Ovens of the future will have a computerized touch screen that will display recipes, automatically heat to the right temperature and cook the required amount of time.
How far we've come in one-hundred years. Back then, the Home Comfort range boasted "modern" features such as ample capacity fire box, fire-proof asbestos lining, air-cooled housing and enamelled legs of "graceful, pleasing design." It even had a heat indicator based on a scale of one to nine.
However, none of the recipes in the Home Comfort cookbook indicate where on that scale the heat should be. That was "governed entirely by conditions, which can be ascertained after a few trials," while the optimal cooking time was based on the "good judgement and management of the cook." Imagine if today's cookbooks were based on trial and error!
The Home Comfort cookbook contains a few other gems of advice: empty the ashes once a day and, in extreme cold weather, drain the water reservoir at night or "look out for an explosion." As for baking, it advised the cook invest in a set of measuring cups (since using a teacup to measure sugar or flour was not scientifically accurate) and to become proficient in a basic cake before undertaking more complicated recipes.
After that, cooking was a snap: "A century ago, no cook was considered proficient under thirty years of age; today, thousands of girls have become fine cooks at eighteen or twenty."
Here's the recipe for spareribs, with a few modern updates.
1 – 2 lbs spareribs
Salt and pepper
4-8 small potatoes
Heat oven to 375F. Bake spareribs one hour. Peel and quarter potatoes and apples. Season spareribs with salt and pepper; top with apples and potatoes. Bake one hour, or until meat and potatoes are cooked. If desired, broil spareribs for a few minutes to brown.
(This article first appeared in the Saskatoon Star Phoenix.)