I’ve never really made an effort to look for a cook book like the one my mother used. She still has her copy and that’s always been good enough for me. However, I’m not opposed to a serendipitous find on a book shelf in an antique store. Such was the case when Goodnight and I were ‘up north’.
This particular edition of The Settlement Cook Book was published in 1938, in Milwaukee, WI. There were many editions before it, having different cover art. The one I found is the same as my mother’s.
The purchase was simple. Living up to what it represents will be the bigger challenge. Now, I should mention that I am definitely not looking for the way to a man’s heart. What I’m willing to put the effort into, is becoming a better cook, like Gr8.
I didn’t even wait until I got home to start reading it. After I had tucked Goodnight into bed (figuratively . . . she’s nearly 14) at our hotel, I curled up in a chair and opened my new old book. I realized immediately that I was a failure. In the early pages, there is a section on organization in the kitchen. The first thing mentioned was donning a cotton kitchen dress with a pocket for a handkerchief. I don’t own a cotton kitchen dress. Despite the hour, I sent my sister a text and told her what I had read. She made me feel better. She told me she didn’t own a handkerchief.
In the effort to maintain my dignity and mental health, I decided to skip the rest of the organization section and browse through the cook book to find the previous owner’s most-used recipes. There are some dead giveaways as to which pages are the most popular: stains or torn pages. Red cabbage seems to have been popular.
There are some torn pages in my new old book, too. They are in the vegetable and canning section, so I know that one of the previous owners was quite industrious.
But . . . what really lifted my spirits from their embarrassing dive into despair and not owning a cotton kitchen dress (with or without a pocket) was the section on invalid cookery.
It makes perfect sense that when cooking for an invalid, to provide nutritious liquids to sustain them during their recovery. I just found it ironic that so many of the recipes included alcoholic fortification. I’m not saying I feel under the weather in any way, but it may not hurt for me to practice a few of those concoctions . . . just in case.
I might turn out to be a good cook after all -just skilled in different sections of the book than my mother . . . .