The past couple of posts I've gotten some comments implying I'm misandrist, which any man that actually knows me will confirm is untrue, but furthermore, would a misandrist own a cookbook called A Thousand Ways To Please A Husband With Bettina's Best Recipes?
Unfortunately, I can't link to this cookbook because it's very old. It's from 1917, but actually old cookbooks are a pretty cheap collectible. You can get some nice ones for less than $20 and they make great gifts. I suspect it's because many of them really show their age. American cooking has changed a lot and dare I say that it's better now? Yes, we eat a lot of junk these days, but it's possible to get cookbooks that have healthy AND flavorful recipes. Reading this cookbook, I get the feeling that if anything in it is healthy, it's an accident. As much as I love old things, I feel very lucky that we can evaluate them scientifically. **edit: someone just informed me that this book is available free on Google Books**
This cookbook was from a very strange era. It melds retro gender roles with a more modern emphasis on convenience, thrift, and simplicity. Back when I first got this cookbook, when I was a teenager, I never made anything from it because it had "exotic" ingredients like lard and tallow. Now I don't use it much because everything is bland and has white flour and sugar in it. It reminds me that while our health wasn't so bad back then compared to now, it was probably in the decline. There are wise traditions, but there are unwise traditions as well. I get the feeling that bread-crusted lamb chops are an unwise tradition. It's entirely possible to make unhealthy foods from scratch.
Though let's be honest, anyone who came home to these meals would probably be pretty happy. Each chapter has a trite little story as an intro that makes me very grateful that I am not as boring as Bettina, though her husband Bob is pretty lame too. Then there is a selection of recipes for each occasion. For example "A Sunday Dinner" has roast beef, brown potatoes, browned gravy, baked squash, and Devil's food cake with vanilla icing. Don't worry, it's not entirely woman's work. One progressive chapter is "Bob Makes Peanut Fudge." Don't worry, while Bob is making his manly candy, Bettina is at work on liver and bacon, fruit gems, creamed turnips, and apple sauce. In another chapter titled "Bob makes pop-overs"...Bob makes pop-overs, though really Bettina is making them when Bob comes into the kitchen and says "Let me help you with them, Bettina; this is one place where you can use my strong right arm."
Flour is added to EVERYTHING. The food actually reminds me a bit of what was served at the Baptist church potlucks my family went to when I was a child. The only thing missing is the Jello.
For Valentine's Day there is broiled steak, macaroni with tomatoes and green peppers, baked potatoes, bread, butter, and cornstarch fruit pudding. Probably the most hilarious menu is for Washington's Birthday
"Good bran bread," said Bob, reaching for another piece.
"I like that recipe," said Bettina, "and it is so easy to make."
"What have you been doing all day?" Bob asked, "Cooking?"
"No, indeed. Charlotte was here this afternoon and we made plans for the tea we are going to give at her house on Washington's birthday. Oh, Bob we have some of the best ideas for it! Our refreshments are to be served from the dining-room table, you know, and our central decoration is to be a three-cornered black hat filled with artificial red cherries...blah blah blah blah"
So what's on the final menu? Corned beef au gratin, baked tomatoes, apple sauce, cream pie, and GLUTEN BREAD. Yes, not just bread, but GLUTEN BREAD. Planning parties all day sounds nice though.
A little too much sugar here, which probably accounts for some of the gout men of this era suffered from (if you search Google books for this era you'll find several diabetic and uric-acid free cookbooks), but I've learned some lessons from the book. One of my major mistakes has been making extremely complicated multi-course meals. Bettina makes several simple things. She also often boils or steams things, which I didn't really do much until this year, but they are very simple and gentle cooking methods. Bettina occasionally uses a "fireless cooker," which was a primitive form of crockpot.
While I find Bettina annoying, I don't see her as a mere housewife. These days I'm sure she'd be gainfully employed as a party-planner or something. And while I don't think cooking is a "woman's role" I do personally enjoy cooking for men.
Please your stalkers with a freshly baked cake!
Bake then, even babies helped in the kitchen. Wait... that's not a baby....
Here is a recipe: Head lettuce with Roquefort Cheese Dressing
1 head of lettuce
1/4 a cup Roquefort cheese
Cream the cheese, add salt, pepper, and vinegar. Add the oil gradually. Mix well, shake thoroughly. Pour over the lettuce and serve.
I've really become a fan of retro salad dressing recently, particularly Green Goddess, even though that takes me a very long time to make since I make my own mayo.
Edit: Bettina's family recipes seems a lot better and it's also on Google Books for free. These smothered potatoes are calling me...