Tuesday, January 22, 2013

22 January 1913 “The New Household Discoveries Book to Share, Functions of Food, Meal Planning and Recipes”

mrscurtisbookSome of you who followed my blog thus far may have seen this book of mine pop up occasionally. It is an old 1909 book of household running and recipes. There are copies I have seen that were updated in 1913 as well. I may order one. This, so far, has not shown up online for free as of yet.

newhouseholddiscoveriesThis book, however, is free. And is available to anyone to read online or to download and keep. I am going to put it in the library and you can download it from the Domestic Concerns section, simply click on that link.

This book was reprinted in 1913 and again in 1917. So it will be one of my main references this year. It has topics on car of the skin and hair with recipes and various other guides for the homemaker of the time.

I found these images and descriptions of the uses of food really interesting and actually rather simple and accurate for even today. More so than the complicated way we are often told of food and the contrary and changing ‘rules’ that come out every few years.

Here is one of the charts with simple break down of food:



The simple rule of Protein as tissue repair, Fats as stored energy and Carbohydrates (sugar and starch) are transferred into fat a sound and easy way to view diet. I am often surprised that many people today do not even know that sugar turns to fat when not used up.

These color charts are easily divided and use an easy to follow color coded key. These images can be enlarged by clicking on them.


These breakdowns on even the separate kernels of the various wheat used in flour and cord are very specific yet have a tangible and easy to reference use to the homemaker even today, I would think. It seems, as we move back well past the 1950’s and beyond 1933, we see homemakers given credit for having enough sense and general knowledge to take in such information and use it as a wise guide to plan meals and prepare for nutrition. Health, at this point, needed to be preventative so diet was more important than medicine which was not available as it is today in every shape and form for every malady both real and some may say contrived for the purpose of selling the medicine in the first place.


This bit on meal planning has a similiar ring when it begins, “No doubt the cost of food is increasing”. We certainly feel such a crunch today. And in fact, had I not started my 1955 blog four years ago and kept a strict weekly food budget and diary of what things cost, I may not even realize today how much food has gone up. And in many cases the quantities in cans, boxes, and bottles have been reduced as well as the price increasing so there is even a greater amount of increase then might be observed by the casual shopper.

And here it goes on to say, which has been my finding as well, that “The efficient housewife plans a WEEKLY rather than a daily menu, and intelligently distributes the money allowed for food among the seven days.” This may seem to simple a solution, but it really needed to keep a proper food budget.

When I go marketing every Friday I have a list for the week. That list is broken down into a 7 day budget. My original 1955 budget was 40 a week. I now find I cannot shop on that amount, do to increases so my budget is now 55. So, I have roughly 7.85 to spend for each of those seven days. When I am in the store I consider that 2/3 of that goes to the protein for dinner and so my meat/fish/protein source is the greatest part of my shopping. I get eggs from my chickens and some supplemental vegetables, this time of year it is cabbage, carrots, kales mostly in my garden under the snow.

It also recommends shopping in season. Even though we live in a world where tomatoes and strawberries are available year round, one can see they are higher priced in our own seasons. So this time of year I could buy a head of cabbage rather cheap or even apples compared to tomatoes and blueberries. And if we are ants and not grasshoppers we can also can and preserve fruit in the bounty of Summer to enjoy in the cold winter days. This also helps the food budget.


Here are some sample menus provided, including a vegetarian one as well. There are quite a few sample menus and all the food suggested include recipes so the book is certainly worth the time to download or bookmark to look online for free.

I may try the carrot timbales for Gussie who is vegetarian and see what she thinks of them.




This sounds like an easy recipe for home-made pretzels. I am going to try this and will post my results. These would be fun to make and cut into bit size and serve with dipping sauces or even on a large salad tossed with fish or meat as a main course.


Now a bit about how I plan to organize the site this year with my current project and past projects as well. I am going to add little visual buttons under the various headings. For example this would fit under Cooking but also under Home Ec (I am going to make that button this week). And so as the year goes by I should hopefully build up the log of my posts this way. I have tried simply using the tags with links in the past but find it still not as effective as I would like it to be. This shall continue to be a learning process in the computer skills as well as ever improving or trying to improve in the skills of the home and hearth.

I hope all have a lovely day.


  1. Greetings! I have followed your blog for quite a while and have loved it. I do like your "era" here too, as I have been very interested in how housewives coped during WWI (as well as WWII and the Depression).

    However, I am just wondering about time management with regard to cooking - such as perhaps those "hot Graham rolls" mentioned above. Wasn't Graham flour basically the same as whole wheat flour? And did the dough get "set up" the night before, or did the housewife rise VERY early and set it up?

    Part of being a thrify cook is to know time management. The most thrift foods frequently take time to cook. Not at all in sync with today's lifestyle. :) I would like to hear from you about this, please.

    Kathleen in IL

  2. "Rev. Sylvester Graham (1794–1851)was an early advocate for dietary reform. He despised the discarding of nutrients and bleaching with alum and chlorine involved in making white flour and white bread, and believed that using all of the grain (without adding chemicals) in the milling of flour and baking of bread, was a remedy for the poor health of his fellow Americans during changes in diet brought on by the Industrial Revolution. And Graham flour is a TYPE of whole wheat flour.

    Rather than simply grinding the whole grain wheat kernel (bran, germ, and endosperm), in roller-milled graham flour the components are ground separately. The endosperm is ground finely, initially creating a fresh unbleached yellowish-white flour. The bran and germ are ground coarsely. The two parts are then recombined, creating a coarse-textured flour that bakes and keeps well (has a good shelf life).

    IF you used just a standard 'whole wheat flour' the result would be different from Graham flour. This flour can be ordered online or found in most health food stores. Even back then people were concerned for general health as food became more industrialized.

    In 1913 it was reported that bread made from graham flour had a protein content of 12.1%

    It is true that what is meant as 'time management' today may not be the same as 1913 when women generally had more time to prepare and often had a maid of all work etc. What WE can do as modern homemakers is to cherry pick what works for us but with a mind to health, cost, then speed, I believe. And one can often prepare homemade mixes and things in advance so the 'set up' time is lessened when we must add yeast or milk or eggs to said recipes. I hope this answers your question.

  3. Thank you for posting this gem of a book! I've kept a price book for groceries for the past year, but I find myself using un-ladylike words when I compare last week's prices to this week's! I had to stop tracking the prices for a few weeks, just to give me chance to calm down and not be so discouraged!

  4. 50s Gal, thank you for that most interesting information about Graham flour! And I agree with you about "time management" then and now. I love the idea of preparing homemade "convenience foods" (various mixes). We can make them healthier and without all thos preservatives! :) And Miranda's comment about prices is so true - it is extremely discouraging when you are on a tight budget, yet find either prices going up, up, up, OR package sizes decreasing, like coffee seems to do. I have been keeping my grocery receipts for the past six months or so, and I am horrified at the changes. Ladies, our job is never done.....we have quite a challenge.

    Kathleen in IL


 Search The Apron Revolution