Vintage Recipes Are Awesome
I have yet to find a cookbook I like as much as one my parents have from the 1980s. It was a community cookbook put together by a church as a fundraiser.
All of the recipes were submitted by regular people who cooked or baked using the recipes frequently. The foods were everyday staples; the ingredients are stuff you’d have in your pantry. Many of what I buy without thinking, like baked beans, has a recipe in the book that I can make from scratch. The recipes are unfussy, yet always turn out to be delicious.
I do have a lot of modern cookbooks, but there’s something to be said for simple family recipes passed down for generations. My family didn’t write down a lot of their cooking recipes, so I learned things like chicken pot pie by watching.
But baking is a more precise art. I learned to bake from a young age, and found that a good recipe is essential. I didn’t have access to a lot of ingredients, so simple recipes, like banana bread or pumpkin pie, were my staples. (Incidentally, the best pumpkin pie recipe I’ve found is printed on cans of pumpkin.)
In my opinion, newer recipes posted online just can’t compare. I have had success with a handful of online recipes, and I suspect many of those are tried-and-true family recipes. Taste of Home, for example, has a collection of vintage recipes that look amazing.
But newer creations? A lot have been duds. I now stick with cookbooks or trusted sites. Baking takes time, effort, and ingredients, so when a recipe doesn’t turn out, it’s discouraging.
Of course, not all vintage recipes are winners. (I’m looking at you, weird Jell-O creations.) But many have withstood the test of time.
One example: When I was a kid, my class took a field trip to one of those colonial re-enactment sites. I was slightly more enthusiastic than my classmates, having read all of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books (and not yet realizing the horrible racism and sexism of that time period … but that’s another story).
But, really, there wasn’t much to see. What I remember most vividly is that they had us bake cookies using an 1800s recipe. I tried one, and it was tasty. Simple, but tasty.
The recipe is noteworthy because the original “jumbles” instructions used rosewater, not vanilla. Prior to the widespread availability of vanilla, rosewater was used to add flavor to baked goods.
I saved the recipe and tried it a few times over the years. I haven’t made it in awhile, but it’s a great recipe for kids who want to cook, and makes a decent holiday cookie. They come out flat and crunchy, because they don’t use baking soda.
The recipe is in the public domain, so I can post it.
1 cup flour
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp nutmeg & cinnamon
To be super vintage, shape into rings. I’m a rebel and just shape them into cookies. Bake at 350° for 5 min.