Friday, January 22, 2016

The Beginner Housewife

The charming librarians at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago's Flaxman Library got me this awesome book, The Beginner Housewife via inter-library loan from, Guess where? New Zealand! I did for a moment question using the school's resources to procure this book for me. I read the book cover-to-cover, which took about two hours. I lingered. It was short and easy to read. Maybe the "Beginner" referred to reading level and out there somewhere there is The Intermediate Housewife and The Advanced Housewife. There's all sorts of tasties in the table of contents, from the basics of planning your day to the mysterious "masculine mending."

The thing that really struck me about this book is the publication date. It says 1956, but the advice in it seems really old. For example, the book talks about "if you are lucky enough to have a refrigerator." Really, by 1956 I would think most people would have had a refrigerator. By 1956, I would think a refrigerator would not be considered a luxury and that the lack of one would be seen as just that, a lack. It doesn't take very long for appliances of convenience to move from luxury to necessity.

Perhaps related to the refrigerator is the section that covers keeping a "stock-pot." I realize this is a time-honored tradition, but I was pretty surprised to see it in a book this recent. If you'd like to keep a stock pot here's some helpful advice:
1. Keep it covered.
2. Boil it up every day.
3. Never put anything into it but meat (including gristle and bacon rinds) and bones (fresh or cooked).
4. Empty it out daily and clean the pan thoroughly. (64)
I'm not so sure about this...

Overall the book was delight and I actually picked up some helpful hints. I found the
breakfast section really interesting because it included a lot of tinned fish. That would go over big in our house. Despite the total cuteness of this book, it's hardly been checked out.

The back jacket advertises a couple of other books. One is How To Succeed at Business Without Really Trying, which might actually be my favorite movie. It's certainly my go-to when I feel stressed out. I've already put on hold How to Help Your Husband Get Ahead, by Mrs. Dale Carnegie. I don't have a husband, I have a wife, but it couldn't hurt, right? The last book they advertise is The Secrets of Happiness. I'm not so sure about that one either.

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