Sunday, July 27, 2008

Hashed Sweet Potatoes - 1923

The February, 1923 issue of the Woman's Home Companion magazine is one of my favorites. It is full of beautiful, full-color advertisements, and graceful women with lovely hair and dresses. Even the cover has a gorgeous picture on it, as you can see here. There are so many pictures I would love to frame or at least find another project to use them with. And yet, in 1923, this was just another typical woman's magazine!

One thing I noticed a great deal of in this magazine is a deep respect for housework. Women are shown in a variety of poses in the midst of all sorts of domestic tasks. And advertisers have definitely capitalized on this idea; ads are full of reminders that women's work around the house requires as much strength and is as legitimate a job as any man's. Notice in the ad below, (which happens to feature another illustration that I love), that this idea is what the marketers of Sun-Maid Raisins is referring to.

Of course, at the same time, it is impossible not to notice the somewhat patronizing language. House work requires energy, the ad says, but that comes at the expense of the "youthfulness and color from scores of pretty cheeks." And the end of all of these energy-requiring chores was the approval of the husband and the family. See the ad to the right for Knox gelatin. It is difficult to read without magnifying it, but one paragraph reads:

"'Will it please the man of the house?' is always the question in a woman's mind when she makes a salad. All doubts are removed, however, when she makes Perfection Salad for the household.'"

It seems that, like so many other aspects of life both today and in the past, women's work in the early 1920's is a complex subject and every one of us would probably have differing opinions on much of it. Still, it doesn't take away my enjoyment of the beauty of these ads and articles and recipes when they are admired at face value; and still, when I walk in the door after one more stressful day at the office, the world that the magazines portray of the everyday life of decades ago still seems a more relaxing and peaceful one. In my heart I know that is not the case, but it is nice to sometimes escape there anyway!

(By the way, the ad to the left is for yeast, and is also the ad that the quote in this blog's heading comes from.)

In closing, I'd like to comment on the recipes featured in this article. I was actually quite fond of these recipes after I read through them; they sound like they would be delicious and hearty, and not very difficult to make. The article they are taken from is full of recipes that are either quick to make or can be prepared ahead of time, so that the woman can actually have some time of her own to go out with friends or to play a game of cards. "Even cooks have a day off a week," the article points out. Below I have typed one of the recipes that appear at the top of this post. I hope you get to try it!



Hashed Sweet Potatoes - 1923


Cut in dice four large cold boiled (sweet) potatoes. In frying pan put six tablespoons butter or pork fat. When hot add potato, sprinkle with one and one-half teaspoons salt, a few grains pepper, and two tablespoons brown sugar. Mix well and cook until heated through, stirring occasionally, letting cubes brown slightly. Turn into hot vegetable dish.

5 comments:

Amy said...

I LOVE old ads and recipes like these - those recipes sound tres fantastique! btw I think you'd be ok making my honey ginger tea cakes - they're really easy and I don't think you're a bad cook honestly, I've had times where I've wondered where on earth I went wrong in making something...

vintage dish said...

Thanks for the encouragement, Amy. You're right, I am usually able to at least follow a recipe and have things turn out okay, but the last few times something has gone horribly wrong! I just bought some really good honey this week and haven't had a reason to use it yet, so maybe I'll give your tea cakes a try...

Her Shabbiness said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Her Shabbiness said...

Sun-Maid Raisan is a local company right in my own backyard (not literally, but it's not too far from where I live)! That's a cool ad. I especially loved the cover of the magazine. I'd frame that.

vintage dish said...

her shabbiness - yes, the cover is beautiful! Many of the magazines from the late teens and early 20's seem to have gorgeous artwork on the cover.