We hosted out-of-town relatives this week. I wanted a cool, never-tried recipe for a good dinner. I own a lot of cookbooks, as do you all. ...
I ended up using a recipe from the original 1959 Baton Rouge Junior League cookbook, River Road Recipes.
This was way cool. An oven-braised chicken recipe with wine, paprika, lemon juice and butter, I threw in some garlic, because who used fresh garlic in 1959? But we love it. The dish took a little too much time and attention -three different temperatures, and lots of basting - but wowow. fall-off-the-bone meat and the most incredible sauce to go over mashed potatoes.
Do you dip back into 'old' books? what treasures have you found?
I've relied on many recipes from old, regional and junior league cookbooks over the years.
My poundcake recipe comes from one called "Bishop's Cake" in an old edition of another Louisiana junior league cookbook - can't remember which one because I've made it so many time over the years I know it by heart.
Every attempt at gumbo I've ever made has been based on research conducted through La. junior league cookbooks as well.
My tried-and-true dumpling recipe, the noodle-y sort, is called "Never-fail Dumplings". It comes from the Fish and Game cookbook from Rockport, TX. The dumplings were used for squirrel and dumplings. I've always used them with chicken since the neighbors might call the police on me if they caught me skinning a squirrel.
Then there's the deep mine of dip and spread recipes perfect for any entertaining situation.
All these old cookbooks have had as much influence on my cooking over the years as any proper technique encyclopedic cookbook I own.
There are wonderful recipes in these types of cook books, and they have become old favorites over the years.
Now, I have to say that I thought from your title that the topic was about cooking in the 19th century, and was sad to learn that 1959 is "really old" since I was born in 1958. ;o)
I have my mother's recipe box with handwritten recipes from her as well as her grandmother. Coffee cake, cheesecake, applesauce cake -- all simple (I'm not particularly a baker) using ingredients you generally have on hand. My mom's prune cake (basically a moist, spice cake) was so popular friends of mine used it for their birthday cakes.
I have Meta Given's "Modern Encyclopedia of Cooking" from 1947. It's quite interesting -- several pages on cooking squirrels and one on cooking groundhog (in a pie, with onion, cloves, celery, carrots, potatoes and a baking-powder biscuit dough). Somewhat sexist by today's standards - e.g. it has the Family Hostess' Creed: "Happy family relationships are part of my responsibility; therefore I will save enough energy to do the job of being a happy and helpful hostess to my family day after day."
I feel the same way with my Mums recipes, in her handwriting, if I can't find a recipe, I go to my mums cards and find what I was looking fork as when she would come over in the 60s, she would ask for the recipe we were having, copy it, and likely never make it, but she had good intentions