Cookbooks as time capsules and why we collect them. Current title holder for Guinness World Records for largest collection of cookbooks (2,970 as of July 14, 2013) Current (unofficial) total as of February 12, 2019 is 6,567.
Music – “What’s Cooking” from What’s Cooking by The Wolfe Gang. Released: 2010
CLICK ABOVE TO PLAY MUSIC
“The Vintage Cookbookery” website is up and a work in progress! Please visit it at http://www.vintagecookbookery.com. I will be posting a series of articles about cookbooks as time capsules, why we collect them, and how they reflect cultures, trends, technology and food history. Please join in and add your comments! On October 23rd, 2015, I surpassed the 5,000 mark. What’s left? Just keep collecting! (As of January, 2019, the collection has grown to 6,533)
From Cindy Renfrow’s “Take a Thousand Eggs”, to Gil Partington’s “The Punk Vegan Cookbook”, cookbooks run the gamut and are packed with social history. Forget ‘Social Studies”….just read cookbooks if you really want some history!
Music – “Don’t Eat Food That Has Fallen on the Floor” from Hey Kids, It’s Birthday Party Time! by The Family Party Song Singers. Released: 2010
Most of us, who have ever hung out in the kitchen for any length of time, or who have read cookbooks, knows how critical sanitation is in food preparation. I looked through some of the cookbooks in my collection, to see how this issue has been addressed over the years.
Why can’t a slice of bread ever land on the floor clean side down? (Photo Credit: http://www.123rf.com)
In “Principles of Food Preparation” by Freeland-Graves, published in 1979 and written for culinary professionals, the author indicates that one should not put wet items such as peelings, leftovers or scrapings in the wastepaper basket. It not only encourages rodent infestation, but also “irritable janitors“.
H.L. Nichols, Jr., in “Cooking with Understanding” (1971), after discussing the issues of food, which has been dropped on the floor, he suggests that if the floor was freshly washed and “spotlessly clean”, you can salvage the food for serving. However, he also notes that “It is not necessary to tell your family that part of their dinner was processed on the floor. If you feel like chatting about it, it is tactful to wait until after eating”. Nice touch.
“Just scrape it off the floor and serve it to Table Four. They’ll never know” (Photo Credit: http://www.usatoday.com)
Then, there’s the infamous “five-second rule“, which suggests that if food dropped on the ground has been there five seconds or less, the food is still safe from nasty germs and other assorted disgusting things. I wonder if the germs know they have to wait five seconds before launching an all-out attack?
“I’ve only got 5 seconds to pick up this food….which do I want the most?” (Photo Credit: http://www.time.com)
There are a lot of ideas about food safety, some right, some wrong and some ridiculous. Some folks seem to think leftovers are safe to eat until they smell bad, according to http://www.foodsafety.org. How offensive does the odor have to be before one might eschew the food? I never throw good food away that can be re-purposed into another meal. Take it from me: the freezer is your friend. Germ infested food is not. Now, go out there and mop your floor!
“Stereotypes” from Hyrrs – Festive Hymns Made Feminist by Goldstein. Released: 2017
Sexism is generally described as “prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination, typically against women, on the basis of sex“. Synonyms include chauvinism and bias. So, of all the venues to find incidences of sexism, cookbooks would not generally come to mind for most people. However, in my cookbook collection I have several cookbooks, which I would deem “sexist” in one fashion or another. The earliest one dates to 1925 and features some interesting observations about the male sex!
“Feed the Brute!” by Marjorie Swift, 1925
In previous posts, I have often referred to my favourite cookbook in my collection: “Feed the Brute!“, written by Marjorie Swift in 1925 and published in London. In her introduction, the author acknowledges that”the brute” works very hard to support his family, and “…in connection with culinary affairs at least, the most important member of the household“.
Concerning the poor housewife, who slaves over a meal to serve “the brute”, Swift comments on the notion of appreciation. According to her, the “average” man “…disapproves and leaves one in no doubt as to the depth of his disapproval, he appreciates – and says nothing“. Ain’t it the truth. (Is that a sexist comment?)
One of her most eloquent comments once again concerns the male sex. She notes that “The well-fed man is a happy man – and a very easily “managed” one too. And since we women know that to maintain harmony every man however clever, however efficient, however charming, must be “managed,” let us feed him well first and manage him afterwards.”
Concluding her introduction to the book, Swift tells women to “Feed the Brute!” in order to create and maintain happiness of home…” Geez. What a woman has to do to pacify the brute.
In the book, “Pre-Hispanic Cooking” (Cocina Prehispanica), by Ana M. de Benitez, first published in 1974 and translated into English by Mary Williams de Varela, there is a brief paragraph in the introduction, titled “Cooks” (Guisanderas). At the end of the paragraph is a quote:
“A woman who is not good at her duties is tiresome and annoying for she cooks badly, is dirty and swinish, greedy and sweet-toothed and cooks tortillas badly, and her dishes are burnt or salty or sour, and she is completely vulgar and coarse”(Tlaloc (Cod. Vaticano, A)
This burned tortilla was likely the work of a dirty, swinish, greedy and sweet-toothed woman. (Photo Credit: http://www.nivens.me.com)
“Pre-Hispanic Cooking”, by Ana M. De Benitez, 1974
Fast forward to the 60’s and the 70’s. Jinx Kragen and Judy Perry penned “The How to Keep Him (After You’ve Caught Him) Cookbook“, noted as “An irreverent and affectionate guide to the well-stuffed spouse”. In their introduction, the authors note that “It’s true that men are much maligned, and at times rightfully so, as thoughtless, feckless creatures“.
“The How To Keep Him (After You’ve Caught Him) Cookbook, by Jinx Kragen and Judy Perry, 1968
Further, they comment that “Honestly. What he does care about is what goes into his stomach, that you still look like the girl for whom he gave up his precious bachelor days and that you don’t greet him at the gate with an inventory of domestic difficulties” No sexism here. Just truth, right?
In 1974, Cory Kilvert wrote “The Male Chauvinist’s Cookbook” and gets right at it in his introduction. “When you step into the kitchen to compliment the chef, whom do you find yourself addressing? A woman? Certainly not. You find a man, a chef. These two words are synonymous. Cooks, on the other hand, are women, and this title never had – nor will ever have – the prestige or “panache” as chef“. Tell that to Cat Cora or Alex Guarnaschelli! Chapters include “Appetizers Guaranteed to Appetize Her“, “A Loaf of Bread, a Jug of Wine, and Pow!”and “The Morning After“.
“The Male Chauvinist’s Cookbook”, by Cory Kilvert, 1974
Check out the cover of vintage 1972 “How to Boil Water”, by Betty Jane Donahoe. Note the position of the woman’s left pinky stuck in the gentleman’s ear. Ick.
“I’ll do this myself. Women shouldn’t handle knives”
And, finally, two pithy quotes:
“The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.” (Pat Robertson)
“If a man is talking in the forest, and there is no woman there to hear him, is he still wrong?” ( Jenny Weber)
Once upon a time, tomatoes tasted good…..really good. Now, unless you lovingly plant them in your backyard yourself and nurture them to fruition with care, the tomatoes you purchase in your local supermarket will have about as much taste and texture as a wad of cotton balls in your mouth. You know…what you taste and choke on, when you’re sitting, helpless in the dentist’s chair. Yecch!
One of my recent acquisitions was “The Good Cook’s Book of Tomatoes“, by Michele Anna Jordan, published in 1995, but updated in 2015.
“The Good Cook’s Book of Tomatoes” by Michele Anna Jordan.
Talking about tomatoes, the author notes that “Nearly every supermarket in the country features mounds of these pale, mushy tomatoes whose taste bears not even a shadowy resemblance to what we seek”. She goes on to ask, “How did this happen?”
This is typical of the “supermarket” tomato. A bare touch of red color, pasty in texture and with virtually no taste. (Photo Credit: http://www.sciencemag.org)
Barry Estabrook, in his book, “Tomatoland“, talks about the commercial production of “supermarket” tomatoes. As most of us already know, ethylene gas is sprayed on unripe green tomatoes, which causes them to turn red.
As the author notes: “Ethylene is a gaseous plant hormone that regulates plant growth. When applied to fruits, it initiates the ripening process and causes the fruit to turn red. The chemical also affects the flavor by increasing sugar compounds and decreasing acidity within the fruit. This chemical is emitted naturally by plants in fields, but only when the plants naturally want to ripen” The key here is “…only when the plants naturally want to ripen”.
More “supermarket” tomatoes. Mandatory Credit: Photo by Global Warming Images/REX/Shutterstock (2005361a)(www.thedailymash.co.uk)
The problem is that although the tomatoes turn a pleasant red color (sometimes), after being sprayed with ethylene, the fruit does not actually ripen. Estabrook also points out that exposing immature fruit to the ethylene results in fruit with “poor eating quality“. No kidding!
Some of my regular readers might remember my post, “The Terrible Tale of the Tomato Tragedy” (May 6, 2016) in which I recanted the horror of losing almost all of my carefully planted tomato seeds in a portable greenhouse, indoors. For weeks, watering, fertilizing, thinning, moving them for optimum sun, etc. until the fateful day came to put them outside to begin “hardening off”.
Alas, in the wee hours of the morning, without any warning, the formidable, but unpredictable canyon winds came roaring through our property, relentless and endless. The sound of the crash of the toppled greenhouse outside my bedroom window at 3:00 am was my first clue that my precious seedlings were in trouble. Of more than a hundred seedlings, I managed to save about 20. Heartbreaking.
This year, I have ordered transplants for my garden. The variety of tomatoes available is astounding! Much research has been conducted over the years to not only bring back that luscious tomato flavor we all crave, but also to breed them to be disease and pest resistant. A tough call, but great strides have been made.
From Territorial Seed Company out of Cottage Grove, Oregon, I ordered 4 transplants, primarily for containers, which I have in my courtyard. I have ordered from them previously, with good results. In a few months I’ll be receiving the likes of “Lizzano Transplant Tomato“, “Ruby Crush Transplant Tomato“, “Red Racer Transplant Tomato“, and “Artemis Transplant Tomato“.
I can hardly wait! You can order directly from them online for immediate and delayed (according to your climate zone) purchases: http://www.territorialseed.com.
Also this year, I ordered some additional transplants from a company I was unfamiliar with until I received their catalogue: Gurney’s Seed & Nursery Company, located in Greendale, Indiana. From their collection I will be receiving “Early Girl Tomato“, “Iron Lady Tomato” (I wonder if this is named after Margaret Thatcher?!), “Celebration Tomato“, “Gurney’s Ruby Monster Tomato” (I just love it when the word “monster” is used to describe vegetables!) and “Sweet Million Hybrid Tomato“.
Music – “The Popcorn Song” from Fun Songs for Happy Kids – Favorite Lullabies, Rhymes, Stories & More by The Fontane Sisters & Howdy Doody. Released: 2012.
Well, here we are. Saturday, January 19th, 2019 is NATIONAL POPCORN DAY! What are YOU doing to celebrate this annual event? It comes but once a year, so be prepared.
W.C. Fields once said, “The laziest man I ever met put popcorn in his pancakes so they would turn over by themselves“. Now, that’s lazy! There is an unproven theory that an Indian named Quadequina brought a deerskin bag of popped corn for the first Thanksgiving feast on October 15, 1621. In 1948 and 1950, anthropologist Herbert Dick and botanist Earle Smith discovered ears of popcorn in the Bat Cave of west-central New Mexico. So the story goes.
Bat Cave, located in west-central New Mexico (Photo Credit: National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers)
Americans eat a lot of popcorn per year and there are hundreds of flavours out there. I remember going to the movies as a kid and getting a small cardboard container with some slippery yellow fluid drizzled over the popcorn. I’m not certain what it was, but it was probably not butter! So, tomorrow, get out your popcorn poppers or Jiffy Pop bags (do they still make those?) and pop away!
Harry Kalenberg creates his own version of “pop” art, using magic markers! (Photo Credit: starlocalmedia.com)
Music – “Christmas in New Mexico” from Christmas in New Mexico by Jerry Dean. Released: 2013
(This is a partial re-post from 2013 with some great additions!)
Christmas in New Mexico
December, 1994 was my first Christmas in my new home in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Although our neighbourhood and surrounding neighbourhoods had the usual strings of Christmas lights, Santa Clauses and snowmen cutouts and the like, I was surprised to find that many residential areas, businesses, city buildings, hotels, etc., put out thousands of “luminarias” on Christmas Eve. There were so many of them, especially in neighbourhoods around what is called Old Town, the city started running Luminaria Tours.
Christmas Lights in Canada
Luminarias in Old Town, Albuquerque, New Mexico, Christmas Eve
In 2004, my husband and I took my Mom, who had moved here in 2003, on one of the tours and it was incredible. As far as the eye could see, thousands of luminarias lining sidewalks, on rooftops and parapets, in parks and plazas, around and on top of churches: they were everywhere. It was pretty awesome and looked like a fairyland. Christmas in New Mexico is a candle sellers dream!
Some people refer to them as ‘farolitos’ (little lanterns), but they are one in the same. In northern New Mexico, the farolito is the bag with the candle inside, but in the southern part of the state, the same thing is called a luminaria.
True luminariasare a New Mexico tradition and are small (sandwich size) paper bags, filled with a couple of inches of sand. The top of the bag is folded over a bit for stability and a single white votive candle is placed inside. When lit, the golden glow lights up the dark night in a quiet and peaceful way. That first year, I wanted luminariasfor our yard, to experience the tradition.
Filling the Lumarias with sand and a votive candle. Thousands are sold around Christmas
Early in November, you could drive around Albuquerque and see signs posted for purchasing luminarias by the dozen (filled and candle included), from church groups, charitable organizations, youth groups and just about everyone else.
I purchased 6 dozen of them, which were delivered the week before Christmas. On Christmas Eve, 1994, my husband and I placed them around our yard, lining the sidewalk and garden and patiently lit them, one by one. Fortunately, it was not windy, which can sometimes be a problem. How the candles never end up torching the bags and setting the yard on fire is still anathema to me, but it’s been going on for a long time and you never read of a luminaria fire from the Christmas Eve tradition.
The Spanish, Mexican and Native American traditions are strong in New Mexico, and Christmas is a time of feasting. Posole is a Southwest tradition at this time. Posole is dried hominy and it may be made as a dish in itself, but is more often featured with boned pork, onions, chiles and spices.
Posole, a traditional Christmas tradition in New Mexico, made with dried hominy
Other popular holiday dishes include Pumpkin and Chile Soup, Carne Adobada(pork chops marinated in red chile sauce), Red Chile Tamales and Albondigas Soup (a type of meatball soup with red chile).
Red Chile Tamales
Albondigas, meatball soup
Biscochitos(the traditional spelling is Bizcochitos) (New Mexican sugar cookies) are also a Christmas specialty in New Mexico.
Bizcochitos or Biscochitos, New Mexican Sugar Cookiesark
The “River of Lights” in Albuquerque – Another Holiday Tradition!
One of the most incredible holiday events in Albuquerque began in 1996 and is sponsored by the New Mexico Biopark Societyin partnership with the City of Albuquerque. The “River of Lights” is an incredible, sprawling, impressive display of lights at the Albuquerque Biopark Botanic Garden. There are 550 sculptures, with 12 miles of extension cords and 200 miles of light strings containing millionsof individual twinkling lights of all colours. The displays and animated sculptures range from a 1-foot flower to a 30-foot high Brontosaurus! Although it is hard to get a sense of the scale of this installation, the tractors, cows, cacti and many more are life-size, not to mention the Brontosaurus!
My husband I and toured this amazing display on December 12th and were awed by this spectacular work of art. Of course, it wouldn’t be New Mexico without a UFO, and there is a fabulous UFO hovering above the grounds, abducting a cow! USA Today has sponsored a “Best Botanical Garden Holiday Lights” (Reader’s Choice) contest and the “River of Lights” is among the top 10 nominees. Enjoy the following slide show!
Author’s Note: The Biopark “River of Lights” placed No. 8 on USA Today’s list, but as far as I’m concerned it should have been No. 1!
(all photos in the slide show by Sue Jimenez, 2018)
Enjoy whatever holiday you celebrate at this time of year. Merry Christmas from New Mexico!Navidad Alegre y Felices Fiestas de Nuevo México!
CLICK ABOVE TO PLAY
Music – “We Salute You Nelson Mandela” from Global Legends by Bappi Lahiri. Released: 2013
This is a re-post from December 6th, 2013 and I publish it again today to honour Mr. Mandela, who left us on December 5th, 2013. A huge loss.
In light of the death of Nelson Mandela yesterday, I thought it might be appropriate to talk about the cookbook, “Ukutya Kwasekhaya” (home food),”Tastes from Nelson Mandela’s Kitchen”, written by Mr. Mandela’s personal chef for many years, Xoliswa Ndoyiya. Ms. Ndoyiya not only cooked for the Mandela family, but cared for his grandchildren as well and became a beloved member of their family. Ms. Ndoyiya began working for the Mandelas shortly after Mr. Mandela was released from prison in February, 1990.
“Ukutya Kwasekhaya” (home food) – “Tastes from Nelson Mandela’s Kitchen, by Xoliswa Ndoyiya
The recipes are the favourites of members of the Mandela family and the author notes that, “Although he’s the most famous man in the world, Madiba’s tastes are simple and he is happiest with traditional South African food”. Nelson Mandela was born Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, although throughout her book, Ms. Ndoyiya refers to him as “Madiba”, which was his clan name and also a nickname for him.
Nelson Mandela with the family’s chef and author of “Ukutya Kwasekhaya”, Xoliswa Ndoyiya.
Recipes in the cookbook are diverse: Potato Bread, Isophu (sugar bean and white maize soup), Peri-Peri Chicken, Late-Start Starter fish, Peanut Butter and Spinach Soup, Umxhaxha (corn and pumpkin), Citrus Pudding, and many more intriguing dishes. The cookbook is well worth having on one’s cookbook shelf and the Nelson Mandela Foundation facilitated its publication in 2011.
Well, give me an opening and I’ll walk right in. I was recently contacted by Assistant Producer, Andrew Ceco, of the radio talk show “Constant Wonder“, out of Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. The subject was (naturally), cookbooks. Host Rachel Sherman plied me with cookbook questions, most of which (I hope) I answered without sounding like a nerd. You be the judge!
(Right click on the link below and select “open link in new tab”. Click on tab “Episode – BYU Radio” to open the program and move to the 21:59 minute mark to start the interview. Return to the tab “More Talk About Cookbooks” and return to the post to watch the slide show, while listening to me ramble on about cookbooks!)
Music – “What’s Cooking” from What’s Cooking by The Wolfe Gang. Released: 2010
In honour of Thanksgiving later this week, I’m running this earlier 2014 post about the questions posed to the Butterball Turkey Hot Line over the years. Read it and laugh (or weep!)
We’ve all heard experts, teachers and the like say “There’s no such thing as a dumb question”. I’ve said it myself, while teaching a course in Forensic Anthropology to non-science students. One evening, following a brief discussion of how to determine the sex of an individual from the bones of the skeleton, one of my students quipped “It’s easy. All you do is count the number of ribs. If it’s a man, he’ll be missing a rib as he had to give it up to God to create Eve”. Well, I really didn’t know how to respond.
In the world of food and cooking, I find it amusing and sometimes bewildering to read the questions folks write in to various sites for cooking advice. Butterball Turkey has had it’s share of doozies over the year, and other websites geared around cooking usually feature a “Q & A” section, which are tremendously enlightening.
Here is a sampling of some of the questions posed to various websites. I have taken the liberty of addressing the questions with my OWN responses:
Can you microwave a box of wine?(Probably not a good idea, but why would you want 5 litres of hot boxed wine?)
After eating rancid butter, what should one do?(Serve up some moldy bread to go with it?)
Music – “Livin’ In the Fridge” from Alapalooza by “Weird Al” Yankovic. Released: 1999
I recently heard that November 15th is “National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day“. Some references suggest that Whirlpool Home Appliances started the promotion, however, this has not been confirmed. An alternate explanation is that someone (turkey breeders? pumpkin growers? cranberry harvesters?) suggested the date in anticipation of all of the room need to accommodate the coming Thanksgiving leftovers. Who knows?
I used to watch the show “Hoarders“and I was both fascinated and repelled by the stuff that people hoard and how MUCH of it. Suffice it to say, while I have never been accused of hoarding cookbooks, some people seem to think that no matter how organized or how much care goes into the selection and curation of a large collection of books, ownership of more than 1,000 books is “hoarding”, or, at least the Compulsive Book Hoarders Group seems to think. Wikipedia describes “bibliomania”, as the collecting of books which have no use to the collector nor any great intrinsic value to a genuine book collector. Well, that certainly lets me off the hook, as my cookbooks have tremendous value and are frequently used. Whatever.
In appreciation of the upcoming “National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day“, I pulled out several of my older “cookbooklets”, which were issued from refrigerator manufacturers back in the day: Frigidaire, General Electric, Servel Electrolux, and International Harvester (I never knew they made refrigerators). This is an example of what a well-maintained refrigerator should look like, according to Servel Electrolux:
The “Servel Electrolux” refrigerator from their brochure, dated 1936. Such slick lines! Such cleanliness!
Or, from the booklet that accompanied the General Electric Refrigerator, for the modern woman of 1927….
1927 – General Electric Refrigerator, all neat and organized inside. No rotting meat here!
The Frigidaire Model AP-7-2, which featured “…enduring Tu-Tone porcelain enamels of gray and white, in lustrous white Duco or in any of five harmonious color combinations of Duco”. Very impressive! From their 1928 “Frigidaire Recipes”.
One of the things that absolutely floored and disgusted me no end about many hoarders was the frequent obsession with retaining everything, including garbage, and even worse, rotting food. For example…(a picture is worth a thousand words)…
Perhaps the safest kind of “hoard” in your refrigerator (never rots, doesn’t smell) (Photo Credit: http://www.vanpoolusa.com)
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve located some relics at the rear of many a refrigerator of mine over the years….I recall one particular ghastly and stomach-wrenching episode some years back, which, without going into details, I named “the ugly egg salad incident” (you can read between the lines)
So, please don’t forget that November 15th is NATIONAL CLEAN OUT YOUR REFRIGERATOR DAY! You just never know what you might find….