Monday, March 30, 2009

1930's Menu Plan

I was going to start this post with something snarky about deciding whether or not you'd be requiring maid service for your family dinner, but as I read along, I found this quote from the 1937 edition of the "My New Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook" that I just love. Here is what Better Homes and Gardens had to say about the dinner table in 1937:

"The table is an important axis in home life. From it should radiate physical, mental, and social refreshment to family and friends. It should remain a happy memory in the minds of all who are privileged to enjoy its hospitality."

To my mind, this should still hold true today, even if our recipes have changed.

Should you desire to take your family on a tour of a 1930's dinner table, here are a few ideas for your meal.

For starters:

I'm certain every three year old will come running to the table with a smile on her face when she discovers that mom has so very carefully placed asparagus and chopped lettuce into a molded tomato jelly. If by chance she snubs her nose at this, try "Jellied Tomato Soup with Celery, Stuffed Olives, and Nut Meats."

Be sure to remember that your salad should be served on lettuce and that your "Lettuce should be a cup that holds the salad. If the leaf is flat, split halfway from the stem end and lap one side over the other to form a cup."


I have to admit, this recipe for Chicken Mulligatawny not only makes me think of the best sitcom ever(Seinfeld), but sounds quite delicious! I may have to give it a try. You can too!
Chicken Mulligatawny
3 pounds raw chicken
1/4 C sliced onion
1/4 C chopped celery
1/4 C cubed carrot
1/4 C butter or drippings (if in 2009 you don't know what drippings are, or why you would have saved them, don't worry, you don't need to know...just think "heart attack")
1 T flour
1 t salt
1 t sugar
1/8 t black pepper
1 t curry powder
1/8 t mace
2 cloves
1 t chopped parsely
1/2 green pepper, chopped fine
2 sour apples, cored and sliced
4 qts cold water
1 C tomatoes strained

Cook chicken, onion, celery, and carrot in the fat until brown. Add remaining ingredients and cook slowly until chicken is tender. Remove chicken and cut meat into small pieces. Strain the soup and rub vegetables thru sieve. Add chicken to strained soup. Add more seasoning, if desired, and serve hot with boiled rice. (serves 10-12)

If you don't feel Mulligatawny is for you, I'd be happy to forward the recipe for good ol' oxtail soup. The recipe calls for just one small oxtail, so it has potential to be very budget friendly.

Now for the main course.

I'm going to suggest a baked bean loaf. Its like crime and punishment all together! Could it be possible for a loaf made of lima beans, canned salmon and eggs to go wrong? If canned beans, canned salmon and eggs aren't for you, feel free to try option B: Smothered Rabbit. Be sure to read the instructions on how to properly skin said rabbit prior to smothering it. You wouldn't want poor Danny Boy to choke on intestinal tract while enjoying his delicious milk-gravy-smothered pan-fried rabbit.

You say your meal is not complete without desert? Well, never fear, desert is here! And what, in all truthfullness, could be better than the idea of a 1930's desert dish? I'm thinking homemade pie/cobbler/brown-betty, you get the idea! In honor of spring, I'm going to give you Deep-dish strawberry and rhubarb pie. My mouth is actually watering right now!

3 T cornstarch
1/8 t salt
1 1/3 c sugar
2 C strawberries
1 1/2 C diced rhubarb
1 T butter
1 recipe pastry (you have a favorite go ahead and use it, and I won't tell if you use the one that comes from the refrigerator case at the they had those in 1937!)

Blend cornstarch, salt, and sugar. Add to fruit and mix. Place filling in deep pie pan, heaping center of filling slightly above top of pan so that it will support pastry. Dot with Butter. Roll pastry, cut several gashes in it and place over filling. Trim edge, leaving 1/2 inch margin beyond edge of pan. Turn margin over, moisten rim of pan, and flute edge of crust, pressing firmly to pan. Sprinkle lightly with sugar. Bake in hot oven (425) until crust is browned and rhubarb tender, about 30 minutes.


I hope you've enjoyed this little 1937 tour of the family kitchen a'la Better Homes and Gardens "New" cookbook. Nextweek, the "Household Searchlight" recipe book.


Unknown said...

That reminds me of a Susie Salad that my grandmother used to make. She used a piece of lettuce as a skirt, a scoop of tuna salad as the body, carrots and celery for arms and legs, and a hard boiled egg with olives for the head. I'll have to get the recipe from my mom and post it on my Friday's Feast some Friday.

Kristina P. said...

I was really hungry before reading this, but not anymore.

Lara Neves said...


I worked at the Senior MTC while in college for a while and the missionaries there were always so thrilled when it was liver and onions night in the cafeteria. I wonder how much longer the SMTC will even need to have one, as my parents' generation are now starting to serve and I don't think they are of the same generation.

Lara Neves said...

Oh...and I missed you at Pioneer Park. I hope you didn't come, because I'll feel horrible if you did come and never found us!

Heatherlyn said...

That sounds soooo yummy!

You know, we had family dinner every day around the table. It is one of my most vivid memories. I'm not quite as good at it as my Mom was. I wonder what she would think if My Mom knew that was one of her great talents and accomplishments? It doesn't seem like it would be a big deal but it can be.

Unknown said...

I love the table quote! I believe it is still very relevant! (Did I sound like an American Idol judge whe I said that?)

Anyway,these recipes look way too hard for me. Too many ingredients and instructions, for sure!

AW Cake! said...

All I can say is wow. This is a far cry from the corndogs and chicken nuggetts that find their way out of my freezer at least once a week!

Brittany Marie said...

Mmm anything in molded tomato jelly would get me. Especially rabbit. Now I have a new Sunday meal to work into the rotation.

Now I know why old people want to eat such disgusting stuff.

My grandma used to down buttermilk like it was water and Que's grandpa used to eat this combination of bread topped with peanut butter topped with butter...soaked in milk. *shivers* He called it "Uck-em-pucky". Indeed.

Great, now I have the dry heaves.

JJuracan and family said...

Makes you wonder what the heck country this was in? Who eats that crap? Yuck!!! Hilarious!

Dawn Parsons Smith said...

Don't think I could ever delight in Smothered Rabbit! lol!

We are trying to be better about family dinners at the table at our house too. Our schedules are just so weird!

Chef Tess said...

What, no carrot pudding with lemon sauce? Outstanding post! LOL on Danny boy and the gravy! Haa! Loved it!