The Big Red

The “Big Red” inside cover herb pairings for all sorts of dishes

At some point my mother decided this book was old and unnecessary and she handed it down to me. Betty Crocker’s Cookbook – published first in 1969, the year I was born, and then revised in 1978.

The best kick-ass brownie recipe ever is in this book. Other recipes … not so much. Toasty tuna casserole (yes, I tried it) calls for sliced sandwich bread, mayonnaise, processed American cheese (yes, processed, please), frozen vegetables and canned, condensed cream of celery soup. It does ask for a fresh onion, but alas, was not a success.

Despite the failed tuna casserole, there’s a nice table of herbal correspondences on the inside cover of the book (photo above). And so tonight, when I was making chicken soup with a left over roasting carcass I noticed that I could add marjoram – which can be substituted with a bit less oregano- since the flavors are similar; oregano being stronger –or sage. Both oregano and sage are growing next to the kitchen and are in the soup. It smells great.

I can’t help feeling that this style of marketing – asserting to the audience who they are – couldn’t have been entirely successful, but 75 million copies sold so who am I to say? I was a generation behind the buyers of “Big Red.” My copy *still* sells for $18.25.

Regardless of social, cultural, or feminist commentary, this book has a few gems, not the least of which is the table of herbal correlations. Yay, Betty!

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