Not everything has changed since 1928
In “The Modern Method of Preparing Delightful foods,” dated 1928, Ida Bailey Allen, described as an International Nutrition Authority, wrote the following:
“Through my work with The National Food Administration during the Great War, I became convinced that as a Nation we were drifting away from simple, wholesome living…Foods must be plain –skillfully combined into three meals a day. Every food has a definite place – only a few are needed to balance a meal – to put into it all the elements the body needs for energetic work and play. Each ingredient should be the best of its kind. Only as we plant seeds of healthful foods, shall we reap health of mind and body…”
Seems like Mrs. Allen was looking directly into the future and at us.
Her little book continued with her thoughts on breakfast:
“Breakfast starts the day right or wrong. Too much food is as bad as none. A substantial meal, hastily swallowed, is often worse than nothing. Each breakfast makes a new beginning. It should be a happy satisfying meal.”
Right on Ida B! Then in the Victorian tone of the day she wrote:
“Get as much of the breakfast ready the night before as possible. Measure the coffee in the pot. Pour the cream in the pitcher. Prepare the fruit for serving…Sift dry ingredients for hot bread, ready to add to the liquid in the morning. Nothing adds more to the everyday breakfast than a hot bread…”
“Set the table – it only takes a minute – after finishing the dishes at night. Use a fresh cloth – or doilies. Put a fern dish or the fruit in the centre—place the silver straight – be sure the dining room is picked up and watch for results! A good breakfast with a surprise now and then, is the keynote of a happy successful day.”
She was totally right about breakfast with or without the table cloth, though.
Regarding lunch I believe she knew what she was talking about!
“What you provide for Luncheon determines the afternoon’s success…If the meal is “too heavy” – you will feel drowsy. If it is too light – nervous, irritable, tired. And If well-planned – it will carry you through.”
Her Victorian take continued on dinner, in her words:
“Dinner should be the gayest of the three meals. Keep it simple. Serve it leisurely – a few attractively prepared foods will make it seem like a feast.”
“Accessories mean so much. Quick dinner rolls or tea biscuits will round out a plain meal; croutons transform soup…The right salad will brighten any dinner, and a delicious dessert insures a happy ending.”
“Much of the dinner preparation can be done in the morning after the breakfast dishes are washed and kitchen tidied…. Many meats can be partly prepared… Then there will be few pots and pans at night. And if one serves the meal on “compartment plates, there are almost no dishes to wash.”
“Eating dinners out does not solve today’s housekeeping problem and increases expense. But the intelligent buying of food together with thoughtful planning and preparation will solve it – healthfully and happily.” “Try the forehanded way of preparing dinner. 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!”
She was right up until the last sentence!
I found this little book years ago at the Used Book Sale and recently found it again while packing up to move. I’d say Ms. Allen was ahead of her time. Well mostly….
Her book was sponsored by the Corn Products Refining Company so all of her recipes contain a corn product – Argo (corn starch), Karo (corn syrup), or Mazola (corn oil). Even the iced tea recipe called for sweetening with Karo. According to Mrs. Allen all of the book’s recipes had been “adapted to the needs of that day, to save time, improve accuracy, and add new products”.
I guess it worked! The lady of the house had nothing to do after supper!
Recipe of the Week
Karo Pie from 1928
“It satisfies the natural craving for sweet without overtaxing the digestive organs.”
2 cups Karo
Blue Label (substitute for molasses) or Orange Label (caramel flavor)
¼ teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons Argo cornstarch
Few grains salt
2 eggs (separated)
Flaky pie crust (uncooked)
Line a pie plate with the crust. Beat the egg yolks, add Karo, cornstarch and vanilla, mixed thoroughly. Fold in egg whites beaten stiff and pour into the pasty lined plate. Put crisscross strips of extra pie crust over the top and bake from 25 – 30 minutes in a hot oven, 375 degrees.