Lunchtime poll – where do you get your recipes? (and a bacon meatloaf bonus)
February 2nd, 2011
01:15 PM ET
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My name is Kat, and I'm waaayyy hooked on vintage cookbooks.

Pamphlets, too. Spiral or comb-bound community or church cookbooks are instant twitterpation. It's not just visual kitsch for me; chances are that if you come to my home for a party or a meal, I'll serve you at least one dish from a recipe published well before either one of us was old enough to wield a box grater.

What's the appeal? For one - the recipes WORK. They have to. If it's from a product pamphlet (like the bacon meatloaf above, published in an Armour and Company 1925 pamphlet "Slices of Real Flavor"), it's likely been through endless testing to ensure that the ingredient is being touted to its best advantage. In a community cookbook, Mrs. Husband's Name isn't going to submit anything other than her show-off recipe. People would talk!

But besides the efficacy of the recipes, they're a wonderful window into a place and a time gone by - before the Food Network, celebrity chefs, Paula Deen's Butt Rub and the EVOO-ification of ingredients. This is how our families fed themselves at home and I'm going to put my faith in the wisdom of the ages on occasion - even if they're trying to murder me with bacon.

bacon meatloaf recipe

The Vintage Cookbook Vault highlights recipes from my insane stash of books and pamphlets from the early 20th century onward. It's going to be a regular thing. Announcement about how you can play along coming soon. And holy crap, do I love a spiral-bound community cookbook.

soundoff (138 Responses)

    I started off cooking learning from my grandmother of course. No matter how many places I travel or eat it, her brocolli casserole with Ritz crackers is the bomb. Also, my own site of course too!

    February 9, 2011 at 8:07 am |
  2. James L. Harmond

    I found this interesting!

    February 7, 2011 at 9:02 pm |
  3. D B Q

    I usually make my own recipes up, and sometimes modify written or printed recipes... even making a recipe "mash-up" from time to time. I don't need a recipe to tell me that bacon on or in your meatloaf is tasty! Bacon goes good on or in almost anything!!

    I am currently working on perfecting my recipe for what I call the Tri-Meatloaf; meatloaf with 3 types of meat (1.5 lbs of chicken, 1.5 lbs of beef, and 1 lb of BACON) swirled into a decorative pattern, spiced with the 'Holy Trinity' of peppers: Ancho, Mulato, and Pasilla. Top it off with some homemade BBQ sauce, and I'm blissfully full.

    Get creative with your recipes! Use the recipe as a guide, NOT an instruction manual! You may be surprised at how well you can cook.

    February 7, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
  4. Just!ne

    I made the Bacon Meatloaf with mashed potatoes and cauliflower with cheese sauce yesterday. It was a hit! I really love the meatloaf, and will keep it on my must have recipe list. Thanks a lot for sharing! :)

    February 7, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
  5. Nika

    Definitely all of the above. I got to the local goodwill quite a bit, so I have more cookbooks than I can count. I find that lately styles of cuisines or cookbooks that are centered around one ingredient helpful. Use all recipes quite a bit as well.

    My Grandma is moving and she was reviewing her recipe box. And while a few of her dishes were in there, there were literally hundreds she's known for missing. She told me she never writes them down and always does those from memory. If most people's Grandma's are like this-how many fantastic recipes are lost when we lose them?

    February 4, 2011 at 9:21 am |
  6. LP

    "All of the above", for sure! I have my mom's Betty Crocker 3-ring-binder cookbook from the 1950s. Cook's Illustrated is excellent, both for reading and for cooking from. I have a small collection of international cookbooks, as well as several "church lady" volumes.
    I also clip recipe from magazines and print ones I find online. These go in an accordian file by category. I usually try at least one new recipe a week, and if it's good, it goes in my computer file (hardcopy in a binder). So, I'm gradually building my own personalized cookbook. Very handy.

    February 3, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
  7. I like food

    I usually just make up my own. I don't claim to know how to cook really. I've never been trained or anything. I just begin with some basic meat, veg, and starch and kind of start adding a little of this and some of that. It usually turns out quite tasty (to me at least)...USUALLY! lol

    February 3, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
  8. Shannon

    This poll needs and "all of the above" choice.

    February 3, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
  9. The_Mick is where I get most of my recipes, I also get a lot from and I've cut and pasted at least 1000 to Word docs and saved them over the past several years. I like to save them as Word docs so that I can add changes I make to the recipes, many of which I try to improve on from time to time. Somehow I missed as a great source, but just did a look through and like it a lot. Like you can select "print" and get the recipes in a form that's easy to print on one-page or cut-and-paste to a doc. One edge has, that I like, is a nutrition label for each recipe (calories, fat, carbs, protein, vitamins, sodium, etc.).

    February 3, 2011 at 11:41 am |
  10. Sweetenedtea

    All my recipes come from my deluxe leatherbound personally-autographed edition of "To Serve Man." I kinda look down on people who use other sources for their ideas. Sorry.

    February 3, 2011 at 10:40 am |
    • Jerv

      "Whether we are on the ship with him or back on earth, it does not matter; we will all be on the menu." Hehehe.

      February 3, 2011 at 10:57 am |
  11. TobyK

    I have a pertty big collection of cookbooks covering a wide range of topics. I kept my mother's copy of the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook from the early 50's and one of my mother-in-law's cookbooks from the 60's as references to show how things were made before we were told fat, salt, et al were bad.

    February 3, 2011 at 10:39 am |
  12. Sporkatus

    I too collect vintage recipe books, but mostly get new ideas from various websites. It's easy to read a recipe posted on sites like AllRecipes and determine whether it's going to be tasty or not.

    The ONLY cooking show I watch anymore is "Bitchin' Kitchen". Nadia G's. recipes are great, and this kitschy show is a lot of fun to watch.

    February 3, 2011 at 10:29 am |
  13. Evil Grin

    I have a number of old family recipes, some cookbooks, etc. I often go online and look up recipes for dishes, even with the books. Though I am a great lover of books, I am also an evil offspring of technology. So while I use my family recipes judiciously, I tend to look online for new recipes first – unless I'm looking specifically for vintage recipes for specific foods. The cookbooks that I have collected are mostly specific to a type of food or a historical time period. I have some civil war era recipes that are quite interesting.

    February 3, 2011 at 10:24 am |
  14. Perch

    I bet I have more vintage and spiral bound cookbooks than Kat, – literally hundreds, and my mission is to revive in popularity some of the great old recipes, like molded salads, oxtail soup, ambrosia etc. I'm making some headway!!

    February 3, 2011 at 10:14 am |
  15. Linda

    I love old recipes and have lots of cookbooks. The best are from my Mom and her sisters. I try to cook just like them as they were the best.
    I love making from scratch and working with yeast and flour.

    February 3, 2011 at 9:43 am |
  16. Charlotte

    Old recipes are the BEST. When I was in high school (more decades ago than I'd like to think) when I babysat for spending money I used to spend my time after the kids were in bed looking through my employers' old cookbooks and magazines that had recipes. I scored one recipe that was touted as over 100 years old at the time so now....very old :) I make it every year for Christmas to give away. Last year I gave it to a neighbor who just put it in the freezer as 'yet another Christmas thing' and forgot about it. She noticed it in July and decided to thaw it out for lack of anything else to serve for dessert that night. That very evening she was on my doorstep, saying "I can't BELIEVE I didn't open it until now! It's the best I've EVER tasted!" And of course she begged for the recipe :) I love old recipes.....

    February 2, 2011 at 10:41 pm |
  17. Amayda

    I wanted an "all of the above" option too! I like to try a variety of things and depending on my mood is where I am going to look for recipes. I got out some of my vintage books today as we had a blizzard here. I have a 1934 Detriot Times book that has hundreds of recipes that just make me laugh. Especially the parts that talk about the proper way to set the table and etiquette and such. I also have a 1960's 'The Modern Family Cookbook' amazing stuff...I don't know which recipe to try first!

    February 2, 2011 at 8:18 pm |
  18. The Chile Doctor

    I have a stash of maybe 200 vintage & community cookbooks, including a ton of those small-sized pamphlets you find at the checkout counter. I use about another 150 cookbooks I've collected over the years. I also have a personal set of almost 2,000 recipes I've tried, tuned and written up. I guess I like food! In the last decade, I've turned more towards zesty/spicy foods, many of which include chile peppers of one sort or another. Old taste buds need extra stimulation...

    I still maintain that my mom is one of the best scratch cooks I've ever known, and I'm working to capture her wisdom. It would be a shame for her legacy to be lost. More than recipes, she's all about patterns, techniques and "rules of thumb." What the really good cooks use anyway...

    February 2, 2011 at 7:27 pm |
  19. DJ

    that picture looks disgusting. the popular bacon craze is just proof that people are sheep. What's next? bacon-coated breakfast cereal? bacon toothpaste?

    February 2, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
    • Amayda someone who has made bacon meatloaf in the past, let me tell you that it is delicious!

      February 2, 2011 at 8:20 pm |
  20. home chef

    At home, the majority of things we make that need recipes come from the America's Test Kitchen cookbook. If we're at work and need to shop on the way home, then it's typically epicurios and

    February 2, 2011 at 6:08 pm |
  21. whiteblaze

    my recipes come from all over, i have long since collected cookbooks from all over for over 20 yrs. fanny farmer is great as are the church cookbooks, i also have some from 1800's maryland's way is one that comes to mind although trying to convert times and temps from wood burning to our conventional ovens is always fun. love love recipes!! and now the internet makes it easier to collect.

    February 2, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
  22. Graceful

    I know its sinful, but Paula Deen's Bacon Cheeseburger Meatloaf if amazing

    February 2, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
  23. Mildred

    I've also been looking in the free books over at Google for old cookbooks (early 1800s is about as far back as they go at the moment). Some get really specific with measurements (but have to be flexible on temps- it's not like everyone had ranges/ovens with gas marks and thermometers! And others keep things a bit mysterious- chef secrets and all.

    Same thing with the medieval and Renaissance cookbooks that one can find online (and their translations).

    February 2, 2011 at 4:45 pm |
  24. Mildred

    And to reply to the poll- I get recipes from all of the above, and some from my own experimentation.

    February 2, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
  25. Caroline

    I get my recipes anywhere and everywhere...I do like for wild and different desserts. She's funny and imaginative and some of her concoctions are to die for.

    February 2, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
  26. Mildred

    Since it's been proved over in the Vintage Cookbook Vault that some people get the images blocked, here's the text of the recipe.

    Bacon Meat Loaf

    Serves six Preparation, 1 hour
    1/4 lb. Star Bacon 1 green pepper
    1/2 lb. lean veal 2 Cloverbloom Eggs
    1 lb. lean beef 1 cup milk
    6 slices Star Bacon 1 cup bread crumbs

    Grind the meat. Mix with chopped pepper, eggs, milk, and bread crumbs. Line a baking pan or casserole with strips of Star Bacon. Fill with the meat mixture. Lay strips of bacon over the top. Bake in a 400* F. oven for 45 minutes. Turn upside down on a large platter and garnish with vegetables or mashed potatoes.

    February 2, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
  27. sailingStu

    the recipe calls for 6 slices of bacon but the loaf in the picture only has 5........did the cok eat the other one?

    February 2, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
  28. Dave the 1st

    Best cookbook out there: The Encyclopedic Cookbook from the culinary institute. circa 1955-60. The recipes are very basic, but it has all of the classic cooking techniques, and it provides a VERY strong base for experimentation. I have to warn you, though, it is VERY dated, and the Chapters are very sexist.
    Interestingly, though, it does have a detailed description of how to field dress a deer in the middle of the book.

    February 2, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
    • Me

      The one from the 70s isn't that good I don't think. Very detailed, but not a lot of things in there for working women to make. I don't have time nor energy after a day at work to spend 2 or 3 hours making a gourmet meal.

      February 2, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
  29. N. Peterson

    I mainly get ideas from and then create my own dish by adding other ingredients.

    February 2, 2011 at 4:09 pm |
  30. Lesle Bevins and

    February 2, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
  31. Novel1

    I will either start with an epicurious recipe and add/subtract as I see fit - or obtain recipes from someone I know and trust who are willing to share. We have several recipes that are "our own" family recipe which have been big hits at potlucks and dinner parties (like our Mexican Casserole) but for the most part, I've found that many recipes online are missing a little "something" and maybe that's just because I am a flavor junkie and like real taste and real ingredients while online recipes maybe written to cut out fats and salts.

    February 2, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
  32. KinNY

    One of the best cook books is from America's Test kitchen (from the show on PBS). Everything is always excellent.

    As for the Bacon Meatloaf recipe, just the mention of bacon causes salivation in my family.

    February 2, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
    • Me

      Don't forget Cooks Country by America's Test Kitchen. I love both shows!

      February 2, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
  33. MJV

    thats where i get all my legendary recepies. check it out

    February 2, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
  34. SMA

    Try frying sliced bacon, drain the grease, and then add to your meat mixture.

    February 2, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
  35. Pat Titus

    I love the really cool website, It has a great variety of recipes depending upon amount of time prep, cut of meat...It's a great resource

    February 2, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
  36. curzen

    the inability to pick more than one option makes that poll and the results useless

    February 2, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
  37. Steve from CT

    Mary Mergaret McBride Encyclopedia of Cooking from the 60's. It was sold in sections in grocery store checkout lines and could be combined into a massive bound book. My grandma collected them all and now I'm the steward of all the fantastic recipes. It's the kind of recipes that aren't afraid to use butter or lard, or other more natural ingrediants that modern cookbooks are afraid of. My plan is to digitize it, since the pages are really starting to see signs of age and wear.

    February 2, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
  38. Taylor Stout

    The Fannie Farmer Cookbook !

    February 2, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
  39. Matt

    These recipies are hilarious. I recently bought a bunch of early 1960's magazines and they have the most bizzare dinner ideas in them like a tomato sauce jello mold. - Yumm And my personal favorite ingredient in one of the recipies: 1/4 teaspoon MSG. Not surprising there were also so many life insurance ads back then.

    February 2, 2011 at 3:34 pm |
  40. Me

    Love anything with bacon. Love the rich, smoky flavor it gives it's "host" food. Plus, it's a great way to keep other meats tender and moist – self basting!

    February 2, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
  41. Steve @ Griling For All Reasons

    I usually start with an ingredient and general idea of an outcome, then either go looking for a recipe that catches my eye or make one up. Sources run the gamut and nothing is off-limits – recipe web sites, family recipes, new cookbooks, and yes, from time to time, celebrity chefs – and I search until I've found one that I think will work for what I had in mind.

    February 2, 2011 at 3:29 pm |
  42. Cyle in Dublin, CA


    All of the above... I see recipes or techniques on TV and try it. I have something new at a restaurant and i attempt to make it at home. If it's something I'm unfamiliar using or if it's baking chemistry, I'll look up a recipe (web, magazine, cookbook, etc)... then modify to taste.

    Taste everything. Develope a full palate.

    February 2, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
  43. John E

    I have the very cook book this recipe is from. I have a stack of old recipe booklets from the early 20th Century, and Armors' Slices of Real flavor my be the most entertaining of all.

    February 2, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
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