7/14/10

The Julia Child of Ouachita Parish

When I was a kid, I remember staying at my Grandmother's house during the day. She'd feed all of us early and wash up the dishes and then she'd go sit and watch Mildred Swift's local cooking show and after that, her stories like The Edge of Night and As the World Turns.

I remember that Ms Swift wore a cooking uniform of a starched white dress with dark piping on the pockets. And, she cooked delicious foods. But, she was more than a cook. She was a home economist and she covered everything about the finances of keeping a house.

Her cookbooks are collector's items now, passed from generation to generation. An original can sell for up to a thousand dollars on Amazon. My Grandmother had one and my Aunt Lucille, and both of those have passed to my sisters.

I certianly couldn't afford a thousand dollars, but these cookbooks are still being produced and I got new copies.


I can remember this cookbook coming out sometimes when my Grandmother was cooking something special. It has the best biscuit recipe and it's now the one I use.

And, there are other recipes, like Mammy's Spoon Bread and Barbecued Rice along with the old favorites like Pickled Eggs and Pickled Okra. There's Jambalaya and Quick Fondant frosting and Hamburger Aroganoff. A great mixture of the odd, the common and the unusual, all made with things like bacon fat and handfuls of salt and boiled vegetables.

I can't wait to try some of the enticing recipes like No Roll Piecrust and Fudge Pie and Yellow Angel Cake.

And, there's a gardening section and a household hints section, like these:
-One drop of water from a leaky faucet every two seconds amounts to 54 gallons a month or 648 gallons per year. Big Waste.
-Always plant ranunculas and anemones with the claws down.
-When storing white articles (like linens and wedding gowns) a long period of time, wrap in blue tissue paper.

Yes, those were consecutive hints from the book. Just little things thrown in to make a housewife's work easier.

Ms Swift was the host of her cooking show for 18 years in a time when women learned about work from Mothers and Grandmothers and Mothers-in-law; not from television. She was a local pioneer that helped pave the way for later teachers that drew worldwide attention, like Julia and or Martha Stewart.

Hope you enjoyed this little Way Back Wednesday memory of a trend setting woman from the past, when few women made seriously helpful television for the benefit of other women. Most people would find those ideas rediculous today (who mops the kitchen floor every night), but in their time, they were beyond value. They were experiences shared from outside one person's small town experience of the world.


(Oh, and for a translation, Louisiana has parishes instead of counties. And, the one I grew up in is pronounced Wash-it-aw)

Lane

4 comments:

Becky said...

Love it!! Great story!

Tammy said...

Lane, you posted this at 3:59 am!!! Geeeeeeeez man when do you sleep? Old cookbooks are great. What is hamburger aroganoff?

As I type this, I am enjoying a three-day power shopping vacation in Grand Forks, ND. My co-shopper is still sleeping. I'm going to Joanne's today to look for quilting fabric not available in Canada.

Have a super duper day!

lw said...

I don't think you're allowed to post the hamberger araganoff recipe due to copyright laws-- but it sounds so intriguing, at least give us a hint.

Cynthia L. said...

I find it interesting that the tips in the book from years ago are still so relevant today! I was just telling Mrs. P, I hate to mop! I would never think to do it every day! Thanks for this trip to "The Good Ole Days"