An object of hungry desire

Weston Biscuits shelf

This gorgeous metal biscuit shelf is among the fine selection of food-themed antiques for sale (along with amazing baked goods) at Madoc‘s Hidden Goldmine Bakery. How I covet it to help store our collection of vintage cookbooks!

There is something for sale in beautiful downtown Madoc that I would just love to have. Its price, however, is a little north of $300, and while I am quite sure the amount is fair, it’s a little rich for my blood right at the moment. Because it is located in the wonderful Hidden Goldmine Bakery – source of the best butter tarts you will ever eat, as well as possibly the best cookie, the splendid Cinnamon Sparkle – I get to see and ogle this object frequently – because you can’t make a trip to “town” without stopping by the Hidden Goldmine.

This object is, as you can see from my photo, a vintage metal store shelf for holding packages of Weston biscuits. Now, Weston being a fine old Canadian company and all, the name is a big lure for me. I’m also very interested in the fact that this particular shelf may have come from Raymond’s home state, Massachusetts, because in the small print at the bottom it tells us that the biscuits it was helping to market to consumers had been made in a factory in Watertown, Mass.

(Now, before we go one bit further I need to point out that Watertown, Mass, is not the same thing as Watertown, N.Y., home of WWNY-TV, channel 7 CBS on the old black-and-white TV that was at the Manse when I was a kid growing up here. In the period, I might add, that I think constituted the golden years of television [as I wrote about at length here]. Those golden years included a corny made-in-Watertown kids’ show featuring the late Danny Burgess. Anybody here remember Danny Burgess? I’m sure at least a few of you do.)

Anyway, I am surprised to know that the George Weston company, Canadian through and through, had a factory in New England, and so far I haven’t found anything about that on my friend the internet. But really it’s no matter. What does matter is how much I would like to have that biscuit stand!

Why? Because I think it would be the perfect funky place to display some of our large (and growing) collection of vintage cookbooks. The ones I find at yard sales and flea markets and library sales, that promise midcentury hostessing perfection, not to mention a limitless supply of casserole recipes. I love those cookbooks! (As I’ve written before, notably here and here.)

To show you how much I love them, here are some photos featuring some of the titles. Perhaps the pictures will bring back some culinary memories for you too:

Vintage Betty Crocker cookbooks

Thanks to Betty Crocker, I have instructions on being the perfect hostess and making the perfect dinner for two. Like: Liver and Bacon Patties, with Glazed Sweet Potatoes, Broiled Tomato Halves, Fruit Compote and Ginger Creams. Wow!

Serve At Once/Dinners That Wait

I deliberately put side by side the two cookbooks Serve At Once (subtitle: The Soufflé Cookbook) and Dinners That Wait, a classic featuring recipes that finish themselves off on the stovetop or in the oven while the hostess sits down with her guests for “a leisurely cocktail.”

Vintage cookbooks

More vintage classics (and not-so-classics).

Vintage cookbooks 2

I have a soft spot for anything by Elizabeth David. And the bright colours on the dust jacket of her cookbook brighten up the shelf!

Oh yes, I guess I should also show some proof that we do have modern cookbooks too:

Modern cookbooks

And also proof that I actually use my cookbooks. Just look! Do you think any previous occupant of the Manse has ever made such a nice cheese soufflé? (Thanks for the recipe, Julia!):

Katherine's Famous Soufflé

Hot and beautifully puffy, light as air: a cheese soufflé (recipe by Julia Child) just out of the Manse’s vintage Harvest Gold oven.

Anyway, that’s a very quick partial tour of the contents of the Manse’s cookbook collection. Now can you see how perfect Mr. George Weston’s biscuit shelf would be to show them off?

18 thoughts on “An object of hungry desire

  1. The old WWNY CBS from Watertown, N.Y. was originally WCNY channel 7 from Watertown N.Y. It was changed at just about the time you moved to the Manse. Every night at 6:00 p,m. it showed ‘The Edge of Night’ until 6:15 and then they showed ‘The Early Movie’. The first movie I saw when we got out first T.V. ( and Electrohome floor model black and white, which was a big deal in those days) was “Old Shep”. WCNY channel 7 actually had much better programming for Family Watching then WWNY has now. (Of course that is just my own humble opinion. LOL)

  2. I have my mother’s collection of cookbooks, stored away at the moment, but when I pull them out again, perhaps one or two will find their way into your collection!!

  3. Lovely looking souffle. However, my preference is a corn souffle that is a must at all family gatherings. Our grandchildren then eat it cold for breakfast! The recipe came from an old St. Peter’s Presyterian cookbook. Thanks for stirring up a batch of memories! GnG

  4. You would not believe how many old and new cook books I have on my shelves (yes, knowing me Katherine you probably would). I promise when some day I start to get rid of things I will not throw out any until I let you check them out.

    • Haha – yes, Barbara, I do believe you. (Hey, it takes one to know one!) If you ever do get to the point where you consider tossing them (I wonder – will either of us ever get to that point?), please do let me know!

  5. Oh Katherine, HAVE that bookshelf. Raymond’s heartstrings could perhaps be tugged by the provenance of the cookies thereupon displayed, to make you a gift of it for the next important occasion. End of school term, maybe?

  6. I am very fond of vintage cookbooks, but my interest pales beside my sister’s passion for them. Some of our favourite types are the ones that contain recipes so odd or horrid that we alternately gag and howl with laughter when reading them to each other. Those mid-century, soft cover ones with the amazing Technicolour photographs are guaranteed for a few shrieks. I hope you are familiar with this: http://www.lileks.com/institute/gallery/ .
    Silliness aside, these books are an important repository of heirloom recipes and basic food preparation. I think, like the textile arts, recipes were traditionally an acceptable way for women to express their creativity. (Fortunately men have embraced these crafts now, too.)

    Katherine you have a wonderful collection! Hours of enjoyment!

    • Oh Jane, how can I ever thank you for the link to The Gallery of Regrettable Food! Those appalling recipes and photos are one reason I collect vintage cookbooks – I mean, sometimes you just can’t believe that anyone thought that stuff was edible. But as you say, vintage cookbooks contain in equal measure with appalling ideas (and photos), great old recipes (often based on the need to economize on food costs in any way possible) for things we’d all do better to be eating today instead of McDonald’s and the local pizza-and-subs joint, or the godawful prepared foods that come from the freezer aisle. Here’s to real food!

      • I am retired, so I am able to make so many more meals from scratch. It is noticeably more budget friendly!

        I’m currently on the lookout for some WWII era cookbooks – North American preferably. My mother spent her adolescence in wartime Britain, her cooking was a little too frugal for me!

  7. I think you need to start thinking outside the box. Get the bookcase. (Will they consider an offer?) Once you get it set up, get a mason jar or better yet, a nice vintage vase. Place it nearby. Every day for the next year, put a Loonie in the container. Around about April 5, 2016, the treasure will be paid for…….and you will have enjoyed it for the whole year!

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