Thursday, August 15, 2013

Thrifty Acres - Fabulous Fifties Food Styling

Hello! I enjoy looking at vintage cookbooks, but they are not without negatives at times. In the case of recipes, what passed for a suitable entree or dessert decades ago may not be my cup of tea today. I've seen enough recipes for prune-based desserts and bland pork chops to make me glad I wasn't around back then. 

And although I always get a kick out of vintage cookbook illustrations, older cookbooks that used photographs are another story - often they're either blah black-and-white or blurry color pics. This is not the fault of the publishers, of course - it was just how the technology was - but it can make for a less-than-appealing presentation of the very foods I'm supposed to want to make. 

But lo and behold, I recently purchased the 1953 A Picture Treasury of Good Cooking, by Demetria M. Taylor and Lillian C. Ziegfeld, photographed by Albert Gommi. It was produced by the Tested Recipe Institute, Inc. Yes, the cookbook is 60 years old, but the recipes sound - and look - quite good, and I enjoyed the food styling. (this was a thrift store purchase, by the way)

Not surprisingly, it was all carefully planned:

I'd say that Annette Rhys (food stylist) and Ernestine Stowell (accessories and table settings) did a "grand job" indeed! To show you why I say that, I'll present some photos from the cookbook. 

Hamburger Grill with broiled tomatoes and banana scallops (the things that look like Tator Tots). I like the dinnerware set used here. 

French Fried Shrimp flanked by tartar sauce, a basket of potato chips and a tossed salad. Still would make for a nice dinner!

Baked Macaroni And Cheese, garnished with bacon, with a tossed salad and hot tea with lemon slices. Not sure that I'd want hot tea with my mac and cheese, but I like the vinegar and oil cruet set to the left of the salad. 

Caesar Salad - made the (now) old-fashioned way, with anchovy fillets and a raw egg. Shown with a loaf of crusty bread.

Golden Potato Salad with a basket of kaiser rolls and a platter of cold cuts. Picnic, anyone?

Fruit Salad With Cottage Cheese. The cottage cheese has been lightly sweetened with honey, and the small bowl to the left holds a dressing of mayonnaise and sour cream mixed together. A small platter of tea sandwiches and glasses of iced tea are behind the salad. I think I'd prefer a dressing of a fruit-flavored or vanilla yogurt instead of that mayo/sour cream blend, but other than that, this looks like a pleasant summertime luncheon.

At Eastertime - Hot Cross Buns, accompanied by butter, jams, hot tea - and an adorable grouping of a stuffed bunny and some baby chicks. I also like the pretty design of the tableware, and the glass butter dish is quite nice too. 

Rise and shine! Who wouldn't want to get up with this breakfast: Buttermilk Griddlecakes, sausage links, maple syrup, hot coffee and milk. The cheery yellow placemat and blue-and-white plaid napkins would wake up a sleepyhead as well.

Another eye-opener: a fancy dessert; this is Silver Cake. Undoubtedly Rhys and Stowell were going for a special occasion look, what with the bowls of mixed nuts and mint patties, as well as the delicate-looking tableware. The cake is on a footed serving plate; very nice - and the cake itself looks great!

And last but not least, that classic dessert, Old-Fashioned Apple Pie. It's shown with a fat wedge of Cheddar cheese, cups of hot coffee - and a nifty candle holder adorned with red apples. Quite a-peel-ing! A good apple pie is worth the work of peeling the apples, though. 

These are just a few examples of the good recipes and even better food styling found within the pages of this cookbook. It made me hungry just going through it to photograph these pages. Time to make dinner!


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