Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Oatmeal Bread

Recipes with a reason. Amy Vanderbilt's Complete Cookbook was illustrated by Andy Warhol. One can only image how this cookbook came together. In 1961 the etiquette queen of New York and Andrew Warhol worked together to create a complete vision of cooking. I have a first edition of this book but, sadly it's been used and very abused. Who had the most tantrums while this book was in production? I'm sure both author and illustrator threw around a few choice words from time to time.

Anyhow, poor Amy met a fate that is one of debate. Did she jump onto the sidewalk in front of her New York townhouse on 87th Street or did she have a lightheaded moment that caused a fall from her 2nd story window? Her fate was dismal either way. Dismal would be the reasoning behind my selecting this recipe today.
In her recollections Ms. Vanderbilt associates this recipe with her experiences of World War I. Mind you she was a mere child during that time period but, the rationing of wheat inspired the baking of this Oatmeal Bread. In her book she refers to this loaf as a "delicious wartime sacrifice loaf."
Just as I imagine what Amy and Andy must have been doing during the late 50's and early 60's as the cookbook is being created. I also imagine what life must have been like for Ms. Vanderbilt during the days of 1914. I can't imagine that she suffered too horribly during the war as she was from a somewhat affluent family. Unlike another female of this time period Marina Yurlova.
Marina Yurlova would likely have never had the luxury of smelling this delicious bread baking during World War I. For certain there were no molasses around as she crawled on her belly through the barbed wire. She must have laid awake dreaming of the warmth of a bed and water in which to bathe. She would be the true spirit of womanhood during this time period in which Ms Vanderbilt makes mention of wartime rations.

Although Andy Warhol was of Slovakian descent, I doubt he knew much of hunger or being exposed to freezing conditions as Marina Yurlova had known for many years. Mr. Warhol knew his own suffering when he was the victim of an attempted murder in 1968. Shot and severely wounded. He survived by the skin of his teeth. Warhol was also known to be a bit of hypochondriac and spent some of his childhood suffering from nervous system disorders.
What an awful bunch of dismal gloom. Should I frame these illustrations and call them Warhol art?
That man can draw meat! And various other food stuffs.

I didn't use the raisins called for in the above recipe. Mostly because I'm over dried fruit. I used chopped pecans instead. My Miss Aimee made that wrinkled nose face and said, "Is there raisins in here?" Oddly enough the mouth tastes raisins even though my loaf contained none. It is outstanding in flavor. I will bake this loaf again. Aimee and Mister loved the bread.
Marina Yurlova was the same age as my daughter when she fought for the Cossacks during World War I as a soldier. She won the St. George Cross for bravery 3 times. How my imagination toils around the suffering of this young militant woman. She narrowly escaped having her leg amputated after a severe injury. She was imprisoned and had a mental breakdown yet, still persevered to become an author of the book Cossack Girl.
I wonder if the three Andy Warhol, Amy Vanderbilt, and Marina Yurlova ever crossed paths in life in any way shape or form.
If you are venturing about in the ice and cold of January, it's all too easy to complain of the dismal days. Open up your pantry door, most likely you have food. And Heat. Most of us have the above ingredient list in our pantries with exception of the molasses. You might have to put on your boots and slosh out and grab a bottle of Brer Rabbit. It will be worth the inconvenience. Warm up your world and beat the dismal blues of January with this simple rustic bread.
I'm thankful my daughter has never known firsthand the horror of war.
It's a little history lesson in our home. Teaching can extend out of the classroom into the kitchen with a little bit of imagination. Tonight we enjoyed this recipe for Oatmeal Bread and the story behind the triumphant survival of a young woman of history.


  1. How crazy is it that I've owned that cookbook for at least twenty five years and never noticed Andy Warhol did the illustrations? Admittedly, I don't really like it that much as a cookbook, but still I'm a bit embarrassed I never noticed.

    I've seen the Vanderbilt"Cottage" at the Breakers, and yeah, I don't think little Amy suffered too much during the war. The recipes for cooking with rations are interesting, particularly when you compare our ration books to the British, who had been in the war (both wars, actually) so much longer. Our recipes sound downright luxurious.

    1. It's not among my favorite cookbooks either, I'm not sure why I've hung on to it for so long. Probably the Warhol thing.
      Isn't it interesting how we view wars, any war for that matter when we start reading and learning about them from the perspective of other countries. Admittedly, I'm a fan of documentaries and most of my knowledge is gained through watching rather than reading.
      Such simple illustrations in the book. How much do you suppose he profited from the work?