My trip to the Salvation Army Family Store yielded a two dollar copy of “The Victory Binding of the American Woman’s Cook Book,” published in 1943. The book is dedicated to General Douglas MacArthur. This Wartime Edition is replete “with victory substitutes and economical recipes for delicious wartime meals.” It was edited and revised by Ruth Berolzheimer who was at the time the director at the Culinary Arts Institute.
My well used copy was a Christmas gift to Minnie J. Mead from Roland in 1942. I can’t help wondering why this treasure ended up in a thrift store. Possibly the owner is deceased and her family packed up her belongings in order to empty the woman’s house. Or maybe a large inherited collection of cookbooks, not unlike my own, ended up in a yard sale unsold and later donated to a charity. I stupidly sold my mother’s copy of “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” by Julia Child. Luckily, I found a copy of this Volume One book in perfect condition at the same store where I found my wartime cook book today. My recent foraging through the bookshelves at said store hasn’t unearthed many cookbooks. This really doesn’t bother me since I already have many more than possible to use on a daily basis. I still can’t help wondering why there are so few available. My theory is linked to the dealers who show up at opening, along with me, who must be scooping them up before anyone else has a chance. I visit the store weekly but I am sure the regulars go every day.
Back to the Victory Cook Book. Throughout the pages of the book are handwritten recipes, newspaper articles and notes tucked deeply into the pages for safe keeping. My mother’s cookbooks that I did keep also have many similar little papers buried within. I love finding her notes and feel as if I have saved a small piece of family history. I hope my children will also cherish these once I no longer need them.
Browsing through my historical find I came across recipes for: Suet Pastry, Quince Preserves, Rinktum Ditty, Sweetbread Supreme, Kedgeree, Red Flannel Hash, Pea Timbales and Chicken Victory. A search online produced some interesting information about this book and its value. I hope that Minnie would be pleased that someone has rescued her recipes and given her book a special place in a home that spends a lot of time thinking about, preparing and eating food.