Published in 1933 by The Detroit News and Myrtle Calkins, The Detroit News Menu Cook Book is a fabulous vintage find which offers a look into the meals of the 1930’s. Bound in a lilac hard cover, embellished in white polkadots, and measuring 5×7 inches, it’s adorable and packed with recipes from The Great Depression.
Written as a compilation of recipes from the WWJ news radio station’s show called “Hints to Housewives,” its main objective was to aid the homemaker who was, “tasked with curtailment of her grocery budget, and yet must provide wholesome, attractive and nutritious meals.”[note]Calkins, Myrtle. The Detroit News Menu Cook Book. Detroit, MI: Detroit News, 1933. Print.[/note]
Budgets were definitely tight at the time. The Great Depression reached its peak by 1933, and 13 to 15 million Americans were unemployed.[note]History.com Staff. “The Great Depression.” History.com. A&E Television Networks, 01 Jan. 2009. Web. 23 May 2016.[/note]
I can’t say if the recipes in The Detroit News Menu Cook Book were truly budget for the period, but many of them sound delicious.
For the sweet tooth, the Blueberry Brown Betty, Peanut Butter Cupcakes, and the Vanilla Ice Box Pie sound decadent and comforting. On the savory side, recipes for Spiced Baked Ham, Potato Salad, and Beef Casserole sound satisfying and delicious.
That being said, it is a vintage cookbook, so there are some questionable recipes.
Take the Molded Salmon Salad for example. Canned salmon mixed with spices and gelatin are placed in a mold and chilled. That doesn’t sound too bad, until the directions instruct to make a mayonnaise “icing” and coat the salmon loaf with it. Quite a questionable decision Ms. Calkins.
The Cardinal Salad also joins the savory gelatin train, mixing lemon gelatin with celery and onions…not my cup of tea.
With a mix of delicious and odd sounding recipes, The Detroit News Menu Cook Book provides us with a peak into the kithcens of the 1930’s. It’s a vintage gem. If you can find a copy, do not hesitate to make it yours!
Recipes from The Detroit News Menu Cook Book Featured on Cup of Zest: