Monday, January 5, 2009

Lessons From Old Cookbooks

A very good friend of the family recently gave me one of her cookbooks from the mid 1940's. The author, Ida Bailey Allen created a cookbook entitled Delicious Meals At Low Cost. This is a foodie's gem of low budget yet traditional meals that still can be served today.

The author herself published around fifty or so cookbooks dealing with a variety of topics. Ida Bailey Allen was born in 1888 and came of an age when home cooking required a lot of blood sweat and tears. She left in 1973 during the era of convenience foods and the rise of fast food empires. This book that was given me is a meld of traditional old school recipes and new , more "modern" ones. What I love about it is the fact that Ms Allen goes into great detail about ingredients. All sorts of meats are completely analyzed form their taste and texture to what can and should be done about them. Dairy is carefully broken down into specialized categories along with their benefits. Then there are the suggestions as to what to do with leftovers. This was way before the microwave era and Ms. Allen has some very creative ideas as to what to do with them. All in all it makes for a fascinating read.

You can learn a lot from old cookbooks. Culinary history is always fascinating, especially when it comes with asides. What's even neater is that the recipes can be updated today and used in our diets.

Note: You can still buy any of Ida Bailey Allen's books on the web. Use Google to do so and a complete list will come up.

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