When Mom was going to pull out all the stops, this recipe for Cornish Games Hens was always on the menu, often for a special dinner with Dad. It’s simple with really delicious results, although I do remember the bread stuffing was replaced in later years with a long grain and wild rice version that was always a favourite.
It’s been fascinating for me to put myself in my Mom’s mindset as I sift through her recipe file, especially when it comes to the “fancy” recipes like this one. If you’ve had the opportunity to read any of my previous posts you’ve probably already determined that in my life, food and family gatherings go hand in hand. But having people for dinner was not a regular thing for Mom and Dad. And frankly, when guests were coming (like on New Year’s Eve) it would be Dad who would take charge in the kitchen – often armed with some new kind of K-Tel kitchen gadget.
Based on many of the early volumes in Mom’s cookbook collection I can’t help wondering if, as a young homemaker she wasn’t a bit intimidated by the prospect of entertaining. Of those books my favourite is Woman’s Home Companion Cook Book, one she regularly pulled basic recipes from. As it was published and revised in the 1940s I except she might have been introduced to it through a Home Economics class in school. And even though there are a plethora of really useful recipes, the chapter on Table Setting and Decoration is terrifying!
From the opening text, “….but remember that you are just as much a hostess in your own family as though you were entertaining guests, and you owe it to them to have your daily meals nicely served and as attractive as you can make them. If you follow this course day by day, giving a party presents few added difficulties….a charmingly set table, food well cooked and temptingly presented and above all a serene unworried hostess.” This followed by pages of illustrations for proper table settings and two sections on serving “With and Without a Maid” – “If you are so fortunate as to have a well-trained maid your role is an easy one. But it is the hostess without skilled help, who still manages to entertain with grace and distinction, who is the everlasting envy of her friends”.
If this book was my guide I wouldn’t have entertained much either! But when Mom did entertain she was a most gracious and welcoming host. It’s a trait I try to emulate at every opportunity – and without a maid!