Vintage Sundays – Dinner, c. 1940

Apologies for the late update; this week has certainly been a hectic one!  The main reason I didn’t write about Sunday’s meal was that it actually happened on Monday.

Still smarting over the letdown of my first venture into large-scale vintage cooking, I decided to play thing a little safer than I’d originally planned.  In this regard I cheated a bit, because I fell back on a few old favorites that I knew I could prepare with little drama.

DHA while back, I came across a reprint of Adventures in Good Cooking and the Art of Carving in the Home, from Duncan Hines.  I was somewhat familiar with the smaller recipe sets from the company that one finds in the magazine racks of the supermarket, but I wasn’t aware that there had been a full cookbook.  This particular volume has a facsimile reprint of the 1960 edition, as well as a biography of Hines (yep, he was a real person), and the impact of his culinary teachings on American cuisine.  The volume was published by Mercer University Press (Macon, GA) in 2002 (ISBN: 9780865548091).

As Hines biographer (and cookbook editor) Louis Hatchett notes in his introduction, Hines was originally a sales rep who spent a good amount of time travelling across the country during the first three decades of the twentieth century.  In 1936, he published a guide on quality roadside eateries, and followed it with a similar book discussing hotels and lodgings, two years later.  In 1939, Hines published the first edition of Adventures in Good Cooking, and with that a legend was born.  Hines regularly updated his cookbook, but apparently it was to update existing recipes and to occasionally add a new one.

The Meal:

Like last week, I opted for something simple.

Recipe #221 is for a Pot Roast.  This was pretty easy: “Put beef in large earthenware crock.”  Add a quart of water, along with various spices (including curry powder), diced celery, and sliced onions.  Hines states that it should sit for 24 hours, after which, the roast is seared for 20 minutes.  The spiced liquid is poured over the meat, which is covered, and then baked for about 3 hours at 325F.

Recipe #365 is for Corn Saute (this is essentially glorified creamed corn), and because last week’s Buttermilk Muffins were a hit, I made another batch.  The last item was Recipe #619: Pecan Pie.  I’d never made one of those before, and the recipe seemed so easy that I just had to try it.  The one thing that I looked for – and I was comfortable with my choices – were those recipes that would have been used and frequented during 1940.  Why that year in particular is beyond me, but I thought it a reasonably good target.

So how did it turn out?

Much better than last week’s attempt, thank you very much.  I did make, however, some changes.  I know that it should be either potatoes or corn, but I had both: Since I had them on hand, I decided to quarter a few small potatoes and cook them with the roast.  Where the recipe required 24 hours to marinate, I only had half of that amount of time.  I don’t think it made much of a difference, but who knows?

The big surprise was with the pie.  As noted, I’d never made a pecan pie before, and I think that part of that was due to my belief that it was a complicated process.  Not in this case.  It was as easy as beating the eggs and then pouring everything else into the mixing bowl.  It’s then poured into an uncooked pie shell and baked.  That’s it.  I did err here in that I had planned to make my own shell and then decided to use a frozen commercial brand that I had in the freezer.  If I’d made my own shell, it would have been more “authentic,” and it would have allowed me to use my “deep dish” pie pan.  But the pie itself was absolutely fantastic.

If I had to do it over, I would have made my own gravy.  I didn’t have any, because (as usual), I didn’t think about it in advance.  Hines provides some recipes for sauces, but I didn’t attempt any.

Unlike last week, there are no photos.  With dinner being prepared on a work-night, I wasn’t up for recreating a place setting; I came home and after the finishing touches, we ate.  I don’t think I’d have done much different from the 1911 place setting anyway.  Hopefully, I can get back into the photos with my next vintage attempt.

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