“It is woman’s special province to rule over the culinary destinies of the home. And potent, indeed, is her scepter, for good humor and health wait upon appetite and digestion.”
As soon as I read the opening line of the “Larkin Housewives’ Cook Book,” published in 1923, I knew I had to have it. I love rummaging through used book stores for old cookbooks. Not only are they often hysterically funny, like this one, but it’s fascinating to see what dishes were in vogue in certain time periods.
The cookbook was published by Larkin Co. Inc., a now-defunct Buffalo-based company which made pantry items like macaroni, corn starch and salt. It contains more than 600 recipes submitted by “practical housekeepers and culinary experts” alongside illustrations like this one:
I thought I’d share a couple of my favorite recipes, which prove that while the book’s references to women may be antiquated, certain cheese dishes are truly timeless:
“To two cups grated cheese, add one-fourth teaspoon salt, a few specks of cayenne pepper and the stiffly beaten whites of three eggs, or sufficient of the egg white to moisten the cheese. Form into balls, roll in bread-crumbs, fry in hot fat. Serve in nests of lettuce as a luncheon dish. The cheese may also be made softer with more egg and dropped on saltines or rounds of thin toast and baked slowly until firm.”
Submitted by Mrs. John H. Wells, Nashville, Tenn.
“Two and one-half cups pastry flour, one and one-half teaspoons salt, one-half teaspoon baking powder, three-fourths cup water, one-half pound cheese (put through food-chopper), one teaspoon paprika, two-thirds cup shortening. Mix and roll as for pastry. Cut in strips five inches long and one-fourth inch wide. Bake eight minutes in hot oven. Pile log-cabin fashion and serve with salad or coffee. These quantities make ninety cheese straws.”
Submitted by Mrs. David Davies, Remsen, N.Y.
“Put a layer of sliced cold potatoes into a baking-dish, then a layer of cracker-crumbs, pepper and salt to taste, and specks of butter and cheese. Add another layer of potatoes and so on until all are used. Sprinkle grated cheese on top. Cover with milk and bake twenty-five minutes in a hot oven.”
Submitted by Mrs. Bernice Beeson, Greenfield, Ind.
Among my favorite non-cheese recipes are Lobster Wiggle, Maple Cream Sponge and a type of cookie called a Hermit. A warning to those coming over for dinner anytime soon: we’ll be eating like it’s 1923.