The Antique Cookbook Cook-Off

Or “weird old recipes that you aren’t brave enough to try yourself.”

I went to garage sales a couple weeks ago, and one of the items nabbed for a whole 75 cents was “The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book,” which is by none other than Fannie Merritt Farmer. The first edition was published in 1896; the edition I have was published in 1946. It’s full of useful information – did you know that if you’re out of butter, you can substitute 4/5 cup of clarified bacon fat? I didn’t until I read that, and I am now prepared to make hickory-smoke-flavored cookies.

Obviously the book is full of all sorts of advice that you just won’t find in a modern cookbook. For example, there’s an entire page on how to prepare turtle. You’re supposed to boil it alive and then rub the skin off. Mmm!

Anyway, there is one recipe that has me very curious, but I’m not brave enough to do it myself. And I don’t like the real article anyway. And I don’t have olive oil or vinegar or a fine sieve.

The recipe in question? Potato mayonaise. The concept of this is entirely bizarre to me for some reason, even more bizarre than eating regular mayonaise, and I feel that it should be texted empirically. But not by me.

Therefore, I propose that somebody else does it.

Here it is:

Any takers? Come on, gang, you know you want to use this as a base for a salad dressing or to pour over your steamed asparagus. And to take pictures of, so I can see it.

If anybody else has any weird old recipes that they’d like to have a Doper try out, please post them as well. I’m willing to be a guinea pig for anything I’m not allergic to.

I want a Fannie Farmer cookbook… been on the lookout for one…

I’ll have to go through some of mine. I have a couple, one that was initially run in the late 19th century and one more recent, but a collection of interesting recipes (though we DO use that one for a lot of recipes… like biscuits and cakes and stuff… the odd ones though…).

I hope you find one, Flutterby. This thing alternately makes me hungry and slightly nauseated. Reading it is so entertaining. There’s a nearly 20 page chapter on how to prepare potatoes – mostly deep-fried or creamed. :smiley: The strangest thing is that the normal recipes are incredibly normal, and the weird ones tell you to do things like make what is essentially a mashed pea baked custard and garnish it with cream sauce and fresh peas or sweetbread mousse. Mmm, creamy organ meats!

There’s another one around the house that’s a reprint of the Hawkeye Cook-Book (I think, it might be buckeye), which was printed in the 1880s. Competely different format, and the recipes are freely mixed with housekeeping advice and how to best use washing soda to remove stains from laundry.

The main reason I want it, is because my aunt uses it to cook from and she has some real tasty recipes…

One of the ones I have is Out Of Old Nova Scotia Kitchens which offers up history and tips (as well as a section devoted to home cures) between cooking biscuits, oat bread and then such delicacies as jellied calves foot…

I have Ruth Wakefield’s cookbook, and a 1960 edition of Betty Crocker. There are some good things in each.

One of my go-to books is a collection of recipes from the back of jars and boxes - it is the compilation of decades of culinary innovation by test kitchens and corporate sponsored cooking contests. Brilliant stuff, and designed for cooks of modest ability like me.

Oh, oh! Pick me! Pick me! I inherited my Gram’s copy of Betty Crocker’s New Dinner for Two Cookbook, copyright 1964. Some of the recipe’s are great. Some of them are not. I’ll let you guess which category this recipe falls in:

Despite the cookbook’s title, it apparently serves four, not just two. I suppose Betty likes to plan for leftovers, but, quite frankly, with a recipe like that, I can’t imagine there being any leftovers. The photo is amazing!

Also, in case you’re not a chicken fan, it says that veal, beef, or lamb can be used as a substitute with the appropriate stock or bouillon replacing chicken broth. For the vegetarians, I suppose tofu and vegetable bouillon would make a delightful substitution.
ETA: I’m off to go make some mayo!

Fortifying mayonaisse with a potato for body and emulsification is a pretty classic method and recipe. I’ve seen it done before on cooking programs, usually for an aioli or rouille used on croutons in classic french fish stews (Bouillabaise).

Here are a couple of examples: Branzino and Bouillabaise

I have also seen sieved hard boiled egg yolks used in much the same way as the potatoes in mayonaise.

I’ve got a 1902 edition of “Harper’s Cook Book Encyclopaedia” that has some odd recipes (by today’s standards). I can’t remember many, but I do remember a recipe for catsup that made like a gallon or something. I can dig it out and post some unusual ones. And I use the red/white checkerboard “Better Homes & Gardens New Cookbook” ‘53 Edition quite a bit, but that’s mainly for the good ol’ standards.

ETA I also have the ubiquitous old “White House Cook Book”, but the binding is kinda fragile so I don’t really get it out much.

Ooh, I’m in! I have an ancient White House Cookbook which was either my grandmother’s or my great aunt’s. I’ll check the date when I get home, and find something equally archaic to cook.

But we’ll be needing pictures!

America’s Cook Book, published in 1938 by the Home Institute of the New York Herald Tribune*, is an heirloom in my family. My mom has refused for years to use any of the recipes, on the grounds that ingredients, measurements, everything is different now and you’d probably undercook something and die of some gruesome contagion.

*Did you know they had a Home Institute? Did you even know there was a Herald Tribune? Do you know there still is one?

When I get home I’ll post some of the interesting recipes from the numerous cookbooks I have pre-1930.

Some people collect troll dolls or pop tops. I collect cook books. I especially love the old community or church cookbooks. They become a glimpse into the homes from that time. My favorite is from the Orthodox Ukrainian Church my stepgrandma attended circa 1946 or so. Some of the best food ever!

I down loaded the hundred year old one from the site. It’s a good thing the internet research has gotten better, because I had to look up old products to see what they were. This is the reason I don’t like recipes that assume people will always know what some currently common item is. I ran across how to make flavored tea sugars. I have no interest in it, but thought that’s something you wouldn’t find in Betty Crocker.

I’ll jump in with a “when I get home” post. At an antique store, I picked up a “Lady’s Salad Cookbook” or something like that from WW2 era. It has some STRANGE salads. I’ll have to look for that when I get home for sure.

I decided not to just post photos, but a whole narrative. Here you go!

That was my thought too; excellent blog-fodder! I may make a series on this.

(I’m a fan of Pioneer Woman too. Isn’t she great?)

I love old cookbooks, especially the aforementioned church cookbooks.

My current favorite is the Better Homes & Gardens Meat Cookbook from about 1965.

The chapter on Wild Game is so deliciously sexist, the header says “When he brings home the feast, Cook it right!” , almost like it’s a threat “You’d better cook it right, woman!”

Here in Topeka there was a cookbook, the Household Searchlight Cooking Book, published by Capper Publications. It went through twenty six or twenty seven printings, from 1931 to the early 1950’s. My mother and I are trying to collect copies of each printing. I never thought I’d find a first printing, but cruising netted me one, from a bookstore in Las Cruces, New Mexico. It was in practically mint condition, and set me back $100, but as a gift for my mom it was worth it!

I’ll check out some of the recipes when I get home.

I’ve got The Fannie Farmer cookbook that belonged to my mother. And my grandmother’s copy of the Meta Givens encyclopedia. Some older recipes reflect Depression thriftiness and/or Wartime shortages. I also enjoy the sample menus that vary by season.

Managed to locate a copy of Craig Claiborne’s New York Times Cookbook. Published in 1961, it’s not exactly “antique.” But it’s got some fine recipes & an interesting look at what the “sophisticates” cooked.

The Betty Crocker cookbook for kids was well-worn at our house. Me & my sibs still use the chili recipe.

I’ve been searching for some jelly and pickle recipes. I found this and would be leery unless I knew people can’t be allergic to it. Nothing about how you get sumac juice is mentioned. As far as I know only trolls can squeeze juice from wood. Paul Bunyan might be able to.


3 c. grape juice
1 c. sumac juice
3 c. sugar

I’ve had some ideas for a couple new baked goods which i hope to try this year.

According to this jelly guy, sumac has small berries. He mentions what type of sumac to use (hint: not poison sumac) and how to make sumac juice.