Planning Meals with Grace Livingston Hill


Grace Livingston Hill mentions detailed menus in some of her books.  I confess that those books are my favorites, usually because they deal with homemaking and how the homemaker is changing lives.  Mrs. Hill may occasionally share a beautiful room description or talk about a dress color and style, as well but when she feeds her characters she comes up with some pretty good meals.  Often, they not only sound good, but they are economical.   Although the books were written in a different era, I thought it would be fun to share a few of her menu plans from some of the books I've read most recently. 

These menus are old fashioned meals and not fancy but they sound really delicious.  Tell me what you think after reading through a few of these.  I'll share the title of each book I copied out menus from.

In Tune with Wedding Bells   Published in 1941, this book centers around a young girl who is desperate to tend to her much younger baby brother, while paying her late mother's medical and funeral bills.  The girl often gives up most of her meals for her brother and of course, she ends up in the hospital while the little brother ends up being cared for by a young man who worked for the same firm.  He acquires the services of his former childhood nurse (aka nanny) to care for the boy and girl.

These first meals were hotel dining room or restaurant meals which the young man bought for the young boy's supper.

Chapter 3:  Vegetable Soup, Stewed Chicken, Tiny Biscuits, Ice Cream and Milk

Chapter 4: Oatmeal with cream and sugar, 2 eggs (doesn't say how they were cooked), Orange juice, Milk

Chapter 9:  Sea Trout, Bread and Butter, Fresh Tomato Slices, Orange Gelatin with cream.  Grandmother and Granny both used canned milk as their 'cream' and we often had it poured over pie, cobbler or gelatin and oatmeal, too, as well as in our coffee.   It might not be canned evaporated milk that Mrs. Hill describes but real cream.

And the following meals were all put together by the former nanny.

Chapter 12:  Not a menu here but a listing of the foods Aunt Ettie packed to take to the seashore: Eggs, new made butter, and several bottles of milk and cottage cheese, two roasted chickens, a slice of home cured ham, a loaf of homemade bread, another of gingerbread and an apple pie.

Chapter 13:  Stuffed Roasted Chicken, new Green Peas, new Potatoes, Coleslaw, and fresh sliced tomatoes, Apple Pie, Cheese.  In the previous chapter these things weren't mentioned, except the roasted chicken and apple pie, but apparently Aunt Ettie also packed the peas, potatoes, cabbage and tomatoes and cheese.  

Johnnycakes, poached eggs, strawberries, for breakfast the next day.

Chicken Sandwiches, Pie, Gingerbread, Pickles, Cheese (a picnic meal)

Chapter 18: Vegetable Beef Soup, Celery, Bread and Butter, Olives, Pickles, Custard Pie, Coffee, Milk

Some books have fewer meal plans than others.  Every book she has is not focused so heavily on meals.  Still, any time I come across a description, I always sit up and pay attention.   Here's a breakfast for a young man going away from home for the first time from Chance of a Lifetime:

Chapter 4:  Honey dew Melon, Chops, Fried Potatoes, Waffles and coffee

The Honor Girl is one of my favorites of Mrs. Hill's novels.  For years, I owned a paperback copy that was missing the last page.  John had seen the book in my hand many times and one night asked if it had a happy ending.  "I think it does...but I've never found out!"  When he heard that the last page of the book was missing, he went online and found an older copy, published in 1927 with the loveliest black and white illustrations and gave it to me for Christmas that year. I was so thrilled to finally get to read the last two pages of the story, lol!  

The story is about a young girl who was taken and fostered by her aunt and uncle after her mother died.  She returned to her father's house, where her two brothers lived still, to pick up a book of poetry she'd left months before while visiting.  The story is about her determination to come home to these men and make a true home for them.  It's the sort of book I like best, not only full of menus and a good storyline but lots and lots of housekeeping details!

The first meal description comes from a store diner counter, where Elsie has gone to pick up cleaning supplies, Chapter 3:

Hot tomato bouillon, Crisp Crackers, Ice Cream Sundae

And in the very next chapter is the first meal that Ellie makes for her brothers and father but she runs away before they return so they are left wondering where such good food came from and how their home could be so transformed in just a few hours of their absence.

Chapter 4: Roast Beef, Gravy, Baked Potatoes, tomato and lettuce salad with a homemade dressing, Succotash, Pumpkin Pie, Gingerbread, Biscuits, Coffee, Milk

Ellie routinely slips out to her former home for a few more weekends after that to prepare treats and leave behind good things to eat, like gingerbread, doughnuts, pies.  One afternoon her brothers and father all come home early, hoping to discover who has been treating them so well.  They welcome her fully and encourage her to stay to supper.  It is at this meal that Ellie suggests she'd like to move home once more to live with her family.

Chapter 10:  Oyster Stew, celery, Roasted Potatoes, Jelly Mould, Crisp Crackers, sweet little pickles

Chapter 12:  Elsie's Homecoming supper:  Waffles, Butter, Milk, Jelly, Molasses

Chapter 13:  Milk Toast, Ham Slices, Pan Fried Potatoes, Orange Halves

Chapter 21:  Hot Chocolate, Whipped Cream, tiny sandwiches, and little cakes

Re-Creations is another favorite.  In this book, the oldest daughter has been called home from college, where she'd been studying interior decoration, to attend to duties at home while her mother recuperated from a sudden illness.  Cornelia finds her family's circumstances have changed considerably in the three years she's been away from home.  She determines to let this less-than-ideal house become a showcase for her talents, albeit on a limited budget.  

It's the decorating details in this book that I love best, that and the good old-fashioned sort of housekeeping that goes on but there are a few meals scattered through the pages of this lovely book, too.

Chapter 6: Pot Roast with Gravy, Mashed Potatoes, Homemade Bread, Waffles with homemade maple flavored syrup

Chapter 7:  Leftover Roast with Gravy, Stewed Tomatoes with celery and onions, Chocolate Blancmange with cream

Chapter 12: Cornelia plans a birthday dinner party for her brother Carey.  Salted toasted almonds, Spinach Soup, Fruit Cocktail of grapefruit, bananas, orange with Raspberry syrup, Steak Cutlets, Creamed New Potatoes, Steamed Spinach, Gelatin molds with Cabbage and parsley on lettuce leaves, homemade mayonnaise, Peppermint Ice, Angel Food Cake with frosting, Coffee

Chapter 26:  Lettuce, Cheese and Date Sandwiches, Fruit Salad, Maple Cake, Hot chocolate 

Chapter 30:  Stewed Chicken, Mashed potatoes, Succotash, Biscuits with currant jelly, ice cream and angel cake.

I hope you've enjoyed these menus I've shared.  If you do, I may do a Part II sometime in the future as I read more of Mrs. Hill's books.  I've been thinking this might be a fun post to do occasionally when I'm reading any author who shares what sounds like a good meal plan.  What do you think? Do you have a favorite author who shares meal plans, too?  Tell us who they are, please.

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Louise said...

I loved reading these menus and would definitely love reading more that you may find as you read more books. Please, if it isn't too much trouble, continue with this series.
Weezie, from Alberta, Canada

Lana said...

I have some cookbooks from that era and I love the menus listed in them as well.

MamaHen said...

I added The Honor Girl to my reading list. Thank you. You could do the Little House books.

terricheney said...

I'm glad you all are enjoying this. I'll definitely try to make it a series.

Lana, last year you recommended an insta pot pressure CANNER to me. Can you send me the referral link to that item? I'd so appreciate it!

Mama Hen, Little House might be a good one to do if I read that series again soon. Thank you for the suggestion!

Louise, making lists and reading menus, lol. Those are two of my chief hobbies!!

Frances Moseley said...

I am a big fan of Grace Livingston Hill for many of the same reasons as you, Terri. I am sure that I will read these menus more than once, and would love to see some more of these in the future. Thank you for taking the time to do such a fun post.

Casey said...

I read a series of books based in Amish country … I needed a break from some of the very heavy duty historical fiction I’d been reading. It was delightful to read about their meals. I used to live near Amish country and would often go and purchase baked goods from the farms. It was also so peaceful.

Conni said...

Ah, Terri, considering adding a new appliance, are you? I LOVE my IP with the pressure canning function (called the Instant Pot Max)! It only does pints but that works perfectly for the two of us. I need to soak beans tonight to do a ‘run’ of pints tomorrow. I’ve had this ‘toy’ for about two months now and Husband had to add shelves to the pantry for all the full jars: chicken, broth, hamburger, beans….SO FUN!

Count me in as one enjoying this series. I buy canned evaporated milk as I love the creaminess on oatmeal (and you reminded me that my mom would drizzle it over gelatin when we were young). More books to check out also…thank you! conni

Shirley in Washington said...

Terri - This was a fun post! I am a big fan of GLH books. I am currently rereading "A Daily Rate". Have you read it? There are some menus included in it also. I was thinking about "Farmer Boy" by Laura Ingalls Wilder, fascinating and huge meals! Thank you for all you share! Blessings, Shirley

terricheney said...

Frances, I will happily continue this series as I come across descriptions and will share the book titles and authors they come from. I just happen to read two books back-to-back, remembered two more with equally delicious sounding meals and thought it would be a fun blog post.

Casey, yes, Amish meal ideas sound good, too. We lived near a large Mennonite community, and they had a restaurant and bakery. Good solid country cooking and boy was it good!!

Conni, Bess and I were talking about canning earlier today and I remembered Lana mentioning her insta pressure canner, something I thought we might consider. I can't buy one just yet. But it's in my future.

amalia@ahousewifewrites said...

I love this kind post so much! I enjoy reading old cookbooks/menus and little homemaking snippets in books always jump out to me, too.

I discovered GLH about two years ago and only read a few before my husband snagged all the books his mom was getting rid of. He gave me about 80 books for my birthday. I still have a LONG ways to go in the collection and I haven't yet read the ones you mentioned.

Thanks! :)

susie @ persimmon moon cottage said...

I love books from that era and earlier. The menus sound good and simple. My Mom, who was born in 1910 cooked simple but delicious food like mentioned in this post.
When they mention cream, it probably was real cream. The bottles of milk mentioned came with a layer of cream on top back then, so maybe they poured the cream off into a different container. My Mom usually cooked with true dairy cream, and most always used it when making whipped cream. When my Dad was 8 or 10 years old, his Dad had goats and Dad milked the goats and grew up drinking goat's milk instead of cow's milk. He liked it.

Mom kept canned Pet Milk or Carnation canned milk on hand at all times. Generations of kitties had that for extra treats with their Little Friskies. When I raised a baby squirrel that was found in the road at a time when it had more fleas than fur on it, it had canned milk and baby paplum from a big eyedropper until it got old enough to eat. Dad liked canned milk in his coffee. I always keep it on had for cooking creamy pasta sauce or to put a little in with my milk on oatmeal or cream of wheat.

I've never cooked with a pressure cooker. I know this sounds dumb to all of you good cooks, but I am kind of scared of them. Plus in my small kitchen there is a storage problem for a pot that big.

Thanks, Terry for this fun and inspiring post.

Lana said...

Terri, The canners are not available right now. You can search for 'Nesco NPC-9 Smart Electric Pressure Cooker and Canner, 9.5 Quart, Stainless Steel'
In one place it said there were some for (gasp) $549 but then when I clicked on that it just had the option to add it to my list. That might be a good idea to be able to watch for them easily. Another friend wants one as well and I have been checking for her for several months. When they finally get some in they are likely to be gone in a day. That said, I still highly recommend them. Canning has never been so easy!

Lana said...

On Amazon.

terricheney said...

Shirley, A Daily Rate is also one of my favorites! And yes, especially Farmer Boy because there are just loads of descriptions of all they do to cook, preserve food.

Lana, thank you, I tagged that for my list. I noted that my Microsoft Watch list has them at antoher spot for just over $375...Whew. It might be a bit longer than expected before I get one but that's okay.

Amalia, I gasped when you said how many books your husband brought you home.
Lovely! Sounds like your husband is a real keeper! lol John bought many books for me over the years. He loves to have me give him a list and then he haunts eBay and buys vintage copies. He's a keeper too!

Susie, I can't find a canned evaporated milk that does not contain carrageenan. I routinely read ingredients on the cans hoping Ill come across just one that has decided to forgo using it as a preservative. I miss having canned milk in my coffee, on my fruit gelatin (someone else mentioned that too), even used in mashed potatoes to make them extra creamy.

Karla said...

I loved this post! I always love books with food and homekeeping. Perhaps it's why I gravitate toward "cozy mysteries", especially ones where the amateur detective is a baker or a caterer. My favorites usually include recipes in the books - Goldy Bear Culinary Mysteries by Diane Mott Davidson and the Tea Shop Mysteries by Laura Child. Many others as well but those are my favorite two series.

Lana said...

Terri, I would consider the regular price to be $179. I have seen it as low as $149 on Amazon.

terricheney said...

Thank you, Karla.

Lana, I was thinking about $170 would be about right. I'll wait until I see it come down in price.

Kathy said...

Growing up, I was only allowed coffee on Friday for some reason. We always used evaporated milk. I thought it was delicious. I use cream now and tried Evaporated milk a few years ago to save money. It was HORRIBLE!

Donnellp said...

Hi Teri,
I just read "In Tune With Wedding Bells". I enjoyed it so much! I love GLH books.i wonder if Gillians "uncle" stayed in prison, if she got any money, if Aunt Etta stayed at the beach, if she and Reuben lived happily ever after? Lots of loose favorite part was when Gillian and Noel thought they were drowning and she told him that either Jesus would come to get them himself or Reuben would. What a comforting thing to say, really made me think. Thanks for the reading suggestion. Donnell

terricheney said...

Kathy, lol on the evaporated milk, lol. I can't find any without carrageenan. Every now and then Granny would open a can of sweetened condensed milk and use that in her coffee and I actually crave it come winter months. I wonder why only on Friday?

Donnellp, I often wonder about characters too! And yes, that was a favorite of mine as well. I wondered if I'd be so accepting as she was at that point. Try A Daily Allowance, Re-Creations and Honor Girl. All good homemaking sorts of stories and favorites of mine. There are more and I hope to share as I read through my lot of books.