Let’s Talk with Nancy J Cohen

A Taste of the Past
by Nancy J. Cohen

Recently I’ve begun sifting through my cookbook collection to see which ones I can donate to our local library. My days of cooking elaborate meals are over. Ironically enough, just before I headed down to the Mystery Fest Key West, I came across this Key West Cook Book dated 1949 from the Key West Woman’s Club. The entries were handwritten and copied for the book. While I might never make any of the recipes, this book is like a time capsule. It gives a glimpse into an era when people entertained in their homes, women sweated in the kitchen, and they made meals from scratch.

Randomly opening a few pages, here’s what I find: Kidney Stew, Conch Fritters, Baked Cucumbers, Hominy Grits au Gratin, Curried Crawfish, Crab Gumbo, Grouper Chowder, Stone Crab and Olive Salad, Steamed Turtle, Eggplant and Shrimp, Coconut Marshmallow Cake, Papaya Pie, Orange Custard, and of course Key lime pie.

Yes, the Key lime pie in the Keys is sublime. It isn’t as sweet as its northern variations. It’s more like lime-flavored flan that melts in your mouth. We always eat well in Key West, and this recent visit was no exception. Below is the rum punch I enjoyed along with a view of Harborside marina.

So I guess I’ll keep this cookbook for now, because it reminds me of an era long gone. I don’t think I would have liked to bustle in a hot kitchen all day like women did in the 1950s. We’re too used to the conveniences of prepared foods, pre-sliced vegetables, and ready-made desserts.

Why bother doing all that work when you can just buy it ready-to-eat? I’ll give you one reason. When you cook food yourself, you can leave out the salt and other additives that prepared foods contain. Still, it’s mighty handy to grab a container of chopped onions instead of doing all that prep work yourself.

How about you? Are you old-fashioned in your food preparation methods?

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Comments

  1. I have a Williamsburg cookbook that I somehow acquired and held onto through 4 moves. My fav recipe for Grits Soufflé is in there, and as its the only grits recipe my husband can stomach, its a keeper. I mention the cookbook because there are several recipes for turtle in there. I believe people used to eat a lot more turtle this and that in the olden days. I’ve never tried turtle, though I am not fond of the Key Lime pie you mentioned. Many of my favorite foods are sweets, but I’m trending toward some healthier alternatives these days. Perhaps that’s a sign of my age or even of the times. Left to my own devices I’d cook up one pot of something and eat it all week long… Not the best choice.

  2. I’m mostly ‘from fresh’ but have few qualms about the occasional pre-packaged meal. There are a lot of available shortcuts, like salad mixes, pre-cut veggies, meats that are boned and skinned, etc., or even frozen vegetables and fruits. Being only two of us, one night’s cooking is almost always 2 meals, and Hubster cooks two nights a week, so kitchen time is minimized. I’ve been tempted to try those home delivery companies that give you what you need and supply recipes, but haven’t tried one yet.

    • Our son uses one of those meal delivery services and he really likes it. The meals are nutritious and easy to prepare. I’m all for shortcuts otherwise.

  3. tinawhittle says:

    I’ve kind of given up cooking on weeknights ( we eat leftovers and sandwiches and omelets), but during weekends, I enjoy making recipes the old-fashioned way. Like you said, I like being able to control what goes into my food.