The New Art of cooking, 1930s-style

It’s 1934, and we have a new GE refrigerator, or maybe we’re thinking of another new kitchen appliance. What will we do with our wonderful new electric kitchen helpers, and what should our new kitchen look like?

Time to browse The New Art:

The New Art cookbook, 1934

This cookbook/wish book showcased kitchens with GE appliances, and included recipes. It includes the recipes from the earlier Silent Hostess cookbook, along with other recipes to play to the strengths of other GE appliances besides the refrigerators.

First, they give you a few new 1934 model kitchens to drool over:

The New Art cookbook, 1934: Model kitchen

The New Art cookbook, 1934: Model "Provincial" kitchen
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The “Silent Hostess”

The vintage-style stove was only the beginning of my kitchen’s transformation. With the cast-iron stove, came a farmhouse sink, wooden countertops, red Marmoleum floors, and a restored faux-tile wall. How could we put a modern stainless steel — or even white — fridge into what was turning into a relatively period kitchen?

We couldn’t. Our fridge is now one of these:

old fridge
(Photo by Phil Urwin)

…a late 1920s or possibly early 1930s GE Monitor Top refrigerator, the fridge that made it “safe to be hungry.” Seven cubic feet of frosty cold storage, and I do mean frosty. We have to defrost frequently, though it’s not terribly difficult.

For most people who acquired one of these Monitor Tops when they were new, it was the first electric refrigerator they ever owned. Even if they had an ice box before, they couldn’t have used it the same way a refrigerator would be used; ice boxes weren’t good at keeping consistent low temperatures. They certainly couldn’t have easily made ice cubes to cool their drinks.

General Electric came to the rescue with cookbooks/manuals like this one:

"Silent Hostess" Treasure Book

This “Silent Hostess” Treasure Book was published by GE in 1930, and includes illustrations, recipes, and instructions on how to properly use (and defrost) a Monitor Top refrigerator (though they never use that phrase). Read More

“No one regrets the passing of the chopping-bowl”

Yesterday in How Sally Did It (in 1920), I commented on the oddness of this paragraph:

“Another thing Sally hardly ever uses is my chopping bowl. She had Max plane off a square board that she keeps lying on the kitchen table. When a vegetable is to be sliced or chopped she simply holds it on the board and cuts it down with a heavy, sharp knife.”

Surely cutting vegetables on a cutting board — such a basic kitchen operation — couldn’t have been unusual back then, could it?

I had never actually heard of the term “chopping bowl” before. Here’s one — a wide, shallow wooden bowl with a mezzaluna blade chopper. You can buy these today,but they aren’t standard equipment in the kitchen as they once were. Once you could buy the chopping board mezzaluna knife at the dime store, but it’s probably not quite as universally accessible these days. (Nor are “dime stores.”)

Even more than 100 years ago, chopping bowls had begun to be thought of as out-of-date. Frank Leslie’s Popular Monthly, had this to say in 1887:

There is the old fashioned and, I hope, now entirely obsolete, chopping-bowl and its odd-shaped knife. With bowl on lap and the chopping-knife making its regular strokes, now and then stopping to shovel whatever is being minced into the centre of the dish, for hours the patient woman would keep at work. The famous ‘Patience on a monument’ would be impatience and irritability compared with her at work upon a task more irksome and wearying than that of the woodchopper.”

Dun’s Review, November 1912, gives us a hint to the causes behind the chopping bowl’s fall to relative obscurity:
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