Practical Magic

comments: 68


In the mail yesterday I got this amazing book, Practical Recipes for the Housewife, from one of my dearest college friends, Jeanne-marie. A few weeks ago, she'd found this old book of her grandmother's in a box of cookbooks in the basement. This book was published by the Chicago Evening American with the help of 13,000 housewives who contributed recipes. No copyright date. After doing a little bit of internet research, she discovered this amazing web site and sent me the link to download the pdf of the whole book. For free. W.O.W.

This site is so cool, kind of overwhelmingly cool. If you click on the children's library, wow again. All I could think was WHO WAS THE POOR SOUL WHO HAD TO SCAN ALL OF THIS? I feel so sorry for that intern. Except that possibly the books are just so incredibly cool that they didn't mind. All the better for us. There is so much there I couldn't even scratch the surface. Really quite incredible that it's just . . . available, waiting. I'm tongue-tied with wonder.

Eeeeenyhow, I finally picked up my mail from the P.O. yesterday and in it was the real book from JM! Thank you JM! I love stuff like this. Menus for Sunday Dinner and Cold Weather Breakfasts ("Hot Baked Apples with Cream, Omelet [Spanish], Corn Meal Muffins, and Coffee," with Xs next to many menus, indicating that our housewife had tried them, I expect), tips on how to clean piano keys and pasteurize milk, recipes for banana ice cream and Marigold Cake. Andy brought me some heart-shaped silicone cupcake bakers from the grocery store the other night and I'm thinking this batter for them:


I love old cookbooks. This book is so fragile, and has little cut-outs, notes, recipes literally written on the backs of envelopes all fluttering from between the pages, fragile as moth-wings crumbling between my fingers. I wish Jane were here so I could show it to her because anyone who is writing a book called Cherry Cake and Ginger Beer would probably love to see a real-life recipe for Nesselrode Pudding, don't you think? Oh well, the pdf will have to do! I love you, sweet Jane, but I can't part with this valentine.

Thanks again, Jeanne-marie. Now can you come visit me and I'll bake something for you? Puhleeeeeeeeese, pretty?


Ooh! I have an old cook book like this that my mother handed down to me from her grandmother.
From way back when, when they used terms such as "sour the milk" and "scald" the milk or place in "moderate" oven.
I love backing from it!
p.s the malted milk cake sounds yummy! :)

OOPS! I typed "backing"!!
I meant "baking", obviously!

I love old cookbooks! You now some of the best recipes are the ones that people cobble together from everyday cooks. Have fun1

Thank you so much for the link! There's some great stuff in there...can't wait to get started.

What a fantastic resource thank you so much! I too love old cookbooks. Simple food that is oh so good.

My fav "oldie" that I have, is The Canadian Cookbook... from 1923. It still has the best ever scones, cake and cookie recipes.
There is etiquette, table setting and even feeding large crowds recipes. There are conversions and a "Food Dictionary" that goes from Acidulate to Zwieback... and even a great section on Herbs and Spices that gives suggestions of which pairs with what food.

I love it. I love old cookbooks and I've been trying to work up to courage to ask my dad for my grandmother's Swedish cookbook, all handwritten.

Oh my gosh, what a website you linked to - Internet Archive - "Universal access to human knowledge". As a passionate book fan I remember when the web was just a baby and browsers hadn't even been invented - this is what we all dreamed it could become. Thank you so much for all the interesting things you bring to your site. The beautiful photography, the recipes, the writing - this is the part of the web that enriches my life on a daily basis.

What a great find! I love old recipe books, especially ones that have been written in by their previous owners. Thanks for the link.

Oh, I love old cookbooks, too. And new cookbooks. What pretty pink heart-shaped cupcake bakers! And, boy, does Malted Milk Cake ever sound yummy! "Three heaping teaspoons chocolate malted milk" - I have Carnation malted milk powder in my baking cupboard - but it's not chocolate. Maybe add some unsweetened cocoa? Do you suppose they used an Ovaltine type product? What will you use if you try it, Alicia? Let us know if you make them!

I just read your Hallmark article. Sniff, sniff. You are such an inspiration.

This is amazing!! I immediately went to the site and started looking through the book. I was shocked to find Milk Toast as a recipe. My ex-husbands grandparents from Omaha, Nebraska used to make me Milk Toast and I just thought it was the most amazingly delicious and comforting food ever. I always thought it was a depression-era recipe and was so honored to learn how to make it. It's neat to see that it was a common recipe to make at the time I guess. Also, in the bread section there are various recipes that call for graham flour. Any idea what that might be?? Thanks for showing us this amazing site! I've printed lots of pages, including Malted Milk Cake! Maybe we should all make it and see the results!

Thank you for this link!!!! (Though I don't know if I needed another reason to sit in this chair... I will NEVER get up now!!) This is so cool. And I have to make a heart shape cake now...HAVE TO.

Thank you so much for sharing the link with us! I cannot wait to read through this cookbook. I might even try a few things!

Thank you so much for sharing the link! I can't wait to explore the book.

The book is lovely - and thank you for sharing such precious info with us!

What an amazing resource, thank you so much for sharing! I am looking forward to a rainy weekend day of looking through this amazing archive.

The only thing that could have made this post more delightful would have been the addition of another Miss Clover photo!

Nita in SC says: January 31, 2008 at 10:05 AM

I have an old 1940s cookbook that belonged to my husband's grandmother. It has complete instructions on how to dress and cook a rabbit, should I ever need that info. I can assure you it will never, ever be necessary.

Read the Hallmark article last night. Twice. So, so wonderful. You just shine through - your openness, hopefulness, and love just burst off the page. Isn't it ironic that now, as you are so confined to home, you are touching so many people throughout the world?

On a more shallow note, I adore your pigtails.
Nita in SC

WOW. That's just awesome! I love "old" recipes and things like this. I have a few hand-me-down cookbooks that I adore like this. It's fun to see what the other people before me tried and seeing how they sometimes tweaked the recipes a bit and add that bit of info in there for the next generation. Thanks for sharing!

Oh yeah, we're starting Old French Fairy Tales tonight for bedtime stories!

I was reading my Hallmark mag and came across an article...

It was fun seeing your article in I read the story of the garbage truck hitting you - I realized that I had read your blog!

I LOVE how it assumes so much. It doesn't give directions for things that girls just learned along the way. We don't know enough anymore - basics; regular stuff like how to put together a cake, or sew a button, or mend a fallen hem by hand (w/o double stick tape). Heart and hands and home - we need more of these - thanks!

so riddle me this....for us non-schmancies like you, we need explanations for those strange ingredients (or at least, i do, anyhow!)..

sour milk? how do you do that? i'm assuming substituting buttermilk is NOT what they meant?

I am so not a foodie. You make it look and sound like fun!

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About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at




Since August of 2011 I've been using a Canon EOS 60D with an EF 18-200mm kit lens and an EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens.