A couple of years ago, I picked up a first edition Good Housekeeping Cookbook from 1963 at a Brooklyn Heights book sale.
The Good Housekeeping Cookbook is impressive for its sheer density. Instead of just setting a table, it sets a world. The book does not rest on one good meal, party or wife. The book encompasses a whole sphere, the house’s life and heart. It is a holy domestic bible, a testament to both distraction and precision. Despite knowing that this kind of housekeeping stifled most women, the book still charms me. Anne Sexton’s “Housewife” echoes in the background.
I take the book with an actual grain of salt. I like following the recipes and quirky tips. I always pull it out when I’m planning a large dinner party. Among great recipes and cooking suggestions (index your recipes, write your magazine editor for new inspiration, try one new dish a week), the book is also downright hilarious to read. Some of the cooking suggestions read like answers to excite your sex life (create and share a personal fantasy rolodex, whip cream to stiff peaks, try one new dress a week). The book devotes an entire section to “When He Carves.”
Drawings with clear manly cuffs cut into a rib roast, tongue and leg of lamb with ghostly ease. The author, Dorothy B. Marsh, titles some of her dinner menus “This is Nice,” “The Latch is Off, ” “Homey Goodness,” and “Give Him Steak.” I like my steak rare but I don’t actually like to carve at the head of the table. Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself. (I am large. I contain multitudes).
Tonight’s meal is a new favorite. It’s fast, simple and delicious. Although this is not from The Good Housekeeping Cookbook, it’s perfect for a weeknight meal. Orecchiette is a wonderful pasta that means “little ears.” I made this dish with organic sausage that I picked up from Farmer’s Market on Saturday. Although it’s good with already cooked sausage, I like to start fresh when I can. It also has feta cheese, olive oil, tomatoes, basil and parsley. And lots of cracked pepper.
Orecchiette with Sausage, Feta Cheese & Tomatoes