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Gelatin, Gristle & Gravy: A Look Inside Vintage Cookbooks

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Perhaps more interesting than the recipes are the illustrations in these old cookbooks.  Sometimes mouth-watering, but more often stomach-turning, pictures in a vintage cookbook are a mixed bag.  Let’s take a tour through 14 cookbooks and see what was on the tables back in those days…

Better Homes & Gardens: Meat Cookbook (1965)

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Better Homes and Gardens Meat Cook Book a2017-03-19 19_16_26

It was all about the meat in those days – and they didn’t shy away from close-ups of fat and gristle.

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Looking through midcentury cookbooks, you get the impression there were three food groups: meat, gravy and Jell-O.

 

Family Circle Illustrated Library of Cooking (1972)

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Just in case you thought these might be limes and lemons to go with your refreshing gelatinous treat, think again – these are cucumbers and squash.

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It looks like there’s been an accident.

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Am I the only one who thinks this looks like turd-on-a-stick?

 

Better Homes & Gardens: Best Buffets (1963) / Better Homes & Gardens: Lunches and Brunches (1963)

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Best Buffets a

I’m not sure I understand the compass/plant centerpiece, but the food looks quite good.  Having the one weenie in the center of each tiny jug o’ beans is a nice touch.

 

Best Buffets

Moving on to the lunches and brunches, we have “a touch of glamour” via Eggs Benedict…

Better Homes & Gardens Lunches and Brunches b2017-03-19 18_19_44

 

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I’m intrigued by what’s in the drinking glass – it looks a lot like what’s in the gravy boats.  And the bread looks absolutely fossilized.

 

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Jesus that’s a lot of eggs.  I mean that’s 2-3 deep of nothing but egg slices  – then, have a side of bacon and a heart-attack for dessert.

 

Fondue: The Fine Art of Fondue, The Chinese Wok and Chafing Dish Cooking (1969)

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I’m all about fondue… but just dipping things into pots of grease, not so much.

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June Roth’s Fast and Fancy Cookbook (1969)

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Egad! The orange-ish dish on the cover of this cookbook wins my award for the grossest looking item on this entire list.

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I’m sure this was a delightful treat – but in black and white, it looks horrifying.

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The good: Wieners arranged in a pretty star.  The bad: macaroni that looks like it’s bloody. Did somebody cut themselves slicing these wieners, then bleed on the macaroni?

Let’s Cook… Outdoors (1961)

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Let's Cook...Outdoors ab2017-03-19 19_14_25

 

Famous Food from Famous Places (1964)

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He needs to watch his portion size.  That’s a mighty big slice of cake!

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TIME-LIFE Picture Cookbook (1958)

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That is the “brownest” looking table of food I’ve ever seen.  So much for getting your greens!

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Why are they sitting on couch cushions?

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Attack of the mud bugs!  Those crawdads look alive and ready to swarm anyone daring to pick from this table.

 

Tappan Microwave Cooking Guide (1979)

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Wait – I thought you weren’t supposed to put aluminum in a microwave?  And who microwaves a whole fish?

Tappan Microwave Cooking Guide a2017-03-19 19_18_05

 

Variety Meats, Veal Dishes, Vegetables (1969) / Wear Ever’s Wonderful World of New Method Cooking (1965)

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Variety Meats, Veal Dishes, Vegetables sad2017-03-19 19_39_11

This looks like a science experiment, not a meal.

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She needs to get a bigger pot.

 

Travel Your Taste with Kraft Food Service (1978)

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An early example of chicken nuggets.  A paleo-nugget, if you will.

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Better Homes & Gardens: Cookies and Candies

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Better Homes and Gardens Cookies and Candies a2017-03-19 19_25_43

The orange sherbet would be a lovely dessert… were it not for those unpleasant-looking dishes.    And speaking of unpleasant…

Better Homes and Gardens Cookies and Candies ab2017-03-19 19_25_43

 

  • mournblade1066

    Not only are some people sitting on sofa cushions in that one picture, at least one dude is sitting on the floor. Also, every single one of those dishes under Variety Meats, Veal Dishes, Vegetables (1969) / Wear Ever’s Wonderful World of New Method Cooking (1965) is completely and utterly revolting. It’s what’s for dinner. . . in Hell.

  • njguy54

    It looks like it was the 1970s before they voild get the colors right in cookbooks. My mother had some vintage cookbooks from the 50s with simple two-color line illustrations, and those worked much better.

  • Dave McDougall

    >>I’m intrigued by what’s in the drinking glass – it looks a lot like what’s in the gravy boats. And the bread looks absolutely fossilized

    I think the bread is Welsh Rarebit.

    >>I’m all about fondue… but just dipping things into pots of grease, not so much

    Youu should expand your culinary horizons as Fondue isn’t just about cheese. You also get Steak Fondue. I’m not sure dumpling fondue but cooking in hot fat/oil is the same principle. 🙂

  • Steve Mills

    I wanna know how the lids are staying on those Wear-ever pots hanging behind the woman.

  • Chance Boudreaux

    Back when women knew how to cook and cared enough to try to present it well.