I just realized, after so many years, that when I posted this half joking, loving, snarky memory of childhood dinners long past:
I neglected to post recipes or at the very least cookbooks to get insight into those old fashioned meals long gone.
Well family recipes are not possible. My WASP grandfather cooked family meals completely by memory. He wrote nothing down, he would just take ingredients, throw them onto the stovetop or in the oven. In time, out would come a meal. Unfortunately he was very proprietary about his tricks of the trade. Being very young, my contribution to the meal would be setting the table.
We only owned one cookbook in those days. But if I recall my baby memories properly, my grandfather hardly touched it. It was really owned by my grandmother. My sister took it for her home and I missed it so much I ordered a used copy on Amazon since it is now out of print.
The Joy of Cooking has good old fashioned recipes updated for the 21st century. The pearled onion recipe is a personal favorite of mine.
A book popular at the time of my youth, also filled with recipes from my memories. One of them being Creamed Chicken that Grandfather made from leftover roast chicken.
James Beard’s landmark cookbook has all the old timers, giving them the dignity they deserve and able to take their place against any Julia Child French dish.
My Grandfather’s family had German ancestry so it was no surprise that we often ate meals that were somewhat Germanic. I was surprised to see a recipe that mimicked my memories of lamb, potatoes and applesauce. It was called Heaven and Earth in the following famous cookbook.
Sheraton’s book is a fantastic resource for WASP food of the Lutheran persuasion. Also helpful for the same type of dishes is this cookbook that was a recent bestseller.
I made many copies of recipes from a library copy. But I think I’m going to splurge and buy one for myself.
We were a working class family and never turned up our noses against other cuisines. I can’t really post cookbooks for Italian food since Pizza delivery and the occasional spaghetti and meatballs were about as Italian as we got. However we had a large influx of Jewish meals which confused me as a child. But now I think my Grandfather gravitated to them because there were Germanic/Eastern European rooted. We often had chicken matzoh ball soup (noodles only for me).
This book is a mixture of contemporary food and updated traditional favorites. More tradtional books are “The Art of Jewish Cooking” and “The New York Times Jewish Cookbook”.
The last two books gently poke fun at the stereotypes. But also a bit serious.
We weren’t Preppy. But we ate the same food. Its ALL HERE! The book has Creamed Chipped Beef, Split Pea Soup, Harvard beets, odes to soup can gods such as Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup, Ham with Pineapple mixed more contemporary dishes.
There were no Bermuda races and prep school send-offs in my memories. But I sure do remember the frightening peas and onions.
Alexandra Worthington’s comical and loving memoir shares the same problem that I wrote about earlier. None of these recipes were ever written down. They were solely in the memories of the ones who cooked. It was only in recent years that cookbooks captured them. Before the 1960s/70s, you just had to know.
So go out there and cook up some Cream of Chicken!