I love vintage cookbooks and guides on party entertaining. I’ll admit part of my obsession stems from some of the expectations that were heaped on women as homemakers. Many cookbooks from the 1950s include additional tips like making sure you refresh your makeup before your husband walks in the door and don’t complain about your day because his was worse. I must say I’m grateful not to live with those types of daily expectations. Sexist social norms aside, I do enjoy revisiting some recipes that were once popular, but regarded as kitschy today.
Last year on a trip to my hometown of Cleveland I spent some time going through my parents’ belongings with my sisters. Among the belongs I ended up taking back to New York were my grandma’s recipe cards. I also took back an assortment of cookbooks and it has been fun trying recipes and planning future dinner parties around them.
The cookbooks cover a wide range. I brought back a Hungarian recipe book and made a cream cheese pound cake that I haven’t had since childhood. I also brought back a cookbook for kids that I bought at a book fair in primary school and my mother’s go to Jello book. I found old cookbooks that were my grandma’s including one on Pennsylvania Dutch dishes and can’t wait to try my hands at shoo-fly pie.
To add to the collection my sister Esther bought me a copy of the cookbook from a now defunct Cleveland restaurant,The Silver Grille. It has been fun recreating dressings and dinners I haven’t had since I was a child.
If you don’t have relatives who have saved old cookbooks I recommend hitting up used bookstores and checking out their cooking and entertaining section. You can find some wonderful hidden gems from yesteryear.