Monday, January 4, 2010

Back to Basics Nostalgia

Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook The Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook was my mom's go-to resource whenever she was making something new or experimental. (She just called it "the red and white checkered cookbook, and I was a teenager before I realized that wasn't actually it's official title.) It's the cookbook that taught me to cook, laboriously working my way through from Baked Alaska to Zucchini Parmesan, while my long-suffering family was obliged to consume whatever I'd attempted.

If I could only have one cookbook on my shelf, I'd want it to be this one. But I'd want one of the older editions, not any of the post 1980s editions.

The recipes have changed subtly, I suspect to make them simpler and more accessible for cooks who don't grow up with a mother who once taught Home Ec (when they still had Home Ec in high schools)—but simpler to make doesn't necessarily translate to better cooking. In fact, sometimes those two goals are diametrically opposed. I discovered this completely by accident, after buying a new copy to replace my trusty old graduation-present cookbook that went missing during a house move. I've bemoaned its loss for years, now. So imagine my utter joy when I received a trusty older edition for Christmas, this year.

Thumbing through the indexed sections, seeing the well-loved recipes I haven't made in years, was like returning to a much-loved childhood home.


HistorySleuth said...

Old cook books are so much better. I have a slew. My moms Betty Crocker was so much better then mine. Now I see "add a can of pumpkin" which isn't much help when I am making a pie from pumpkins I grew!

Mac said...

Yep, I've noticed that exact same thing - "Add two cups of Bisquick Brand Biscuit Mix" That's not really the same as making something from scratch. We aren't learning the things we used to learn, or the chemistry of how and why something like baking powder works, and about how much to use if we want to experiment with creating our own recipes.

And I've been on an anti-HFCS tear lately, and literally couldn't find any horseradish the other day that didn't have corn syrup listed in the ingredients. What the heck?

Lynanne said...

Same (obviously) cookbook I grew up on, but not being as much of a trditionalist, or for that matter cook, as my sister I find my newer on just dandy. Whoops, I just went and checked the date. It is a 1976 edition.