American Cookery—early foodie reads in America

A friend of  mine recently found some treasures as she was going  through boxes of family heirlooms.

She found some immaculate copies of American Cookery (formerly the Boston Cooking-School Magazine).   She graciously let me borrow a couple.  All of these ancient copies are in perfect condition.

I love perusing through antique cookbooks and these magazines offered me the same nostalgia.

The November edition had a little bit about architecture, some fiction, some humor, and recipes galore.  But, I have to share with you some of the language:

Most women would resent the statement that they took food for granted without giving it much thought.  They would indignantly point to the countless hours they regularly spent in their kitchens in preparing meals, or at least supervising them, three times a day, twenty-one times a week, and one thousand ninety-five times a year.
—from “Food in Fiction” by Clifford Parcher

Yes, I can’t tell you how many meals I have supervised with my household staff!  🙂

My days are very full, but I sing as I polish the floors and whistle as I mould the delicate biscuits and sleep like a babe at night.  It would take more sports than there are, all rolled into one, to give anything as versatile as housework.
—from “Housework—A Thrilling New Sport” by Gertine Ahrens

Truly, I cannot tell if this is meant as some ironic humor or is Gertine really loving that housework or has she had a bit too much “mother’s little helper”?

And for Thanksgiving?   These are some feasts now:

Since the featured recipe was “Cape Cod Muffins,” I wanted to share that here.   Here is the recipe exactly as it appeared in the November 1937 edition of American Cookery:

Cape Cod Muffins

Wash three-fourths a cup of cranberries; remove any stems or berries that are not perfect.  Cut in halves and sprinkle with on-half a cup of powdered sugar.  Butter small muffin tins.  Sift two cups of flour, one-half a teaspoonful of salt, and three teaspoonfuls of baking powder.   Break an egg into a bowl, add one cup of milk and stir in one-fourth a cup of melted butter.   Add the liquids quickly to the dry ingredients and stir, but do not over beat.   Stir in the cranberries.   Place the mixture into the muffin tins filling them two-thirds full.  Bake at 400 deg. Fah. twenty minutes.   These are very good as a luncheon muffin served with salad or creamed chicken.

Wow—I am glad modern recipes are written in a format that separates the ingredients from the directions; however, this might force me to read a recipe through before I start to assemble it.  (And, it explains the format of  a lot of the recipes we found in my grandmother’s kitchen. )

I am also fascinated with the advertisements (and remember, this was before Mad Men).    I found some familiar products:   Knox Gelatine, PET Milk, Gold Medal, Carnation Milk, and Morton’s Salt.  Some of these products claims would be lost on us, the modern foodie.

  • Famous for preventing clogged saltcellars!   (Morton’s Salt)
  • Irradiated Carnation Milk (Now, that is what I call a great selling feature!)
  • Irradiated PET Milk (This must not mean what I think it means??)

Some not so familiar products:  Shefford Snappy Cheese (I can only imagine), Farwell & Rhines Genuine Graham Flour, Cow Brand Baking Soda, and Three Diamonds Fancy Deep-Sea Crabmeat.

Only fifteen cents a copy—only $1.50 for a year’s subscription.

All I can say is that “We’ve come a long way, baby.”

Note:  As I was doing some internet research about this magazine I found that American Cookery  was first published in the late 1800s (as The Boston Cooking-School Magazine)  and survived until 1947.   (Interesting tidbit—Gourmet started publishing in 1941.)

8 comments to American Cookery—early foodie reads in America

  • What a cool find! Vintage recipe books are a great read and it is surprising some of the things you come across. Irradiated-lets hope the use of the word was in error because pasteurization is not the same as that!

  • What a treasure! And what great fun going through them. I am glad our format changed also…I’m sure I’d miss an ingredient when shopping in that format.

  • Jay

    wow…thats a very interesting book…thanks for sharing..
    first time here…love your space..
    amazing recipe collection with nice presentation..
    happy following you..;)
    do stop by mine sometime..
    Tasty Appetite

  • Ann

    That is SO cool! I love vintage cookbooks and buy (and cook from) a lot of them! How nice of your friend to let you borrow a few….thanks!

  • LOVE reading old recipes! You have to check out my post on 1955 Burnt Sugar Cake-I share some of the ads found in the mag I got it from and the Lysol one floors me:

    • Eliot

      I did check it out. I hadn’t heard of that mag either. I absolutely love those pics. I have some cookbooks from the 60s that have those incredibly colored recipe photos.
      And, that cake you made looks awesome! Thanks for sharing the link.

  • Hi Debra!

    I’m so glad I finally made it here. I have been going through issues and issues of the American Cookery Magazines in my cookbook collection. The earliest one I have is from 1902. So far I am up to 1940! (only six more years to go) They are such a hoot!!! Looks like your friend’s issues are in really good condition.

    I have done quite a few posts using American Cookery as my guide. One of my favorite posts is about Sarah Hale and the story of Thanksgiving.

    American Cookery Magazine first saw light in June 1896, and was founded by Janet McKenzie Hill as the Boston Cooking-School Magazine of Culinary Science and Domestic Economics from 1896 to 1914 (Hill was a former student of Fannie Farmer who ran the Boston Cooking School) The title changed to American Cookery from 1914 to 1946, then became Better Food between 1946 to 1947, and ended as Practical Home Economics in 1947.

    Now if I could just find some of those back issues of Gourmet!!!

    Thank you so much for sharing this post, Debra. I too am glad our paths have crossed:)

    • Me too, Lavesta. I am sharing this with the owner of these vintage pre-Gourmet publications. I will check out your link regarding Sarah Hale. Thanks again.