The very notion of comfort food could have begun in the farm kitchen, with its rich aromas of bubbling stew and apple pie, its stock of fresh eggs and butter and bacon, its warming custard on a cold winters night or cool spoonful of home-churned ice cream on a steaming Fourth of July. Culled from the pages of The Farmers Wife, the beloved magazine published and pored over throughout Americas heartland for forty-six years, the recipes in this cookbook allow today's cook to recreate all the comforting tastes of the...
The very notion of comfort food could have begun in the farm kitchen, with its rich aromas of bubbling stew and apple pie, its stock of fresh eggs and butter and bacon, its warming custard on a cold winters night or cool spoonful of home-churned ice cream on a steaming Fourth of July. Culled from the pages of The Farmers Wife, the beloved magazine published and pored over throughout Americas heartland for forty-six years, the recipes in this cookbook allow today's cook to recreate all the comforting tastes of the farm kitchen--and to create new memories of food that means home.
With straightforward directions and wholesome ingredients to suit the busiest farm wife--or twenty-first-century cook--these hearty soups, casseroles, roasts, pot pies, desserts, and refreshing beverages conjure all the sweet and savory comforts of country cooking at its best.
Here’s a sampling of the recipes you’ll find inside:
• Mammy’s Corn Bread
• Clam Chowder
• Deviled Eggs
• Macaroni and Cheese
• French Stew
• Chili Con Carne
• Boston Baked Beans
• Pot Pie
• Escalloped Tuna and Peas
• Southern Fried Chicken
• Fried Green Tomatoes
• Rhubarb Brown Betty
• Flapper’s Pudding
• Ginger Ale
Editor Lela Nargi is a writer who lives in Brooklyn, New York. She is the author of Around the Table: Women on Food, Cooking, Nourishment, Love . . . and the Mothers Who Dished It Up for Them and Knitting Lessons: Tales from the Knitting Path. She is also the editor of The Farmer's Wife Baking Cookbook, published by Voyageur Press in 2007.
How to Use This Book-Read This First
A Few Basics
Light Fare-Sandwiches and Snacks
Noodles and Rice
Stews and Casseroles
Meat and Fish
The Farmer's Wife was a monthly magazine published in Minnesota between the years 1893 and 1939. In an era long before the Internet and high-speed travel connected us all, the magazine aimed to offer community among hard-working rural women by providing a forum for their questions and concerns, and assistance in the day-to-day goings on about the farm-everything from raising chickens and slaughtering hogs, to managing scant funds and dressing the children, to keeping house and running the kitchen.
The farmer's wife, on first consideration, might not be an obvious source of recipes for comfort foods. After all, she is-or was, during the forty-six years in which The Farmer's Wife magazine was published in Minnesota-hard-working, thrifty, and highly skilled in the kitchen. But when reading issues of The Farmer's Wife from the years 1911 to 1939, the years from which the recipes in this book were culled, another image of the farmer's wife comes to the fore: a woman willing and able to economize her time in the kitchen; a woman bent on nourishing her family, both body and soul; a woman with ready access to many of the ingredients we associate with "comfort."
Naturally, no two people will agree on all the ingredients that comprise comfort; so much of comfort is rooted in our personal circumstance and rituals peculiar to our families. But few would argue with the basics: butter, cheese, bacon (farm staples, all) along with eggs, fruits, and vegetables-and chocolate. And few would argue with the premise that comfort food is simple food-relatively easy to prepare and not requiring sophisticated palates to enjoy. For most, the equation of warmth with comfort rings true no matterthe weather-warmth from stews, casseroles, and things roasted in the oven (although some cool things have been included in the pages of this book as well, because sometimes ice cream is a comfort, and so is lemonade).
For most of us, comfort is closely associated with memory-memories of things our mothers and grandmothers cooked for us when we were sick; memories of rainy Saturdays spent sitting in the kitchen while something delicious was baking in the oven; memories of family gatherings and of traditions passed down through the generations. And since notions of what constitutes a comfort food is highly subjective, this book aims to provide something for everyone, no matter your heritage, no matter your preferences. Perhaps you'll even discover a brand-new something to offer you comfort.
The recipes have been reprinted here as closely as possible to how they appeared on the pages of the magazine. Many were written by the magazine's own readers. In their language, they reflect the curious style and manners of their times, and herein lies a great deal of their charm, and the reason I have tried to alter them as little as possible. Anyone accustomed to reading cookbooks will feel right at home among the pages of this book. After all, the farmer's wife was nothing if not common-sensical, and so were her recipes. Anyone new to cookbooks, and more particularly, historical cookbooks, is advised to follow the golden rule of the recipe: read it thoroughly, start to finish and preferably more than once, before embarking. Make sure you understand the instructions and the order in which they are to be carried out; make sure you have all the ingredients at hand and assembled; and make sure to preheat your oven for a good 20 to 30 minutes before you are ready to bake.
Wherever possible, I have attempted to abolish confusing, misleading, or laborious instructions. I've also substituted modern equivalents for such obsolete measurements such as the gill (4 ounces) and the teacup (8 ounces). More than anything, this book wants to be used, not merely perused and admired. So, please use it! And know that as you do, you are cooking up a bit of farmland history.