Saturday, October 9, 2010

Now that we've had THE TALK...

Two ads in the Boston Cooking-School Cook Book 1912. Marion Nicholson's copy which I have been calling the Fannie Farmer Cookbook.

Well, it's a brilliant Saturday morning, and the huge maple outside my 'office' window is in full-blaze mode, filling up my field of view like a Van Gogh, or Tom Thomson, as I sit on my bed typing. It would be a good day to go for a drive, but my husband is working today.

It's the Canadian Thanksgiving Weekend.

This morning I had a scone, a cold one, for breakfast. I made a batch yesterday afternoon, using the simple recipe for Baking Powder Biscuits, from the Fannie Farmer Cookbook. I used my new Ikea Kitchen Cart as extra counter space.

The scones were a tad undercooked because my 10 year old electric range is on the blink. Its electronic door-lock pops on at any given time, and that turns the oven off. Oh, for good old fashioned wood stove!

When I flicked through this volume a few newspaper clippings fell out. One tiny one was titled SAVE WOOD ASHES. "Save the ashed from wood fires. Store them in boxes or barrels in a dry place until spring, when they should be spread over the garden for high fertilizing value. An eco-tip, before such things existed.

Marion, I know from the 1913 Nicholson letters, was using a gas stove in her flat on Hutchison in Montreal. But Mother Margaret used a wood stove, an old fashioned one without thermostat for she tested the heat of the oven with her elbow.

This 1912 cookbook has an advert for a deluxe stove, wood and coal fired. Smith and Anthony, Hub Ranges, Boston. With Roller bearing ash pan and coal pan.

Now I think these hybrid coal/wood stoves were a bit of the 8 track tapes of their time. A technological loose end. Marion was using gas in Montreal in 1913, a type of cooking that is still preferred today among chefs and in restaurants.

I've written before about how microwave ovens were invented in the 60's and promoted as complete kitchens in the 70's, (I have an ad from Chatelaine showing a woman (slim and lovely) cooking a complete Thanksgiving meal, turkey and the trimmings using her microwave. HA!). These spage age cookers became expensive coffee warmers in the 80's, until microwavable only fast-foods, over-priced and and over-salted, were invented in the 90's. (In the 80's my father in law purchased a state of the art 1,000 dollar microwave and, yes, used it as a coffee warmer.)

Anyway, this blog is about how advertising works, and not about its misfires. The ads above, also in the Fannie Farmer Cookbook, are for competing brands of vegetable oil, being promoted in the 1910 era. One brand, Cottolene, went the way of the DODO. The other Crisco, became a household name. (I used some Crisco to oil the cooking pan for my scones, yesterday. I had some on hand from another cooking-history experiment a few months ago when I tried to bake my Mom's famous chocolate mint cake.)

Cottolene is 'economical' and 'wholesome' but Crisco is "exquisitely clean and pure." The P word again. Crisco "never gets strong, it stays fresh and sweet." See how "delicate and dainty" it makes your foods. (Cottonlene is like Mom, but Christco, I mean Crisco, is like her prettiest, most desirable daughter.)

Hmm. I have another Crisco story on this blog, a 1915 story, where Margaret Nicholson receives a direct mail advert for Crisco in the mail, with coupon for free sample, but she sticks to her old ways, using butter and lard. (It's wartime and butter is expensive.)

In the blog previous, I quote Marion talking about making 3 apple pies in March 1913. It's the new generation of cooks, like Marion, who are being targetted with this Pre-War ad for Crisco, not their moms.

PS. This morning's New York Times has a review of a new play by Doug Hughes at the Roundabout Theatre Company, Mrs. Warren's Profession. What cool timing. I now have a reason to take that weekend trip to New York.
I think I'll ask my son's girlfriend, who is doing her Masters in Criminal Law and who has a special interest in prostitution law. (I hope she can get away.)
She also loves to shop for clothes....She says she can't cook, but she doesn't have to. My son is a chef.
The play, starring Cherry Jones (a great name for this play, what can I say) is on only until November 21st. West 42nd Street. Oh, I must go.