Friday, May 20, 2011

Vintage Cookery

I'm getting a little more serious about the vintage foodie idea, which will probably turn up as a feature here on Atomic Betties, rather than on its own blog. I have quite the library of vintage cookbooks, which are so much fun to paw through. Even for someone who doesn't like cooking, they're fascinating. I thought I'd share some of the gems of my collection during the next couple of weeks. Up first is the actual crown jewel of my collection, "Mary Margaret McBride's Encyclopedia of Cooking, Deluxe Illustrated Edition".


Published in 1959, this hardback cookbook has seen better days. The spine of the book has threatened to fall apart and the previous owner used some pretty hefty tape to keep everything together. Her MacGyverian methods worked and the book is quite structurally sound. The person who owned this book used it and used it a LOT. The book weighs in at ten pounds. I'm not even kidding. I've weighed it... TEN POUNDS. It has 1536 pages.


It lays open like a food bible, waiting to reveal long forgotten secrets.


It's thicker than the 1 1/2 quart Pyrex dish I used for staging.


The book is filled to the brim with vintage food treasures. Oh sure, it's got all the gross stuff too - how many pages of a cookbook can really be dedicated to loafs? A lot, apparently. This book includes recipes for Scrapple and many scrapple variations. But look - there are also amazing spreads like "Dainty Party Sandwiches"


And chicken pies with little cut outs of chickens in pastry topping the pie! How freakin' awesome is that?


My very favorite part of vintage cookbooks? Feeling some connection to the previous owner. Nearly all the vintage cookbooks I own have some recipes scribbled or stashed inside the book. This reminds me of my mom and grandma is and is pretty priceless.


That's a hand written recipe for Prickly Pear Cactus Jelly. It's torn, a little stained and probably pretty old. I can't wait to try it!

Thanks for reading! Hope you enjoyed a peek into this gianormous cookbook!


  1. I just love American recipes - even the modern ones are another world to a British cook, all that 'heavy' cream and powdered sugar and everything in sticks and cups... But Scrapple? Wow. Sounds erm, onomatapoeic! Mind you, we have Spam. (tinned meat product - urban legend clains it stands for Stuff Posing As Meat)

    Does the book open at the past owner's favourite recipes? (you know, like all my Sookie Stackhouse novels open at the bits with Eric in... ;-) )

  2. FUN! I vote for definitely turning this into a feature. Kind of amazing to see how our cooking habits/tastes have changed...what the heck will we be eating 40 years from now?!

    Also, Im totally the same way- thing for vintage cookbooks, but definitely not a cook. My favorite in my collection is the original Fireside Cookbook. Do you have? Lot of gross stuff to ponder over in that one too!

  3. I love your new etsy widget thingo Flo...have sat for quite a while just watching all the lovely stuff you have for sale...
    That old fashioned chicken pie looks slightly freaky to me with all of those chickens on top, I think it might be those little beady eyes...

  4. Ah yes, you know the good ones are the ones with comments and tips in the sidebar! I found a vintage Joy of Cooking from the 60s but haven't tried the recipes yet!

  5. Dear lord, that is a beautiful and epic book. It doubles as weapon! I have so many vintage cookbooks to go through as's tough to document them because vintage books are full of cool photos and illustrations. Each one deserves its own blog post!

  6. Wow, that cookbook looks amazing!


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