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Mar 1, 2014 03:21 PM

Vintage Cookbooks......A Great Source,and some surprises!

I love reading vintage cookbooks..they give me a solid base with which to build on. Everything is the same over time.
If you do not have the basic skills/recipes down, then what...
I look at baking being a very strict science, everything else is open to interpretation....

What old cookbooks do you have and use to prepare your meals?

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  1. I get lost here:

    It is a great collection - I have several downloaded to my i-books (use the pdfs txt formats dont work) there is just a wonderful history there and some amazing recipes too, endless browsing.

    I lucked into a copy of the "Charleston Receipts" a wonderful collection of deep-south cooking that is a great find for a yankee raised on ethnic fare. I love the old "amateur" cookbooks like the junior league one above because they give insignt into how people really cook at home.

    for a great instruct-able N. American cookbook I think M. Cunningam's Fannie Farmer is incredibly clear and thorough.

    6 Replies
    1. re: JTPhilly

      Ugh, thanks for posting that. I've been stuck on it since yesterday.

      1. re: nothingswrong

        LOL - It is really a vast resource - and who knew there were so many ways to make squirrel

        You get some great insight into the pre "Joy of Cooking" American Kitchen

        1. re: JTPhilly

          What's strange to me is that I can literally sit for hours just reading through the recipes! There are no photos obviously, so you have to use your imagination. I like to picture all these housewives getting these cookbooks and reading them as excitedly as I am now.

          I love how the recipes (or "receipts") are written. Some have full lists of measurements, but often they say things like "add enough flour to make a dough." Especially when it comes to bread making, you'd never see that in a recipe now. People would have a heart attack using their own judgment. I also love the little opinions of the contributors at the ends of recipes like: "This chicken will be satisfactory."

          I found a recipe for sponge cake that I'm going to try in the next couple of days and I'll report back with photos. There are no oven temps listed, no baking times, and no directions, so I'm going to guess.

          1. re: nothingswrong

            "I love how the recipes (or "receipts") are written. Some have full lists of measurements, but often they say things like "add enough flour to make a dough.""

            Yes, I always love that too. These were not really intended for use by complete novices in the kitchen, or probably for anybody who hadn't actually eaten the dish before. Sometimes they seem like memory joggers more than instructions. Like you said, a real glimpse into a lost world.

            1. re: ratgirlagogo

              yes some seem to assume much prior knowledge other books are mother hen-ish instructing a young housewife on the most basic tasks - but information was not so easy to get then as now.

              Posting that link sucked me right back in and I have been absorbed in Francois Tanty's La Cuisine Francais - for a pre-1900 book it is shockingly modern with ingredient lists and quantities and simple instructions - a precursor to Jacque Pepin - very executable classic French dishes.

              1. re: JTPhilly

                I'll check that one out next. Right now I'm stuck on "The Woman Suffrage Cook Book." Baking section gets me every time...

    2. I love vintage cookbooks more for the pictures and illustrations than the recipes. That said, we do occasionally find a dandy recipe in those old tomes.

      1. I like old church cook books. Recipes usually always work out as I'm sure they were someones favourite, tried and true. Not just written to have '125 quinoa recipes'

        Always lots of good baking and candy recipes. I don't usually do the casseroles as they use a lot of canned soup and beans etc lol

        1. Not vintage per se, but I've been collecting a series of Italian cookbooks from the late 70's for about a year now.

          In Bocca - Il Vespro

          Each book represents a specific region in Italy. Each book has the recipes in it's own regional dialect, standard Italian, and English. The pages are made from cartapaglia and the book cover is made from corrugated cardboard. They're also filled with regional poems, anecdotes, and sayings. There aren't any pictures of any dishes, maybe a couple old B&W photos, but lots of wonderful artwork.

          They're a bit pricey, so I'm constantly on the lookout for deals.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Novelli

            Those sound fascinating. I would like to find something similar on Indian regional cooking.

            1. re: Perilagu Khan

              Is it possible to get the recipe to Plains Pizza spaghetti? My family grew up on it till it closed. Haven't been able to find it or get it out of my mind since the 70's. It was on 34th street in Lubbock.

          2. i have my grandmother's vintage betty crocker cookbook. I use it primarily when baking. Particularly the gingerbread cake and blueberry pie recipes.