1940 Rumford Complete Cookbook ~ Vintage Cookbook

Rumford Complete Cookbook

The front cover of the vintage 1940 Rumford Complete Cookbook

This copy is in very good shape! First written and published in 1908, this is the revised eleventh edition. This book had been a standard cookbook in many kitchens for some time. The Preface clearly states “We endeavor to give clear and concise instructions for the best dishes of their kind; rather than take up space for repetition of the same general recipe varied only in flavoring, form of baking and other minor detail.”

At the beginning of the book, there are Definitions of Terms, Weights and Measures, Vegetable Time Table and Baking by Temperature charts. The intention of these charts was to help standardize the cooking process. Since ovens varied greatly in their heat measurement and sources, it was common to bake by “eye”. Remember in the 1930s and 1940s, many rural homes used wood or coal for oven heat. Often cooks used approximate measurements or baked by their best judgment. Those approaches to cooking and baking work fine for experienced cooks. But for new cooks, definite measurements helped ensure the success of recipes.

There are a few photographs in this book. The black and white pictures of finished recipes provide a good representation of how the outcome should appear. The only color photograph appears next to the title page and shows a traditional Thanksgiving turkey in all its glory. What better picture to place in color, when you were limited to a single color photo? Thanksgiving dinner is the quintessential American meal and includes many dishes. 

Rumford Complete Cookbook

The only color photo in the Rumford Complete Cookbook

Of particular interest to me is the chapter titled: Recipes for the Sick. In the 1940s, pharmacies were not as accessible to people as they are today. Home remedies were common. “The food eaten by a sick person has in many cases as much to do with rapid recover as have drugs. It must be remembered that the palate is more sensitive in sickness than in health…”  The recipes that follow are bland and temperate. Thus, they would provide the best recovery support. I’m all for eating chicken noodle soup, plain toast and tea when I don’t feel well. But I’m afraid some of these recipes might put me off. Thank goodness I have a pharmacy just around the corner!

This and other vintage cookbooks are available in the Apron Free Cooking store on etsy. To see all the options, click here.

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