Kitchen Gems: Vintage Cookbooks
Antique cookbooks take us back to a time and place where we’ll always find comfort.
Older cookbooks offer great recipes and a unique perspective.
When asked about the one item they’d grab on the way out of their burning house, people usually cite the family photo album. For me, it’d be a cookbook. Not just any cookbook, but my Great-Grandmother Pansy Van Loan’s handwritten recipes in an aged, olive-green, water-stained binder simply titled Receipts, the old-fashioned word for “Recipes.”
Recipes from vintage cookbooks:
Mayonnaise Cake Recipe
Dutch Potato Salad
Whole Roast Chicken Recipe (Gebraden Kip)
Pie Pastry Dough Recipe
(Editor’s Note: All the recipes in this article are transcribed exactly as they appear in the various cookbooks, so part of the “fun” is to decipher them. Look for the “modern” translations of them after each original recipe.)
This binder represents my family’s culinary history in all its majesty. Yellowing, brittle pages, runny ink, recipes torn from old magazines and food boxes, and my favorite, the personal notes scribed on various recipes like “mommie’s” and “own” and “very good” that offer me a portal back to the kitchen of my maternal ancestors and allow me to cook right alongside them.
Antique cookbooks are portals to another time and place that doesn’t exist anymore in this day of the Internet, iPads, apps and Kindles. They served as not only inspiration for dishes and ingredients, they also functioned as instruction manuals for devoted housewives. Most cookbooks published from the early- to mid-20th century begin with an illustrated course on how to set the table for various occasions; what the various dishes, glasses and silverware are to be used for; and basic nutrition and meal guidelines to follow.
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