Thursday, November 21, 2013

Good and Easy Cook Book

At an estate sale (different than the one I got the letterpress letters at), I found an old Betty Crocker cookbook from 1954, where the focus was on cooking easy and delicious meals. I thought the cover was cute and I liked the simple illustrations throughout the inside of the book as well…so I bought it.

I like how the book is written; it’s very informal and simple. It feels upbeat and that any “homemaker” can follow their instructions and be a successful cook. Sometimes the language makes me smile, like in the “Breakfast Today” introduction, the first line is so direct: A good breakfast is the foundation for a happy day. 

The book is broken into sections by meal, and besides breakfast, lunch and dinner, they also have “The Fourth Meal” (which immediately brings to mind Taco Bell, but their Fourth Meal is completely different). While Betty’s Crocker’s Fourth Meal is still a “for-fun-to-eat-meal,” it’s divided into sections that have sweet and savory items: afternoon tea, open house, tots’ treats, teen-age gatherings and snacks and treats. It just initially took me aback when I turned the page and saw “The Fourth Meal” (with its handy explanation below) because I hadn’t realized this expression had existed for so long.

While I enjoy the illustrations, the poor photographs in this book aren’t great. [Sigh.] Cookbooks and food blogs today often have photos that make you instantly salivate, with close-ups of food that make you feel like you can reach out, grab it and take a giant bite. The photos in this cookbook tried to create an appetizing scene, but the photos themselves are just so flat. And the food often looks dated…because it is.

Truthfully, some of the recipes don’t appeal to me because they’re based on a lot of premade items (e.g. canned soup, premixed baking mixes, etc.) and some of them sound rather dated to me (e.g. “Sea Dream Salad” that combines lime-flavored gelatin and vegetables), but there may be some recipes in there that sound simple and good to make—they’re in there somewhere; there’s only 1000 recipes to choose from.

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