Exciting New Additions To My Collection Courtesy Of A Reader

Recently, a reader of this blog reached out and asked if they could send me a box of old cookbooks from their 96-year-old grandmother’s collection. Obviously, I said yes, and a few days later these bad boys arrived!

Ten very old looking cookbooks arranged in rows on a table.

Athena ScalziBefore we dive into what all we have on our hands here, I just want to take a minute to thank this very kind person for sending these to me. Not just sending them, but thinking of me in the first place. It is genuinely so nice they saw these and thought “you know who would like these?” and then went through the trouble of shipping them to me, and even included a lovely letter talking about their grandmother (who sounds like an awesome lady, by the way).

This is the third time a reader has sent me old cookbooks, I wrote about the first time, and the second time the person mentioned they didn’t really want to be acknowledged for it. All this to say, I have some very thoughtful readers, and I really appreciate all y’all being so kind.

So if the sender is reading this, feel free to say hi in the comments, I just didn’t know if you wanted to be named in front of everyone!

(Also in the letter, they told me that I should wear a mask and/or be outside to look at these books, but I did not heed the warning, and I regret it because I inhaled a LOT of 75-year-old book dust and sneezed several times (not on the books.))

Moving on, here we have ten different cookbooks, most of which are from the 40s and 50s.

Starting from the top left, we have The ABC of Canapés from 1953. I had never heard of a canapé before, but apparently it’s like fancy mini toasts! It just so happens mini toasts with fancy toppings is one of my favorite things in life! One interesting thing about this book is that it really does have like, the ABCs.

A shot of two pages of the book. On the left side is a recipe for butterfly shrimp, the right page is a recipe for chicken livers in sherry.

“Cost is no object when you serve caviar, but sardines and ketchup are tastier by far.” Now that is some clever rhyming if I do say so myself. But yeah, this one was super interesting.

Next we have Good Meals and How to Prepare Them: A Guide to Meal-Planning Cooking and Serving. This one is a first edition all the way from 1927. Truly remarkable! Just looking at the spread of books, you can pretty much tell it’s the oldest one among them.

Following that is The Second Ford Treasury of Favorite Recipes From Famous Eating Places from 1954. That certainly is a mouthful of a title, but a unique one, undoubtedly.

After that is one simply titled French Home Cooking from 1956, and immediately following it is The Art of Italian Cooking, which I couldn’t really pinpoint a super clear date for this one, but here’s the page I usually get that info from if any of you can help me decipher it:

A long list of copyright dates and printings.

Starting the second row, we have Dinner With Tom Jones: Eighteenth Century Cookery Adapted For the Modern Kitchen from 1977. This one had a super cool dedication section:

A book dedication that reads

You can actually see the pen ink from the other side of the page, in which I assume a friend of the grandmother left her a note telling her to enjoy the book. The grandmother’s name is actually written in a few of the others, as well.

Next up is Trader Vic’s Book of Food & Drink from 1946, which also has an awesome dedication section:

A dedication section that reads

Following that is The Standard Wine Cookbook: A Practical Guide to the Use of American Wines from 1948. Of course I had to show this one to my boss at the winery, because how cool is this?!

Completing the second row is The All New Fannie Farmer Boston Cooking School Cookbook Complete and Unabridged from 1959. I actually have another edition of the Boston Cooking School Cookbook, specifically the 1945 version with the hardback yellow cover I got from my neighbor’s/kindergarten teacher’s garage sale.

And finally, we have an appliance cookbook, which are honestly some of my favorites (like my 1927 Electric Refrigerator Recipes and Menus). Here we have 340 Recipes For the New Waring Blender from 1947. I’ll be honest, I didn’t know blenders came out in the 40s. I’ve never even heard of that brand of blender. I was curious if they were still around, and Google proved useful in showing me that they are alive and well it seems!

I found this one particularly interesting because not only can you make fruit soups:

A page filled with recipes for

Or cream soups:

A page of recipes for

But you can make a whole five course dinner! For TUBE FEEDING!

A recipe page for a five course meal consisting of

That’s right y’all, if you’ve got a hankerin’ for lamb and vegetables but have your jaw wired shut, fear not! I mean really, who doesn’t want blended salad for dinner?

Also, I absolutely love the sexy nurse blender. Truly the cherry on top of this blender book.

So, there you have it! A quick look at these awesome books, sent by an awesome reader.

Which one are you most interested in seeing more of? Would you try blended salad? Let me know in the comments, and have a great day!


34 Comments on “Exciting New Additions To My Collection Courtesy Of A Reader”

  1. That copy of THE ART OF ITALIAN COOKING is from the 33rd printing (March 1972), but it’s a reprint of a book first published in March 1948.

  2. I have that Trader Vic’s book. Mine is the firs printing from 1946. Fifteen or so years ago I played in the pit for a production of Flower Drum Song (the version with the new book). It’s set in San Francisco and they mention Trader Vic’s so for the cast party I made the Scorpion Punch from that book.

  3. Well at least none of them have the words “microwave for one.”

    I have a really old one somewhere that has no measurements at all. It’s all a pinch of this and a handful of that.

  4. Some of my favorite cookbooks are the really old ones like these. Treasure them! They are really hard to come by sometimes. What a find!

  5. It tickles me no end that you are interested in these old cookbooks. And having fun learning about canapés and Waring blenders! I encourage you to listen to Poor Poor Pitiful Me by Linda Ronstadt for a fun blender reference. One of my very first librarian assignments was to weed out old cookbooks that were no longer being checked out, and I spent way too much time poring over some of the most mysterious recipes. So MANY things in aspic!

  6. What a treasure trove!! Those look absolutely amazing, and I would adore taking a deep dive into them! I hope the original owner made notes about the recipes she tried – those little margin comments are the absolute best part of browsing an old and well-used cookbook.

    I am especially partial to cookbooks from the 1940s, as that is the decade when my late mom was learning to cook – and I could absolutely tell you which of the meals in regular rotation in my home as I was growing up originated in her trusty 1940s-vintage cookbook. I still have that cookbook, and despite all the deeply questionable gelatin recipes it contains, it is my perennial favorite.

    That said, even though the Waring blender cookbook originated in the 1940s, I’d probably pass on that one – especially the five-course dinner suitable for tube-feeding. Gaaahhh. Although I will say that my late mother whomped up a pretty darn tasty peanut-butter milkshake for me when I had oral surgery at age 14, so who knows, maybe the blender book might have some hidden gems in it.

    Enjoy your new treasures, Athena, and by all means, if you try any of those recipes, please come back and tell us about them!

  7. What a kind person and wonderful gift they sent you. I love the book dedications, layout and art work. It’s so, so, …, that era. ;-)

    Enjoy those and share any adventures in cooking that you would think would work for this column.

  8. What a wonderful gift!

    I’m fascinated by the blended salads. Aren’t they fancy jello shots? The cantaloupe version would be really refreshing in summer, virgin or vodka’d.

  9. We had some of these cookbooks growing up. Whenever my mother, who we swear was Irish Traveller, moved, she sold off books just to acquire more. Cookbooks went in one sale. Sad, sad day. But I still have the original Joy of Cooking she gave me.

  10. One of the ways I know a good used bookstore is if they have a large selection of cookbooks.

  11. I was thinking the blended salad would be just like juiced greens, but they added French dressing to the greens. Sounds hideous!

  12. I’ve heard good things about Fanny farmer.

    My favorite old cookbook is The Old Fashioned Cookbook by Jan Carleton from the 1970s. I almost don’t want to mention it here in case I need to buy a replacement copy some day.

  13. There was a great seduction scheme in the 1963 movie of Tom Jones. It wasn’t just them chomping on chicken legs. It was a pretty good movie, a comedy, and pretty faithful to the book. People were still talking about that great scene well into the 1970s.

    In 1977, the same director did a movie of Joseph Andrews, another Fielding novel, so I wonder if that cookbook was part of the publicity buzz. Same director, Same author,. Same period. That latter movie was pretty awful in a solidly 1970s way. Star Wars later that year was a real relief.

    I’m a big fan of old cookbooks myself. Some of the recipes are pretty good. Some of them are insane. The 1950s and 1960s were full of “convenience” recipes made from stuff out of cans. Did you know that canned onion rings are a real thing, and they still exist even if they aren’t exactly food?

  14. I love reading old cookbooks. Lately I’ve been watching a lot of Tasting History videos.

    The blended salad might be acceptable if I thought of it as gazpacho.

  15. Linda Ronstadt mentions a ‘Waring blender’ in her song ‘Poor, poor pitiful me.’ Classic ;-)

  16. The one of those that really leaps out at me is the Trader Vic’s. If it has a recipe for a Mai Tai, I would really like to see it.

  17. Just because I’m a little anal, “Poor, Poor Pitiful Me” is actually a Warren Zevon song. The Linda Ronstadt version is a cover. Find the original – you won’t be sorry.

  18. These are fantastic! I’m actually really pleased at the “tube feeding” option in the Waring one; while they don’t mention the other reasons someone might tube feed, it’s a wonderful nod to accessibility in a time when the vast majority of folks didn’t pay attention to it.

    But I really want to see some of the recipes in the Wine cookbook, if you ever are stuck for a post idea.

    Thank you for sharing!

  19. People mentioning the Waring blender might also like to hear the punk rock version of that song by Canadian punk band SNFU — that’s where I first heard it.

  20. From the every handy, and sometimes accurate, Wikipedia.

    Fredrick Malcolm Waring Sr. (June 9, 1900 – July 29, 1984) was an American musician, bandleader, and radio and television personality, sometimes referred to as “America’s Singing Master” and “The Man Who Taught America How to Sing”.[1][2] He was also a promoter, financial backer and eponym of the Waring Blendor, the first modern electric blender on the market

  21. You have a real treasure!

    I have a Joy of Cooking and the Settlement Cookbook from the early 1980s when I first got married. My real treasure is my St. John’s Cookbook, made by the ladies of St. John’s Lutheran Church in West Bend, WI. They publish it every so often. I think Dad has an older copy that Mom had. She got me a new one in early 1988 as a wedding present. It’s the only cookbook I’ve found with more than one stöllen recipe.

  22. Oh, I knew about fruit soups, as I had some on my cruises. Chilled pumpkin soup doesn’t count, to me. That was at a nice restaurant.

    I love the tube feeding recipes. Back in the day, I had patients who could have used that.

    Alas, I’m on a soft diet, so a number of entrées end up being made into hash.

  23. I worked with a woman with rheumatoid arthritis who had her jaw replaced and had to live on blended foods for several months. When she came back to work she said it is surprising what you get willing to eat blended. We had been discussing hamburgers.

  24. This Trader Vic’s book doesn’t have a Mai Tai recipe. I have a recipe that I’ve been using for twenty-odd years. I don’t remember where I got it, but it’s pretty good.

    1 oz dark rum
    1 oz gold rum
    0.75 oz triple sec
    0.75 oz lime juice
    0.5 oz orgeat (ideally Small Hand Foods orgeat)

    I also ran across something that claims to be a 1944-era Trader Vic’s recipe.

    3/4 oz Lime Juice
    1/4 oz 2:1 Simple Syrup
    1/2 oz Orgeat
    3/4 oz Orange Curaçao
    2 oz Royal Amber rum

  25. I’m looking forward to seeing what you make with these! Such treasures!

    I grew up with the red one (Good Meals…) and there was a lot of ingredients our local grocery store didn’t sell. We had to go into “the city” to a big box store to get fancy stuff like baking powder and molasses.

  26. My parents didn’t force us kids to eat things we didn’t like, so we were all picky, so my mom’s cooking became uninspired. My sisters and I all learned different recipes for potato salad from our boyfriends’ mothers. One sister learned to cook from Fanny Farmer; I got Joy of Cooking and started with that. Both my grandmothers had studied Home Economics back in the early years of the 20th century. I have some of the textbooks of one, but apart from sago pudding haven’t tried most of the recipes. A book called Perfection Salad discusses the changing attitudes of Americans to food over the years. Margaret Mead said that Americans thought food was magical, hence our belief in odd diets, the thought that eating one particular food would cure everything, etc. Have fun with your new books, and thanks for sharing.

  27. Hi! It was me. I sent them. :)

    Athena, have you looked in the Favorite Recipes from Famous Eating Places book? The illustrations in that one are still stunning.

    Glad you loved the Waring blender one as much as we did! We were taking bets over whether the Waring blender still in my grandmother’s pantry (still working) came with that cookbook, or after.

    I’m so glad everyone here has been able to enjoy this sample of my grandmother’s collection!

  28. I love your posts about cookbooks! So funny and well written. And always great comments on the posts too. My mother had a large collection of cookbooks and I remember reading some of them with fascination when I was in high school. After she died my cousins took them since I don’t really cook much. Wish I had kept some of them!