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Cooking from older recipe books


DianaB
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I’m sure that I am not alone in having a large number of recipe books from the 19th and early 20th centuries.  The older the book the less detailed the recipes in many cases but with a little thought many dishes can still be created or adapted.

 

Does anyone cook from 19th century editions of Mrs Beeton or Alexandre Dumas or similar.  How about Elizabeth David or the briefer Bero book of baking that must have been present in just about every UK household into the 1970s in various editions, it was given away for purchase of so many packets of flour.

 

I admit that I have yet to try Mrs Beeton’s recipe for a toast sandwich, or her toast tea (for the invalid).  Happy to photograph a few pages from this and other somewhat dated publications if anyone is interested.

 

Would love to hear of any recipes from these or similar that are in regular use.

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I have my mother's Mrs Beeton which was published IIRC in the early part of 20th Century (though I can't lay my hands on it at the moment. But I could track it down, if important).

 

I've read parts of it many times but I don't think I've ever cooked from it directly.

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Here’s a link to one of the Be-Ro baking booklets. I can still call one to mind that was so well used I think every page was stained and some were glued together with jam!

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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14 minutes ago, Anna N said:

Here’s a link to one of the Be-Ro baking booklets. I can still call one to mind that was so well used I think every page was stained and some were glued together with jam!

Thanks, that was fun!  I’m impressed that they included photos of every dish. 

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I can't find them but we had the Dr. Oetker booklets (baking- ours were from 1950s) and they were used. I learned to bake from them. Had to adjust to US for some things. The oldest US one I ever used was from Housekeeping in Old Virginia - a reprint I got in a cookbook club as a kid. Overall it was a fascinating take on life back then. Only thing I made was taffy. What an experience. I realized then why they have those stretch and turn machines at the salt water taffy places. I got all the cousins  outside and we pulled and pulled. Never got to cloudy but we were so dang tired we thought it tasted great. (original publication 1877)

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I sure wish I had the recipe booklet that came free with flour in the 1950s.  All my googling has been for naught.  It had the recipe for the best oatmeal cookies.  They had shredded coconut in them and they were really crispy.  Sigh. 

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3 hours ago, ElsieD said:

I sure wish I had the recipe booklet that came free with flour in the 1950s.  All my googling has been for naught.  It had the recipe for the best oatmeal cookies.  They had shredded coconut in them and they were really crispy.  Sigh. 

Was that the Five Roses Flour cookbook, by any chance? I grew up with that cookbook and it was pretty useful when I was first learning to cook. This one: 

 

https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/five-roses-a-guide-to/9781552854587-item.html?ikwid=five+roses+cookbook&ikwsec=Books&ikwidx=0#algoliaQueryId=3432ff169b336642f1384389aea155da

 

Edited to add: I just noticed you mentioned a booklet and the Five Roses one was definitely a full cookbook when we had it. But it was published in Canada from 1913 or something and underwent changes throughout the years. I think we got a free copy or nearly free with some flour or other grocery store purchase in the early 70's or so. 

 

Edited again to say: You can check the index on Amazon (eG-friendly Amazon.com link) to see if any of the cookie recipes sound like the right one. 🙂

 

Edited yet again to say: There was also the Purity Flour Cookbook in Canada from 1917 or so. The text of it is available here, but it's awkward to read the table of contents. The recipes are there, though. 

 

And then there is Robin Hood Flour. They had a cookbook but also issued booklets almost every year. 

https://www.robinhood.ca/En/Recipe-Booklets  And you can check their recipe index at the website also. 

 

But maybe you have already searched all these?  🙂

 

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@FauxPas  Wow, that was a lot of trouble you went too.  Thank you.  I found a recipe in the Purity Cookbook that stirred up a memory or two.  What caught my eye was dissolving baking soda in water.  I have saved that recipe and will make it at some point.  When I do, I'll let you know if that is the recipe.  It was a very simple one  as this one is.

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1 hour ago, AlaMoi said:

Four Roses cook book here, scroll down for 1915 edition - veddy pricey....

https://www.alibris.com/booksearch?mtype=B&keyword=Five+Roses+Flour+cookbook&hs.x=22&hs.y=18

Interesting. It was published in 1913 but has coloured photographs? Way ahead of its time. 

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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On 8/29/2022 at 11:46 AM, liuzhou said:

The Be-Ro Cookbook is still being published in new editions. I have my mother's from the 1950s and use it for some things.

 

But, I also use much older cookbooks going back to the 5th C AD .


 

@liuzhou can you elaborate? How did you obtains such old cookbooks? 

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Many old cookbooks have been republished. De Re Coquinaria, aka Apicius, compiled in the 5th century is widely available in English. It can even be downloaded free as an e-book from here, although there are better, more modern translations available as tree books from the usual bookstores. Amazon has several versions. This one (eG-friendly Amazon.com link) is not complete, but has a good selection which can be recreated easily.

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

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On 8/30/2022 at 12:42 AM, DianaB said:

How about Elizabeth David

Much of Elizabeth David could have been written yesterday. Not what I'd consider 'old'. In regular use here.

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On 8/29/2022 at 9:33 PM, Anna N said:

Here’s a link to one of the Be-Ro baking booklets. I can still call one to mind that was so well used I think every page was stained and some were glued together with jam!

Sounds similar to the copy that I inherited from my mother, I was probably in my 20s when I discovered that the booklet would have had a cover originally.  Still have mother’s copy somewhere, baked from it lots when first married.  Baking quiche today with BeRo flour and it feels good somehow to use ingredients that would have been much the same when the recipes were published.  A welcome link to my long departed mum.

 

The format and style of the edition linked to above is very similar to our copy, not come across that archive before but looking forward to exploring further.  Many thanks @Anna N for the information. 💐

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I enjoy Elizabeth David’s writing hugely and can happily read her books without any real thought of using the recipes.  That said, we have cooked and enjoyed many of her dishes over the years.  I understand that for some Elizabeth David might be considered a fairly modern author but I do enjoy learning about the Europe that she knew in the middle of the last century.

 

It is wonderful to have access to older texts, often without charge.  Project Gutenberg was the first source of such materials that I came across but of course there are so many others.

 

My Mrs Beeton is not a first edition, from memory it was printed in the 1860s.  I really don’t think that I have ever made any of the recipes but I have read the book many times, again it is the social history that keeps me interested.  My copy was restored earlier this year so it feels a lot safer to read now that all of the pages are attached properly!  Photo of beautifully restored spine attached. 😁. (I have yet to learn how to place photos in an eGullet contribution)!

 

For those interested in older recipes Max Miller makes short films that combine history with his attempts to recreate a dish.  Of course there is only so much that can be achieved in a short film but we find his work interesting and entertaining nonetheless.  Videos can be found here:

https://youtube.com/c/TastingHistory  If I have copied/pasted correctly!

 

The price of older books can vary enormously so it is certainly worth looking around if there is a particular text wanted.  Max Miller did a short series of films about food on the Titanic.  We were told that the recipes came from a book: Last Dinner on the Titanic, Max was happy to report that he had tracked a copy down at an affordable price.

 

This book was published in 1997 and I was amazed that copies had any value at all after just 25 years.  When I searched there were a small number of ‘collectable’ copies available on Amazon.com, the prices were incredible to such an extent that I thought the decimal point must have been wrongly placed.  The error was mine, Marketplace sellers were requesting vast payment for this (less than) rare publication.

 

A quick visit to a certain on-line auction site and I discovered sellers not yet aware that the book is now for collecting rather than reading.  I bought a copy for less than £5 with free delivery.  It is a relatively interesting text for a rainy afternoon.  I have long been interested by the history of Titanic (not the film, can’t quite understand why one would choose to watch a film when the ending is so well known and so grim - personal taste of course).  The book deals swiftly with food for each category of persons on board, there are some recipes and photos of original menus etc.  Willing to part with my copy to any avid collector!!! 😁
 

 

 

 

36451A49-FC49-4018-8897-E90AACF66C8D.jpeg

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I have a copy of The Cuisine of Hungary by George Lang cookbook. I would recommend it to anyone who might be curious about Hungarian food. My mom's family is Hungarian, and while I have many of my grandmother's recipes either memorized or written down, George Lang's cookie and pastry recipes were so close to our family recipes that my grandmother just used his.

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