Sunday, March 16, 2008

Very Cool Discovery

Man, I wish I could tell you how I stumbled across this great find. It was through a blog connected to another blog ... you know how that goes when you go snooping through peoples' links to find new sites.

ANYWAY, it's a great discovery for those of us who appreciate the history of the domestic arts. The University of California Libraries digitized The Chicago Evening American Cookbook for Microsoft. It is alternately titled "A Book of Practical Recipes for the Housewife."

The whole book is available, free, to anyone on the internet. I'm sure there are other such treasures so shared, but this is my first encounter with one that I cared about.

I am a collector of old cookbooks. I have more than 150 of them and precious little space for my collection. I need to thin the herd, but I cannot part with the REALLY old ones -- the one my grandmother got as a wedding present nearly 100 years ago, the World War II vintage books that include sections on cooking with rationing coupons, my great-aunt's World War I vintage ledger with her recipes written in pencil in her own hand.

This Chicago Evening American is such a cookbook, written with the assistance of 13,000 women. Here, from the acknowledgments:

The pages which follow were compiled
with a view to supplying dependable
Grateful acknowledgment is hereby
made to more than 13,000 housewives,
ready and willing to contribute their
favorite recipes and thereby help to
make this Cook Book possible.
-- Chicago Evening American

I'm trying to find some publication date, but have not yet succeeded. I know this has to be a later publication than some of my older books -- I'm guessing c. WWII perhaps, because it does have actual oven temperatures included in SOME of the recipes, rather than just references to "hot" or "moderate" oven. An online newsletter from the Culinary Historians of Chicago suggests the book was published in or before 1948. Perhaps. There are instructions for pasteurizing milk and the like, but still plenty of recipes that include raw eggs. Ah the good old days! And there are several butter substitutes included that no longer are available.

If you have an interest in the history of domestic arts, take a look at this online book and enjoy! Maybe it will help you remember what it felt like to visit Grandma's house, or the activity that went on in ladies' homes just before the bridge club arrived for cards and treats.

Here's the link:
Chicago Evening American Cookbook

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Waaaaay coooooool! :)