Past Times

Ladies learned about cooking at annual schools

Women filled local theaters each year to attend The News & Observer’s cooking school.
Women filled local theaters each year to attend The News & Observer’s cooking school. NEWS & OBSERVER FILE PHOTO

In the 1930s and ’40s, newspapers across the country would host cooking schools in their towns. In Raleigh, women filled the seats of the State Theatre, and later the Ambassador, to get the latest tips and advice from a culinary expert. In 1933, Mrs. Katherine Delaney brought her expertise to the four-day event, which was heavily promoted in the pages of The N&O.

Housewives are especially invited as they are The News and Observer’s guests of honor at all of the classes, since it is for them the school is being conducted. Admission is free, and all women who cook are invited to attend, and bring themselves up to the minute on new cooking and homemaking short-cuts.

There will be a wealth of new recipe material handed out each day in the printed programs, and dispensed by word of mouth from the platform. From her comfortable seat in the audience every woman who attends the school will look into a cheery kitchen with all the necessary equipment scientifically arranged so as to save unnecessary steps. She will see in practical use many new devices for lessening the labor of her household tasks. Above all, she will see the inimitable Mrs. Delaney immaculately attired, put together dishes that are certain to delight her own family and guests, and yet which are guaranteed to keep the household budget balanced.

Home entertaining will be discussed at length by Mrs. Delaney during her school in Raleigh. “Now that entertaining has returned to the home there is more need than ever for clever American women to study the art of serving suitable food for every such occasion,” says Mrs. Delaney. “No matter whether it is a foursome at bridge, an elaborate luncheon for one’s club, or a birthday party for one of the children, it is necessary to know what to serve and how to get it ready with a minimum of work and expense. For, after all, the success of any party depends upon ‘the eats.’ Even when the entertaining consists merely of having several family friends in to dinner, it is important that one know how to plan a meal that can be prepared in advance, so that the guests are not greeted by a ‘parboiled hostess.’ The smartest women I know are today priding themselves on serving what they call ‘smart food’ and they serve it so smartly that they are establishing reputations for their ‘little’ dinners and their afternoon and evening parties. I am going to tell my audience a few of the tricks in this hostess business, for nowhere is a woman more charming than when entertaining in her own home.” The N&O Nov. 1, 1933

About 1,300 women attended the cooking school that year.

Some deliciously good things to eat were prepared by Mrs. Delaney…. Among these was cornbread which Mrs. Delaney described as “the best kind of cornbread I’ve ever eaten.” The batter was prepared and poured into the pan and then one cup of chopped bacon was spread over the batter before placing it in the oven.

A piping hot pot roast with onion gravy, a Lady Baltimore cake with a beautiful frosting, a cinnamon coffee cake that sounds delicious for a Sunday morning breakfast, baked Italian spaghetti and a butterscotch crumb pie were among the dishes prepared yesterday.

Mrs. Delaney again stressed the importance of home-making and house-keeping as “that great industry” and stated that the cooking school was to help the women of Raleigh with their home-making problems.

In speaking of the preparing and serving of meals for one’s family, Mrs. Delaney said that too often members of the family come home to meals without anticipation because they know there will be the same kinds of dishes they have been served for a long time. “We should surprise our families,” Mrs. Delaney said. The N&O Nov. 9, 1933

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Want to try some of Mrs. Delaney’s dishes? Go to for recipes as they appeared in the 1933 newspaper.