concontions from Erma Rombauer seem simplistic. Total 1940's, 1950's. Anyway, my MIL and I kind of didn't really get along that well and she knew I wanted that book so badly. She even hid it on me and got really ticked when I found it in the attic. Needless to say, when she passed away, my husband and I were divorced, but talking. HE got ticked off when I asked him if he could bring me that book when he was going through her stuff. One of my sisters-in-law ended up with the book and probably threw it out. Oh I cannot begin to tell you how many hours I spent reading that book!
I posted a link to a photo of the book below!
Vintage cookbooks I actually cook from:
1970s vintage Betty Crocker Cookbook. The best chocolate layer cake I've ever made came out of that book. My red spiral bound copy is falling apart, but I will not trade it in for a new model because the recipes have changed.
1963 Betty Crocker's Cooky Book. I think I've made most of the recipes in that book. Sometimes I change up the Lemon Squares and substitute orange juice.
+1 on Mastering the Art of French Cooking, especially the carrots in butter and the potato leek soup.
I've collected antique cookbooks for years, mostly to read and enjoy the historical perspective. One of my favorites is a pamphlet put out by the government during World War II called "How to Eat Well Though Rationed." I would never cook out of it now, but it's a fascinating snapshot of how the country pulled together during a difficult time.
A few of my favorites:
Better Homes cookbook, the red & white plaid binder. Date uncertain (it's a notebook; instead of a title page it has subscription forms for the magazine) but I estimate it's from the mid to late 60s. A real piece of period Americana but, reminiscence factor aside, contains good recipes.
Moosewood Cookbook from 1977. Quite a few recipes in there that I still turn to. Mollie Katzen is absolutely great.
Mastering The Art Of French Cooking (vol 1), Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, Simone Beck, 1961. Thoroughly classic, and consistently good..
La Technique, Jacques Pepin, 1977. ditto.
Paula Peck's The Art Of Good Cooking, 1961, though mine is a '66 edition. Aside from the recipes for things I don't cook (like sweetbreads), one can open it at random and virtually always find something useful and delicious.
A couple of others on my shelf which, while they aren't 100% fantastic beginning-to-end, contain some real gems:
The New York Times International Cookbook, Craig Claiborne, 1971
The Perfect Hostess Cook Book, Mildred O Knopf, 1950
Mary Meade's Magic Recipes For The Electric Blender, Ruth Ellen Church, 1952
(I include these last two because, though much of the content is merely amusing and nostalgic in a time-capsule sort of way- a real window into a vanished era, the recipes I do use are true favorites and over the decades have turned into beloved family heirlooms.)
And of course James Beard:
Beard On Bread
Beard On Pasta
The Fireside Cookbook quite dated but classic, home to some other longtime favorites.
some of these are totally unfamilar to me and i can't wait to check them out/look for them. the nytime cookbooks sounds really interesting as does the peck book. thanks for sending these ideas. i own the "blender" book, as you said, more for kicks than for recipes. what a hoot. and i do love the moosewood. such a great strudel recipe! thanks again.