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Vintage Cookbooks: Visions of pie danced in '62 'Eating in Bed'

Thursday, April 06, 2000

By Alice Demetrius Stock

Even as some members of the women's movement of the 1960s portrayed the housewife as a subservient woman cooking to please her husband or her bridge club, in fact some homemakers were taking advantage of the prosperity of the times to reverse the cooking (and eating) decline brought about by World War II.

The 1960s saw a sharp rise in cookbook sales and a proliferation of cooking schools and shops selling so-called gourmet cooking utensils. Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" and "The New York Times Cookbook" by Craig Claiborne, both published in 1961, led the way to changing America's eating habits.

The result of this interest in new foods and new ways to prepare them was that just about any cookbook could and did get published in the 1960s. One of the more offbeat of these is "The Eating in Bed Cookbook" by Barbara Ninde Byfield.

The book is sized to resemble the shape of a pillow and the hard covers are printed with blue-and-white-striped pillow ticking. Line drawings for each of the 40 or so recipes include an array of beds from a psychiatrist's couch to a bed of nails to ones with social or political significance. While the author's tone is tongue in cheek, the recipes were seriously chosen.

Adam's Apple would be easy to eat in bed: "Core, but don't peel a large, crisp apple and slice it in cross sections spread with equal amounts of ripe Roquefort cheese and butter." Prone Pleasure is made with "a large jar of junior-food prunes or apricots folded into half a cup of very cold whipped cream garnished with crushed peanut brittle."

Deep Sleep Apple Pie

Without a complete double crust, this dish is more of an apple crisp than an apple pie, but it's easier to make than pie. It will perfume the whole house with its spicy aroma ... but only if you use absolutely fresh spices.

6 crisp, tart apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced, to make about 8 cups of sliced apples (We used 2 Granny Smith, 2 Macintosh and 2 Golden Delicious.)

3/4 to 1 cup sugar (depending on tartness of apples)
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Juice of 1 lemon (about 4 tablespoons)

1 1/2 cups pie crust mix
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped nuts (We used walnut halves we broke up with our hands.)
1/2 cup butter, melted

Prepare the topping: Mix 1 tablespoon cinnamon with 1/4 cup sugar, then blend the cinnamon-sugar into the pie crust mix. Mix the chopped nuts into the sweetened pie crust mixture.

Prepare the apples: Quarter, core and peel the apples into a bowl. Pour the lemon juice over the apples and stir with a wooden spoon to coat. Blend 3/4 cup sugar with 1 tablespoon cinnamon, the ginger, nutmeg and cloves. Sprinkle the sugar mixture over the apples, tossing them with the spoon to coat. Layer the apple slices into a buttered glass baking dish or pie pan, mounding them in the center. (We used a 10-inch ceramic pie plate.)

Finish the pie: Crumble the sweetened pie crust mixture thickly over the apples. (We wiped the edge of the pie plate clean to prevent burning.) Pour the melted butter as evenly as possible over the dry topping.

Bake in the middle of the oven at 400 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes or until apples are tender. (We used a cake tester after 30 minutes to see if the apples were fully cooked. We also added a length of foil on the rack below the pie to catch any drippings.)

Serve warm or cold with heavy cream or vanilla ice cream. Refrigerate leftovers.

Adapted from "The Eating in Bed Cookbook," Barbara Ninde Byfield, 1962.

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