In case you haven’t noticed it before, we don’t really tend to post about items in any particular order. Last week, we featured a U. S. Food Administration publication from 1918. Next week, we’re going to look at a book from the 1930s. But today, we’re jumping backwards a few years, to 1915. Georgia Robertson, the author of Efficiency in Home-Making and First-Aid to Good Cooking, might find it, well, inefficient. However, if you ask me, it sure is fun!(We certainly hope you learn something, too, but we want to have a good time sharing with you!)
This book is all text (sorry, no illustrations this week) and it’s almost difficult to call it a cookbook. There are plenty of recipes, but this is primarily an instruction manual. A vast and moral instruction manual, at that. You can’t quite call it prosaic, since there a fair share of descriptive language (I recommend the section on cooking with alcohol on pages 56 and 57 above), and the question-and-answer style that most of the volume uses is quite unique.
Efficiency in Home-Making and First-Aid to Good Cooking covers topics like daily and weekly activities for household staff (it presumes you have at least two maids, a cook, a coachman, three bedrooms, and a library), what to serve, and how to serve it. You’ll find sections like “Labor Saving Devices that are Worth While” (the vacuum, the dish drainer, and the electric or gas iron among them) and underlying principles of bread-making. There are all kinds of helpful hints for storing kitchen items and kitchen organization, as well as recipes (all without alcohol, of course). On the whole, it’s a practical, if dry, volume that clearly has a home with our collection of household management materials. You can find a full copy of the book online through the Internet Archive.
Next week, we’ll take a look at a book full of recipes and planned luncheons, dinners, and special occasion meals from the 1930s. It’ll be different from this week, so be prepared for a bit decadence, alcohol, and, of course, a few odd ingredients.