For the last little while, I've been fascinated with cookbooks published before the microwave oven came into common use in America. For years, I've used a 1964 edition of THE JOY OF COOKING by Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker. My husband, a professional cook and baker, used the AMERICAN HOME ALL-PURPOSE COOKBOOK by Virginia T. Habeeb, published in 1966. When I left home, my mother gave me her BETTY CROCKER BOOKBOOK, which she received as a wedding present in 1942. These three cookbooks were basic in our younger days of keeping house. They are a link to the past but are also interesting reading when you compare the recipes then, with the recipes now. Which foods and products were in common use, then, that are no longer available, or have evolved into something else today?
I have two other cookbooks I like to read and use: THE FANNIE FARMER COOKBOOK, published in 1896; and THE SETTLEMENT COOKBOOK, published in 1965, with first editions published in the early years of the Twentieth Century. It has been updated through the years. Fannie Farmer was the product of the Boston School of Cooking and the Settlement book was the brain child of Mrs. Simon Kander, a cooking teacher at "The Settlement" in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; a school set up to help the many immigrant housekeepers new to America, around the turn of the century. All five of the cookbooks I've mentioned so far, are good teaching tools for the beginning cook.
I thought it would be fun and interesting to look at a Christmas dinner menu and recipe set from the turn of the century and ponder the differences between the methods and recipes, then, and those in common use today. There is a version of the 1896 Fannie Farmer book online which you can download for free, if you like. I used it so that I could easily capture the recipes and instructions to include here.
First, the Christmas Dinner Menu a la Fannie Farmer:
The tools useful to the home cook in 1896:
On the table, when the dinner was being served were the following Condiments:
Recipe for Bread Sticks:
Recipe for Salted Pecans (begin by lightly frying them in butter, about 3 minutes):
Recipe for Roast Goose with Potato Stuffing (honestly, this is the best picture of a bare-naked goose I could find; you'll want to refer to it when you get to the part about "trussing"):
(A hot oven is 400 to 450 degrees F.)
Recipe for Cream of Lima Beans:
Recipe for Chicken Croquettes:
Recipe for Dressed Lettuce was simply iceberg lettuce wedges with French Dressing.
Recipe for Puff Paste:
Recipe for Plum Pudding with Sauce:
Recipe for Bonbons:
Recipe for Brandy Sauce:
Recipes for Cocoa and Hot Chocolate: