Thursday, February 21, 2008

A Thousand Ways to Please a Husband

This was, according to my mom,
one of my maternal grandmother's
favorite cook books.
The subtitle is
"The Romance of Cookery and Housekeeping."

Inscribed to my grandmother and my grandfather,
Virginia and Carl,
in 1921 by a family friend.
(I said to my mom, "They were married in 1924.
Were they engaged for three years?")

It was published in 1917 and is written like a novel.
It is the story of newlyweds Bettina and Bob,
with a month by month account of their first year of marriage
beginning with their arrival at home in June after their honeymoon.

Each chapter begins with a poem and picture
suitable for the month.
Cupids clad only in chef's hats and aprons
are part of each drawing.

One of the things that fascinates me about the recipes
is the limited use of herbs and spices
compared with how we cook today.
Garlic never shows its face.
Onion, bay leaf, pimento, clove, salt, and pepper
are the only flavorings used in savory cooking.
Cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice are limited to desserts.

There is much advice from Bettina about
setting and decorating a table,
putting on a meal when unexpected guests arrive,
finding and dressing up second-hand furniture, and
how to put together a picnic.
And focusing on fresh foods, in season.

My mom says it was my grandfather
who taught my grandmother to cook.

Age 17, in 1917

He did a great job - she was a wonderful cook.

Age 10, in 1909

And today, February 21st, is her birthday.


  1. What an intersting book!

    I saw a book recently that was something like "100 things a husband should never do" - it might make an interesting companion volume ...

  2. What a lovely post Ginnie - I would love to know what Bettina cooked as her first meal!

  3. how delightful! what a great family heirloom .

  4. The contrast in styles of cooking and use of spices is interesting and i guess reflects the variety of influences we have...we're a multicultural society and we embrace it. Very interesting post. What a fun book.


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