Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Eighty-Year-Old Vegetables!

I love Better Homes and Gardens cookbooks because it seems like they put out a million different cookbooks. They're super-easy to find and pretty reliably have weird food and interesting pictures in the specialty books (for fondue, salad, soups and stews, calorie counters, etc.). The ubiquity means I love them, but I'm not usually particularly excited to find them.

This one is different, though:

I rarely see any older than the 1950s, but this My Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book is copyright 1930 (although my copy is from an 1936 printing). There are a lot fewer recipes that call for convenience foods than in later cookbooks, and there are hardly any pictures, but it's got plenty to recommend it. Let's check out a few vegetable recipes!

First up, just because I find celery so disagreeable or forgettable, here's a celery recipe that tries to make the humble vegetable a little more memorable:

I thought the impulse to bread and deep fry pretty much any vegetable imaginable was a more recent one, but women of the '30s used this trick to get their families to eat veggies too! I'm also shocked that this calls for cayenne pepper-- I had always suspected that spice was too racy for the '30s, but there it is. The directions don't even make a big deal about how much restraint the cook will have to use to avoid burning everyone with the incendiary heat of using more than a barely-perceptible speck of it.

Unlike celery, I've always liked parsley. Whenever I was at a restaurant as a child, I'd get a grilled cheese. I'd ignore the pickle that usually came on the platter, but if it came with a sprig of parsley-- that puppy was gone! My mom would always tell me that I wasn't supposed to eat the garnish, spoken in a tone that suggested the restaurant had sprayed it with pesticide immediately before they put it on the plate (because why wouldn't they? Poisoning customers is a great idea). That always just made me reach for the parsley faster on our next visit so it would be gone before she could stop me!

Some people must need encouragement to eat their parsley, though:

Yes-- deep frying is not just for celery. Even parsley could be battered and fried!

Finally, just because I have a fixation on disgusting veggie loaves that were sometimes served as a vegetarian alternative to meats, here is a veggie loaf from a mainstream (not crazy '60s or '70s "healthy") cookbook:

Pea Roast is composed of canned peas and English walnuts, held together with bread crumbs and egg. I'm not sure how anyone can eat canned peas. They smell like a load of extra-dirty socks that got washed with too little detergent and forgotten so they were left to mildew in the washer for a week. Plus they are gray and sludgy. I doubt bread crumbs and nutmeats* are enough to save them....

*Another word that sounds dirty but really isn't.

Happy Cookbook Wednesday! Thanks to Louise of Months of Edible Celebrations, as always.


  1. 80 year old veggies, indeed. I'll pass on the pea loaf, thank you just the same. I always found that simply steamed was the best way to get my kids to eat veggies; who knew there were other ways to go, like deep fried celery?

    1. I never quite understood the whole "kids won't eat veggies" idea anyway. I was happy to eat a variety of them when I was little and even though my range has expanded somewhat now that I'm an adult, it was never that narrow to begin with. My sister and I used to fight over broccoli "trees."

  2. Why is BH&G trying to make hot celery happen?! No one likes hot celery. NO ONE

    1. I think they must have had stock in celery! There were WAY too many recipes prominently featuring hot celery (and your assessment of demand for that is spot on)!