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The Dirty Old Ladies’ Cookbook. January 14, 2010

Posted by ourfriendben in homesteading, recipes, wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. It is a truth universally acknowledged that when people know you like to cook, they tend to give you cookbooks. This Christmas, I received a great stash of cookbooks from friends and relatives. Despite our friend Ben’s groans of dismay as he viewed the already-bulging kitchen shelves, I was thrilled, especially since, as it turned out, not one of them duplicated a book I already owned.

New-to-me additions to my cookbook collection included American Cookery (“The First American Cookbook, by Amelia Simmons, An American Orphan, A Facsimile of the Second Edition, Printed in Albany, 1796”); The Rustic Table: Simple Fare from the World’s Kitchens by Constance Snow (William Morrow, 2005); Bucks the Artists’ County Cooks: A Gourmet’s Guide to Estimable Comestibles with Pictures (of Bucks County, PA notable homes and landmarks, not recipes; from The Woman’s Auxiliary of Trinity Chapel, 1950); Mediterranean Light by Martha Rose Shulman (William Morrow, 1989); The Book of Stir-Fry Dishes by Elizabeth Wolf-Cohen (HP Books, 1994); and two classic old Pillsbury cookbooks, Pillsbury’s Bake Off Cookbook (1970) and Real Home Baking  (1994). Not bad for one Christmas, eh?

However, there was a final cookbook gift that left me feeling a bit dubious: The Dirty Old Ladies’ Cookbook by Julia Goodbody (private printing 2008). Just what was the presenter of this particular cookbook implying?! True, I may currently resemble a bag lady, bundled up as I am against the delightful 56-degree temperature of our cottage home this winter, but dirty and old? Please.

Mind you, I’m actually looking forward to reaching the age of grannydom and white hair, when I can look and act like whatever I damn well please. My role model in this respect is the crusty, smart-mouthed comic character Maxine, and trust me, I’ve been studying. Whippersnappers, watch out! (And to all you forty-, fifty-, and sixtysomething grannies who actually look more like movie stars than the stereotypical “little old lady,” no offense intended. When I think of grannies, I can’t help but think of my own, one silver-haired and dignified, the other plump and jolly, both deeply beloved by me.)

Anyway, it was with some trepidation that I opened the cover of this particular cookbook. The “Dirty” part was particularly disturbing: Would it be filled with crude jokes and lewd illustrations? Eeeewwww.

Was I ever in for a delightful surprise! Turns out the book was written by one of my favorite local artists, Julie Longacre. An original watercolor of her “Stone Barn in Snow” hangs on the wall here in my home office as I write; another original hangs over our living room mantel. The dear friend who gave me this cookbook even had Julie inscribe it to me personally. Paging through, I found it full of Julie’s sketches and personal recollections as well as cooking tips and, of course, recipes. And, good soul that she is, Julie’s donating part of the price of each book to organizations to help feed the hungry. What a treasure, and what a thoughtful gift!

I confess, I still don’t know why Julie called her cookbook The Dirty Old Ladies’ Cookbook. But I will say that it just goes to prove the old maxim, “You can’t judge a book by its cover.”

            ‘Til next time,




1. Barbee' - January 14, 2010

Ha, ha, I bet that title caused many people to pick it up and give it a look through, who otherwise would not have even noticed it. Then once browsing through all those interesting pages – couldn’t leave the store without it for someone they knew… or for themselves. Clever marketing!

Good point, Barbee’!

2. Becca - January 14, 2010

Have you been reading Jane Austen? Your first sentence positively smacks of Miss Austen! We have been utilizing youtube to watch a different Austen movie each night.

Ha, I practically know all of Miss Austen by heart, Becca, and of course the opening line is in homage to “Pride and Prejudice.” (“It is a truth universally acknowleged, that a young man of good fortune must be in want of a wife,” or something to that effect.) How I envy you access to YouTube to see those movies! I understand that the BBC has come out with yet another series of Austen dramatizations, and must try to get them added to my Netflix queue…

Becca - January 14, 2010

🙂 I think the BBC versions are what we’ve been watching. “Emma” night before last w/ Romola Garai. Last night was the conclusion of “Northanger Abbey” and all of 2008 “Sense and Sensibility”

Yes, that sounds like what I’ve been reading about. What do you think of them?

Becca - January 15, 2010

Northanger Abbey was cute but VERY short! Emma was wonderful. Loved the entire cast. Mr. Knightely was Edmund from the ’99 (I think) production of Mansfield Park. S&S was wonderful.

Excellent! I’d better get over to Netflix right now and update my queue!

3. Dr. Huma Ibrahim - January 16, 2010

You made me think of my grandmother—little, cute fiery and formidable!

Ha! Grandmas rule!!!

Julie Longacre - October 21, 2010

Dear Silence Dogood
I was looking around the Internet tonight and what to my wandering eyes should appear, but a story about THE DIRTY OLD LADIES COOKBOOK, I cheer.

Up to my dirty old tricks this summer,baking peach pies and corn pudding. I and my ego were loving the compliments.
As for the OLD LADY . . . after 40 years of pushing a brush over the canvas, I feel a bit ancient at times, but we all need to smile, a chocolate chip cookie and a compliment once in a while. That’s What its all about . . . Julie (young at heart) Longacre

Hi Julie! How exciting to hear from you! Peach pie and corn pudding are hard to beat. Looking forward to seeing your latest and greatest!

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