My mother-in-law gave me one of her cookbooks (which was her mother’s before she got it) after she saw me reading through it. “Secrets of Southern Cooking” by Ethel Farmer Hunter was published in 1948. The author says in her foreword:
This book is published for those who enjoy good Southern cooking; for friends whom I have entertained in my own home; for those who have asked me so many times for copies of these recipes; for those good homemakers who wish to vary their meals around interesting, time-tested recipes that stand out and have won their place in this prize collection; and, last but not least, for the young homemakers who do not understand cooking. (…) I, too, once was a novice in cooking, and for this reason, I have kept in mind all the questions that I wanted to ask when I was learning to cook and trying to follow recipes with incomplete directions and instructions. (…) You will find the recipes simple, good, nourishing, and not too rich; most of them are for everyday living and a few are for entertaining.
I love old cookbooks and this one is full of recipes which the modern supermarket have made obsolete, ones which no one has time for anymore, and ones which seem odd (and slightly revolting) to our modern tastes. I thought it would be fun to share some of these recipes which were everyday in Mrs. Hunter’s time but are decidedly less so in our time. The first is the ubiquitous condiment ketchup. This makes a huge amount of ketchup, far more than I’m willing to make as a taste test so I’ll be making a relatively tiny batch just to see once our tomatoes come in. When we’ve harvested enough, I’m going to make a 1/4 size recipe of this to see if we like it better than our beloved Heinz.
- 1 peck ripe tomatoes (about 12 1/2 lbs)
- 2 medium-sized onions
- 2 cups chopped celery
- 3 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 1/2 tablespoons broken stick cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon whole cloves
- 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 cups cider vinegar
Peel and slice tomatoes and onions. Add to chopped celery and garlic. Cook until vegetables are soft enough to force through fine sieve. Add remaining ingredients except the vinegar. Boil one hour longer. Then add vinegar and bring to a boil. Pour into sterilized jars and seal immediately.