January 12, 2010

Retro Cooking

Tomorrow is Wednesday, which means another installment of mid-century recipes over at No Pattern Required.  This is where she picks several recipes from her collection of vintage cookbooks and documents making and eating them step-by-step.

I love this segment, since I am also in love with cookbooks from the 1940s to the 1970s.  I can't help but pick them up at thrift stores and yard sales, and I particularly love it when I find mementos from the previous owner inside.  Here is a picture of several of my favourite ones...

Once I found a shopping list in a cookbook (not pictured) for fruitcake with the original receipt from 1968.  Because it was the days of manual cash registers, and not computers, there was only a tabulation of prices on the receipt and the total.  The fruitcake-making woman (I'm pretty sure it was a woman) had written the ingredient in teeny tiny script beside each of the till entries.  I've always meant to take the same recipe and and see how much it would cost to make now, as a comparison.  Providing that nothing in my life goes horribly awry, this might be an interesting exercise for next winter.

Most of the time, I find the recipes in these books too bizarre to actually make, although they are highly intriguing.  I'm glad that I can live vicariously through No Pattern Required, though.  Out of the five cookbooks above, I have only ever made anything out of the Fish Cookbook - and it is my go-to recipe for Halibut.

Here's the recipe for "Oven Fried Fish".... (sorry there is only a [bad] picture - I don't have a scanner and am too lazy to type it out)....

With the breading I usually add Parmesan cheese and fresh or dried dill.  This is really the only recipe that I like for Halibut.  I am mostly a vegetarian but do eat seafood.  I usually find Halibut a little too 'meaty' but something about this recipe makes it really savory and good -- probably all the breading and butter!

Which brings me to another thing I love about vintage cookbooks; they come from an era where people really knew how to eat.  What's wrong with breading and butter?  What people ate in these decades were usually made by themselves or their families, and were eaten in moderation at the table.  Luckily, a movement is afoot, inspired by Micheal Pollan, to return to such a lifestyle.  I haven't yet read his new book Food Rules: an Eater's Manual but plan to do so at the earliest opportunity.  Rules such as "Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself" hearken to an earlier time, and is one rule I can follow!  Bring on the oven-fried fish!

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