Yesterday I was looking at something I've had for almost 20 years but never examined---Mom's old recipe book.
Mom was an awesome cook, and I'd hoped to find recipes for some of the wonderful things she used to make. I haven't gone searching in the book before for a couple of reasons: 1) It is a splintery mess with a busted spine, flaking pages, papers sticking out everywhere, packed into a Ziploc bag; 2) I wrongly thought that her apparently simple recipes would be easy to re-create; and 3) her cooking was always Mom Army style, suited for a big family or scaling up to a battalion, but no good for a handful of adults.
Sadly, it looks like she took them with her after all. Her cookbook dates well back to before she was married, and may have been her mother's, and there's little proof she used many of the recipes. What she did was stuff recipes written on note cards and other scraps of paper in its crumbling pages, pages that included enticing photos like the one above. Unfortunately her recipes usually were just a list of things with no amounts or instructions, like "Goulash: Bottom round, green pepper, onions" etc. She didn't even list the spices, and I know there were spices.
Anyway, the crumbling cookbook with its inserts is a historical treasure trove, and I may try to get some of it onto this site. I'd never dream of trying to match the great Lileks with his Gallery of Regrettable Food, but I hope I can at least add to our appreciation of the broadening of the American palate, the hard work of food stylists, and the importance of color photography to making food look edible.