Sunday, January 20, 2013

Feed The Brute

“Home at last!” sighed Bettina happily as the hot and dusty travelers left the train.

“Why that contented sigh?” asked Bob.  “Because our wedding trip is over?  Well, anyhow, Bettina, it’s after five.  Shall we have dinner at the hotel?”

“Hotel?  Why, Bob!  With our house and our dishes and our silver just waiting for us?  I’m ashamed of you!  We’ll take the first car for home – a streetcar, not a taxi!  Our extravagant days are over, and the time has come to show you that Bettina knows how to keep house.  You think that you love me now, Bobby, but just wait till you sit down to a real strawberry shortcake made by a real cook in a real home!”

The authors of A Thousand Ways To Please A Husband were awfully fond of exclamation points and frugality, as a reading of this delightful 1917 cookbook shows.  Smart, thrifty Bettina charms her husband Bob and wins over her in-laws with the delicious and economical meals she whips up.

The first night in their new bungalow, she ties a percale apron over her traveling suit and fixes a dinner of creamed tuna on toast strips and canned peas, made possible by the emergency shelf the two of them fixed up before the wedding.  Buying in larger lots helps Bettina save money, something she knows Bob will appreciate “Now that you have to pay my bills, Bob.”

Bettina's larder contains the following:

6 cans pimentos (small size)            6 cans tomatoes
6 cans tuna (small size)                   6 pt jars pickles
6 cans salmon (small size)               6 pt jars olives
6 jars dried beef                             6 small cans condensed milk
12 cans corn                                  6 boxes sweet wafers
12 cans peas                                  1 pound box salted codfish
6 cans string beans                         3 pkg marshmallows
6 cans lima beans                           3 cans mushrooms
6 cans devilled ham (small size)      2 pkg macaroni

But the emergency shelf is just that -- for emergencies.  After tonight, Bob will get real food, not just canned things.

The book is a mammoth 488 pages but lots of fun to read.  A pdf can be downloaded from


Kristen said...

I just love these books - I've read them all, and started my collection with the only one I couldn't find on Google Books: "When Sue Began to Cook."

Thanks for sharing, and glad to know I'm not the only one who reads these old cookbooks as if they were novels! Although, this series actually comes close. :)

Bunnykins said...

I just have to find time to take a good look at that book. This is the oddest emergency shelf I've ever seen. Salt cod, olives, pimentos and wafers? I loathe salt cod, having eaten way too much of it as a girl.

I bought one of the girls a early 1900s advice to the new cook book a few years ago, vintage Canadian (can't remember the title, of course), written by a then-famous Canadian cook. The pantry was much more straight forward: flour, beans, rice, herbs, sugar, salt, oatmeal, fats and the like. That and a copy of Joy of Cooking, and you'd have a recognizable meal.

So when was Pepto Bismol invented?

Shay said...

Bunnykins -- I think it was against the law, between the two Wars, to make anything that didn't have olives or pimentos in it, "for pretty."

I'm not hugely fond of creamed tuna, either.

Shay said...

Kristen, have you seen "A Thousand Ways To Please A Family?"

It's on Google Books, too.

Kristen said...

I've read it twice. :)