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Tag Archives: vintage cookbooks

From the Depths of the Cookbook Shelves

12 Oct

The Sarah Daft Home is an assisted living facility for the elderly in Utah.  The Sarah Daft Home Cookbook is quite possibly the most enjoyably dated and delightfully unappealing cookbook I’ve ever had the pleasure of perusing.  As someone who is endlessly fascinated by the used-to-be-relevant content of old cookbooks (warning: that link right there will take you directly to a tutorial on how to cook and eat a porcupine), the Sarah Daft Home Cookbook has provided me with an almost embarrassing amount of amusement.

The book starts things off right with a few advertisement for local businesses.  This particular ad has the unfortunate effect of seeming as though it was written in the voice of Norman Bates:

The recipes in the book read like they were written by two ladies sitting around and talking to one another about what they like to cook.  Take, for example, this recipe for something called penny muffins:

Okay, so then you set them aside to rise and then…?  Did Mrs. E. J. Raddatz have to excuse herself to go answer a knock at the door?  WHERE IS THE REST OF THE RECIPE?  I mixed my batter at noon, just like you told me to, but then what?

Mrs. Charles Wilkes seems to suffer a similar predilection for intrigue when it comes to her recipe for delta gamma muffins:

That’s it.  There is nothing else written about those muffins.  At least the woman above her, Mrs. H. N. Mayo has the decency to at least suggest mixing and then cooking the ingredients, albeit somewhat mysterously in an oven that is described as being nothing other than “slow.”

Some recipes seem to be so popular, more than one lady chose to submit her favored recipe, as in the case of these competing recipes for the attractively named shrimp wiggle:

This recipe for Japanese salad seems to be an effort in composing a dish made entirely of items one would never, ever encounter while in Japan, but might possibly encounter if forced to create a dish while blindfolded and harvesting ingredients from a cartoon cat’s shopping cart:

Many of the recipes in my copy of the book have been marked by the previous owner.  Some notations seem to be indications of a successful effort (lots of underlining and a small, modest check mark), while others speak volumes with the simplicity of their verdict:

Pork cake and burnt leather cake?  Inexplicably, both get a yes.

Bread crumb pudding?  No.

Brain timbale?  Let me see what I will need to make this.  Oh, yes, now I see: brains.

I like how this page starts off with a recipe that seems like it could be a real thing, but then the rest of the page just seems to give up as it goes along, eventually descending into gibberish:

If you are looking for a copy of this cookbook to claim as your own, I am sorry to inform you that it is long out of print. My copy was gifted to me by a friend (on account of the fact that the author of the cookbook shares the exact same name as me, down to the same middle initial), but I did find one copy available on Etsy.

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