Cooking Classes


Community cookbooks make for interesting reading

I spent all day yesterday reading old cookbooks in my friend’s house.  They are all published by community or special groups as fundraisers.  I think the oldest was published around 1952 and the newest about 1976.

They are very amusing.  The older books leave a lot to your own discretion.  I guess they thought everyone knows how to cook and that specific directions were not necessaray.  Also, they never called baking soda by its full name.  It was always called soda.  I had never noticed that before.

One interesting book was published by the Western Development Museum in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.  This is a quote:

How to grow thin –
From an 1860 recipe book:  “Drink as little as you can get along with comfortably, no hot drinks, no soup, no beer and only milk enough to colour the lukewarm tea or coffee you drink.  Eat chiefly stale bread, lean meat with such vegetables as peas, beans, lettuce in moderation.  Avoid watery vegetables such as cabbage, potatoes, turnips, etc.  no pastry whatsovever.  Limit yourself to seven hours sleep out of the 24 and take plenty of exercise in the open air.”

This is hilarious!  Who wouldn’t lose weight on this regime!

It was also interesting to see recipes like ‘Southern Cornbread’ submitted by someone in Montana!  There were lots of chop suey recipes from obviously English people on the prairies! 

I copied several recipes to my laptop and will try them sometime.  There were a few ethnic recipes passed down through generations.  So those will be fun.

The recipe I made today was matrimonial cake.  I think this must be a truly Canadian sweet  and a truly Canadian name (rather than calling them date squares) because my new friends in the South had never heard of it.  And I couldn’t find the proper dates until I returned home to Canada.  I am not sharing the recipe because I didn’t think it was that great, boo hoo!  I could have done better without a recipe.  But I guess that is the fun of using these books.

And my day isn't complete without a Miss Sugar picture.  We just had a bath and next is the blow dry!


  1. That is such an interesting blog! I love anything to do with Cookbooks, especially community cookbook. They are so interesting and you know that the recipes are tried and proven good. i would love to be thinner but don't think I will try that method; thanks for sharing.

  2. Awwww, Sugar looks too cute for words!!! :)

    The dessert looks good; I'm sorry it taste good, though. I love old cookbooks!!

  3. Miss Sugar looks displeased. Our cat had kittens when we had our first Mastiff, and he used to "wash" the kittens. Then I'd have to put them in the sink for a bath. I've seen that very facial expression plenty of times.

    I love community cookbooks, too. I got one from the visiting girlfriend's college, and it makes me feel as if I know the place, even thought I've never been with 50 miles of it!

  4. Miss Sugar does not look to pleased after her bath.

  5. Miss Sugar looks none too happy with the bath idea... how was the blow dry? I love your story about the cookbooks. Not all things old are worth trying! But then, I've seen some really great recipes with very funny names in those junior league cook books that my ex's southern mother used to collect. I'm sorry I didn't save them... great you are putting some of these away for posterity, Sarah. I can't wait to see what you make.

    PS Come over to my blog tomorrow for a surprise~

  6. I live near Memphis, TN, where were you house sitting? I hope you took home some wonderful Southern Recipes.

    Community Cookbooks are such treasures, you are correct in that back in the 50's, 60's & even 70's recipes were written assuming the user was a cook - I recently made a Lemon Meringue pie from a well known Louisana Junior League cookbook. The recipe listed ingredients for Meringue and the instructions were: Make meringue. I looked up how to prepare meringue and the pie was delicious!

  7. That towel suits her:)
    I like old books like that too..and love date squares~

  8. You can actually give Sugar a bath? Really? My cat Panny is 15-years old and it has never occurred to me to give her a bath...A blow dry too? Wow, that is impressive.

    Community cookbooks can be fascinating. Often while traveing, I will pick-up a regional community sponsored cookbook. Of course, mine are modern. The older ones would be awesome to read.

    The prescribed diet in 1860 sounds awful. Can you imagine-ugh.

  9. miss sugar est trop classe j'adore
    ces carrés sont exquis et très appétissants, bravo
    bonne journée

  10. I love bars of any kind; such a great snack! I remember the days when I gave my cats a bath . . . is Sugar a Siamese mix-type breed? Himalyan? I still have a Siamese female, but am scared to bathe her like I did with my other Siamese cats. She needs one now and then, I think! Roz

  11. Great for the 1860 cookbook! Love, love cookbooks and you never know what goodies you'll find. Community cookbooks are the best! Thanks!

  12. I love reading community cookbooks, too. My favorite thing is how they will have four or five versions of the same dish, all very similar. I have one Amish community cookbook that is truly a hoot to read. The way people narrate their recipes is so funny.

  13. Miss Sugar tolerates the bath and hates the blow dry but she matts so terribly and I learned that bathing helps!

    She is Himilayan, and a rescue cat. She chose me!

  14. Sheilat - I forgot to answer your question, duh! I was housesitting near Maryville which is south of Knoxville about 45 minutes.


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