Monday, November 12, 2018

Old and New Again

A morning's tour of my grandmother's 1931-1946 edition of the Joy of Cooking paid off as handsomely as always. Whenever I find myself contemplating a meal but feeling unwilling to mush out to the store, Rombauer comes through. Her personal history spans Victorian through mid-century American kitchen technology and is grounded on the farm.

Distribution systems that pre-date electricity and the personal automobile were aimed at stocking a low-tech pantry with staples  meant to be supplemented by a kitchen garden and fresh deliveries. The miraculous restoration of my original central city neighborhood in Seattle means that the supply system for this 1890 house has been restored as well.

I can put a four-course Sunday dinner together with a quick trip to the patch of greens that are growing themselves in the compost border, a dive into the chilled leftovers in the fridge, and a step into the dry stores. Old school country cooking produces gentle, nutritious cuisine that can be prepared at leisure and served when the moment suggests.

I heartily recommend early twentieth century cookbooks. A brief look at the Joy's introductory canape' and sandwich chapter revealed many prototypes of industrial convenience food that are a snap to cobble together out of stores. Those early cooks had many a trick up their sleeves to make a good lot of something out of apparent nothing -30-

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