I miss my Granma. She was such a kind, gentle soul and I have only sweet, happy memories about her. I will always have those memories, but I am also coveting something quite tangible that I have from her. Cookbooks. And not just any cookbooks, but the Woman’s Day Encyclopedia of Cookery. The whole set, all 12 volumes.
Having an entire encyclopedia set on cooking and entertaining must have imbued her with a deep wealth of knowledge, truly making her an expert in all things domestic. I look at the set on my cookbook shelf and think back to the days when she originally got them–I’m not really sure of the circumstances, but this is what I imagine in my head. A fairly young housewife, still trying to figure out how to balance everything, kids and toddlers in tow, cookbooks of the era (1966) must have held so much promise to help keep it all together, how to keep mealtime interesting and maintain the appearance of domestic excellence.
Not only does this set include a variety of recipes (casseroles, three pages of spaghetti, gumbo, poundcake), it includes cuisines from various countries and cultures (Jewish, Polynesian, Finnish), definitions (“Orangeade – Fresh, frozen, canned, or dehydrated orange juice mixed with sugar to taste…”), different types of cooking methods (canning, broiling, pan-frying), information on how to entertain (what to cook for picnics, how to make garnishes, intimate luncheon for 6), and what should be prepared on holidays.
Of all the wonderful things about this set, I have two favorite things. The first is finding handwritten notes or recipes from Granma. Oh, what a treasure! I know that my memories of her are most important, but seeing her words written down are like she’s sitting next to me, sharing her tips and knowledge.
The second is the smell of the books. Is that weird? Okay, I’m weird. There is just the slightest aroma of my Great Granma’s root cellar. I just love the smell of a root cellar and the fact that it is Great Granma’s makes it even better. That makes me super weird, I know. I’m just going to embrace it.
I wish I had more time to go through these books more often, either looking for recipes, or just basking in their excellence. Who knew there were so many things to do with onions or frankfurters or aspic or toast!
There was a totally different idea of what was healthy back in those days…some of the recipes we only use occasionally, due to the (yummy) fatty ingredients. Here is an easy casserole from the Woman’s Day Encyclopedia of Cookery:
How to make Crusty Beef, Cheese and Noodle Casserole:
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
2 pounds ground beef
4 cans (10 1/4 ounces each) meatless mushroom sauce (for spaghetti)
1 teaspoon salt
1 pound fine noodles, cooked and drained
1 pound sharp Cheddar cheese, grated or shredded
Heat oil; add onion and cook until golden. Add meat and cook until meat loses its red color, stirring. Add mushroom sauce and salt, heat. Arrange in casserole half of noodles, half of sauce and half of cheese; sprinkle with seasoning salt. Make another layer of noodles; add sauce and top with cheese. Bake in preheated moderate oven (325°F.) for 1 hour. Top should be nicely browned. Makes 8 – 10 generous servings.
Get the handy print page and save this to your recipe box here:
Crusty Beef, Cheese and Noodle Casserole.
Farmershae blogs at The Broken Badger.
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Cathy Jones (catray44) says:
I bet she would be so pleased that you honor her in this way. Very nice post! (I miss my grandmas SO much, too!)
On June 13, 2011 at 7:14 am
I too have this same encyclopedia set, and it is a treasure. I collected mine from a grocery store over a period of time. You could buy the vol. 1 for 99 cents, and the rest I think were 1.99 each. Of the many cook books I have , if I could keep only one [ set ] this would be it. I love it, it is a wealth of information and the pictures are beautiful , you will never tire of it. I’m sure your grama loved it! and so do you.
On June 13, 2011 at 7:42 am
Mary J says:
When I was a child growing up in Tennessee we had our own 60s version of Martha Stewart on one of the midday news program. My mom watched her religiously and would often write down the recipes from the programs. Mary Starr died some years ago but the TV station released a cookbook in honor of the 50th anniversary of her segment. Mom sent me a copy with a note saying “some of these should be familiar” and she went through and annotated her favorites. I love it!
On June 13, 2011 at 2:52 pm
Hello–I also have this set, it belongd to my Mother, we both collected cookbooks.
Two years ago she gave me her entire collection, combined with mine there are well over 1200 books, some very old colleced at flea markets, many duplicates but not this set. I think she purchased them at the super market one at a time. Unfortunatlyso many of the young gals use the internet and dont use cook books. I enjoy just bringing up an arm full and just reading them, and I love the pictures as well.
Very nice post, thank you for sharing.
On June 13, 2011 at 2:58 pm
Tina Manley says:
I must be as old as your Grandma! I have the same set and I also got mine as a grocery store promotion, one volume at a time. I have hundreds of cookbooks but these are among my favorites.
On June 13, 2011 at 6:04 pm
I’m so excited to see that others have this set! I forgot that grocery stores even used to do promotions – now I faintly remember a dish set that was collected, too! What great memories.
On June 13, 2011 at 7:23 pm
Both of my grandmothers were terrific cooks, but I got to know neither of them in that way. So, it is wonderful to share so many memories with you who had that experience.
On June 14, 2011 at 12:03 pm
Jeannie Brazell says:
I miss my Grandma and Mama too, both were good cooks and rarely used a recipe. One of my favorite memories of Grandma was her cooking in the cast iron frying pay with her fingers curled up from RA. It didn’t stop her, just slowed her down.
On June 14, 2011 at 3:17 pm
Please share more great recipes from your Grandmothers books.
On June 17, 2011 at 4:13 am