Monday, July 8, 2013

Cookbooks, Inglenooks, and Basic White Sauce

When you think about it, cooking is full of tradition.

Everyone has a favorite dish their mother or grandmother made, and those flavors speak of HOME.

And how many of us keep a collection of recipe cards - preferably in a loved one's own handwriting - of those favorite dishes?

And then there are the cookbooks. I love old cookbooks.

The church I grew up in also has a long tradition of cooking and cookbooks. Years ago, (from 1900 to 1913) the denomination publishing house put out a weekly magazine called The Inglenook, full of educational articles, recipes, information and jokes. “Its pages are clean, its articles instructive, and it is a fitting companion for the spare moments of the schoolboy and the gray beard.” 

Along with your yearly subscription to the magazine ($1.00 per year!), you also received a copy of the Inglenook Cookbook, a compilation of recipes from the magazine.

I have copies of the 1901 and 1911 editions of the cookbook, reprinted in the 1970's and '80's. The third one in the picture is my grandmother's copy of the Granddaughter's Inglenook Cookbook, the updated and thoroughly revised Inglenook for the generation of the 1940's.

Would you believe the publisher decided it's time for a new edition of the cookbook? This month, the Brethren Press is publishing The New Inglenook Cookbook. What thrills me is that I was invited to contribute to this new edition!

I wrote an essay on casseroles and one-dish meals to be included in the cookbook. It's a two-page spread, and includes a recipe from the original 1911 cookbook, and a new contributor's recipe. I can hardly wait to get my copy of the new edition and see my name in this historic book! You can read all about it here.

All I can think about is how thrilled my grandmothers would be - faithful users of their own Inglenooks in their own homes!

To celebrate, I'm sharing one of my favorite recipes from the Granddaughter's Inglenook. It's from the chapter titled "Basic Cookery", and it's the first recipe I ever made from this cookbook...long, long ago.

Even long before I was a young wife learning how to cook for my husband.

It's basic, very basic.

White Sauce

White sauces are used as the foundation of many foods. They are made from milk. Often the sauce is varied by substituting vegetable juice, meat stock, or a mixture.

For a thin white sauce, use:
1 Tablespoon fat (I use butter)
1 Tablespoon flour
1 cup liquid
1/4 teaspoon salt

For a medium white sauce, use:
2 Tablespoons fat
2 Tablespoons flour
1 cup liquid
1/4 teaspoon salt

For a thick white sauce, use:
2-4 Tablespoons fat
4 Tablespoons flour
1 cup liquid
1/4 teaspoon salt

Use the thin sauce for cream soups, the medium for scalloped dishes and gravies, the thick for souffles and croquettes.

Method: Melt fat: stir in flour until smooth. Add liquid gradually, stirring constantly. Cook over low heat for 5 minutes or until thick. Add salt and pepper. Cover tightly and place over hot water until ready to use.

I use this basic sauce for everything!

To make cheese sauce, add 1 cup shredded or cubed cheese to the medium white sauce.

To make gravy, substitute broth for 1/2 of the liquid in the thin white sauce.

To make a rich sauce (like a hollandaise), add 1 well beaten egg yolk to 1/4 cup of the sauce, stir well, then add to the rest of the sauce, stirring constantly.

Oh, and have you been wondering what an inglenook is?

An inglenook is a corner formed next to an open fireplace. Sometimes they're called "chimney corners". They're like a room within a room: small, sheltered, and very cozy.

They can be simple, or very elaborate, like this one I found for my dream house...

Isn't that beautiful?

Now it's your turn. What is your favorite, go-to cookbook?

And/or  - what classy feature is on the top of your list for your dream home?

And before we go, here's the latest picture of Thatcher. Isn't he a handsome fellow?


  1. Oh, I love this! I have a big collection of vintage cookbooks. Well, big meaning about 12. but that's big to me!

    My 50's Joy of Cooking is probably my favorite. The writing is hilariously snide!

    And so happy you get to contribute to that new version. That's just made me grin!

    1. I recently added to my cookbook collection - the 1950 edition of the Betty Crocker cookbook. I had grown up with this cookbook as well as the Granddaughter's Inglenook and the Better Homes and Gardens, but for some reason my mom didn't like it. She sold it in a garage sale right after I was married, and I've been looking for a copy ever since!

      And I love the writing style in the old cookbooks, too. One of my favorite things to do is read through the non-cooking household hints section. My Betty Crocker cookbook advises homemakers to take a few minutes during the middle of the afternoon to rest - lay flat on the floor with your feet elevated. (I've tried it - it works wonders!)

    2. Jan, I have that Betty Crocker as well! I was so glad they reprinted it!!!!!

  2. I am a big Southern Living and church cookbook fan. I have all my mother's recipes in a recipe box. I really need to turn it into a cookbook.

    So thrilled for your opportunity to contribute to the cookbook. My very first published article was a recipe I sent into Seventeen magazine.

    I want your dream home nook too. I guess I just got my dream with the screened porch. I love it out there.

    And the little guy just keeps getting cuter.

    Peace, Julie

    1. Wow! Julie! Seventeen magazine???

      It was a decent magazine back then, wasn't it? Can you imagine them publishing recipes now?

      Your screened porch is so beautiful...and in your climate, I'm sure you can use it for at least three seasons.

      My MIL has a screened porch on the back of the house. It overlooks the fields and woods in the back of the original 40 acre farm. For years, between my FIL's retirement and his passing, they had coffee out there every morning from April to October. It was so sweet.

  3. I love MVCM's comment about the cookbook... some of those fifties cookbooks were patronizing, very "Miss Manners" cheeky!

    I love collecting old cookbooks. I have not tried the possum recipe I posted last year. But I love the old America Cooks book that it's in, LOL!

    This is so fun.

    An Inglenook.... I hadn't heard that term in a long time, probably since I stopped reading a lot of historical romances because they went too far over that sexual edge for my tastes.... so seeing Inglenook brought up lots of sweet memories! I have a friend who incorporated an inglenook right off the kitchen, a tucked spot with a love seat and two chairs and a fireplace, just a getaway corner, notched into a wall... Charming!

    I'm loving the progress on my family room out back. Can I Inglenook that fireplace???? Must think on that!!!

    1. Oh, wouldn't that make a great addition to your family room? I can just see your sweet little friends cuddling up near the fireplace with a book on a winter afternoon....

  4. I thought Inglenook was a place! *embarrased blushy* don't think I've ever seen one before.
    my mom and grandma loved cookbooks but my mom didn't always cook from scratch - my dad was set in what he wanted to eat and my brother and I didn't get 'adventurous' until we were older plus she worked full-time outside the house...I remember some of her dishes but she was one of those who either assigned the crappy jobs to do or fussed too much that we just ventured in every so often to see when it'd be ready THEN got assigned something! this gravy sounds like what she did except no measuring the fat- it was either a big spoon of that white solid Crisco or leftover from the chicken, chicken fried steak, or bacon..she made good gravy and I remember not stirring it right a few times :-( but she made brown with everything except her perfect biscuits(still can't figure those out no measurements but I know they also had crisco and milk!)the biscuits got white gravy and guess milk was the only liquid in it.
    I dont have a go-to cookbook - just a handful or recipes - but I love reading cookbooks and my faves are the church fundraiser cookbooks! I like flipping through the older ones where the woman puts her name 'Mrs. Charles R. Wilson' instead of her first name - just cracks me up that they use that for their name - my mom did for years - and was proud of it! now it seems there are no 'original' recipes in them or anything actually tried and true - they just pick something and copy it out to submit for the fundraiser. at least some do. I wish I had one from my aunt's old church- need to ask her to get me some when she sees them.

    talking about recipes and church cookbooks reminds me of this love inspired suspense cozy I read - the title and description appealed to me at the store one day when I was browsing and one section was so true -this new to town young single woman wanted to make a dish for the after church lunch thingy and it was a church full of older women who you KNOW had 'their' specialties and no one could compete so she got online and found a recipe and of course someone later dies from it LOL! Murder by Mushroom I think is the title. that was the funniest part to me though - her thinking on how she had the perfect recipe to take and I could definitely identify with the women having their specialties that no one else dared touch!

    is this recipe gonna be in the new edition? will have to look for it! or one of the older ones. I have 2 'old' cookbooks I got from my grandma though she probably found them at a yard sale - pretty interesting and all kinds of weird stuff- at aunt's once we were sitting around the table talking and somehow the subject came up and I mentioned a recipe calling for a 'number 2 can' of something and my older aunt just 'came alive' since she knew what it was! we in the younger generation admitted we'd turned over cans to look for a number(me and one older cousin were the only 2 who'd seen this in a recipe and been puzzled)

    1. Hi Susanna!

      My mom worked full-time, too, so didn't get to cook as much as she would have liked. My dad, on the other hand, was a pastor with an office at home. He'd work at the church while we were at school, and then come home by 3:00, get supper started, and finish his work in his home office.

      I grew up with recipes calling for number 2 cans or number 10 cans! Those terms are still used in commercial food service (my husband deals with those measurements all the time), but I haven't seen them in a cookbook for years!

      That story about the church dinner dish is a great hook for a cozy suspense! And I know exactly how those church dinners go. It always takes me a few months to figure out what everyone's specialty is. Until then I stick with something safe - like bread. Or green bean casserole.

    2. There are towns called Inglenook, Susanna! I Googled it!

  5. How can we ever think of food when you share such precious photos of Thatcher?!!

    Okay, dragging my eyes away from your sweet baby. FOOD. Think about FOOD...

    I love a good white sauce! I use milk for my liquid to make a good southern gravy. :)

    Congrats on being included in the new cookbook, Jan!!

  6. BTW, Inglenook is a new word for me. What a cool thing! I now want one. :)

    1. Oh, I want one too, Missy!

      But we don't have a fireplace. Or room to add on.

      So having an inglenook would mean moving. Ouch. I don't think so!

      But I can always dream of a cabin in the Hills, can't I? Kind of a weekend home/writing retreat?

    2. Jan, there are pix of "Inglenooks" done with arranging around a wood-burning stove.


    3. Voila! I'm googling them! Our wood-burning stove is in a corner already...(wheels are spinning, thoughts percolating...)

      Maybe we'll have a design all planned by the time our children start leaving the nest and we have space again :)

  7. That Inglenook is so awesome, Jan! As is the cute dog!

    My favorite cookbook is the Betty Crocker 1972 edition. Not exactly vintage, but there it is. I love old cookbooks as well. Congrats on your publication and thanks for the great post!


    1. I hate to break this to you, Piper, but I have a feeling 1972 is beginning to be considered "vintage".

      It doesn't seem possible, does it?

    2. Yikes! *Gulps* Well, I guess I fit right in....:)


  8. I'm in love! Thatcher needs to come north for a visit!!! Love that sturdy little stance on those short wee legs!!!!!!!

    And Inglenook -- never heard of it. At first I thought it was some kind of cookery e-reader. LOL. Glad you enlightened me! And congrats on getting to contribute to the new edition!

    My first foray in the kitchen was a cheese sauce using a white sauce as a base. I was about fourteen and thought I was some fancy chef!!!! Broccoli never tasted so good!

    My dream home would definitely have a floor to ceiling shelved library complete with a window seat! That's been on my wish list since I was about ten!

    1. Thatcher is such a hoot! As small as he is, you'd think he'd be a lap dog...but NO. He's a big dog. Don't you dare try to pick him up for a cuddle! (Unless he's sleepy. Then maybe.)

      He was saying hello to the neighbor's chihuahua the other day. They're about the same height, but Thatcher's feet and legs are at least six times bigger than the chihuahua's pencil thin ones. I couldn't believe the difference between them.

      And the floor to ceiling bookshelves in the library? Of course! As well as a cozy bookcase in the inglenook :)

  9. I LOVE this! I love cookbooks. Like really love them. But over the years, I have found myself using some more than others. Betty Crocker is a standby. I have the 1950 version, as well as one from the late 70's. The Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook is another one I often grab. And I finally broke down and bought a Pioneer Woman cookbook. Love that one too.

    Thatcher is such a cutie! We're temporarily up to 5 dogs. We inherited my mom's miniature dachshund and we're sitting our 2 grand pups while the newlyweds are on their honeymoon. You know what that means? The dogs currently outnumber the humans in our house. Shh...nobody tell them.

    1. Just keep the treat bag handy, and no one will get hurt...

      And I've looked and looked at the Pioneer Woman cookbook. My newest fav is the King Arthur Flour baking book - it's a great one to browse through.

      There's an art to reading cookbooks, isn't there? Sometimes the gems are hidden in between the recipes - little things, like how to mix muffin batter.