Wednesday, September 09, 2015

VeganMoFo Day 9: Cooking from my Great-Grandmother's "Joy of Cooking"

Today's MoFo Prompt: "Most retro recipe." 

At first, I was a bit stymied by this MoFo prompt. I already made a jello mold a couple years ago, and I didn't really need to repeat that experience. Ha ha. So, I started looking through my cookbooks, and as soon as I saw my great-grandmother's copy of Joy of Cooking, I knew that it would hold the answer. I actually have a much more current edition of Joy of Cooking which I refer to somewhat often, and I'm not sure I've ever used this older copy to actually plan a meal.

This edition is from 1943, and the recipes and intros to the recipes are quite interesting. Some are funny, some are very straightforward, some are amusingly outdated. Many are surprisingly interesting. There's even a suggestion to cook your sandwich in the waffle iron to make it more special. Ha, we all thought that was such a new idea. 

Here are a few interesting excerpts (my comments in italics):
"Pecan Sandwiches: Trim the crusts from thin slices of bread. Place between the slices: nasturtium leaves, Finely chopped pecans, moistened with mayonnaise" (that is the whole recipe)

A few recipe titles: Baked Noodle Ring, Hot Emergency Sandwiches, Ham and Pineapple French Toast Sandwiches

Pancakes and Sausages: "Cook: French pancakes. Cook: Sausages. Roll the sausages in the pancakes. Serve them very hot with: Apple Sauce." (Not a bad idea, right? )

Waffle Sandwiches: "These are good for the maidless hostess who has no toaster." (the recipe is essentially two pieces of buttered bread filled with cheese spread, and then cooked in the waffle iron. I think it sounds pretty good! 

Naturally, there are also countless super-meaty dishes that hold absolutely no veganizable appeal!

Anyway, I was reading through the book coming up with what I thought were all sorts of viable dinner options. Every time I proposed something to Mr. VE&T, he would immediately and summarily reject it. Wild Rice Ring? No. Eggplants Filled With Leftover Food (love that catchy name)? No. 

Finally I came across the "Vegetable Platter" section - "an attractive way of serving cooked vegetables is to place two or more varieties on a platter in a decorative manner." Many suggestions are offered, including "Tomatoes filled with Mashed Potatoes, flanked by Creamed Onions and Brussels Sprouts." We have a winner! 

look at those fantastic tomatoes!
all the stuff before being stuffed in

I decided to sub out "Tomatoes Filled with Mashed Potatoes" for "Tomatoes Filled with Corn." This recipe was fun to veganize:  I used shiitake bacon in place of bacon and cashew creme instead of heavy cream. Other than that, the filling had corn, bell pepper, bread crumbs, seasoning, and (obviously) corn. I doubled the corn, because that seemed like a good idea. 

The Joy of Cooking has a whole charming section on making veggie "cases" for hot food -- in other words, how to stuff just about any vegetable. There are even recipes for stuffed carrots! The heirloom tomatoes  used made great "cases" - they were strong-walled and meaty. I used my melon baller to scoop out the insides and they still hung together very well.

my vegetable platter

Here are the beautiful Tomatoes Filled with Corn, flanked by Creamed Onions and Brussels Sprouts. Let me tell you, the true revelation of this meal was those Creamed Onions. I AM IN LOVE. Holy moly! As directed, I sliced then briefly boiled the onions, but next I deviated from the book and transferred them to a skillet with a tiny bit of oil to caramelize them lightly with salt and black pepper. Then I added homemade cashew cream and a pinch of nutmeg. The result was somehow absolutely transcendent. I cannot wait to make them again... in copious quantities. What you see here started out as two huge onions, so it really reduces down a lot. The Brussels Sprouts were easy to prepare - a simple light spritz of oil and then roasted in the oven. Mmm. 

I think we were both delighted and a bit surprised at what a fantastic dinner this was! It made me want to explore this beloved old copy of Joy of Cooking, and cook more meals from it. My aunt gave me this book several years ago, when it became clear that I was the biggest kitchen enthusiast in the crew. At the time it was a sentimental heirloom more than anything. But now it suddenly feels like another worthwhile cookbook in my collection! 


  1. LOVE IT! You know I'm working on a retro vegan cookbook right now, and I've been spending the past few years poring over books like that. It's so crazy what people used to eat!!!!

  2. Looks delicious & the creamed onions sound amazing! How fun that you now have a "new" cookbook! :D

  3. That's so fun to see the differences between the versions of Joy of Cooking. I have my mom's old copy. She passed it to me after getting a new one when I was a teen. She jokingly said it was because of my splashes on the pages that she had to get a new one hahaha! They do have a few funny recipes in there. I most often refer to that book for the section that shows how to prepare basic things. Sometimes I forget the temperature to bake a pumpkin!

  4. Emergency sandwiches! A hostess who has neither maid nor toaster! These old cookbooks really are fun... even if you never cooked anything from them, they offer this really interesting window into daily life long ago.

    Your meal sounds delightful - great job!

  5. I can't believe you didn't make the Eggplants filled with leftover food, it really does sound oh so appetising!

  6. The maidless hostess who doesn't have a toaster... but has a waffle iron just lying around?
    I for one am waiting to see the hot noodle ring. ;)

  7. Anonymous9:34 PM

    Ooo I don't know about tomatoes filled with mashed potatoes. How was that possibly appetizing?!

  8. Looks absolutely divine!! I really enjoy the back story and illustrations in each blog. Thank you!!

  9. It's so interesting how food fashios change and how different meals were just a couple of years ago. I have a German cookbook filled with so called retro recipes from the 60. I remember that my grandmother made a lot of those to entertain people. I wish I had such a cookbook copy from the joy of cooking, too!

  10. I really love the sound of everything on that plate. Have you checked out the Hasta La Vegan blog this Mofo? Wafflized sandwiches have been made over there to great success :)

  11. Anonymous6:24 AM

    Hot emergency sandwiches?! What?! The tomatoes look great, but I'm a bit disappointed not to find out what they entail and what kind of emergency they are suitable for.

  12. !! That cookbook made me gasp; it's so lovely! What a great post, all-around.

  13. I love creamed onions!! I make them every year for thanksgiving!! Wow that cookbook is crazy! My favorite is "baked noodle ring" or maybe "Hot Emergency Sandwich" but I can't really choose. Someday I should pull out an old world cookbook and have a good laugh. Your dish looks great! You always have a beautiful abundance of fresh produce!


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