Quick Recipes and Easy

Treats and Tricks in OLD Cookbooks

You may delight in buying and reading new cookbooks, but you never throw out the ancient ones, do you? There seems to be something in us that recognizes the ancient cookbooks may have some jewel recipes that we just might want to look up again one day. Especially if they belonged to our mother or grandmother before us.

Did you know that it is possible to get some even older cookbooks – like 100 or 200 years ancient? You are not so likely to find them in the mall or your favourite bookstore. Nor do their recipes read like the ones we are used to now, where ingredients are listed first, then the steps for making the dish. Yet there are some rare tricks and techniques in those ancient browned manuals, written by the chefs of some ancient English castle or a bakery and sweetshop.

The latter used to be called sugar boilers, for that was how candies and icings and cakes were made of ancient – by boiling sugar and whipping it just so.

For instance, in Tasty Soups, the recipes talk of “taking the soup off the fire,” and of pressing the cooked vegetables through a sieve to make them a finer riced size, or cream the ingredients. Then you place them “back on the fire” (in our case a stove element) just long enough to make the soup hot again.

That same cookbook has recipes for eel and squirrel, and other odd ingredients. Should you ever be needing recipes for say, a historical novel, (I confess I’m squeamish about eating such soups myself), then I suggest you check out these ancient, OLD cookbooks.

The bread and biscuit maker had certain tricks for making sure their bread always turned out large and just the right texture inside. You might well prefer your modern bread-making machine, but if you are curious, you might want to see what methods or ingredients were used a century ago. You might find a way to adapt something to your current ways.

For sure, if you are part of a group that needs to do fundraising, you might like to check out the recipes for candies and sweet cakes. The book I have in mind is intended for a bakery, so the quantities are quite large. If you were to use one or two of them, you would have plenty for your bake sale.

This modern digital age has made it possible to produce those ancient cookbooks as e-books. Files, usually PDF, can be sold from a website, and as soon as you have paid at PayPal or ClickBank, for instance, you are whisked to the download page. There you click a link, guide the small window as to where on your computer you want to place this file, and in a matter of moments the ancient cookbook, now an e-cookbook, is on your computer.

You get yourself to your folder where you saved it, double-click and presto, your PDF reader program, (Acrobat most likely) opens up and there is the book, ready to read in plain English, with no smudges and tears across fragile pages. If you would rather keep the recipes in your own binder or filing system, simply print them out and take them to your cookbook corner in the kitchen.

Ruth Marlene Friesen is helping her friend Judith turn her cache of OLD cookbooks into e-cookbooks on JustGoodCooking.com JustGoodCooking.com. A couple of e-cookbooks are now ready with more to come. This site also has a private recipe database where you can share and take recipes; early-comers get free memberships. Those who come later will pay to join.

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