CARE's Old Time Recipes Book

Determined to help the world's hungry masses, a young California couple compiled and sold a cookbook of old time recipes to raise money for CARE.

029 old time recipes

Robert and Kathy, seen here with their three children, combed through cookbooks from 1800's and early 1900's to find the old time recipes for the We CARE Cookbook. 


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Robert and Kathy Reed—a young married couple living in Saratoga, California—are just plain folks like most of us except for one astounding fact. Since December 1972 they've helped feed 1,500,000 children scattered throughout Honduras, Haiti, Greece, and other hunger-pocked areas of the globe! How so? The Reeds each made a very personal decision to not let a crisis-crunched world overwhelm them. Instead, Bob and Kathy optimistically concentrated on finding something they could do to alleviate human suffering. And this lead to their affiliation with the Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere.

"Although we were vaguely aware of CARE's existence before," Bob says, "we'd never contributed. But now the light came on." And a blazing light it was. Quickly bypassing the easy option of making regular donations to the Cooperative, the Reeds used their own natural ingenuity and deep concern to produce something that would snowball their talents into massive assistance for a famine-ridden world. That "something" is—of course—a book of old time recipes the Reeds call the We CARE Cookbook.

After spending weeks researching hundreds of "receipt books" from the 1800's and early 1900's at the University of California—and working with the close cooperation of the San Francisco Field Office of CARE—Bob and Kathy published the cookbook. It contains 300 of the best old-timey recipes they could gather, all based on natural-food ingredients and reprinted in their original wording (hurrah!). Here's a sampling of the goodies that graced the dining tables of our forefathers and are featured in the Reeds' kitchen manual: scalloped tomatoes, individual chicken shortcakes, oyster croquettes, ham boiled in cider, chocolate gingerbread, wine jelly, lemon ice cream (from scratch) and deviled crabs. The attractive pen sketches and borderline prints throughout the guide further enhance its old-fashioned appeal.

Like to see for yourself? The following three recipes are reprinted straight from the We CARE Cookbook:

Stewed Brisket of Beef

Put the part that has the hard fat into a stew-pot, with a small quantity of water; let it boil up, and skim it thoroughly; then add carrots, turnips, onions, celery and a few pepper-corns. Stew till extremely tender; then take out all the flat bones and remove all the fat from the soup. Either serve that and the meat in a tureen, or the soup alone, and the meat on a dish, garnished with some vegetables.

The following sauce is much admired served with the beef: Take half a pint of the soup, and mix it with a spoonful of catsup, a teaspoonful of made mustard, a little flour, a bit of butter and salt; boil all together a few minutes, then pour it round the meat.

Stuffed Cabbage Leaves

Parboil and chop lean mutton, mix it with an equal quantity of boiled rice, and season with salt, pepper, and butter. Use the white leaves of cabbage. Lay a large spoonful of the meat and rice on each leaf. Fold and tie securely. Tie all the prepared leaves in cheese-cloth and boil slowly for half an hour in the water in which the mutton was boiled. Take off the cloth, remove the strings, and serve with melted butter.

Cheese Straws

One-quarter of a pound of grated cheese, two ounces of flour, four ounces of butter, yolk of one egg, dessert spoonful of mustard. Make a thick paste of all the ingredients; roll it out, and cut into long and narrow strips. Bake a light brown. About ten minutes will be sufficient.

Bob and Kathy—assisted by publicity and cooperation from CARE—have generated enormous enthusiasm for their country-kitchen Baedeker in the past 18 months. And it's little wonder! Each copy of the cookbook that is sold ($3.45 for California residents, $3.30 for out-of-state buyers) sends one dollar winging into the coffers of CARE where that single buck is transformed into a nourishing, protein packed breakfast or lunch for 300 children! What kind of a meal? "A better one than most American kids eat each morning," says Robert. "The meal consists of CSM—corn, soya and milk—the main food substance used by CARE in their overseas food programs. The CSM is mixed with water and then local vegetables are added to the dish." The Reeds have actually enjoyed a few CSM meals around their own family dining table with the full concurrence of the littlest household members: Robby (8), Alan (6) and Tanya (5).

"So far," Kathy says, between what must be joyous smiles of triumph, "the project has fed what Tanya calls 'sezma food' to over a million and a half youngsters. It has also helped finance a few things for some local groups. We contribute 50¢ a copy to clubs that sell 25 or more cookbooks, so ten people selling ten copies each can feed 30,000 children plus earn $50.00 for one of their organization's own projects."

How do the Reeds feel today about that "bright idea" they had back in December 1972? "It's been a lot of work to take care of all the shipping, advanced monies for printing, and other business chores," the young Californians confess, "but it's just been a great thing—a very satisfying thing for us to work on. We hope to feed a million more kids by Christmas '74. "

Folks who'd be proud to cut themselves in on some of that warmhearted glow can order their old-time recipe book from Kathy's and Bob's storefront operation: We CARE Cookbook. Or—if you have all the recipes you need right now (is it possible?)—Kathy suggests that you still "send a little to help CARE. We'll be glad to pass it on."—CK.