Cooking with Maine Women Writers, part 2

December 18th, 2012 by Laura Taylor

To continue our journey into Maine cookbooks, we’ll take a look at a couple of older volumes today.

One interesting book in our collection, while not strictly speaking a “cookbook,” is Anna Barrows’ Principles of Cookery, published in 1914. It is, as you might imagine, about the scientific principles of cooking, rather than about individual recipes. Despite being nearly 100 years old, this book still has relevant information since the science of cooking remains largely unchanged. It is written in textbook form and includes test questions at the end of every chapter. For instance, after part 3, “bread and other doughs,” there are the following questions, among others:

  • What are the advantages in the use of baking powder? When should baking soda and cream of tartar be used separately?
  • How does the bread obtainable outside your home compare with what you can produce there as to cost, including time and fuel, substance, and palatability?
  • How does bread flour differ from pastry flour? How does this affect its use in doughs?
  • Why does shortening make doughs flaky?

While the science of cooking may not have changed appreciably, methods of presenting food at the table certainly have. There are these lovely instances of mashed vegetables dressing up as other substances…

On your own for the holidays? Not cooking for a large family gathering? Perhaps try some meal plans from The Working Girl’s Own Cook Book by Hazel Young (1948).

The book focuses on meals for 1 or 2, with a section at the back for entertaining a crowd. Full of odd sounding recipes that are unfamiliar to a modern audience, this book surely must have at least a few keepers in it. Hamburg shortcake, anyone? Or just think of all the things you can do with frankfurters…