Is Your Cooking in a Rut?

Source: Ladies Home Journal (May, 1915)
Source: Ladies Home Journal (May, 1915)

Sometimes I worry that my cooking might be boring, and was recently relieved to learn that I am not unique. People have had similar concerns for at least a hundred years. According to the July, 1915 issue of Ladies Home Journal:

Is Your Cooking in a Rut?

Sometimes an apparently good meal leaves a person in a dissatisfied condition that invariably leads to longing for an elusive something or other that had not been provided.

Conservatism too often stands in the way of the average woman, with many housewives serving the same dishes, year in and year out, that their mothers provided before them.

Another reason that women get into “ruts” is because too many men seem to like monotony, appearing to be satisfied with frequent repetitions of a few good dishes, and often ridiculing any attempt toward growth and betterment in the family menu. The man who growls over the “high cost of living” is too often the one who demands the same old foods.

As appetite craves change, the essential in planning appealing meals is to combine a variety of foods so that they will harmonize.

To evolve meals that taste good, look well, and are digestible, it is a good plan to follow the infallible rule of “enough but not too much” as well as to consider the aesthetic beauty and appearance of the combination.

hmm. . . that sounds easy enough. I just need to balance variety with nutrition and aesthetics (though the devil is always in the details).

P.S. – I like the simpler life style of the early 1900s — but life wasn’t perfect. The gendered nature of these quotes–with women cooking and men “growling” — really bothers me. In 1915 women did not yet even have the right to vote. (They won’t get that right for another 5 years).

30 thoughts on “Is Your Cooking in a Rut?

    1. I’m never quite sure whether or not my cooking is in a rut. I make lots of recipes that are new to me–but they tend to be recipes that are similar to the foods that my mother and grandmothers once cooked.

  1. This was the dark ages as far as gender roles went but what a fun old article. If you just removed the subject food it could probably describe womens’ lives generally in those days.

    1. Now the you mention it, I think you are right. Food was the context of this specific article–but, that isn’t really the important part. Similar articles could have been written about many other aspects of women’s lives back then.

    1. I only posted part of the article. It actually continued on, but did not include any recipes. Instead it discussed at length the characteristics of a nutritious, digestible meal. It seemed a bit tedious to me . . but in it’s own way I guess it’s interesting to explore how thinking about nutrition has changed over the years. . . hmm . . . I may need to do a post on that.

  2. I think it’s important to remember that the media was the media, even in 1915, and magazines wrote for their audience. From what I know of my great-grandparents, and what I experienced of my own grandparents and parents, roles were distributed far more equally among men and women than we might think, and I can say with assurance that, in my childhood home, the only growling that went on was when my dad couldn’t get my mom to try something new!

    On the other hand, one of my best friends is married to one of “those” men who thinks dinner is meatpotatoesgreenbeansthank you. His resistance to change is remarkable.

    Me? I like change and trying new things. I have a whole stack of recipes I’ll try “some day.” Most of the time, it seems like too much trouble for one, and I hate to try new things on guests. I’ve done that a time or two, with unfortunate results.

    1. I’m with you; I find it stressful to try new recipes when I have company. Some people can laugh and minimize a food disaster with a few jokes–but I tend to have a near meltdown.

      I also agree that it is very difficult to make generalizations about what it was like a hundred years ago. Women had power within the context of their times, but it all played out in a very different way than what it does now.

    1. And, I’m glad to know that I’m not the only person who still calls the evening meal “supper.” 🙂 I grew up using the word supper–and somehow it still works for me.

  3. Two of my daughters have husbands who do the majority of the cooking for their family. I don’t think there was much of that going on in the early 1900’s! To be so lucky! ~Elle

    1. It sounds like your daughters have wonderful husbands. One of the good things about the changing times is that roles are no longer rigidly defined by gender.

  4. This article comes at a perfect time. You know I am trying to make the perfect pie crust. Hasn’t happened yet, but I did come by a bunch of shallots. I have never cooked with them. I have invited our grandson over and he and I try new things. I know he has never, ever seen a shallot. Looking forward to our joint creativity.

    1. What fun! I’m looking forward to hearing what you and your grandson do with the shallots.

      I’ve never made a perfect pie crust either–I tend to be happy when I make an adequate pie crust. 🙂

  5. I asked a friend of mine today what she was having for dinner. “I don’t know,” she said. “My husband’s doing the cooking tonight.” My comment? “Oh how I used to wish for just one night every once in a while that dinner would be prepared for me.

    But then, that was a time, not so long ago, when women were banned as doctors, lawyers, dentists, pharmacists, bank tellers, reporters (other than women’s issues,) TV anchors, police, firefighters, airline pilots, mail carriers — oh, I know there’s more for the list. I’m so aware every day of how far we have come in 50 some years. And oh yes, I love seeing men shopping with their kids. They were set free in so many ways too.

    1. We have come a long way! I also enjoy seeing both men and women in roles that would that would have been frowned upon years ago. It does set people free in many ways.

  6. I’m awfully happy to be able to say that my husband does almost all the cooking here and we never have to worry about him getting into a rut! Times have certainly changed in some positive ways!

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