Cooking With Ida

Crumbs from the Rich Man’s Table

They have a place--
Singly--they mean little. 
Part of the whole--they have the same attributes.
O crumbs from the Rich Man's Table, what are you that we have not? 
You are not air, full and free. 
You are not water, clean and pure. 
You are not sunshine. 
Often you represent foolish desire--Waste, envy, or jealousy.
Why live or think in terms of crumbs? 
The penny is a dollar's crumb. 
The crust a part of the loaf. 
The scraps part of the roast. 
The wasted gas, part of the bill. 
They are worth thought for what they can be.
Not the Rich Man's Crumbs. 
Let me gather up my fragments 
And make them whole.

This post begins a new series within my blog titled Cooking With Ida. It is inspired by the works of cookbook author Ida Bailey Allen.

Ida was born in 1885 in Connecticut. As a young woman, she studied domestic science and nutrition in New York and Massachusetts which led to her life’s work. Considered one of the most prolific cookbook writers in American history, Ida Bailey Allen published her earliest cookbook in 1916. Throughout her lifetime she would write and publish over fifty books including her final work Best-Loved Recipes of the American People in 1973, the year she died.

Drafted by the US Food Administration during WWI, Ida became an influential educator and lecturer on nutrition and home economics. She was an active food writer and subsequently became food editor for Good Housekeeping Magazine.

In 1928, Mrs. Allen began hosting a regular daytime radio show. Her show became so popular, it was extended from a one-hour time slot to two hours. In time she branched into television becoming the first female cooking show host. Ida Bailey Allen eventually reached national celebrity status as “The Nation’s Homemaker”. Today her cookbooks are highly collectible.

Using Ida Bailey Allen’s book Cooking, Menus, Service published in 1924 as reference, I will share the recipes and procedures that were required for rural homemakers of her day to prepare a meal for their family. The poem at the top of this post is from this cookbook and accurately represents Ida’s kitchen philosophy — thrift, economy, zero waste, and good nutrition according to the science of her day. The “Crumbs…are worth thought” mindset helped Mrs. Allen guide homemakers through food shortages of WWI, the agricultural depression of the 1920s, the Great Depression of the 1930s, and the food rationing during WWII.

With Thanksgiving in mind, next week Ida will coach us through preparing the turkey for Thanksgiving dinner. See you then.


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