Two Beauts From The Bradford Public Library Sale

Athena ScalziYesterday, my dad and I went to our local library’s book sale. I was on the hunt for old cookbooks, and started rifling through the adult nonfiction to find some gems. I ended up finding three cookbooks total, one of which I already have, so I only ended up getting two. They were a quarter each. What a steal!

The first of the two is this 1971 Better Homes and Gardens Make-Ahead Cook Book:

A Better Homes and Gardens book titled Make-Ahead Cook Book. The cover features a green gelatin mold alongside the main course, which looks to be some sort of casserole with ham chunks and black olives.

Now that is a promising cover. It only makes sense that this book has some real bangers like these Chicken Stack-Ups with jellied cranberry sauce.

A recipe for Chicken Stack-Ups. The picture accompanying the recipe looks truly horrendous, with chopped chicken and sour cream smooshed between pancakes and topped with jellied cranberry sauce.

Or this scrumptious photo of a low-calorie Turkey in Aspic:

A photo of some sad looking slabs of turkey atop a lettuce leaf.

And of course, all the gelatin molds your heart could ever desire:

An entire page featuring gelatin mold recipes such as cool cucumber molds, lime-applesauce mold, pear-mint mold, and a lemon-waldorf mold that contains buttermilk.

I also picked up another Better Homes & Gardens book from 1963, So-Good Meals:

A Better Homes & Gardens book titled So-Good Meals. The cover image appears to be roasted chicken in a pan with raw cut-up veggies.

This one had an interesting section where it was all about having your kids cook with you:

A page of the book that says

What made this section of the book interesting is that it has illustrations for the ingredients and the steps of the recipe:

A recipe for oven-fried chicken that has the ingredients required illustrated, as well as drawings of the steps.

I thought that was a neat, kid-friendly approach to cooking.

Don’t worry, they have plenty of advanced adult recipes too, like this “handsome” Pineapple Ham Loaf:

A recipe for Pineapple Ham Loaf, accompanied by a picture of a gross looking meatloaf topped with pineapple rounds and cherries. There's also a recipe for bran muffins on this page.

Also, peep that recipe for bran muffins at the bottom. What more could you need?!

Anyways, I’m happy I was able to snag these fifty year old cookbooks, though I can’t say I plan to utilize many of their recipes in my daily life.


33 Comments on “Two Beauts From The Bradford Public Library Sale”

  1. Love hearing you go to your local public library’s sale. We do as well here when we can. The Better Half also likes old cookbooks; we probably have one or two of those Better Homes cookbooks on the shelf. Nice post. Thanks for sharing.

    P.S. so will Mr. Scalzi now post some concoction from the book he makes, something with aspic maybe? a mold? A burrito mold?

  2. My best cookbook find at a library sale was a pair of mint condition 1970’s Fanny Farmer Cookbooks. One I kept and the other I gave to my mother to replace her disintegrating copy. (I had bought her the new updated version of the Fanny Farmer Cookbook when her old one started falling apart but most of the recipes she used out of the old version weren’t in the new one!)

  3. I inherited some Seventies cookbooks, and it’s always fun trying to make something (AND YOU WILL) and having to guess at substitutions for ingredients that sound like word salad. “Crushed bite-size shredded corn biscuits.” Did there used to be Mini Shredded Wheat but Corn? Given the dearth of shredded corn products available in the current century, do you roll the texture dice on corn flakes? Corn muffins? Fritos? Alas, denizens of the future will never experience the joy of Authentic Ham Loaf as its creators intended.

  4. I LOVE make-ahead cookbooks. Better homes and gardens usually has really good cakes, even when they’re putting things in aspic that don’t belong in aspic otherwise.

    @Lena– my favorite was finding out that alligator pear is just another name for avocado!

  5. OMG the pictures of the food are over the top. I look forward to hearing about your adventures cooking any of these.

  6. LOL, love your review. (OMG, low calorie turkey in aspic? Wow.)

    Lynn, thanks for the rec and link to James Lileks website. Looks like it will be fun to explore.

  7. I’ve had that bran muffin recipe for years!!!! Everyone wrote it on recipe cards and claimed it was a family recipe. :-D

  8. I am the proud owner of The Seducer’s Cookbook, subtitled Helpful and Hilarious Hints for 20 Situations into Which Men may Lure Women and Vice Versa– including Decor, Dress, Dialogue, Drink and Delicious Recipes.
    Written by the late Mimi Sheraton, venerable food critic for the New York Times, copyright 1962, with very amusing pen-and-ink illustrations by Paul Coker.
    It’s hilarious!

  9. If you like vintage cookbooks you should check out B. Dylan Hollis on youtube and tiktok. He collects vintage cookbooks and makes videos cooking some of the bizarre recipes. He has a lot of fun and funny videos.

  10. Athena! You captured my heart with your love of old cookbooks.

    There’s nothing like an aspic
    or molded jello salad with cottage cheese and pineapple to get you noticed at a carry-in.

  11. They are definitely of a different era, but some of them don’t seem too bad. The chicken/pancake thing would be good. No one would think twice about it nowadays if it used yogurt and a bit of curry. Notice that it gets reheated in an oven for 40 minutes! There weren’t a lot of microwave ovens back then. They’ve made our ovens’ lives so much easier.

    Aspics are out of fashion. They’re good when its some kind of meat trapped by its own hardened juices as with that turkey, but gelatin isn’t to modern taste. I think the translucency bothers people since there are lots of popular modern foods made with gelatin or worse. (I’ve had what some Midwestern friends call “salads”, and I was polite.)

    The chicken with a potato chip crust and the ham with pineapple are classics. People think nothing of eating pizza with ham and pineapple on it these days, but people back then gagged at the idea. If you want to try it, shredded corn biscuits are corn bread or biscuits that have been shredded. They’re a common ingredient in stuffings.

    I’m an old cookbook fan myself. Now and then I try a recipe from the 1950s, and often I learn something. For example, those canned onion rings, used properly, can be delicious. If you want to make a Coca Cola cake, try to get the real thing, with sugar, usually imported from Mexico.

  12. I loved my grandmother, but good God no! not those mandatory gelatin salads! The Blob consumes vegetables, and shivering, waits for you to poke at it. And you know what happens next…

  13. What’s a bite size shredded corn biscuit? Frightenened minds want to know

  14. I vote for bringing the picture step by step to beginner or fearful cooks in addition to the kids. Could be great for language barriers. Or for all the different prep methods.

  15. I did like the arrangement of “you will need” items, pictured! followed by the instructions, but on my own recipe cards, I used to list the items in order of preparation with big brackets to indicate mix, saute, and so-forth. Recently read Rick Bragg, The Best Cook in the World: Tales from My Momma’s Southern Table, which had the “you will need” list followed by instructions, but they tended to digress into entire stories, and sometimes it was hard to know what to do. My favorite cookbook, The Nero Wolfe Cookbook, leaves out entire steps, so it’s a matter of preseverance and making marginal notations. Have fun with these.

  16. The photos from that era always have a vague taupe tone to them, as if they were shot through a stocking.

    And honestly, I wouldn’t know where to get 2 pounds of smoked ground pork.

  17. That ham loaf brings back memories! When I was a kid (in the 1960s) every time we visited our cousins my aunt made a ham loaf. My brother and I hated it but had to be polite. I never thought I’d see one again.

  18. A “Low Calorie Turkey in Aspic” recipe in written format (to say nothing of the photographs) alone is proof positive that the written word is by far the most dangerous thing that mankind has ever invented.

  19. I have to admit I think these commercialized at the time recipe books are terrible. They were terrible back in the ’40s and ’50s, and are worse today as we know so much more about nutrition and variety.

    In contrast, The Joy of Cooking is by cooks, their best and favorite dishes with ingredients and whole sections on actual food stuffs used in preparation of other foods. An encyclopedia of how to cook well fundamentally !!

    Last weekend was a memorial service for a local guy who was science teacher at the local HS. Very rural area, he touched so many people in his career. Hundreds of guests from multiple states and nations, Julian was in the Peace Corp in the long ago time.

    I did not go because I am in Chemo and my immune system is medically suppressed, but Wife went, and then next door where neighbors and friends who know and loved Julian met at a potluck.

    Ham was baked to a turn, raised by other next door farm owner — amazing crispy delicious. Grinding that into a loaf would have been sad and terrible!

    Home made biscuits, pasta salad, a great meal on a plate delivered. Real traditional food, not run through a pablum generator at “Better Homes and Gardens” corporate central.

    Potato chips on baked Chicken? no, thanks.

    Actual books by actual authors who actually cook might be a better target. As opposed to commercial theatrical stunts paid for by now bankrupt advertisers back in the day. Sorry to be a downer on your new books… but just nope from here in rural WV.

  20. obleighvious – Thank you for the link to the jello exhibit. I’m going to check it out soon!

    Chris Kelly – I watched some of the B. Dylan Hollis videos you recommended on You Tube, and he is hilarious!

    JR – Really? Seriously? You’re kind of missing the whole point of Athena’s cookbook reviews.

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