The “Silent Hostess” Treasure Book, or the Delights of Electric Refrigeration

For some reason, The “Silent Hostess” Treasure Book sounds like it could double as a horror movie title. Good for us, it isn’t! Published by the Electric Refrigeration Department of the General Electric Company in 1931, this little book is “arranged to assist you in making the greatest use of your General Electric Refrigerator.”

With hints on organizing, using, cleaning and cooking with your fridge, this is one helpful pamphlet! Kitchen appliances have a long history, but you can almost always (at least partially) chalk their invention and improvement up to efficiency. Whether less time in the kitchen for women in the 1930s meant more time with children, more time outside the home, or more time working, the idea was simplification and better use of time.

About half of this volume contains recipes and meal planning, some of which is shown in the gallery above.  In general, there’s a lack of particularly unsettling recipes, despite the overabundance of gelatin dishes (stuffed eggs in gelatin mayonnaise and ham mousse, for example). Instead, the focus is on relatively easy-to-prepare/store dishes, and somewhat flexible meal planning. A little preparation and it’s simple to go from an informal family dinner to feeding unexpected company with a few ingredients that you can, of course, store in your electric refrigerator.

The other half of the publication is more on the “household hints” side of things.  Unsure how to arrange food in your fridge? Want to defrost it? Lack the proper storage for foods in your fridge? Have leftovers in need of a makeover? The “Silent Hostess” Treasure Book can help with pictures, diagrams, advertisements for containers, and leftover meat and vegetable uses.

There was at least one more addition of this pamphlet produced, but the 1931 is the most common among libraries. Check it out when you’re planning your next Washington’s Birthday Dinner! (Yes, there is a suggested menu for this event, complete with hatchet-shaped bread and butter sandwiches…) Happy chilling!

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