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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