Havin’ a Fit of Spring Fever

Rhubarb and asparagus 2An unruly but quite productive rhubarb plant grows in my yard in Boston, so I’m always looking for ideas beyond my standard strawberry-rhubarb jam. I found this one in Signs of Good Taste by Ann Meade Besenfelder (2000), a book about restaurants in Richmond, Virginia’s historic Fan District, where my grandparents once lived. Continue reading

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Grandma’s Healthy Sweets from the 1910s

Date nut bars

Susman Horse Exchange

My great-grandfather’s store in North Carolina

Dates, nuts, flour, and eggs – what could be simpler and healthier than my Grandma Bertie’s Date Strips? Continue reading

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Spring Soup from France – and Chicago!

Pea soup
Pea soup - French cookbookWhen it comes to translating French cooking for American cooks, Julia Child still reigns as the grande dame. She made her first television appearance simply to publicize her book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, at Boston’s WGBH in 1961 – and quite unexpectedly built a TV cooking career. Before then, Americans learned about French cooking from books such as The French Cookbook by the Culinary Arts Institute in Chicago (1955) Continue reading

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Foolish Recipes

Foolish recipes vegetable platterBack in 1901, when the concept of commercially canned food was fairly new, the American Can Company set up shop in Cincinnati, Ohio. Despite the company’s “rapid and extraordinary” dominance of the market, training for consumers was still in order. That explains Quick Trick Cookery from the company’s home economics section, which has no publication date but a guess is that it comes from the 1930s. Continue reading

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Soup for a Snowy Week

icy dayOur crocuses bloomed, but now they’ve face planted in a foot of snow, thanks to fickle New England weather. A blizzard shut down the city for an entire day last week, which gave me time to cook an intriguing recipe for German Goulash from Favorite American Recipes (Favorite Recipes Press, 1966). Continue reading

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Attucks Cake with Revolutionary Roots

crispus-attucks-cornbreadWhen British troops opened fire into a crowd of patriotic protesters at the Customs House in Boston on March 5, 1770, five men were killed. The so-called Boston Massacre became part of the lead-up to the colonies in America declaring independence from Britain in 1776. Crispus Attucks, one of the men killed in the Massacre, has a recipe named after him in The Historical Cookbook of the American Negro by the National Council of Negro Women (1958; reprinted by Beacon Press, 2000). The book celebrates African-American history with a year’s worth of recipes. Continue reading

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A Bright Brunch Cocktail

san-francisco-cocktailBecause I’m a runner, my brunch beverage of choice is usually Gatorade, but once in awhile it’s fun to set a festive table without resorting to the Bloody Mary and Mimosa standards. This recipe for San Francisco Cocktail comes from an unlikely source: Continue reading

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