Sunday, August 29, 2010

Good Books: The Joy of Cooking, 1953

I have a large collection of both new and old cook books, amongst them, two different editions of The Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer.  One (1936) belonged to my great-grandmother May, and the other (1953) to grandmother, Blanche.  I have two copies of the 1953 edition. Grandma's was falling apart, so when I saw a more pristine copy for $10 at an antique store, I scooped it up.

It  is a bit of an old chestnut, but this truly is a good cook book. It is a faithful, basic guide to all kinds of cooking, and I refer to it often.  The 1953 edition was a complete kitchen manual, advising the homemaker in all aspects of meal-preparation, menu-planning, nutrition, food-preservation, nutrition and the latest kitchen technology.  The Joy of Cooking gives precise and concise instructions on everything one could reasonably expect to want to know how to cook in 1953, and offered hints about how to run a kitchen, especially helpful to the uninitiated 1950's bride. It even tells you how to clean up!
The newest household appliances: the electric mixer,  the blender and the pressure cooker.
Mrs. Rombauer serves up all manner of charming (and timely) advice:
'Serve hot food hot from hot dishes. Serve cold food chilled from chilled dishes.  Keep calm even if your hair striggles and you drip unattractively. Brush up before serving. Your appearance and the appearance of the food are important, but eating in a quiet atmosphere is even more important to the family's morale and digestion.
A meal represents effort and money.  It is worthy of a dignified hour.'

This book emphasizes the true importance of the kitchen as the centre of the home. Some of the instructions, such as those for canning, are now outdated compared to today's standards, but this book also contains information not found anywhere else.
Canning instructions illustrate how to use different types of canning jars and lids.
I love the illustrations in this edition.
How to prepare artichokes and steam asparagus.

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