Antique cookbooks are a great way to return to basics and find real food recipes without the hassle of ingredient conversion or the expense of a trendy, new cookbook. Since the convenience ingredients just weren't around, all of the recipes use whole food and can fit into an organic, whole food diet. While my first foray into antique cookbooks came from inheriting my grandmother's old cookbooks, I've become a bit of an antique cookbook collector. I find them at garage sales, used book stores and online book swaps. I have a strange one this week, but the recipes are amazing.
The cookbook, It's a Sin to be Fat When You Don't Have to be, from 1948, was launched as a slimming diet cookbook. While I'm not on a diet, the principles espoused in the book are similar to the whole food trend. Don't eat junk food, author Williams-Heller says, and be mindful of what you're eating particularly when you're out at parties or restaurants.
Being written in 1948, the book does diverge from modern wisdom on a few topics, like that of smoking at parties being preferential to snacking. But, of course, smoking's danger wasn't common knowledge at the time. Seeing the different beliefs of the times is one of the quirky idiosyncrasies I love about antique cookbooks.
In the book, I found a perfect fall recipe: Spicy Squash Stew; and in another book, found a great homemade dinner rolls recipe to pair up with the stew. The way I adapted the stew reminds me a bit of a minimized ratatoiulle (with mushrooms instead of the onions, peppers and eggplant). But the taste is completely different. While I ate mine on its own, the kids had theirs over a quinoa and brown rice blend. And I think it would be fantastic over pasta.
The toughest part of this recipe is that it listed the squash as chopped and "panned." After some unsuccessful searching, I could only guess panning means to saute in a pan.
Spicy Squash Stew
1 zucchini (or summer squash), jullienned
1 pound mushrooms, chopped (I used baby portabellas)
2 Tablespoons coconut oil or butter
2 cups tomatoes with juice
1/2 cup buttermilk or whey (sub non-dairy milk or vegetable broth, if desired)
1 Tablespoon Italian seasoning
salt and pepper, to taste
red pepper flakes, to taste
1 bay leaf
1 Tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
Freshly grated Parmesan for topping, if desired
Saute zucchini and mushrooms in coconut oil or butter over medium-heat for about 7 minutes. Add tomatoes, buttermilk, salt and pepper, red pepper flakes and bay leaf. Cover, reduce heat to low and let simmer about 10 minutes.
Remove bay leaf. Top with parsley and Parmesan, if desired, and serve.
Yield: 4 servings
Adapted from: It's a Sin to be Fat When You Don't Have to be
Old-Fashioned Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls
1 cup milk
1/2 cup coconut oil or butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup + 2 teaspoons sugar or honey granules
1/4 cup warm water (115°F)
2 1/2 teaspoons yeast
1 egg, beaten
3 to 4 cups whole wheat white flour (dependent on humidity)
In a saucepan, heat the milk to lukewarm and melt the oil or butter. Add the sugar and salt and stir to dissolve. Set aside to cool.
Add the yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar into the 1/2 cup of water, stir well and set aside.
In a large bowl, sift the flour. Mix the beaten egg and yeast water. Make a well in the middle and add the yeast water and egg.
Stir and starting mixing in your flour. Once it's worked in, you can knead it on a floured surface or, if you have a stand mixer, plop the dough into the mixer and knead it with your dough hook.
Remove the dough from the bowl and grease the bowl with oil. Return the dough ball and turn it until it's coated. Cover and let the dough sit in a warm area to allow the dough to double (about 1 1/2 hours).
Punch down the dough, knead and form into about 16 rolls. Place in a well-greased pan (a 9-inch iron skillet works great), spray or brush tops with melted coconut oil or butter, cover loosely and leave to rise (about an hour).
Preheat oven to 350.
Bake at 350 until tops are light brown, about 18 minutes. To check if rolls are done, tap with your finger. The rolls should sound hollow when tapped.
Yield: 16 rolls
To make our rolls more Italian to go with our stew, I added a bit of melted coconut oil, garlic, parsley and Parmesan to the tops of the rolls when they were done.
Images: Kristi Arnold