Cookbooks

Vintage Cookbook | Parents’ Magazine Family Cookbook – 1953

Sometimes you run along a book in your shelves and you find yourself wondering why you decided to pick it up. This was one of those for me. I’m thinking it’s because I haven’t run along as many recipe books from the 50s. Whatever the original reason, there’s some genuine oddities in this one that would keep it in my collection, should I ever start culling.

And boy, can you tell this is from the 50s. Look at this wholesome scene. The perfectly coifed hair and manicured nails. The excited grins over what I can only assume to be a folded napkin.

That sort of thing continues throughout the beginning of the book, with a focus on quick and healthy meals… in premise at least. Being a cookbook from Parents’ Magazine, it’s to be expected. Still, I was surprised to see that essentially the first 37 pages is a home-economics review.

From the functions and sources of Niacine to grocery shopping tips to a guide for introducing a baby to solid foods, this cookbook is thorough on what it feels a parent (mother specifically in this 1953 cookbook) should know in order to feed their family. Not sure how the information compares to current food-science, but if nothing else it’s an interesting bit of history, and the chart showing amounts for various can sizes could come in handy for older recipes.

There’s similar info, along with a bunch of menus in the back, including a section on feeding a sick child. I must admit, I feel for the kid who got this menu for their post-flu breakfast.

Finally, almost forty pages in, we get to the actual recipes. They’re arranged in alphabetical order, starting with beverages and ending with vegetables. Something I like about the recipes in this cookbook is that despite having some more elaborate recipes, such as Pineapple Walnut Bread, it doesn’t shy away from more basic foods, such as Basic Baking-powder biscuits, or Lemonade. To be honest, I don’t know if I can recall ever seeing a recipe for Lemonade in a cookbook.

Of course, there’s the strange one here and there as well… not sure if I ever needed to have the recipe for Milk Toast, nor if I ever want to try Tomato Egg Delight (-the tomato here being condensed tomato soup) or Frankfurter Cabbage Pie.

It’s not every day though that one finds recipes for what this cookbook refers to as ‘variety meats’. If suddenly I was saddled with some fresh brains or tongue, I’d have a few options thanks to Parents magazine.

I do find their treatment of vegetables a little questionable. It essentially boils down to sticking them in a pot with some water (pun very much intended). Thankfully it went a little further than that and included a few things like onion rings and scalloped potatoes, but that doesn’t exactly make up for the four straight pages of boiling instructions.

As far as pictures or illustrations, the book’s pretty bare, other than a small black and white illustration printed at the beginning of each chapter. Those are mostly small layouts of the various sorts of food to be found in that specific category, (e.g. a cooked turkey, ham, and fish). With a few notable exceptions.

Nothing says home like squinting eyes.

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