Thursday, September 20, 2007

Kitchen Fun: A Cook Book for Children (1932)

My stash of cookbooks has overtaken the house. I’ve lost count and I’m considering running a classified advertisement seeking a part time cookbook librarian. My tastes run from the classic to the historic to the curious. Some cookbooks – one or two a month, maybe – are purchased on an impulse. I do wonder what kind of dinner party will inspire me to cook from Mountain Makin’s in the Smokies and the contents of the Sherlock Holmes Cookbook are a bit of a mystery. The I Love Lucy Cookbook makes me laugh, and I get nostalgic when I page through my volumes of children’s cookbooks. My collection contains a treasure trove of potential culinary adventures, so I thought it might be fun to do a little exploring from time to time.

Like many children’s cookbooks of the late 19th and early 20th century, Kitchen Fun: A Cook Book for Children, published in 1932 by Louisa Price Bell had the appearance of a storybook. Bell was, in fact, a children’s storybook writer. I got my copy through an online antique cookbook dealer, and the charming illustration of the little girl on the cover bears a striking resemblance to my mom when she was a youngster.

Kitchen Fun has 24 recipes with step-by-step directions and graphic symbols of food ingredients, measuring cups and water faucets make instructions simple to follow. I have a friend who was a pioneering food writer, and she told me she made the recipe for “Yummy Eggs” from Kitchen Fun on her honeymoon. The recipes are simple, sturdy and dependable – a solid foundation for children learning the ins and outs of the kitchen for the first time.

My copy has the name “Jean Brown” written in pencil above the table of contents page. I wonder who Jean Brown grew up to be, and what kinds of dishes she liked to cook as an adult?

Since autumn is just around the corner, and it is apple picking season, here’s a recipe from Kitchen Fun that will appeal to children of any age. Spicy Apple Sauce is simple, thick and delicious, with sweet flavors of juicy apples, peppery cloves and hints of honey.

Spicy Apple Sauce

From Kitchen Fun: A Cook Book for Children, The Harter Publishing Company, Cleveland, Ohio, 1932

6 Sour Apples (I used “Honey Crisp Apples” from the North Fork of Long Island)
2/3 cup sugar
1 Cup Water
8 Whole Cloves

Wash apples. Cut apples in quarters. Take out core carefully. Put apples, sugar, water, and cloves in saucepan. Cook ½ hour slowly. Mash through colander or strainer.

For more on children’s cookbooks, read American Children’s Cookbooks of the 50s and 60s which has just been posted on the Culinary Types main site.

©2007 T.W. Barritt All Rights Reserved


Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

I have several old children's cookbooks in my library, too. A Junior Fannie Farmer is one of the oldest. I love looking through the recipes to see what I can make with my grandkids. And, by the way, there is no such thing as too many cookbooks!

Kathy said...

Great children's cookbook article! I'll have to go with textbooks of consumerism.

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

Lydia - the Junior Fannie Farmer would be fascinating to look at. I'll bet it's got very solid recipes, as opposed to some children's cookbooks that were product driven.

Kathy - Thanks for visiting and for uncovering "The Little Chef Cookbook" in your own collection! I've enjoyed exploring your site and agree that advertising cookbooks are a fascinating source of history and household culture.

Jann said...

I have no children cookbooks-well, none today. I have owned a few when I was teaching children cooking sessions...what fun that was!` I gave them all away when I stopped the sessions. When you open your library, may I come to check out some books? I read them like novels, just can't help myself. Will do some catching up on your previous posts-been away and back home for awhile.

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

Jann - welcome back! You've been missed! Hope your travels have gone well. You can check books out of my collection any time - it's so interesting to see the wide variety of information that was contained in children's cookbooks.

Anonymous said...

What a precious little cookbook. I know, I have a pile of cookbooks too and I'm trying so hard to control my buying frenzy. Yehey for the apples , can't wait to make some apple dessert myself.

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

Hey, Veron! I'm afraid to count all my cookbooks. A visitor came in recently, saw the pile in the kitchen and said, "Do you think you have enough cookbooks." I had to tell him that was just the tip of the iceburg! I've got a new one on delivery next week ...

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Oh, my mother-in-law would love that book. She has many old children's books, but not cookbooks. I'll have to look for one now. I wish I could peruse it while savoring a big bowl of your spicy apple sauce. I miss East Coast apples so much at this time of year. There's nothing like them.

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

Susan - it seems like there are more types of apples than ever before. I'd never heard of Honey Crisp, but they had a wonderful rich flavor.

Unknown said...

My sister just sent me a page from the back of this book where I created my own recipe for Vegetable Soup (I was 8 years old at the time). I've made SEVERAL recipes from the book, but I think I passed on the Carrot Loaf. And as a testament to how a children's cookbook can inspire, I'm now a personal chef! (You can see my recipe at


P.S. I found your blog by Googling Kitchen Fun Cookbook!

mommap said...

How delighted I was to run a search on "Kitchen Fun a Cookbook for Children," and find your comments!! My 83 year old mother gave me her treasured copy. She received it in 1934 (aged 8) as a child in Indiana from her beloved aunt who was also her namesake. She has notes in her little girl hand, including the dates when she made the recipes and the friends and cousins with whom she made them. It's so darling. The book is quite worn and fragile; she obviously used it a lot!! She grew up to be an RN, a devout Christian, married for 59 years until the death of my father, and mother of their 9 successful children and 27 grands, 2 great grands! And boy can she ever cook.... I too love the cover illustration which looks like the work of Jessie Wilcox Smith. So thanks so much for your site, what a wonderfulfind! Sincerely, Pat G.

elfkat said...

Do you have the recipe for Yummy Eggs? My sister and I have been looking for it for years. My mom misplaced the cookbook when we closed our house after my dad died and this was her cookbook when she was a child. I'd love a copy of the recipe.


Anonymous said...

Know that these are probably old postings. Came across this cookbook at my Mom's when doing some cleaning out today. The recipe for Yummy Eggs is as follows:
4 eggs
1 c. milk
1/2 t. salt
1 T. butter
Beat eggs until light and foamy. Add milk and salt, and beat. Add butter and put in double boiler. Cook over boiling water in double broiler for 20 minutes.