Attractive Meals

Myrna gave me (really, she let me keep) this 1942 edition of The Country Kitchen Cook Book from The Farmer magazine.  At that time, the cookbook had been in print since 1894, with revisions in 1911, 1917, 1928 and 1942.  This book is very well used, with plenty of spattered pages and penciled notations. Actually, the quick bread pages, including muffins, biscuits, waffles and cornbread, are almost unreadable.  That’s what I call a real recipe book - they're my favorites.
This edition included nutrition information from the University of Minnesota, as well as menu planning and other good information.  They had a lot packed into only 200 pages in a book that's just 5" x 7 1/2 ".  I liked this page on menu planning that reminded me of my own Home Economics classes; the information will still help you plan prettier meals today.  Let me share it with you, especially when you're thinking about holiday menus ahead.

A Pattern for Attractive Meals     
An attractive meal appeals to several senses; it has color, it gives off tantalizing odors, it tastes delicious, and it has texture.
The attractive meal offers:
1.      Color Contrast:
A meal may lack color, it may have too much of one color or may combine the wrong colors.
For example, a peach pickle is less attractive with cooked carrots than cooked peas; beets aren’t especially good with baked ham because the two reds don’t go together, but broccoli or asparagus bring out the color of the ham.  On the other hand, the beets are excellent with chicken or pork chops.
2.      Flavor Contrast:
Bland food should be served with more flavorful foods.  For example; a crisp salad makes macaroni and cheese or creamed chicken taste better, partly because of it’s contrasting texture but also because of it’s seasoned dressing.
3.      Texture Contrast:
Something crisp or crunchy contrasts with softer foods.  There are some combinations which have become traditional, such as cole slaw with baked beans.  Relishes, crisp salads and pickles go well with almost any meal and make other foods look and taste better.
4.      Appearance Contrast:
Difference in size and shape of serving pieces is important.  That is the reason baked potatoes are served with creamed chicken and scalloped potatoes with sliced ham.  A good rule is to combine foods that are small or cut in small pieces with foods that come in larger serving portions.
The photo combines all of the above - crunchy cold salad with tangy dressing and crisp, larger pieces of baguette set off spaghetti carbonara.

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