A whole decade ago, I blogged about visiting the Whatley Antiquarian Book Center and the books I picked up — among them The Small Kitchen Cookbook by Nina Mortellito (published 1964).
Sadly, the Book Center closed it doors in March of this year, after 25 years in business. But a few of the vintage titles from its shelves live on in my kitchen, including Mortellito’s guide for small kitchen owners.
Perhaps ironically, my kitchen is now (even) smaller than the one I had when I bought the book, so it’s not just a cool antique, but a helpful resource. And, it has actually lived on in other ways too, most recently as a resource for another book: The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook by Judy Gelman and Peter Zheutlin.
This fall, I’ve decided to do a little page-by-page experimentation with the ideas and recipes in The Small Kitchen Cookbook, mostly just to see how they turn out. Having gone through the book a few times already in preparation for this project, I can tell you I’m fairly confident I’m going to learn some new space- and time-saving tricks, but it’s also going to present a few challenges for the modern cook.
The product “Kitchen Bouquet,” for instance… I don’t know what that is or if it’s even still a thing.
I’ll try to honor the original recipe whenever possible, though, and while I don’t intend to necessarily go in order, I will start as the book does, with an inventory of all of the tools Mortellito suggested the 1964 small kitchen should contain. At first glance, it looks like we have a fairly good handle on the basics, but might come up short on some of the specifics, such as string-bean slicers and fruit-ball cutters.
Stay tuned and let me know if you’ve seen this book, cooked from it, or know of other similar cookbooks!
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