Peter Pauper Press Cookbooks

Simple New England Cookery cover Peter Pauper PressThis morning I read this piece about writers and their book collecting habits, content in the knowledge that aside from a few dozen dictionaries I don’t really collect books.

Today is Thanksgiving and as I’ve been “helping” in the kitchen, I noticed my wife’s collection of Peter Pauper Press cookbooks, which appeared from the 1950s through the 1980s. Unlike dictionaries, these are small volumes, 5 x 7 and less than 80 pages each. And they are full of art, doggerel, and great recipes. Simple New England Cookery, for example, has this turkey recipe:

Clean and dress turkey. Rub insides with salt and pepper. Stuff neck cavity. Fasten with metal pins. Fill body cavity loosely with stuffing. Rub with butter or make a paste of ½ cup butter , ¾ cup flour; spread over all parts of turkey.

You know the rest: roast uncovered at 300-325 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes per pound. Turn the turkey midway. It’s done when “the meat pulls away from the leg bone.”

PeterPauperPress_Cooking-to-KillCheck out Simple American Cookery for a pumpkin pie recipe (and illustrations featuring regional quilt patterns). For doggerel, check out Simple Continental Cookery, which introduced international cuisines to American home cooks. This volume (as with the others) begins with poetry:

It’s a continental weakness,
To dote on fancy food,
So we offer you some recipes,
That are ravishingly good.

Here’s a bibliography of Peter Pauper Press cookbooks. The only little book that worries me is Cooking to Kill! The Poison Cookbook, which is billed as “The cookbook to end all cooks.” Ulp.

About Ed Battistella

Edwin Battistella’s latest book Dangerous Crooked Scoundrels was released by Oxford University Press in March of 2020.
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