Tummy Tuesday : 1941 The Boston Cooking School Cook Book

Tummy Tuesday : 1941 The Boston Cooking School Cook Book

Tummy Tuesday Food Blog Hop

(I hope you’ll join me for this round. Add your link at the bottom of the post to the blog hop if you’ve got a post or pic that’s food related.)

Fannie Merritt Farmer’s The Boston Cooking School Cook Book, 1941 seventh edition

I love vintage cookbooks. It’s like a peek back into time to see how people ate. I found Fannie Merritt Farmer’s The Boston Cooking School Cook Book, 1941 seventh edition at an estate sale for a buck  In 1941, it sold for $2.50 which is $44.54 in 2019 dollars.


It might be a Boston thing but tea was a regular midafternoon snack and if it was formal tea, it was more than a snack. I count four kinds of sandwiches and five desserts.  What was really interesting to me was both coffee and tea was served at the formal tea.  Having never had a formal tea, my experience is relegated to period movies and romance novels and I’ve never seen coffee on the menu so that one surprised me.

The other thing was that while turkey showed up for Thanksgiving, the bird caught a break at Christmas where Goose and a “Little Roast Pig” were the main course of the day.  Salad wasn’t served at the beginning of dinner but showed up just before dessert on both holidays. And the drink of choice?  Coffee, of course.  They didn’t list things like Eggnog but they did have it among the recipes along with Eggnog Coffee.  Coffee was huge back in the day.

Here they give rules for successful meals.  #1 rule is “Foods at the height of their seasons are the best choice, both for economy and for interest.”  That one hasn’t changed.  It’s still the number one rule.  I also like rule #6 “Try out new recipes and combinations on the family before presenting them to guests.”  Yep, good advice.  Plus your family will be honest and tell you if something isn’t working.

I like how they say that elaborate dinners are “happily” “outmoded” and then you start with a soup or fish course, followed by meat with veggie or a salad, then a light salad if you didn’t get one or another veggie, then an ice, mousse, bombe or other delicate dessert.    A mousse or a bombe for a simple dinner? I want to eat back then. It does seem like a lot though for dinner.

One of the things to realize about this edition, when it mentions elaborate dinners are outmoded is that the Great Depression years are generally held to be between 1929-1939.  Starvation was rare although some groups of people felt persistently hungry.  People had to cutback on meat and fruit but fresh and canned vegetables were widely available.  Coffee and cheap sodas were the drink of the day. A poor person ate around 2,470 calories a day while working poor ate around 3,000 but both ate better than their counterparts from twenty years before at the turn of the century.  Still there were changes. The middle-class no longer had maids and cooks which effected the serving of dinners.  This excerpt from Fashionable Food: Seven Decades of Food Fads, Sylvia Lovegren explains how the Depression changed family eating habits.

“Though the depression did not have any immediate impact or obvious effects on American cookery–the food sections of popular magazines never mentioned the terrible plight of many of their readers and only occasionally ran a feature on economical meals–still the effects were there, subtle but pervasive…And those Americans were much more likely to order coffee or a sweet, inexpensive soft drink rather than unfamiliar and expensive wine to wash down their food. The Depression also changed the way many Americans entertained at home. Except for the upper echelons of society, most families were now maidless, which made grand, formal dinner parties impossible. Instead, hostesses gave luncheons, teas, and cozy Sunday Night Suppers around the chafing dish…But weren’t many Americans starving in the Thirties? Not really. There was hunger, of course, but it was primarily concentrated in the poorest rural areas…And while Dust Bowl housewives might have had to make their bread inside a drawer to keep the drifting dust out, at least there was bread. Relief agencies and make-work jobs helped some of the worst off, and low food prices made everyone except the food companies happier. Sugar prices, too, were low, and in the Thirties Americans consumed more sugar per capita then they have done before or since…”(p. 41-44)

This statement I thought was particularly interesting, “Sugar prices, too, were low, and in the Thirties Americans consumed more sugar per capita then they have done before or since.”  These days sugar is poured into cereal.  Everywhere I go I see pies, cookies, and cakes popping out at me.  It seems like there is a lot of sugar out there so I wonder if they really consumed more in the 1930s than we do now.


Now knowing that most people were too poor for wine so coffee was served even at dinner parties, I notice that there is no wine on the menus.  I had assumed they just didn’t put it down and served some based on what they had in their basement.  It was in Chicago in the 1930s that people began bringing wine as a gift to dinners.

The recipes have no pictures, list the ingredients and give the instructions like this one for almond cakes.

Almond Cakes

1/2 cup butter 2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar 11/3 cups flour
1/3 cup milk 2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup Jordan almonds, blanched and cut in pieces

Mix ingredients in order given and bake in cupcake pans in moderate oven (350F). Makes 24.

Hmmmm.  Mix ingredients in order given?  Is that down the left column first and then the right? or is it across like reading a book?  Still a recipe with one line of instructions is my kind of recipe.  I do miss the photos though.

The book finished with an index followed by a lot of ads including this one by Kellogg’s.  i thought it was funny because I’ve seen Kellogg’s All-Bran cereal for sale at the store but it no longer touts the line “A natural laxative cereal”.

Well I hope you enjoyed this bird’s eye view of 1941 as much as I did.

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Roundup of last week’s Tummy Tuesday (2/26/19-3/4/19) :


Mary (cactus catz): garlic growing. food photo

Irene: Picaditas – Corn Dough Appetizers, recipe

This week’s Tummy Tuesday (3/5/19-3/11/19):

This Tummy Tuesday is closed. Please visit the most recent Tuesday to see the latest Tummy Tuesday.


14 Replies to “Tummy Tuesday : 1941 The Boston Cooking School Cook Book”

  1. My mother had some old cookbooks that gave this kind of advice. We could certainly do some of these things today.

    Have a fabulous day and week. ♥

    1. I agree with you about the old cookbooks. I think they’re pretty cool.

      Hope you’re having a great week

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