Mama’s Old Cookbook

Sometimes when my sisters and I get together at Mom’s house, we like to tease Mom about which of her things we want to inheret when she’s gone. No, she’s not leaving us anytime soon. But we like to tell her which of her things we are fond of that we want.

Jackie claimed Mom’s cooking pan that she makes homemade pralines in. NOBODY can make pralines like my mama. They’re the soft kind of pralines that you just make yourself sick eating too many of. And Mom usually makes several batches during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Maybe I’ll put her recipe on the blog sometime soon. The only way Jackie gets to take that pan is if she promises to make our pralines for us. She does pretty good at it too. Lisa wants the big collage picture frame that features Dad with different family members. My brother Steven got the old 1948 International Harvester Farmall tractor that was Dad’s. And I got Mom’s old cookbook and a stirring spoon, both of which are as old as I am. But I didn’t want to wait for Mom to “leave” so I already have them in my kitchen. I also have one of her cook books that she had from the time I was a toddler.

She long ago lost the cover binding on the cookbook so I have no idea what company published it. Some of the pages inside are very worn and I can easily find her favorite and most cooked recipes. Oatmeal Drop Cookies. Divinity. Apple Butter. Plum Butter. The cookbook is not much to look at but it’s something I will treasure because it was Mama’s.

One of the articles in the front of the cookbook has some very interesting information. And remember that the cookbook is now about 53 years old.


Why use menus? Our grandparents got along fine without worrying about balanced menus and they seemed none the worse for it. But in those days folks had bigger appetites. Everyone worked harder – physically harder – than most of us do now. And 130 years ago about 80% of the population lived on farms. Men, women and children worked harder which made them more hungry. They lived in colder, draughtier houses and needed to eat food to keep them warm.

Vitamins and minerals are much lower in most foods that we eat nowadays and it is more difficult to get sufficient quantities for our health. Our grandparents and great-grandparents ate more food that obtained more of the vitamins and minerals that we need. They also planted seeds that were non-hybrid which were healthier. They also ate what was fresh from the field and garden and orchard, with the vitamins still intact. Today city dwellers seldom see fresh food in a store or market that is less than 24 hours old which means a large portion of the nutrients have vanished by the time we get them to the dinner table.

Our forbears ate more not only because they worked harder and were made hungry by that exercise, but also because their foods gave them more of the appetite-stimulating vitamins. Today we have a vastly greater variety of foods available to us, much of it coming from other countries, whereas grandmother only had a few basic foods to work with and her family had to eat what was set before them to fill up. If the kids didn’t like something on their plate, they had no other choice and they got no encouragement in developing food dislikes.

The changing conditions of life which have made us an urban instead of a rural nation have added the extra task of meal planning for our health to our busy schedules. Planning menus helps to lighten the burden.

Do you enjoy any favorite old cookbooks?

Mama’s old cookbook even has instructions for canning foods.

I love her old cookbook. I think I’ll look through it and see if I can find some recipes I can try.

the Urban Woman

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