I really feel I have struck upon something worth delving into more deeply and have already begun ear-marking and notating pages and compiling some information. To cook vintage can be fun and have a certain compelling nature that might help lead us down the path to ease, health, weight loss, and returning to the basic connection with our food. It is not all Ambrosia salad and Bacon covered butter.
This is the insert from my Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook is the Daily Dietary Allowances.(You can click on image to see full size ) It lays out child’s age and caloric intake. So, a homemaker at the time would see and be aware of diet on levels we are not. Also, most girls and some boys were required to take Home Ec and it would have involved detailed information of diet and even such things as how to determine good fabric to make clothing etc. A skill set to help one be independent. Today we are schooled as if we are all independently wealthy and have no need to worry about it, because we can just buy it or someone else will do it for us. Unfortunately for most of us that ‘other person’ is often the corporate world making things fatter and more chemicals so you want more and therefore buy more.
It’s interesting to note that for a woman 64 inches tall and 128 lbs at 25 should be eating 2300 calories. That might seem a lot, but when you see how it is divided and also figure an increased routine of running about and no ‘sitting at the computer or tv’ time. A homemaker in 1955 maybe watched some television. There was perhaps the ‘bad’ housewife who would watch her ‘soap opera’s (so called because of the soap advertising) but for the most part, tv was an event shared by family in the evening except the new generation of children who were growing up with it watched much more than their parents or older siblings.
The 2006 figure increased by an average one hour per person per week compared to the previous year. People in the North East watched the most television last year at an average 4.2 hours per day. But, I digress, back to nutrition.
In this same book it goes into great detail breaking down all the foods and their caloric equivalents. Under Main Dishes and Meats such things as:
Calories MeatYou can see that some of these ‘bad things’ are actually not high in calorie, no sugars and the fat content is minimal when one eats a realistic portion. For example, 4 hamburgers from one pound of ground meat is a much smaller portion than you would find or be instructed to make today. Before 1955, when I did make my own patties (usually bought them pre patties-how lazy is that!) one pound would be more like 2 patties so already that is two servings per one person.
95 Bacon, two strips
140 Beef Pot roast (2 thin slices 4 x 2 inches)
245 1 patty (about 4 patties per pound raw meat)
Under BREADS in this same section they have one baking powder biscuit as 130 calories. Now the recipe in this book for biscuits (which I have used and do like) is as follows
2 cups flourHere we see some examples of Daily food plans (click to view full size). It goes on to discuss deep yellow veg compared to dark green and you are aware of the need for the various varieties for health and vitamins.
3 ts[ baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 shortening (I use butter-shortening was one of those war time foods that became cheap and easy to make and therefore was part of the ‘easy’ way we were beginning to see such changes. Butter is MUCH better for you)
2/3 to 3/4 cup milk
Makes 16 biscuits. (If I use my vintage biscuit cutter that is true, but if I made a ‘modern sized’ biscuit it would probably make 6-8 again portion sizes!)
Now, many of us like the nostalgia of the 50’s. And to some of us that might be the kitsch of the odd foods. Well, here are some sample recipes from my 1954 Better Homes and Gardens in a pull out ad (they are cut-able index card sized recipes to put in your recipe box) for Miracle Whip. Now, these recipes are not bad and yet are very ‘50’s fun’. Another way to make them even healthier (besides simply eating the smaller portions you would have) is simply making your own mayonnaise. It is not hard and once you taste it you will not want to go back. Again, before the 50’s homemakers would have made their own mayonnaise. It would not have been used as prevalently as it was to be in the 1950’s but that was because it was now a product they wanted you to buy so the more offers and free recipes they gave, the more you would buy and use it. Nothing wrong with that, but you also have the power to take the fun 50’s food and make it healthier with that easy choice of home-made mayonnaise.
There are endless mayonnaise recipes out there. Simply look them up, even Youtube videos on ‘how-to's’ and with that any variation you like. Use olive oil, use different types of mustard etc. You decide, but that is one of the wonderful things about getting more involved with your food YOU get to choose. It isn’t or shouldn’t be scary or upsetting to have choice and control over one’s life.
This is the recipe I use. It is from my Fannie Farmer Boston School cookbook from 1951 that actually belonged to a family member. I use this book often because it does show that indeed we ate ‘gourmet’ in the 1950’s.
I have made both the whole egg and the traditional egg yolk only. I usually always have a need for egg whites (white cake etc.) so make the traditional.
Now, for some of those very 50’s recipes. (click to enlarge)
Now, these would really dress up any vintage table. If you wanted authenticity and again use your own mayonnaise, and small portions and follow the guidelines for the amount of various fruit and veg and protein and milk per day. I think it would be fun to even do ‘more gourmet’ versions of this, for example, the Cantonese Tuna could use real tuna steaks from your fishmonger, Use real onions and caramelize them and maybe instead of just sweet pickles, a nice hot pepper jam or chutney and either make homemade egg noodles, adding some fun spice, and bake them to add for crunch or use strips of colored dried tortillas as the crunch. Have fun, mix it up, but don’t think it is all bad mayonnaise and bacon.
I think as I continue to research this book idea, I might even like the thought of their being a traditional or fun kitschy dish such as these that would also have a more modern ‘gourmet’ version as well, and including the caloric amounts and how it fits into the various 50’s food schemes (the five food groups as the video, the four as the Better Homes or the Basic Seven as is covered in the Betty Crocker Book).
I think we can discuss this more next post and get into the Betty Crocker 7 version.
I found this study done in the U.K. in the 1990’s that showed that the diets of children in the 1950’s was actually much better than 90’s (and I am sure it is much worse now than the 1990s).
The article in its entirety can be found HERE. But, here are some of the stats:
The project looked at the diet records of 4,600 children aged four in 1950, and compared them with similar records taken in 1992.
The researchers discovered that 1950s children:
- Ate more bread and milk, increasing their fiber and calcium intake
- Drank few soft drinks, deriving less of their energy from sugar
- Got most of their vitamin C from vegetables rather than juices and drinks
- Ate more red meat, giving them more iron
- Had more fat in their diet
Professor Michael Wadsworth, Director of the Medical Research Council National Survey of Health and Development, said that, although the fat and overall calorie intake of the 1950s child was higher, generally children were more active than their 1990s counterparts.
It is only in recent years that the problem of childhood obesity has emerged as a major public health threat.
And I am certain it is higher today, but here are the 1990 numbers:
Estimates in 1990 suggested that one in 20 children aged nine to 11 could be classified as clinically obese.
However, a string of recent smaller studies is suggesting the true rate could now be well in excess of this.
This is a new finding for today:
• Nearly 30 percent of an average American child's calories are consumed during snacks between meals, largely due to eating high-calorie junk food, says a new study reported by CBS News today.
Without the structure of home life, with meals at certain times, schedules being lessened so that there is definite family time, meals AT table, no unsupervised in between meal snacking how can any of us, even those without children, hope to get to the grips of our food our diet where our food comes from and really our role as human to food. I think much as learning to clean and sew and organize, learning to cook and understand your food is just another element in the move towards the new ‘Responsibility’ that needs to happen among modern people. And I really do feel that using much of the 1950’s as a model is helpful because they are the closest to us in the past that were truly living a modern life we can understand and in their basic beginnings we can learn to emulate and adjust to have more control over our own use of technology and foods and money and quality time. This time travel trip still continues to open more doors and show me more of the reality of our world. For the most part, I feel, though sometimes disgusted or shocked or feeling helpless, that we are still on the threshold enough to take hold and say, “Stop, we need to try to control our future more”. I hope you are all willing to come along for that ride.
Well, until next time, Happy Homemaking and hopefully, Happy Cooking!