Blue Ribbon Cook Book

A while back (like a month ago?) a family friend gifted me an old cookbook she had found in her mother’s home. Knowing how much of a foodie I am, she figured I would appreciate it, and she was right.

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The book was very well worn, barely holding together at the binding. But the cover was still there, and the title was legible.

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The Blue Ribbon Cook Book – For Everyday Use In Western Homes.

Upon first inspection, it looked like the book might date back as far as 1905!

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But the fact that the beginning of the book clearly stated that this was a revised edition, it made me wonder if it was indeed that old.

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The language used, and the state of the book itself, though, did make it seem like it could be that old. So I turned to the wonder that is Google, to see what information I could find on the book. It eventually led me to discover a book detailing all sort of Canadian cookbooks from 1825 (!) to 1949. Alas, said book was over $150 to purchase on Amazon.ca. So you can imagine I was excited when I found out my alma matter SFU had two copies of it. I used those alumni privileges to get my hands on a copy.

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Culinary Landmarks – A Bibliography of Canadian Cookbooks, 1825 – 1949. Just some light bedtime reading…all 1257 pages of it.

Fortunately, I was able to skip most of that, and find what I was looking for – the section on The Blue Ribbon Cook Book editions.

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Yes, the whole book is text like that. Note – if you ever decide to write a reference guide to say, antique cookbooks, pictures of said books would be REALLY helpful for those trying to identify what they have. I’m just saying.

Anyways, I poured over the section, trying to determine exactly what edition I had my hands on. It wasn’t easy, as the text is a bit confusing, and a few pages were missing from my book. But there was enough information for me to determine that the copy I am now a proud owner of dates back to 1925 (or possibly 1924, but I’m about 95% certain it is from 1925).

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So, what exactly does one find in a cookbook that is 85 years old?

Useful information on Food and Its Uses – like what foods different groups of people should eat.

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Groups including Infants, Children, Labouring Men, Professional People (also men), Fat and Corpulent People, Lean and Sparse People, as well as the Aged. There is a whole section even dedicated to Invalid Cookery, including culinary delights such as Stewed Beef Tea, Toast Water, and a variety of Gruels. Here is an excerpt from the section:

Give little food and often. Let the food come at stated times and punctually. As a rule patients should not be awakened to be fed, though it may sometimes be necessary to do so. When there is no appetite, give such food as affords the most nourishment for the least work to the system.

Endeavor to give the food most appreciated by the patient, provided it is no injurious. Do not let a convalescent know beforehand what the bill of fare will be, as surprises are often very pleasing to him.

The food should be as varied as possible, for invalids easily tire of the same thing. If food may not be varied, the mode of serving it may, and a stray flower or a new plate is better than no variety at all. Only as much food as the patient is likely to eat should be taken into the sick room, and at once remove what remains.

In case of infectious fevers all remains of food should be at once burned, and on no account be eaten by another person. The nurse should not eat in the sickroom.

Good stuff. It gets better.

Like the section on Bachelor Cookery (not in the original edition).

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It seems like a fairly practical section, as many single men were homesteading on new parcels of land in the west, before their wives and children were able to move out there. You wouldn’t want them to starve, right? Shall we read a bit?

Regular home cookery is based on milk, butter, and eggs, and a large majority of the recipes in other parts of this book call for one or more of these ingredients. It very often happens, however, that in “batching” on a remote homestead or elsewhere one cannot always have a supply on hand. The recipes included in this section are the “do-without” kind, and also include only such dishes as can be cooked if necessary with the most primitive utensils. It would open the house-wife’s eyes to see how well one can get along under these conditions when one knows how.”

Eye opening indeed.

My mom and I had many laughs as I read aloud random excerpts like this from the book. My absolute favourite was in the section on Game Meat:

Restoring Tainted Game – If game becomes slightly tainted, it should at once be picked clean and put into milk for a full day (24 hours), keeping it entirely covered. This will sweeten it, and it should be cooked at once.

Hey, the meat may still be tainted, but at least you can mask the flavour!

I could go on with these little gems from the book, but perhaps I will save them for future posts. You know, like a daily tip or recipe circa 1925. You never know when you’ll find yourself with an invalid bachelor on a homestead who only has tainted game meat left to eat.

The recipes in the book aren’t written like those we are used to, with a list of ingredients and then directions. Instead, they are just little paragraphs telling you what to do. Sort of interesting.

There are also some nice ads in the back for Blue Ribbon products.

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And should you want extra copies of the cook book, say to give to your homesteading brother, these coupons were included.

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I wonder if I sent them in now if I could get a new copy?

It was a really great gift to get, and has provided me with much entertainment. There may even be a recipe or two to try out in there – beef tea anyone?

Do you have any antique cookbooks in your collection? Do share!

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13 Comments on “Blue Ribbon Cook Book”

  1. August 11, 2010 at 7:01 am #

    How cool! I don’t have any antique cookbooks yet.. but my dad has a huge collection that literally takes up a whole wall of our basement.. as an only child, I’m fairly certain it will be a part of my inheritance 🙂

  2. August 11, 2010 at 12:16 pm #

    what a neat cookbook! That bit about the tainted meat kinda grossed me out, though! LOL

  3. Natalie
    November 4, 2010 at 3:02 pm #

    Hi just recently came across a Blue Ribbon Cookbook For the Everyday Canadian home. 22nd edition. It is in excellent condition but I have been trying to figure out its origin/date etc.. any advice is greatly appreciated! Love your blog!

    Thanks 😀

  4. Cruznv
    July 27, 2011 at 11:16 pm #

    This little cookbook does contain a wealth of interesting reading, along with fantastic recipes. Your copy does look like a very early publication, if not an original copy…..My copy is a “Twenty First Edition”. I too, often wonder what year mine was published… They kind of left out all that kind of
    info…. Guess they just wanted to use all the pages for their delicious recipes & useful tips & hints…

    As a child, I remember my Mom created wonderfully delicious meals, snacks, sweet treats….along with much more from her little tatted, coverless, page stained Blue Ribbon Cookbook. The Blue Ribbon Cook Book was one of her most treasured and used cookbooks.
    I had always wanted my own copy. After many years of searching, I was very fortunate to purchase my own Blue Ribbon Cook Book at an Antique Swap Meet in Red Deere, AB several years ago. It is in impeccable condition…I assume the previous owner didn’t like to cook/bake as much as my Mom, considering the books unused condition…LOL.

    Another cookbook favourite in my collection (and childhood memories) is (an original copy of) “The All New Purity Cook Book A complete book of Canadian Cooking from 1967”. This cookbook gave me my first experiences and treasured memories of baking/cooking at an early age of 7 or 8. I still giggle everytime I look at that Thimble Cookie recipe, remembering the countless times I made it, before I got them cookies perfect…. to look just like they did in the picture…LOL. Since those good ole days the joys of cooking, baking & collecting recipes and Cookbooks have never ended for me….

    I believe a cook can never have too many cookbooks…but you got to have a couple of good basic cookbooks at your fingertips….cookbooks with delicious recipes you can , whip up, with most ingredients you probably already have in your pantry…

    Happy Cooking/Baking
    Cruznv

  5. Tony
    November 7, 2011 at 12:43 am #

    i have one of these books also i just came across it today i wonder what it is worth ,,,i am going to put it in my pass on,s for the family …..Tony

  6. Holly
    December 29, 2012 at 2:19 pm #

    Thanks for posting. I have this exact book. It was my grandmother’s. Definately pre dates gas and electric ovens, as it often discusses how far from “the fire” things should be cooked at.

  7. Joan Pearcy
    March 7, 2013 at 5:42 pm #

    I also have this cookbook handed down from my Grandma who was born in 1884. I still use some of these recipes, especially the doughnut recipes. She always used lard for her deep frying and everything tasted great, made our own lard on the farm. She would win the baking powder bisciuts every year at the local fair and would get a hamper full of Blue Ribbon spices etc.

  8. Lillian
    April 14, 2013 at 2:17 pm #

    I also have the same cook book thanks to my Grandma. The 1st 4pages are missing so I thought it was 1905 but it contains ( bachelor cookery) so I guess it’s also 1924-25.Wonder how many of these are still in existence. As for tainted meat , I guess there weren’t many deep freezes around. LOL

  9. December 1, 2013 at 10:08 pm #

    Hi! I have the exact same cookbook. The end is filled with handwritten recipes dated 1930, and my ad pages are torn out and slipped between other pages. It’s truly inspiring!!
    Cackling Nola

  10. Irene Dagg
    March 9, 2014 at 6:20 pm #

    Hello: I have the same cookbook. I loved the “Washing Up” section for Bachelors. “This is the pet aversion of the cook, but there is no getting out of it, so the thing is to find the easiest and most satisfactory way to go about it.” It goes on to describe how to get grease off of a frying pan. Got to boil it in hot water with wood ashes, or be scoured out with sand and hot water” CLASSIC !! I love this.

  11. Marsha Lawson
    March 13, 2014 at 1:37 pm #

    I too have a copy circa 1925 I think.
    Adds include Blue Ribbon Jelly, Fruit Flavoring Extracts, Tea and coffee.

    I thought it a Canadian publication until I realized flavoring was spelled “or” in Canada we use ” our”

    Any thoughts on value? Mine is well loved

  12. eff
    March 10, 2015 at 12:08 pm #

    I grew up with a Blue Ribbon Cookbook. When as an adolescent I wanted with friends to make rice pudding from a recipe book, my mother said the one she based hers on was from that book. So we started. It seemed like a lot, but we carried on. A canner (very large pot used to hold and boil jars of goods to be preserved ) and two roasters later, by when we’d used up all the eggs in the house and most of the gallon jar full of raisins, my mother came home and asked why we were making so much: “We’ll be eating rice pudding for a month,” was her exact turn of phrase. I was puzzled at her criticism (not to mention the large yield) and pointed to the recipe book. It turned out I’d found the recipe in the *back* section of the book, “Cooking in Quantity” or something akin to that, and only then realized we’d cooked up 150 servings of the stuff. The last time I talked to one of those friends, when we were both well into middle age, she asked, “Do you remember the time we made all that rice pudding?” So the book has considerable sentimental value to me …

    But … I don’t know which of the sibs ultimately received the book: no one’s talking!

    PS: It’s an awesome rice pudding recipe, that at the end folds whipped eggwhites into a hot cooked rice custard. But do consider making the family-sized batch, rather than the church picnic quantity!

    • March 10, 2015 at 10:50 pm #

      That is such a great story – I can just picture it! And thanks for the heads up on the rice pudding recipe – I will have to try it out 🙂

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