Well, ladies I’m not exactly sure whether you’d call my experiment a success or not. As I said, I attempted to complete the recipes exactly as they were written in the 1950 cookbook. For added fun, I also tried not to use any labor saving appliances that a homemaker back them would not have had available. That meant grating three cups of carrots with my old box grater, chopping veggies by hand, and parboiling the peppers in a pan on top of the stove instead of steaming them in the microwave. It also meant over two hours of preparation time, and that was with my daughter’s help.
When I planned the meal, I took one dish from each category of the chart given in the cookbook, my assumption being that the writers felt these were necessary for the typical evening meal. I’m not sure if folks really ate like this, but ladies this ended up being an enormous meal! My oldest daughter, Louisa, joined us and she commented that we could have made two meals out of what I had prepared…. the bread and baked apples would have made a delightful breakfast or even lunch. The cheese casserole, stuffed peppers and veggie tray were certainly sufficient for dinner. We all left a lot of food on our plates, and I know that was not typical 1950′s manners!
The recipes themselves were very good, and I think we’ll enjoy them even more with a bit of tweaking. For example the casserole called for American cheese, next time I’ll make it with a sharp cheddar. I think the stuffed peppers would be improved with something like couscous in place of bread crumbs and perhaps the addition of some savory seasonings. I’ll replace the figs in the wheat-nut bread with apricots or maybe dried cranberries. Another surprise was that these dishes were not as heavy and starchy as I had imagined. The main ingredient in the cheese casserole was actually grated carrots, and yet it tasted very rich and satisfying. I’ll definitely be making this again soon.
I really found that the one hour of worry-free time was an immense blessing. When my children were very young this would have been such a help. For most of us with children that hour just previous to dinner can be hectic at best. Little ones are tired and hungry and a mama busy with dinner prep just doesn’t have the time and attention to spare for them as she might otherwise. Today we were able to sit together in the living room, while the house filled with wonderful smells. Table-setting was unhurried, and when it was time to eat we were all in a very good humor. I think I’ll be adding some of my own tried and true recipes to the chart so I can really make this technique my own.
So all in all… a successful days work!