Things Mother Used to Make A Collection of Old Time Recipes, Some Nearly One Hundred Years Old and Never Published Before by Lydia Maria Gurney
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Tis the season for old timey home-cookin'!
I'm an amateur cook with a degree in terrible taste, but that doesn't stop me from trying! I love to fry up this, sauté that, and get down on some good old fashioned baking, especially this time of the year. So, what better time than now to read Things Mother Used to Make: A Collection of Old Time Recipes.
Originally published over a hundred years ago, the accumulated knowledge within probably dates back to tried-and-true practices of the "old country". The recipes are for simple fare, require few ingredients and are easy to follow.
The author was a New Englander and it's reflected in these traditional recipes for chowdah, coffee cake, gingersnaps, sponge cake, Boston baked beans, rhubarb pie, and hasty pudding.
I suppose some of those may be familiar to certain people and others not. It all comes down to what mom used to make. For instance, even though I was born and raised in Massachusetts, I'd never heard of huckleberry dumplings, bannocks, rolley polys or hermits.
Beyond recipes, Things... also includes a section of how-to suggestions with tips on boiling a lobster, canning peaches, ways to make pies brown and shiny, and how to corn beef. I picked up a tip for a lighter cake by beating yolks and whites separately. The bit on how to prevent children from losing their mittens is classic mom ingenuity.
There's also a section on "Household Hints Old and New for Housekeepers Young and Old," where I learned a thing or two I may try out, like keeping the iron clean with newspaper and salt...wait a minute, I can just use a scouring pad. Okay, so maybe some of this stuff is a little dated.
Additions like a weights and measures page shows that practicality was the name of the game back in the day when a book like this was the kitchen bible.
I read a kindle version and it didn't come with any bells and whistles. No pics, minimal design. Quite spartan. However, something tells me the original wasn't overly decorative either.
All in all, it's a solid book filled with tried and true wisdom....though I'm not sure about that racist and insensitive recipe "Cracker Tea for Invalids".
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