Recipe for Reminiscing

By Allison Dolan Premium

Memories of Grandma’s kitchen conjure up the scents of fresh bread, apple pie and fried chicken. Of course, she usually didn’t explain what made those recipes so enticing. She’d just add “a pinch of this” and a “dash of that” and presto — flawless loaves, flaky crusts and crispy drumsticks.

Trying to re-create those favorites today may leave you scratching your head, especially if Grandma never recorded those recipes (a good chef never reveals her secrets, after all). But thanks to, you might be able to find clues online to those bygone meals.

The free site, dedicated to digitizing classic books, recently added The Boston Cooking School Cook Book to its online library. You’ll find the 1918 edition in its entirety at <>. It contains classic recipes for just about every category of food, from puddings and potatoes to sauces and sweetbreads.

But Fannie Merritt Farmer’s classic cooking tome is more than just a collection of recipes.

Farmer promoted “scientific cookery, which means the elevation of the human race.” (See, you knew Grandma’s chocolate cake was good for you!) So besides listing how many teaspoons of sugar or soda to add, Farmer explains the proper methods for brewing tea or coffee, tells you when to boil and when to broil, and explains why you really should butter your wheat bread.

If you’d like to have those time-tested recipes in the time-tested paper format, the latest edition of the Fannie Farmer Cookbook (Knopf) was released in 1996, exactly 100 years after the original publication.

From the August 2000 issue of Family Tree Magazine