Mrs. Scott’s Seasonal Cook Books

Front page of Mrs. Scott's Seasonal Cook Books (Autumn, 1920)

EBay is a great source of hundred-year-old cookbooks. One “cookbook” that I purchased is a four-page newspaper supplement called Mrs. Scott’s Seasonal Cookbooks, Autumn 1920. When the supplement is folded, a quarter of the front page becomes the cookbook cover. It was originally published in a Philadelphia newspaper, The North American.

The cookbook contains 80 or so recipes that use seasonal ingredients. Recipes include Creamed Turnips (which I made earlier this week), Sweet Potato Puffs, and Christmas Sugar Cookies – as well a few recipes, such as Economy Fruit Cake, Smothered Guinea Fowl and Smothered Rabbit, that definitely seem like they are from another era.

The brittle yellowed newsprint pages somehow survived a hundred years. How could something so pedestrian have lasted so long? Somehow I just need to create a story for this little newspaper cookbook. . .

In my imagination, the original owner saved the newspaper supplement and tucked it away in a kitchen cabinet with the intension of making some of the recipes – but it was quickly forgotten. Years later her daugther was cleaning out the house, and came across the newspaper cookbook, and threw it into a box with many other things that needed sorting. She took the box to her own home, and set it in a corner of the living room for awhile. But somehow she never got around to sorting the items in the box, and as holidays approached, she decided to move the box to the attic, where it lay forgotten for another fifty years.

Then, another generation passed, and the son of the daughter of the original owner was cleaning out the attic and came across the box. When he opened it, he saw Mrs. Scott’s Seasonal Cookbooks, Autumn 1920, and thought, “Whew, this is old. I’d better keep it.” He took it to his home and put it in a file cabinet where it again was forgotten for years. Then, when dowsizing, he once again found the old  newspaper cookbook, and decided to sell it at a garage sale where it was purchased by a man who enjoys selling things on EBay. I then saw the cookbook on EBay, and bought it . . . and now it’s anyone’s guess what the next chapter might be for this cookbook, but I’m rooting that it will somehow, however improbably, survive another hundred years.

46 thoughts on “Mrs. Scott’s Seasonal Cook Books

    1. Yes, it’s always good to cook with the seasons. My sense is that people were even more likely to cook with the seasons a hundred years ago – probably out of necessity.

  1. Your story’s probably closer to the truth than not. The tendency to say, “Oh, I’ll deal with that later” may have saved a lot of photos, recipes, and newspaper clippings.

    1. I’m anticipating that I’ll make several from it, though it’s now dawning on me that I will be making only a few more 1920 recipes – and that before long, I’ll being moving on to 1921 recipes. (Note to self: I need to start looking for 1921 cooksbooks.)

  2. Your story is quite likely true! I vote you try Christmas Sugar Cookies (soon–it is almost December!). While you do not actually have to make smothered guinea or smothered rabbit, it would make an interesting read to find out how to do them. 🙂

  3. Love that you shared your imagination of how it was saved! Hope it does continue to survive. I didn’t try the creamed turnips recipe using turnips instead I tried it with radishes which I had a lot of right now.. wasn’t bad at all to my surprise.

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