There is Romance in Cooking: Mrs. Ida Bailey Allen Told Me So

It turns out that today is a holiday: Cookbook Launch Day.  If you don't believe me, you can read an article all about it here.  I had no idea until I happened upon it earlier today.  But it got me thinking about my favorite cookbooks, and some of the interesting titles I've inherited over the years.  One of my favorites is The Modern Method of Preparing Delightful Foods by Ida Bailey Allen, shown below.


As you can see from the picture, the cookbook is old and it's seen better days.  And, although I've never actually tried any of the recipes, I still love it.  It looks great on display on a shelf in my kitchen.  My copy is a fourth edition gem with a copyright of 1927.  Can you spy the Argo (Corn Products International) mascot?  Every recipe features at least one corn-derived product: starch, Mazola, or Karo. 

Mrs. Ida Bailey Allen has been heralded as "the Original Domestic Goddess" and "the Nation's Homemaker."  I suppose that makes her Martha Stewart's Muse.  According to multiple internet sites (so it must be true), Mrs. Allen wrote over 50 cookbooks.  That's a lot of recipe testing!  I bet if she was still with us, she'd celebrate Cookbook Launch Day with a few new titles of her own.

The Modern Method of Preparing Delightful Foods is fun to browse.  It turns out some things haven't changed much in almost 90 years.  For instance, Mrs. Allen points out "[w]hen there are little children, a cereal is always needed."  I'm pretty sure that Cheerios are a staple in most American households these days. 

One of my favorite quotes in Mrs. Allen's introduction to dinner recipes is: "You will find the recipes in this book adapted to the needs of to-day...Have a moment to powder your nose, and instead of washing piles of dishes afterward there will be time to read, sing, sew or just do nothing!"  That sounds jolly!  I have a dishwasher and use even more-modern cooking methods, and I still hardly have time to powder my nose.  If only Mrs. Allen could see me now!

I suppose I should give at least one of Mrs. Allen's recipes a whirl.  After all, "[d]eep-Mazola-frying is really BAKING in oil."  Wow, that makes it so much healthier.  With sensibilities like that, I'm sure the recipes are just fine! 

And, for those of you who need a little pick-me-up on a cloudy afternoon, in the words of Mrs. Allen, please remember: "There is romance in cooking."


Apple Pie Days

Today is the quintessential autumn day: sunny skies, wispy clouds, bright green grass, the slight chill in the air.  Perfect.  I love days like this.  They make me want to drink warm mulled cider, and roast marshmallows, and bake apple pies. I haven't baked an apple pie in ages.  I'm not particularly great at it, mostly because I have yet to conquer the art of the perfect pie crust.  I've spent years trying to succeed to no avail, so now I *gasp* purchase them pre-made.  Please don't hold it against me.  I just want my pies to be edible.

My grandfather loved apple pie.  He would always eat his slice with a hunk of cheddar cheese.  After my grandmother passed away, I would drive out to visit him from college, every few weeks or so, and bake him a fresh apple pie.  I am grateful for the time we shared on our short visits and all the things he taught me...and that he didn't mind that I didn't make the crust from scratch.  My memory of him will always be intertwined with apple pie.

The last time I looked at the recipe was when I handed out copies at Grampa's funeral.  I haven't made apple pie since.  But today, I'm kind of in the mood for it, with a bit of cheddar on the side.  Perhaps it's time to throw on an apron, dust the counter with flour, and attempt, yet again, to bake the perfect apple pie.