Cookbooks

Vintage Cookbook | Southern Living Party Cookbook – 1972

I’ve noticed, in collecting cookbooks, I gravitate towards a few things, 1. the weird and 2. the familiar. That kinda makes it sound like I just grab anything, to be honest, but essentially that means while I have a bunch of unique cookbooks that are just different, I also pick up a heck of a lot stuff published by any of those famous women’s/lifestyle magazines- I’ve got a buttload of Better Homes and Gardens and Southern Living. This one is, to a small degree, both?

Well, at least to me. Let me explain. My family was never one for entertaining, past the absolutely huge family-get-togethers and church functions that took up a large part of my childhood. The idea of invitations and seating arrangement and folded napkins is something that never entered my world, so any cookbook that revolves around that sort of thing carries a certain amount of bizarre, in my mind. I mean, who has a party out of social obligations (and yes this is mentioned in the book) anyway? What does that even mean?

Anyway, at first glance I didn’t even realize that was a seventies era cookbook. The cover is bright! And it uses colors that I don’t associate with autumn.

To be honest, when I looked at it later I kept wondering if perhaps this was a subsequent edition in which the colors had been updated. But no, it seems more like a holdover from the sixties in this case, or just a focus on a very ‘traditional’ palette. In that regard, most of the seven glossy pictures wouldn’t seem that out of place, even in some newer cookbooks.

Though it couldn’t escape the 70s color scheme completely.

Some of the content, itself, is plenty dated to make up for the cover. The first chapter is a rather lengthy section on entertaining and ‘southern hospitality’ and while a lot of it makes sense, some of the advice just seems weird, especially eating times. Who in the world serves dinner at 9pm? The helpful suggestions continue throughout the book, as well, popping in amongst the recipes with advice on recipe doubling, using chafing dishes, and emptying ashtrays.

The layout of the majority of the cookbook however, isn’t party tips thankfully. Nor are the recipes so easy to navigate if you’re looking for a specific sort. Instead of being separated out by food type, like one normally finds in a cookbook, the sections are specific events, such as brunches,  dinner parties, cookouts, dinners for houseguests, etc.

I’ll admit that it does make things a little difficult if you’re trying to find something specific. A recipe for a dinner party isn’t necessarily going to be all that different from a holiday dinner, after all. This does, however, lend itself to a pretty wide range of recipes- everything from cheese fondue to lemon-barbecue chicken to Beef Wellington.

These recipes aren’t, by any means, quick and easy however. There’s a big focus on from-scratch cooking here. Not sure I’ve ran into many cookbooks that actually have a ‘dough’ section on a (two page long) Chicken Cannelloni recipe. Southern Living expected party-hosting to be an intense affair, evidently.

One quirk of the book I wish I’d noticed before I’d cooked anything out of this book are the serving sizes on a good portion of the recipes. I’m so used to seeing -serves 4- or something akin to that, that I missed completely the fact that a good portion of these recipes serve anywhere from 6-8 people, or 15 in at least one case.

But then it is, after all, a party cookbook- I shouldn’t have been surprised over the fact that they took ‘party’ to mean quantity as much as the quality of the event.

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