Monthly Archives: March 2012

HELEN’S COOKBOOK – THE UPDATE


Years ago, I acquired a handwritten cookbook compiled by a woman I never met and knew little about; but I knew her, I knew what she liked to cook and how she loved to entertain. I could tell you by the pages with the most stains and occasionally, an indication of scorched pages that may have gotten too close to the stove, which recipes were her favorites.

In the 1970s, while visiting a bookstore in Hollywood, the store owner said “I have a cookbook you may be interested in” and he brought out an old leather 3-ring binder measuring 5 ½ x 8 ½”. It was my introduction to what might loosely be referred to as a manuscript cookbook and I was hooked. I learned a lot about its creator by carefully reading through all the handwritten recipes and examining cards, newspaper clippings and other scraps of paper kept in a pocket on the inside of the cover. I knew that her name was Helen.

Manuscript cookbooks sometimes date back centuries (one of the earliest known manuscript cookbooks was written in 1390 and was compiled by one of the chefs who served England’s Richard II) while early southern plantation hostesses jealously guarded their treasured handwritten “receipts”. Martha Washington’s handwritten cookbook is another famous example of a manuscript cookbook that has survived generations of descendants and is now in the archives at Mount Vernon. Thomas Jefferson also kept a recipe journal that remained in his family and was finally reproduced some years ago. Possibly the world’s most famous manuscript cookbook was kept by Queen Victoria for over 50 years.

I first wrote about Helen’s Cookbook in the Sept/Oct 2007 issue of iNKY Trail News (a newsletter for seniors and penpalers) and don’t want to repeat all that, except to note that my speculation, that Helen never had children (why else would this treasure end up in a dusty little bookstore?) was confirmed recently in a most unexpected way, by another ITN columnist.

A few years after writing the original story about Helen’s Cookbook, Anna Brooker (who writes “Sincerely Yours”for Inky Trail News) and I began penpalling…both emails and snail mail. Our friendship began when Anna sent me a small manuscript cookbook she had acquired in England, where she lives with her husband and son. The handwritten cookbook arrived one day in March accompanied by a charming letter.

Manuscript cookbooks (and cookbooks in general) occupied a portion of our correspondence and in one of my letters, I told Anna what little I DID know about Helen. I had a full name and address because a recipe had been written on a sheet of printed stationery. I knew that her husband’s name was Mart – because Helen was thrifty and often copied recipes onto the backs of envelopes or old greeting cards–sources that provided clues to who she was and how she lived. Gradually, it appears that Helen’s vision began to fail her. Her handwriting became scrawled and almost illegible. Judging from a message inside an old card, I thought her husband died first.

Then Anna turned my perspective of Helen upside down, writing the following “I had a rare moment of quiet this morning while my husband and son were doing some clearing so I thought I would do a little research on your Helen C*. I have a genealogy buddy who is also a distant cousin and she allowed me to use her access to some databases and I found a few things out for you. I must say, I think Helen is even more interesting now. Here is a brief history of Helen for you. You will notice that there are one or two minor discrepancies in the data but that is typical. The gist of the information jives beautifully.

Helen May U. was born on July 5, 1888, in Pottawatomie County, Kansas. She was the daughter of Charles U. born about 1856 in Wisconsin and died January 19, 1929 in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, and Emma S. who was born July 12, 1865 in Minnesota. Charles and Emma were married in October of 1887.

Helen had a younger sister, Lois, born July 5, 1907 who died before 1910, so Helen was basically an only child. Her father was a physician and surgeon in Chicago and Helen followed in his footsteps in the medical field and later became a psychologist. On February 5, 1921, Helen married Mart C. As she married later in life, there were no children born to her and Mart. Helen lived with her folks and later, when she married, she still resided with her widowed mother, Emma, in Chicago, Illinois.

Helen seems to have taken to using the middle initial of “U” at some point in place of her given middle name of May, probably as an abbreviation of her maiden name.

Sometime after 1930, Helen and Mart moved to California and that is where they lived out their lives, residing at 548 East Valna Drive in Los Angeles. Helen died on January 20, 1971 in Los Angeles California, and as you know, Mart preceded her in death. He died on November 14, 1956…”.

*I have deleted the last names of these people, who, although deceased, are entitled to their privacy. Perhaps there is no one left who cares, but I have grown protective of the author of my first manuscript cookbook. Over the years I have acquired other handwritten cookbooks which are sometimes not strictly handwritten – but contain recipes clipped from magazines and newspapers, and pasted on the pages. And because of Helen’s cookbook I began compiling my own manuscript cookbooks.

I like to think that Helen’s spirit led me to her cookbook–and I know that it has influenced me enormously and led me to a passion for not just cookbooks, but especially manuscript cookbooks. So, thank you Helen…and thank you Anna for solving a thirty-something mystery about the author of “Helen’s Cookbook”.
**

THE COMMON THREAD – PART TWO


One particularly fine cookbook about Amana communal living is called SEASONS OF PLENTY. It was written by Emilie Hoppe and illustrated by Rachel Ehrman, and published in 1994 by the Iowa State University Press.

SEASONS OF PLENTY offers a great deal more than recipes; it is a collection of journal entries, poems, short, colorful anecdotes—and, of course, recipes. It is a celebration of the way of life and food in the Amanas.

Meals were eaten in a common dining room, men at one table, women and their children at another. Hired hands or guests sat at a third table. The meal began with a German prayer and mealtime was not intended to be a social occasion. Conversation was not encouraged and “light hearted jocularity” was thought to be in bad taste. “Not surprisingly,” writes Ms. Hoppe, “After 60 years of silent suppers, Amana residents began to wonder if it might not be more enjoyable to eat at home. Some time after the turn of the century, the common dining room tradition was abandoned. Instead, housewives, baskets in hand, went to their assigned kitchens at mealtime to pick up the meal and carry it home” (perhaps one of the earliest examples of take-out food!).

And even if the meals were eaten in silence, the food was well prepared and if the recipes in SEASONS OF PLENTY are any indication, I would say that the KUCHEBAAS knew her stuff.

This, like any of the other Iowa University Press publications, is a spectacular cookbook, deftly combing the history of a people with their food.

Less elaborate, perhaps, but nevertheless interesting, is a small book called A COLLECTION OF TRADITIONAL AMANA COLONY RECIPES, compiled by the Ladies Auxiliary of the Homestead Welfare Club, of Homestead, Iowa, published in 1948. (This little book can sometimes be found in used cookbook mail order lists—or check Amazon or Alibris websites)—but I confess to being astonished when I noticed a copy, with dust jacket, priced at $25.00! Recipes are titled in German with an American translation. (*No copies are listed with Alibris, but numerous copies are available on Amazon.com, starting under $3.00). **

In Manchester, England, in the month of February of 1736, Ann Lee was born. Ann Lee would become the founder of the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearance, more commonly known as the Shakers.

When she was 23 years old, Ann, her husband and her father joined a small group of people who had broken away from the gentle, sedate Quakers. The members of this new sect leaned towards physical manifestations at religious meetings, shaking and trembling, dancing, speaking in tongues—which led them to being called, derisively, the Shaking Quakers – or just Shakers.

Like so many other religious groups, they were persecuted and imprisoned. It was during her imprisonment in Manchester (England) jail that Ann Lee had a vision; later she told the Believers that they all had to become celibates.

The shakers hailed her as Mother in Christ, and Bride of the Lamb; from then on she was known as Mother Ann or Ann the Word.

In another vision, Ann was told to go to America, where the Church of Christ’s Second Appearing would be founded. In May of 1774, Mother Ann, her husband, and a few others immigrated (not without mishaps) to the New World. The Shakers began to seek converts—but this was 1776; the War of Independence was beginning and when the Shakers refused to fight or take sides, they found themselves with new persecutions. They were accused of being anti-patriotic, and were required to take an oath of allegiance. Since oath-taking was against their beliefs, ten Shaker leaders, including Mother Ann, were imprisoned.

Apparently, many people (non-Shakers) became convinced of their sincerity for by the end of the year, they had more converts and after the release of the ten Shaker leaders, they began a great missionary tour throughout the Eastern States.

However, even though they made many converts, they were met with great opposition, sometimes being whipped and beaten with clubs. All of this contributed, no doubt, to the death of Mother Ann in1784. The Shakers had not yet become a communal society.

Author Mark Holloway tells us that converts to the Shaker faith were recruited largely from revivals, such as the one Janice Holt Giles was writing about in her novel “The Believers*” [I have been a huge fan of Ms. Giles’, ever since I discovered her books in the 1960s]. There was a revival of “unparalleled magnitude” that began
in Kentucky, in 1800, and continued for several years, causing the
most intense religious excitement ever known in America. The Shakers sent three missionaries to investigate, which led to the eventual creation of five new Shaker societies n Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana. By 1830, the Shaker Church had reached its peak; there were 18 societies, with a membership of over 5,000.

[*Sandy’s cooknote: I use the term ‘Shakers’ and “the Believers” interchangeably throughout this article. They were one and the same.]

Shaker theology is thought to have been unique; for one thing, they believed in the bisexuality of God (one can imagine the uproar THAT caused in a male-dominated world!). The Shakers also believed that spirits and angels had both a male and female element. They did not believe in the Trinity; they considered that they were living in the Resurrection Order, surrounded by and in communion with spirits of the dead. The Shakers drew much inspiration from the Primitive or Pentecostal Church, of which the five leading principles were common property, celibacy, non-resistance, separate government, and power over physical disease.

Although celibate, men and women lived together in the same buildings which were called “families”—however, brothers and sisters were not allowed to pass on the stairs or to shake hands with one another. They could not give each other presents and were not allowed to visit individuals of the opposite sex unless accompanied by companions of their own sex. Each family was governed by two elders and two “elderesses”.

The Shakers gained a notable reputation for their furniture, the quality of their garden seeds, medicinal herbs and roots, and for their preserved fruits and vegetables which, along with household items such as mops and brooms, the Trustees of the Church sold. The profits were used to purchase commodities that the Shakers could not themselves produce, such as tools and certain kinds of machinery. Outsiders who visited the Shaker Villages described them as utterly spotless—even the barns were painted white and kept immaculate.

The economy of the Shaker societies was primarily agriculture, and they are credited with the invention or perfection of many labor-saving devices, such as a circular saw and their own mower-and-reaper (Unlike the Amish, the Shakers had no restrictions against labor-saving devices and inventions and believed that time saving devices were to the glory of God, allowing them more time for worship.)

Among the Shaker kitchen inventions was a machine for paring apples, A pea sheller, and a dumbwaiter. At the Shaker Village of Hancock, they had a giant cylindrical oven with shelves that rotated, making it possible to simultaneously and evenly bake pies, cakes and tarts—or thirty loaves of bread in a single baking. (This would have also been a fuel-saving device).

Although meals in the Shaker societies were eaten in silence (and at least one observer of the times noted that this appeared to be primarily for the convenience of the sisters serving the meals who had, after all, three meals a day to prepare), it appears that the quality of their meals was outstanding. Vegetables were steamed and not overcooked. Fruits and vegetables were eaten as they came into season No one ate pork and many of the Believers ate no meat at all. Some Believers were totally vegetarian, which included abstinence from all food produced by animals, including milk, butter and eggs.

For this reason, there were two tables—one with meat and one without. Tea, coffee, and spirits were forbidden. What is perhaps most remarkable about all of this is that we are talking about a period of time when calories and vitamins were unknown, when a human lifespan was much shorter than it is today, when meat-and-potatoes were standard fare for the general population and when there was no Food and Drug Administration to prevent unscrupulous people from adulterating foods, such as flour, and very little was known or understood about purity in food.

Books were frowned upon, music was forbidden and news from the outside world was censored by the Elders. However, one of the brethren would read aloud the news of the world while the others were eating. For relaxation, the Shakers learned new hymns and hymn tunes. They sang and had visits, once a week, between brothers and sisters. Many evenings were spent in religious services.

However good their intentions, celibacy may have been one of the primary causes for the decline of the Shakers. They expected to continue to flourish with recruits from the outside world, not recognizing that the strength of a religious is to be found in children brought up within the church. (I should point out, however, that—according to Diana Van Kolken, author of INTRODUCING THE SHAKERS—THE Shakers themselves attributed their decline to the dying out of the great religious revivals, which attracted so many people to them, the opening of the great West, with the prospect of cheap or free land drawing man people to head west, industrialism and business opportunities. When women became able to find jobs, Ms. Van Kolken explains, they no longer needed the protection of the communal society. Also, orphans they had raised increasingly chose to “see the world” rather than stay with the Believers.

Their contributions to society, however, were outstanding. They produced skilled craftsmanship and a folk art distinctly their own.

The Shakers believed in, and practiced, absolute equality between men and women, a totally revolutionary idea for its time. They were the only people of their time to include both Jews and African-Americans in their settlements. Shakers did not believe in slavery. They were the first to demonstrate that communal living could be practical and prosperous.

At a time when vitamins and calories were unheard of, the Shaker sisters saved all the water (pot-likker) in which vegetables had been cooked and used them to make gravies, soups, and stews. In 1871, the Shakers published their own magazine, first called The Shaker, and then The Manifesto, which contained many articles about diet and health. Their kitchens, built for communal living, were often years ahead of their time, with running water and specially built ranges and ovens such as the cylindrical oven at Canterbury.

The Shaker kitchens always had a cooking kitchen and a baking kitchen; their canning kitchen was especially equipped with great ranges, tables, and huge copper kettles used to preserve fruits and vegetables.

Hungry visitors to the Shaker villages were fed, sometimes the visitors stayed a while, becoming temporary converts (Winter Shakers, they were called.)

The Shakers also enjoyed fame as herbalists. As early as 1800, writes Amy Bess Miller and Persis Fuller, in their book THE BEST OF SHAKER COOKING, the Shakers in New Lebanon, New York, and other communities were growing, drying, and harvesting medicinal herbs for the market as one of their chief industries….many Shaker recipes call for one or two herbs to flavor or to heal. The Shakers understood the value of herbs as medicine, and the kitchen sisters relied upon them to vary and enrich standard dishes.
The shakers were the first people in this country to grow herbs on a large scale for the pharmaceutical market. Medicinal plants, chiefly wild herbs, were gathered in enormous quantities: some of these herbs were sold for the purpose of purchasing other medicines, while other medicinal herbs were used by the physicians in the communities. However, as the demand for herbs from the World (the Shaker reference to everyone and everything beyond their villages) grew greater, an industry developed and in all branches of the United Society of Believers, this became one of the most lucrative of the Shaker enterprises. Their herb business was so successful that, by the mid 1800s, they were producing such vast quantities that in one season 75 TONS of medicinal roots and plants were grown, dried, pressed, packed and shipped to every state in the Union as well as abroad to countries such as Paris, Australia, and India.

A catalog published by the Shakers just before the Civil War offered 354 kinds of medicinal plants, barks, roots, seeds and flowers as well as nearly equal amounts of preparations, including extracts, powders, elixirs, and ointments.

Much of what the Shakers learned about medicinal plants, herbs and spices were taught to them by their native Indian friends, a fringe benefit, no doubt, derived from their belief in the equality of all people.

At Pleasant Hill, during the Civil War, Shaker villages fed both Union and Confederate troops. Visitors were welcomed and fed. Writing about The Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill in the Courier-Journal, one journalist observed that young people of Danville often organized parties to drive in fringe-topped surreys, all the way to Shakertown for dinner. They didn’t make reservations; they merely drove up, hitched their horses and announced their presence. They were always welcomed. When this Shaker property was converted into private property, the tradition continued; during the 1920s and1930s, a tearoom was well known for its delicious food and was popular throughout Central Kentucky.
In recent decades, Americans have found renewed interest in the Shakers, especially their food and furniture.

Most of the old Shaker villages are now museums, and original Shaker furniture is greatly sought after by antique collectors. Consequently, and happily for us, this renewed interest led to the publication or reprinting of numerous Shaker cookbooks.

The first Shaker cookbooklet to come into my possession, back in the 1960s when I was a fledgling cookbook collector, was a pamphlet called SHAKER RECIPEBOOK, from Emporium Publications. It originally sold for $1.00 and is packed with Shaker recipes and wisdom.

Next, I came across a copy of THE SHAKER COOKBOOK, NOT BY BREAD ALONE, by Caroline B. Piercy, published in 1953 by the United Society of Shakers. Sister Carr disclaims that the Shakers were gourmet cooks, insisting that their cooking was simple and wholesome. However, a closer look at Shaker recipes reveals a subtle and exquisite influence using the herbs, spices, and extracts for which they became so famous. Even Mother Ann’s birthday cake was flavored with Shaker Rose water. A simple fruit salad had marjoram added to it, while Brother Ted’s Swedish meat balls contain a delicate hint of a spice or herb, demonstrating that Shaker cooks knew quite well how to use what they grew in their gardens.

Referring to the Shaker’s skill with herbs, Caroline Piercy, in NOT BY BREAD ALONE writes, “…The early Shakers worked magic with herbs. Probably their greatest contribution to American cookery was their knowledge of hers and their use in cooking. Herbs are a baffling subject and it took a deal of experimenting to make their use practical and delightful. Food and herbs soon became inseparable to the Shakers….”

Sister Carr says that the first time Shakers at Sabbathday Lake, in Maine, heard the expression “Shaker your plate” was when Brother Delmer Wilson used it many years ago. Like all believers, she wrote, Brother Delmer was opposed to waste of any kind, and could often be heard to remark “Shaker your plate!” (Means don’t leave anything on your plate, not even a crumb).

One very fine book about Shaker cooking was compiled by Amy Bess Miller and Persis Fuller. It is titled “THE BEST OF SHAKER COOKING” and was published in soft cover in 1985. It includes a foreword written by food historian Evan Jones, the author of “AMERICAN FOOD, THE GASTRONOMIC STORY”.

“THE BEST OF SHAKER COKING” is a huge book, containing over 900 recipes—and is literally filled with interesting historical information about the various Shaker villages. Much of the authors’ reference material came from the Manifesto, that Shaker periodical published from 1871 to 1899, and there is a bibliography, if you are interested in reading more about these gentle people. THE BEST OF SHAKER COOKING was published in 1993 by Collier Books. Ms. Miller was president of Hancock Shaker Village at the time this book was published, and Persis Fuller was kitchen director at Hancock Shaker Village. Since this cookbook was published almost 20 years ago, I don’t know what these two women may be doing today.

Yet another Shaker cookbook which provides interesting historical background is IN A SHAKER KITCHEN by Norma MacMillan, copyright 1995 by Simon & Shuster. When I was writing THE COMMON THREAD for the Cookbook Collectors Exchange, Sabbathday Lake in Maine was the only remaining New England Shaker community.

Sister Mildred Barker of Sabbathday Lake once wrote “Shakerism is no failure. It is good, and therefore of God, and no good is ever a failure. The principals and ideals which the Shakers were first to expound have gone out into the world, and like a pebble dropped into the water, we cannot measure the distance of the influence they have borne…Shakerism is not dying out, nor is it a failure…” **

The members of the Church of the Latter Day Saints, more commonly known as the Mormons, never—to my knowledge—practiced communal living as did the Shakers (although the Mormons have always been firm believers in tithing and taking care of their own). On the other hand, some folks might consider having plural wives a kind of communal living, whether they lived together under one roof (as did many of Brigham Young’s wives) or not.

The Mormons need to be included in this article if, for no other reason, than that their founder and prophet, Joseph Smith, was most certainly influence by, and a product of, the intense religious revival that spread across the Midwestern states in the early 1800s. Indeed, Palmyra, where the young Joseph Smith was growing up—was the center of what circuit riders later called “The Burnt over district”.

Fawn Brodie, in her biography about Joseph Smith, NO MAN KNOWS MY HISTORY, writes, “…One revival after another was sweeping through the area leaving behind a people scattered and peeled, for religious enthusiasm was literally being burnt out of them. There are no detailed descriptions of the revivals in Palmyra and Manchester between 1824 and 1827, when they were at their wildest, and we cannot be certain that they matched in pathological intensity the famous revivals that had shaken Kentucky at the turn of the century…”

Elsewhere, Ms. Brodie writes, “The revivals by their very excesses deadened a normal antipathy towards religious eccentricity. And these Pentecostal years, which coincided with Joseph Smith’s adolescence and early manhood, were the most fertile in America’s history for the sprouting of prophets…”

What makes Joseph Smith a part of this story, then, is that he was at the very center of the action and at a very impressionable age when the religious revivals were taking place. And perhaps what sets Joseph Smith and his Church apart from the other religious cults that sprouted across the land is that the Church of the Latter Day Saints is alive and well today, with a worldwide membership today of over ten million saints, whereas most of the other religious cults faltered and foundered or became historical sites and a curiosity of the past.

Certainly, as Joseph Smith gathered his flock and gained followers, he and his group were as persecuted and vilified as much as any other religious cult of its time.

THE GATHERING OF ZION/THE STORY OF THE MORMON TRAIL by Wallace Stegner, published in 1964, provides a useful reference in the form of a calendar events beginning with Joseph Smith’s birth in 1805.

Throughout the years of 1823-1827, Joseph Smith, in his quest for the one true religious, was given revelations in which he was told that none of the other religions were the right one; he was subsequently visited by an angel who revealed the burial place of gold plates. On September 21, 1827, Joseph Smith was permitted to take the golden plates home for translation by means of the miraculous Urim and Thummin, a divining stone. This translation became the Book of Mormon, which was published in Palmyra in 1830. Shortly after, on April 6, 1830, the Church of Christ, which later became the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, was established with six members.

What followed were years of persecution and attacks by mobs as Church members moved from place to place. In 1844, on June 27, following Joseph and Hyrum Smith’s surrender to authorities in Carthage, Illinois, they were murdered by militia men in Carthage jail. Brigham Young assumed leadership of the Mormon Church. In 1845 Brigham Young and his followers left Nauvoo (a town they had created) on a journey of endurance, faith, and tenacity as they headed west, often pursued by mobs, and began a remarkable trek across country (often on foot, pushing hand-carts) until in July of 1847, Brigham Young, sick with mountain fever, was brought into the Salt Lake Valley (present day Utah) and declared that “this was the place”.

(It appears that Brigham Young had a destination in mind all along—in August, 1846, he assured President Polk in a letter that, in their exile the Mormons were embarked on a journey that would end in a location west of the Rocky Mountains and belied, would not be coveted by any other people.)

Even so, a decade later, President Buchanan, swayed by reports that the Mormons were in a state of rebellion, sent a new governor under military escort to replace Brigham Young.

Statehood eluded Utah for a time—a major factor being the Mormon belief in polygamy—until Mormon President Woodruff, in 1890, had a revelation leading to the issuing of the “Manifesto”, abandoning the practice—although not the doctrine—of polygamy. In 1996, Utah was admitted to the Union as the 46th state. In retrospect, following one hundred years of respectability, it is difficult to comprehend the intensity of the persecution against the Mormon saints. On the other hand, persecution of the Jews in Hitler’s Germany occurred only seventy years ago. Certainly, Joseph Smith’s intent to run for president of the United States and his attempt to establish his own bank did not endear him to the general public. Perhaps the Gentiles (anyone who wasn’t a Mormon) felt threatened by this new religion and its power.

The Mormons appear to have realized the strength of numbers, of bringing new converts into the Church and to that end, Mormon missionaries have traditionally traveled, at their own expenses, throughout the world, preaching the word of Joseph Smith ad extolling the virtues of Zion, their kingdom in the desert. The apex of this missionary program was reached in Great Britain in the last half of the 19th century, with 96,000 converts to Mormonism in the first 50 years of this Church’s history. Fifty-five thousand of these had arrived in Utah by 1890, making the English people the largest number of any nationality to immigrate here. (To assist with immigrations, the Mormon Church organized a “perpetual immigrating fund” to help finance those who wanted to go to Deseret. The loans were expected to be repaid, either in money or labor, after the immigrant had established himself in Utah.

As for polygamy—which incensed the general public—I have often thought it was a stroke of genius on the part of Church leaders. After all, there were far more women than men in the Mormon Church; I believe the ratio was 10 to 1. Someone surely realized that the strength of a church lies –not in celibacy as the Shakers thought—but in bringing up young children within the church. And, a woman can only be pregnant (unless it’s a multiple birth, of course) once in nine months. If you have many wives, you can be bringing many new lives into the Church. We don’t know what Mormon women thought about all of this—it was a man’s world, after all—but if you are interested in learning more, there is a book titled PATRIARCHS AND POLITICS by Marilyn Warenski, published by McGrew Hill in 1978.

I have always had a kind of fascination with the Mormon religion (despite my Catholic upbringing) and would love to visit the State. My chiropractor, who is Mormon, was always a bit astonished that I knew so much about his church.

Some years ago, I read several books of fiction which captivated my imagination. One was titled THE PEACEABLE KINGDOM, by Ardyth Kennelly. This was followed with a sequel, called UP HOME. Both novels dealt with the life of a young Mormon wife, in the 1800s, who was the “second wife”. I also read a book called THE GIANT JOSHUA and perhaps my favorite, Paul Bailey’s FOR TIME AND ALL ETERNITY. Though all of these are fiction, they dealt with real events during a most controversial period of American History
When I began collecting women’s club and church cookbooks back in the 1960s, I found it difficult to find Mormon cookbooks. I wrote to the then-food editor of the Deseret News, who responded with a letter telling me of some Mormon cookbooks and commenting that perhaps Mormon cookbooks weren’t as readily available because –even though they WERE being published, most likely they were bought up by ladies within their own wards.

I persisted, of course, and FAMOUS MORMON RECIPES by Winnifred Jardine (who is a great-granddaughter of Brigham Young) was one of the first Mormon cookbooks I acquired. Then I found Angie Earl’s TREASURED LION HOUSE RECIPES, published in 1947. For over ten years, Ms. Earl was cateress for the Lion House Social Center. The Lion House was the home of Brigham Young, a famous landmark to all tourists and visitors to Salt Lake City. A most interesting account of Brigham Young and his wives is in a book titled THE TWENTY-SEVENTH WIFE by Irving Wallace, published in 1961. Ann Eliza was the youngest of Brigham’s wives and considered the pretties, but in 1873 she stirred up righteous indignation against the prophet, by filing for divorce and revealing the “inside story” of her life in his household. President Grant heard her lecture in Washington and P.T. Barnum offered her $100,000 a year if she would allow herself to be exhibited in the East. The attempt to make a cause célèbre out of Ann Eliza petered out ingloriously, and in Utah, Brigham Young died in his famous gabled Lion House on August 29, 1877.

And as years have passed since I began collecting cookbooks in 1965, so much has changed with the advent of the Internet and sites such as Alibris.com and Amazon.com—you can find cookbooks published by Mormons pretty much the same as any other community cookbook. A few on my shelves are these:

THE TASTEFUL TRADITION, BOUNTIFUL EIGHTH WARD 3-ring binding, no other information or date

RECIPES THAT PLEASE COOKBOOL COMPILED BY THE RELIEF SOCIETY CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER DAY SAINTS, FIRST WARD, RICHFIELD UTAH, 1966, spiral binding

WHAT’S COOKIN’ IN WEST BOUNTIFUL compiled by West Bountiful 2nd Ward Relief Society, 1972, spiral binding?

OUR FAVORITE RECIPES, Compiled by Duchesne Ward Relief Society, Duchesne, Utah, undated, spiral binding

DAUGHTERS OF UTAH PIONEERS, FAVORITE RECIPES BY UINTAH COUNTY, VERNAL UTAH, 1961, spiral binding

TRIED ANDF TRUE FAMILY FAVORITES FROM THE WOMEN’S RELIEF SOCIETY of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Orchard 1st Ward, Davis South Stake, Bountiful Utah, 1971, spiral binding
BUILDING MEMORIES, OFFICIAL COOKBOOK OF THE 18TH WARD, 1973, spiral binding

UTAH DIING CAR, JUNIOR LEAGUE OF OGDEN, COOKBOOK, 1984, spiral binding

THE JUNIOR LEAGUE OF SALT LAKE CITY’S HERITAGE COOKBOOK, 1976, spiral binding

And last, but certainly not least,

A PINCH OF SALT LAKE, JUNIOR LEAGUE OF SALT LAKE CITY, INC. 1986, hardcover with dust jacket, oversized cookbook **

According to Fawn Brodie, in her book NO MAN KNOWS MY HISTORY, it is believed that Joseph Smith had more than fifty wives during his lifetime, while in later years in Utah; dozens of women were sealed to the prophet posthumously. It was Mormon belief that in marrying a man, a woman could be sealed to him either for time (one’s lifetime) or for eternity, a concept further explored in Paul Bailey’s book FOR TIME AND ALL ETERNITY.

Writing of the Mormon pioneers, Wallace Sterner states “…From this distance, and with the whole history of the Mormon migration before my eyes, I am glad to take off my hat and salute even these with a degree of respect. For what they and others like them did was not done easily, or without sacrifice and suffering. They lived and acted, and sometimes died, for what they believed, and their intractable humanity ennobled them about as often as the excesses of their faith led them into tribal suspicion or their misfortunes into demoralization.

The story of the Mormon Trail is a story of people, no better and no worse than other people, probably, but certain as sternly tested as any, and with a right to their pride in the way they have borne the testing…”

Mormons have always been affected, in their eating habits, by the Word of Wisdom, a statement by the Prophet Joseph Smith, who counseled his people to abstain from the use of alcohol, tea, coffee, tobacco, and all foods which would impair human efficiency. He also recommended the use of all wholesome herbs (one wonders, did he learn some of this from the Shakers, whose villages were near his home in Palmyra?) and although he said that flesh of beasts and fowls of the air were ordained for the use of man, and they were to be used sparingly during winter, or cold or famine.

Mormons believe in maintaining a two year supply of food, clothing and fuel—which is rotated so that older supplies are constantly being replenished. This sensible approach to food storage is so practical that it has been adopted by many other people and is one that I, myself practiced when my children were growing up (a practice that has proven itself especially useful when we have had an earthquake here in Southern California and I have not had to take part in the panicky onslaught of customers rushing to supermarkets to stock up on food or water.)

In her book MORMON COUNTRY COOKING, Winifred Jardine says that foreign recipes influenced Mormon cooking long before general cooking trends took an international bent. This was, no doubt, due to the huge influx of immigrants bringing their recipes and culinary customs with them to Zion, along with Missionaries traveling throughout the world, sampling new and different foods along the way, and bringing new recipes and ideas home with them when they returned.

The Junior League cookbook THE UTAH DINING CAR has a huge selection of recipes, both historical and contemporary, with bits of historical information. The cookbook’s title was a tribute to the meeting of the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads near Ogden, Utah, in 1869. “The town of Ogden,” explain the cookbook compilers, “is placed squarely upon the junction of two great transcontinental routes: North-South from Canada to Mexico, and East-West from New York and Chicago to the Pacific northwest and California…long before the first transcontinental railroad took this route in 1869, Ogden was a “Junction City” and the easy north-south route through the Salt Lake Village was used by Indians, explorers, and trappers following the north-south orientation of the Rockies…”

The driving of the Golden Spike was the last step in the completion of the first transcontinental railroad and it was a cause for great celebration, especially amongst the Mormon Saints whose parents and grandparents had trekked across country for twenty-two years in covered wagons and sometimes on foot, pushing handcarts to reach their destination, Zion, Deseret, The Promised Land.

This concludes The Common Thread. My objective in writing this was to draw parallels from the various religious groups (I hesitated in using the term “cults” as it has such a negative connotation today—but I did for lack of a better term)—always coming back to food, how it was obtained, how it was prepared, and what our ancestors—the American Pioneers—did to sustain life, prepare it for one another, and survive. They paved the way, not only with blood sweat and tears, but often with their lives. **

–Sandra Lee Smith

THE COMMON THREAD

Part One

Note: I want to stress to all of my Sandychatter subscribers that I have only the greatest respect for ALL faiths and beliefs. It is not my intent to promote or criticize any of the religions about which I have written. However, I have always been intrigued with all religious beliefs, but especially those that played a part in the development of the United States. I hope no one is offended by an article “talking religion” – what I am hoping to convey is the impact all of these groups had on how and what we eat. Food was as important to them then, as it is to us, today. This, then, was the Common Thread.

When I first wrote THE COMMON THREAD for the Cookbook Collectors Exchange, we didn’t have the luxury of the Internet—especially Google, which has become my most useful tool when determining whether any of the information I had collected in the 1990s is still relevant. Consequently, and much to my surprise, I found an interesting article by cookbook author Marion Cunningham, written for Saver magazine a few years ago. I also found an article she wrote for the Los Angeles times in 1991—both about the Shaker religion. Ms. Cunningham visited several of the still existing Shaker villages – one in Pleasant Hill, near Lexington, Kentucky, and another at Sabbathday Lake in Maine. I found it curious that someone else was writing about the Shakers and their cooking—around the same time I was originally writing The Common Thread. One comment that Ms. Cunningham made that really caught my attention was her opening remarks in Saver magazine, where she writes “I am a file keeper. Bulging manila folders hold a lifetime of clippings, recipes, brochures…” – you could have knocked me over with a feather! Ms. Cunningham was describing MY bulging files!–sls

They were searching for Utopia, or heaven on earth. Most of them came to this Promised Land, inspired by a quest for religious freedom. Still others formed religious communities that were the result of an intense religious revival that spread through many of the Midwestern states in the early 1800s.

In her novel “THE BELIEVERS” (published by Houghton Mifflin, in 1957), Janice Holt Giles wrote “…it caught from the passionate zeal of two brothers…and quickly, with the heat, the rapidity and intensity of a forest fire, it spread all over the State (of Kentucky), throughout Tennessee and on into much of the rest of the south. It was called ‘The Great Revival’.

“Such preaching,” she wrote, “…had not before been experienced and people were caught up in its emotional raptures, taken with the jerks and shakes, dancing like dervishes, speaking in unknown tongues, weeping, wailing, barking like animals, crawling, rolling, going into trances. So great was the interest, so fast the spread, that within two years, crowds of ten, fifteen, twenty thousand, were gathering for the revival experiences. It created schisms in established churches and created new denominations…”

This great revival attracted the attention of leaders of the Shaker Church; they sent missionaries to investigate.

“Eventually,” explains Ms. Giles, “two communities (i.e., Shaker Villages) were founded in Kentucky. One was located near Harrodsburg, on Shawnee Run. It was called Pleasant Hill. The other was west of Bowling Green and was called South Union.”
It was after reading “THE BELIEVERS”, one of my all-time favorite books, that I became interested in religious cults as they developed in this country, and to what extent they influenced the development of the United States.

The Shakers weren’t the only ones searching for Utopia, however. According to Mark Holloway, author of “HEAENS ON EARTH” (Dover Publications, 1966) there were many others; the earliest religious community of this type in America is thought to have been the Labadists of Bohemia Manor, in New York State, named for Jean de Labadie, one of the most famous dissenting preachers of the 17th century. There were Rappites and Zoarites, immigrants of German sects who founded their community in 1805 (The Rappite Society lasted 98 years, the Zoarites 83): there was the community of Oneida and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or the Mormons, founded by Joseph Smith after he was visited by an angel for four years from 1823-1827; there were Amish and Hutterites, he Mennonites and the Inspirationists of Amama, a group that is with us today, having spent 170 years in successful communal living. Today, there are 1,450 members of this group, with 25,000 acres of land in seven different towns. They are all German and very prosperous.

Some of these religious communities, for a variety of reasons, splintered and fractured, and became other sects. Just as the Shakers were a splinter group from the Quakers, the Amish, Dunkards, Mennonites and Brethren were different sects among the Pennsylvania Dutch. Some came and went, hardly making a ripple on the surface of American history, others endured and prospered for a hundred years or more and a few are with us still today.

I have always found this particular subject fascinating—how the development of religious cults in this country influenced and helped develop the United States. For instance, did you know that the Shakers were the first to sell seeds commercially in this country? Not only were they first; their seeds were so superior that the Shakers became famous for them, enabling farmers throughout the country to grow better crops. They also invented numerous labor-saving devices for use in the kitchen and on the farm.

Now, I am not here to question whether any of these religious groups or sects were right or wrong in their quest for heaven on earth; what I would like to do, however, is explore a bit, and reflect on how these groups were formed and what part they played in the development of this great country. And then let’s see what kind of food they grew and prepared and what kind of cookbooks are devoted to them.

With the colonization of America, many groups immigrated to this country in search of religious freedom. Most famous of these, of course, were the Pilgrims.

Sometimes, communal living was initiated; sometimes for practical purposes, for survival and sometimes for religious reasons, to remain apart from “the world” and because of a belief in pooling all their resources for the common good. Mark Holloway tells us that even the Pilgrims at Plymouth made temporary experiments with communism for reasons of expediency. However, in the case of the Pilgrims, when the necessity for it had passed, communal living as abandoned.

The idea of communal living was not a new one. There were religious groups practicing communal living for hundreds of years in Europe. The earliest communistic society (in this interpretation, to mean any group of people who pooled all of their resources and lived and worked together, for the common good), of which there is any record is that of the Essenes, a Jewish sect, who flourished in Palestinian Syria sometime before the birth of Christ. They originated in the first or second century BC, and disappeared from bible history around the time of the Fall of Jerusalem In 70 A.D.. While they did not live together under one roof and were spread out in various towns and villages, the Essenes kept a rigid commune of property and followed strict religious observances. Like the Shakers centuries later, the Essenes practiced celibacy and counted on the continuation of their group through the adoption of children and converts.

Our intent, now, however is not to dwell on the history of the religious sects throughout the world but to remain focused on those that developed in this country, although nearly all had their roots in Europe and immigrated to the New World to escape persecution in their homelands. The Lutheran Anabaptists, the Mennonites and the Schwenkfelders all later established colonies in Pennsylvania and were to play an important part in the founding of American democracy.

By the nineteenth century, Mark Holloway tells us, vast numbers of religious sects were firmly established. In the course of the century (the 1800s) there were on hundred communities with a total membership of more than one hundred thousand men, women, and children. Some of their ideas were far more revolutionary than the democratic and working class movements in Europe that they were trying to escape. For instance, instead of trying to change society from within, they tried to set up models of ideal commonwealths, which they hoped would set examples to which the world would follow.

“The ideals they sought,” explains Mr. Holloway, “and often succeeded in achieving, included equality of sex, nationality and color; the abolition of private property, the abolition of property in people, either by slavery or through the institutions of monogamy and the family; the practice of non-resistance; and the establishment of a reputation for fair-dealing, scrupulous craftsmanship and respect for their neighbors” – all of this, bear in mind, taking place when slavery was becoming an accepted institution in this country, and women had no rights of their own, least of all the right to vote, and sometimes not even the right to own property.

Only a few of these communities lasted over a hundred years; many vanished within a few months of being founded. “But,” writes Mr. Holloway, “all have contributed something of value, not only to the fund of experience upon which succeeding experiments of the same kind have relied, but also to the history of American society. When they failed, going down before the advance of large-scale industry and scientific socialism, one of the most valuable qualities of revolutionary man suffered an eclipse from which it has not yet emerged. Socialists would be unwise to spurn the idealism which these utopians were endowed, for although it led them up strange backwaters and provided them with fantastic hallucinations, the heart of socialism lies in it. It is better, perhaps, to be slightly mad with a sound heart than to be sane without one”.

Of course, we know that not all of them failed and some of them are with us, flourishing, today. And even though many of these religious sects had different beliefs and practices, I did find a common thread that runs throughout most of these groups.

They almost all believed in good cooking. The exception may have been the Dutch-founded Labadists; according to Mark Holloway “(they)…began as a communistic settlement…newcomers were obliged to put all of their possessions and funds into the common stock…their meals began with chanting and ended with silent and spontaneous prayer. Men and women ate apart from one another. Any dish that excited or delighted the palate was forbidden, and anyone who was so foolish as to admit distaste for a certain dish was forced to eat it until his penance was complete. Household economy was so strict and the check on all individuals so detailed that a record was kept of how many slices of bread and butter were consumed by each person at each meal…”

Perhaps this is one of the reasons for the downfall of the Labadists, whose greatest distinction may have been being the first religious commune in the New World. Or it may have been because their leader didn’t practice what he preached—not only did he sell tobacco, although smoking was prohibited, he took up slavery and became a vicious slave owner. This leader of the Labadists died a rich man and was one of the first religious racketeers; five years after his death, however, the colony was extinct.

Interestingly, though, William Penn had met the founder of the Labadists, de Labadie, (not the leader who took up slavery in the new world) and even invited the Labadists to join the Quakers when Penn became the owner, sometime later, of a large piece of land midway between the New England and Virginia plantations, that had been named Pennsylvania in honor of his father. William Penn wanted to model his tract of land after Roger Williams’ Rhode Island (which Mr. Williams had created to offer religious freedom to ALL—a practice not being followed by the puritanical pilgrims), and so Mr. Penn invited persecuted sects of northern Europe to immigrate to this new land. Among those who gladly accepted were the German Quakers represented by the Frankfort Land Company; they bought from Penn a large tract of land. In 1683, the first group of immigrants founded Germantown. This group was followed by Mennonites and others, most of whom lived ordinary lives as settlers, marrying, and raising their families.

As a result of movements in Germany, small independent Baptist sects began to appear; they were not connected with the Mennonites or Anabaptists, but like them, they also immigrated to Pennsylvania. About 20 of these families arrived in Germantown in 1719 and soon formed the first German Baptist Brotherhood. This brought all the small Baptist sects together and they became known in the colony as the Dunkers, or Dunkards (from the German word DUNKEN, which means to dip, or baptism) and with them they brought their customs of the love feast, feet washing and the kiss of charity. Collectively, we know these people as the Pennsylvania Dutch.

William Woys Weaver (who, himself, is a direct descendant of Anabaptist martyr Georg Weber, and a member of an influential Mennonite family), in his fine book PENNSYLVANIA DUTCH COUNTRY COOKING, explains that the Pennsylvania Dutch are a composite of immigrants originating from four major regions of Central Europe; the Amish,. He says, only represent about 8% of the total Pennsylvania Dutch community.

The Pennsylvania Dutch, of course, can’t be lumped together as a religious group; however, within the group of people we know as the Pennsylvania Dutch, there were numerous religious sects. Perhaps the best-known of these are the Amish.

The Pennsylvania Dutch, says Mr. Weaver, are a people of many beliefs, of many lifestyles, but they share one thing in common – their cookery is the product of their land. He calls them America’s “farmers next door”, kitchen gardeners to New York and Philadelphia. He also explains that theirs is largely a cuisine of one-pot meals, fare that is designed around ancient dish concepts, to provide convenience and to strengthen the art of eating together at table. He also says that their best cookery is their most private cookery, for it is family-centered, a style of cooking that evolved out of sharing from a common pot. Weaver explains that their best cooks still cook at home, that the Pennsylvania Dutch never developed a restaurant culture to go along with their good home cooking.

It became apparent to me, as I researched material for this article, that I could have limited myself to the Pennsylvania Dutch and not gone farther afield, but if you want to learn a great deal about the Pennsylvania Dutch and their origins, you will have to get a copy of Mr. Weaver’s book “PENNSYLVANIA DUTCH COUNTRY COOKING” published in 1993 by Abbeville Press, Inc.

You may also own one of the many different booklet-style collections of recipes devoted to the Pennsylvania Dutch; I have several of these, the oldest with a faded green cover, published in 1934. In 1936, a replica of the older book was published by Culinary Arts Press. One feature of this booklet that makes it so appealing is that it contains, along with traditional Pennsylvania Dutch recipes such as scrapple and Schnitz and Knepp (a recipe of apples and ham), and the more famous Shoo-fly pie, a collection of poems and homespun philosophy. I found a similar booklet, simply titled “DUTCH COOKBOOK” by Edna Eby Heller, which was originally published in1953, and THE PENNSYLVANIA DUTCH COOKBOOK” b Gerald S. Lestz, published by Grosset and Dunlap in 1970. The latter contains what the author refers to as “an informal history of the Pennsylvania Dutch” and also contains a chapter on the Amish. (booklets such as these often turn up in antique stores or in boxes of booklets being sold for ten or twenty five cents each in used book stores).

Dover Publications published PENNSYLVANIA DUTCH COOK BOOK by J. George Frederick, in 1971; this is an unabridged republication of Part II, “COOKERY” of the PENNSYLVANIA DUTCH AND THEIR COOKERY which was originally published in 1946. I also found, wedged amongst other booklets on my shelves, a red-covered cookbooklet titled “COOKING WITH THE PENNSYLVIA DUTCH” published by the Auran Press of Lancaster, Pennsylvania—what makes this booklet a bit different from the others, aside from being undated, is that it purports to be a collection of choice old time home and farm recipes. (Since most Pennsylvania Dutch cooking remains traditional and old-fashioned, it’s hard to see how this differs from most other cookbooklets devoted to this region—I think many of these recipe booklets are the type you can purchase, inexpensively, when you travel through the region.

Yet another book—hardcover—is titled THE NEW PENNSYLVANIA DUTCH COOK BOOK by Ruth Shepherd Hutchison, published in 1958 by Harper & Row.

However, one of the finer books about the Amish is titled “THE BEST OF AMISH COOKING” by Phyllis Pellman Good. Pay attention to this author’s name—she has written a number of very good cookbooks, including THE FESTIVAL COOKBOOK. Ms. Good is a native of Lancaster County, PA and edits books related to both the Amish and Mennonites. She is co-author if FROM AMISH TO MENNONITE KITCHENS and 20 MOST ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE AMISH AND MENNONITES.

My Michigan penpal, Betsy, who also collects cookbooks and has a keen interest in the Amish, provided the following list of cookbooks in her collection, which will give you an idea of what to search for:

THE AMISH COOKS ANNIVERSARY BOOK – Lovina Eicher

THE AMISHCOOK AT HOME also by Lovina Eicher*

(*Sandy’s cooknote: Ms. Eicher writes a weekly column that is in several US newspapers; to go website http://www.theamishcook. )
MENNONITE GIRLS CAN COOK – They also have a website

THE HOMESTYLE AMISHKITCHEN COOKBOOK by GeorgiaVarozza

LANCASTER COUNTY COOKBOOK – Louise Stoltzfus

FAVORITE RECIPES OF QUILTERS – Louise Stoltzfus

MENNONITE COMMUNITY COOKBOOK – Mary Emma Showalter

COOKING FROM QUILT COUNTRY – Marcia Adams

FROM AMISH & MENNONITE KITCHENS – Phyllis Pellman Good

TREASURED AMISH & MENONITE RECIPES – Mennonite Central Committee

SHIPSHEWANA COMMUNITY COOKBOOK – Indiana Amish Country

PLAIN COOKING – Bill Randle

AMISH COOKIng – a Committee of Amish Women

COOKING WITH MANDIE VOL 1 & W (She has a cooking column in The Budget, a weekly Amish & Mennonite newspaper)

HOME COOKING – Adams County Community Cookbook, Ohio

MORE TASTY RECIPES – Ladies of Maranathe Church, Dover Ohio

LITTLE COOKBOOK ON THE PRAIRIE – FROM LITTLE STORE ON THE PRAIRIE, Amish store in Decatur Michigan

AMISH QUILTING COOKBOOK – Quilt shop in Mt Hope, Ohio

COOKING WITH THE HORSE & BUGGY PEOPLE II – Amish Women of Holmes County, Ohio

SEASONED WITH POETRY, COOKED WITH LOVE, Dewey, Ok

TASTES OF TOWNLINE II – La. Grange. Indiana

AMISH COUNTRY COOKBOOK – Essenhaus Restaurant, Middlebury, Ind.

TASTE OF PINECRAFT – Amish Kitchens of Pinecraft, Fl.

COUNTRY FAVORITES, Middle Barrens School, Middlebury, Indiana

AMISHFRIENDS 1 & 2 – Wanda Brunsetter
http://www.amishrecipebox.com

Phyllis Pellman Good writes, “The Amish are a Christian group who trace their beginnings to the time of the Protestant Reformation in16th century Europe”. In 1525, a group of believers parted company with the established state church for a number of reasons. “Among them was the conviction that one must voluntarily become a follower of Christ and that that deliberate decision will be reflected in all of one’s life. Since baptism must symbolize that choice, the movement was nicknamed “Anabaptists” meaning re-baptism.

Eventually the group were called Mennonites after Menno Simons, one of their leaders.

Like so many others of their time, their beliefs were often misunderstood and frequently look upon as a threat to established religion—consequently, they were persecuted. In 1693, a young Mennonite leader believed that the church was losing some of its purity and beginning to compromise with the world—and so he and a group who agreed with him left the Mennonites and formed a separate following, which they called Amish, after their leader Jacob Amman. Today, the Amish consider themselves the most conservative of the Mennonites.

Most of the Amish who settled in Pennsylvania in the 1700s settled in the eastern portion of the state, but unlike other religious sects of this period, they did not live in sequestered communities; often they had neighbors who were not Amish. Also, it was not until the American Revolution that this group defined its beliefs and practices: it was at this time that they realized their objections to war and refused to take part in it. They also try to remain apart from a worldly society, preferring to farm and remain close to the land.

Some of the different sects among the Pennsylvania Dutch, including the Amish, have clung to old ways in dress and other customs. Old Order Amish, Phyllis Pellman Good tells us, do not own or drive cars. They live without electricity, have prescribed dress patterns, operate their own schools and speak Pennsylvania Dutch among themselves.

However, although they are highly disciplined and often thought of as austere, the two areas in which the Amish distinguish themselves are in their quilts and their food. They believe that to waste is to destroy God’s gift; to go hungry is to ignore the bounty of the earth—and that there is no reason eating should not be a pleasure.

I have discovered that many of the Pennsylvania Dutch foods and their method of preparation are as familiar tome as my grandmother’s kitchen, reflecting, I suppose, on my German Hungarian background. The Amish, for instance, are big on soups and one-pot meals, a kind of cooking I grew up with and frequently practice today (as I write this a pot of homemade beef and barley soup is simmering on the stove—my four sons grew up on a lot of one-dish meals.) Potato soup, Ms. Good tells us, still tops the list as the most frequently eaten soup in Amish homes. Some eat it with rivvels, (a kind of tiny dumpling made with flour and egg).

She says others flavor it with chopped celery and onion. Today, most people have never heard of scrapple –but my older sister made it frequently when she was alive. And the Pennsylvania Dutch practice of keeping a cruet of vinegar on the table, so you can splash it on vegetables (or in bean or pea soup) is practiced by most members of my family to this day and is as familiar to me as my grandmother’s kitchen table on Baltimore Street was, back in the day.

Most Pennsylvania Dutch cookbook authors agree that soups and one dish meals are a traditional part of Pennsylvania Dutch cuisine.

Ruth Hutchison, in THE NEW PENNSYLVANIA DUTCH COOK BOOK writes “Soup was frugal, soup was filling. Whatever food was available could be dropped into the soup kettle, and soup with keep body and soul together for a while. Even if there was nothing but milk and flour to be had, they would make two kinds of soup: brown flour soup and RIVVEL soup. Milk, potatoes and onions would make two more kinds of soups: potato soup and onion soup. This is how the “milk soups” came into being. Sometimes the Pennsylvania Dutch called them “pour man’s soups…”

Along with pies, for which they have always been famous (and will eat even for breakfast), the Pennsylvania Dutch are renown for shoo-fly pie and apple pandowdy, apple butter andfritters, Philadelphia Pepper-Pot soup, my favorite lebkuchen (a kind of honey based spice cookie), Moravian cookies, Pfeffernusse, Sauerbraten (a pot roast made with meat that has been soaked in vinegar, which gives—along with the distinctive flavor—the meat a good tenderizing. They are also famous for Wiener Schnitzel and chicken pot pies – and, of course, sauerkraut and hot German-style potato salad.

Today, the Amish live in 28 states and one Canadian province, Ontario, totaling about 261,150 adults and children. In most communities over half of the population is under the age of 18. About two thirds of the Amish population live in three states – Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Indiana. **

Like the Amish and the Mennonites, the Hutterites trace their origins to the 16th century Anabaptist movement which began in Zurich, Switzerland in 1525. Anabaptists claims that the true church consisted only of devout believers who were voluntarily baptized as adults. This concept was considered extremely radical and its believers met with a great deal of persecution. During this period, Anabaptism spread to Austria and from there to Moravia (now part of Czechoslovakia) where they found tolerance to their beliefs. In 1528, one group of Anabaptists adopted the practice of communal living, of sharing all economic goods. Jakob Hutter was an early leader of this community and the group eventually became known as Hutterites. The Hutterites in Moravia grew during the 16th century, but then met with war, plague, and persecution—in 1622, Catholic rulers banished all Hutterites from Moravia—which led, eventually, to most of the Hutterites immigrating to Russia and from Russia to America in the mid 1800s, when the Russian government threatened to take away their exemption from military service and their right to conduct schools in the German language. Before this mass immigration took place, however, several Hutterite leaders were inspired to resume communal living. Several of these communities were founded in Dakotas; the largest of these was the Schmiedeleut, established in what is now South Dakota.

However, because of their pacifist beliefs, during World War I the Hutterites were treated severely by the United States government. Two young men who were imprisoned for refusing to cooperate with the military died in prison, from mistreatment. Due to this, most of the Hutterites moved north to Canada. The Hutterite community moved 17 of its 18 existing American colonies to Canadian provinces of Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan. With the passage of laws protecting conscientious objectors, some of the Schmiedeleuf began returning to the Dakotas starting in the 1930s where the built and inhabited new colonies.

Today, most Schmiedeleut live in Manitoba and South Dakota with a few in North Dakota and Minnesota. What makes Hutterites distinctive today from other groups with whom they share similar beliefs, is that they believe in the community of worldly goods.

In 1988, there were 35,000 Hutterite Brethrenliving in 374 colonires, or Bruderhofs, which means “places of the brethren”. Most of these are in the great plains areas of the USA and Canada and practice large scale agriculture. Unlike the Amish, however, the Hutterites have no restrictions on the type of farm machinery they use. They have the latest farm equipment, automatied poultry and livestock operations.

To learn more about the Hutterite community, you may be interested in a cookbook by Joanita Kant, titled THE HUTTERITE COMMNITY COOKBOOK, published in 1990 by Good Books of Intercourse, Pennsylvania (yes, the very same Good people – no pun intended – who have published the books about the Amish and the Mennonites.
In the Hutterite Community, it is customary for the women to keep handwritten notebooks which have been handed down from generation to generation. It is a tradition amongst these people that each time a colony divides to form a new daughter community (usually when the population reaches 120 people), the wife of the newly elected boss is given a copy of the cookbook from the m other colony. She is usually elected to be the head cook in the new colony This collection of recipes is based on the main cookbook, as well as the canning cookbook used in the Sunset Colony in Eastern South Dakota (wouldn’t you just love to be able to look at some of these handwritten cookbooks! Be still my heart!).

The type of food eaten by the Hutterites reflects their central European origins. Meat is served in abundance; breads, buns and dumplings are made in a variety of forms, for breakfast, lunch or supper.

The whole community gathers at mealtimes, except for children 14 years of age or younger, who are fed separately. Although meals are eaten in near silence, explains Ms. Kant, and it is clear that food is regarded as a necessity, and not an art form, the food is nevertheless substantial and plays an important part in the communal lifestyle. Along with a printed recipe, Ms. Kant has provided facsimiles of the original handwritten recipes. This is a beautiful cookbook, illustrated by Mary Elmore Wipf. The book sells for about $14.00. **

The history of the AMANA Society began in Germany in 1714 under the name of the Religious Community of True Inspiration. Persecution and discrimination, imprisonment and forced relocation led the believers, after a prophecy in July 1842, to immigrate to the United States where they formed a community in New York State, near the city of Buffalo. About 800 members—men, women, and children—were amongst the original group to immigrate to a commune which they called Ebenezer, a 500 acre Seneca Indian Reservation that had been purchased by four of their leaders. Later, an additional 5000 acres of land was purchased but Buffalo was growing rapidly, land prices were increasing, and the leaders began to look westward for more land and a way to escape the worldly city life.

In 1854, a group went to look at newly opened government lands, first in what is now Kansas, and then in Iowa. A location along the Iowa River suited them and they bought 18,000 acres of land along both sides of the Iowa River in Iowa County. Here, the Community of True Inspiration, today known as the Amana Church, practiced communal living and prospered until 1932, when the holdings were reorganized into a corporation.

During Amana’s communal era, able-bodies men and women worked at assigned jobs on farms and in factories, in craft shops and kitchens, in gardens, orchards, and vineyards. They received no pay but were given an allowance for clothing and household items. Food, housing, medical care, and education were provided by the community, the Gemeinde–a German word for “community” or “village”. Each family was assigned a home, which they often shared with relatives. Community doctors and dentists were sent to a state university or to Europe for their education. Medicines were prepared by community pharmacies, and made available. Teachers were also educated outside the community and then taught all children from ages 5 to 14. At the age of 14, most boys were assigned work on the farms or apprenticed in the craft shops, while girls were assigned kitchen work until they married.
When small children were about 4 years old, they were placed in Kinderschule, a day of daycare, or cared for by grandparents, so their mothers could return to kitchen work or gardening. However, whereas the Hutterites focused primarily on farming, the Amana colony directed their attention into textile production which became perhaps their most successful endeavor. They gained a fine reputation for their woolens and calicos; their brightly colored blankets and wolen cloths were shipped to wholesale markets in the big cities such as New York and Chicago. Even so, the Amana communal kitchen system, at the height of the communal era, had 55 communal kitchens to serve the seven Amana communities. Each kitchen was assigned to 30 to 45 residents and were operated by the KUCHEBAAS (kitchen boss), her VIZEBAAS (assistant boss) RUSTSCHWESTERN (those who prepared the fresh vegetables for cooking) and two or three young cooks. These women ruled over the kitchens, kept chickens, made butter and cheese, bake cakes and pies, pickled and preserved foods and served 3 meals a day, every day of the year. The kitchen crews also prepared midmorning and mid-afternoon lunches, usually coffee, wine, bread and cheese for the farmers and gardeners and anyone else who needed extra sustenance. END OF PART ONE

I LEFT MY HEART IN TENNESSEE!

Until my older sister moved to Tennessee, I don’t think I thought overmuch about Tennessee; I had a few special Junior League cookbooks from Tennessee, certainly. “Dinner On the Diner” published by the Junior League of Tennessee in 1983 has always been a favorite—both the recipes and the art-deco design of the cookbook itself were quite appealing. Somewhere along the way I found some other old Tennessee community cookbooks to add to my collection.

Then in the 1990s, my older sister and her husband moved, lock stock and barrel, along with a younger brother and his wife and children to the Nashville region. My sister fell in love with Tennessee. When our brother and his family returned to Ohio a few years later, my sister and her husband bought five acres of land in Castalian Springs, about eleven miles from Lebanon, which in turn is about 40 miles (give or take a few) from Nashville. They bought a mobile home to put on the property.

We had a family reunion there one year, to celebrate my sister’s 60th birthday and it was at that time that some of us did a walking tour of downtown Nashville and I visited President Jackson’s home, the Hermitage, with my mother and her gentleman friend. When my sister was diagnosed with breast cancer, I began traveling to Tennessee more frequently. While running errands for my sister, I discovered the little towns of Hartsville and Lebanon and the historical trail that is present day Route 25 when driving to and from Hartsville. I fell in love with Tennessee, too.

Civil War historical sites can be found all around the region. The Battle of Hartsville was fought on December 7, 1862, in northern Tennessee at the opening of the Stones River Campaign the American Civil War. I always assumed that someday, when my sister was better, we’d visit some of the other Civil War sites. However, my sister passed away in October of 2004 and when I flew out of Nashville a week later, depressed and grieving, I thought I would never return to Tennessee again.

My sister gave me some of her cookbooks before she died but I had begun buying quite a few others—those and other southern cookbooks—whenever we found ourselves somewhere in the South, such as one niece’s wedding in the 1980s, at Stone Mountain near Atlanta.
The following are some of my Tennessee cookbooks:

OLD TIME TENNESSEE RECEIPTS, FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH OF NASHVILLE, UNDATED but ads place it in the early 1940s, spiral bound

PI BETA PHI COOKBOOK BY PI BET PHI SETTLEMNT SCHOOL COMMITTEE, GATLINBURG TN, 1957, THIRD ED 1959, spiral binding, some ads

SMOKY MOUNTAIN MAGIC, JR LEAGUE OF JOHNSON CITY, TN, 1ST printed 1960. Mine is from 4th printing in 1971, spiral binding

NASHVILLE SEASONS, JR LEAGUE OF NASHVILLE, 1964 tenth printing 1980
1st printed 1964, spiral binding, mine is from tenth printing in 1980.

PARTY POTPOURRI, JR LEAGUE OF MEMPHIS Inc. 1970, spiral bound
TENNESSE FAVORITES, OLD & NEW, NATIONAL SOCIETY OF THE COLONIAL DMES OF AMERICA IN TENNESSEE, 1973, spiral binding

OPRYLAND USA KOUNTRY KOOKING, BY Phila Rawlings Hach, hardcover, 1974

THE MEMPHIS COOK BOOK, JR LEAGUE OF MEMPHIS, 16TH EDITION, BICENTENNIAL YEAR 1976, spiral binding

THE NASHVILLE COOKBOK SPECIALITIES OF THE CUMBERLAND REGION, NASHVILLE AREA HOME ECONOMICS ASSSOC, 1976-77 spiral binding

ENCORE! NASHVILLE, JR LEAGUE OF NASHVILLE, 1ST PRINTING 1977, 2ND ED 1982, spiral binding

SOUTHERN SECRETS, EPISCOPAL DAY SCHOOL MOTHERS’ CLUB, JACKSON TN, 1979, spiral binding

A MAN’S TASTE, Junior League of Memphis, 1980, spiral binding

FLAUNTING OUR FINEST, FRANKLIN JUNIOR AUXILIARY, FRANKLIN TN, 1982, spiral binding

WELL SEASONED, A SOUTHERN CLASSIC, LES PASSEES PUBLICATIONS, MEMPHIS TN, 1982, spiral binding

POTLUCK FAVORITES PLUS, COMMUNITY CRAFT CENTER, CLINTON, TN. 2-RING BINDING, 1982

DIXIE DELIGHTS, ST FRANCIS HOSPITAL AUXILIARY, MEMPHIS, TN, 1983, spiral binding

DINNER ON THE DINER, JUNIOR LEAGUE OF CHATTANOOGA, TN, 1983, 3-ring cookbook; pages can be easily removed to scan or copy.

OUR DAILY BREAD, EMPLOYEES OF WIMMER BROS, MEMPHIS,1983, spiral binding

ANNOUNCING OUR OWN COOKBOOK, WOMEN’S AUXILIARY, TENN ASSOC RESCUE SQUADS, 1984, spiral binding

TREASURES OF THE SMOKIES, JR LEAGUE OF JOHNSON CITY, TN, 1ST PRINTING 1986, 2ND PRINTING 1994, spiral binding

BEST OF THE BEST FROM TENNESSEE, QUAIL RIDGE PRESS, 1987, spiral binding—made up of various other community cookbooks, a good way to discover what you don’t have. Lists of all contributing cookbooks is at the back of the cookbook, with illustrations

KINFOLKS AND CUSTARD PIE, RECOLLECTIONS AND RECIPES FROM AN EAST TENNESSEAN, WALTER LAMBERT, HARD COVER, UNIV OF TENN PRESS, 1988

MEMPHIS IN MAY, INT’L FESTIVAL COOKBOK, VOL1, 1989, spiral binding

KITCHENS WITH A MOUNTAIN VIEW II, CONCORD HILLS WOMEN’S CLUB, KNOXVILLE, 1990, spiral binding

KODAK CENTENNIAL HISTORICAL COOKBOOK, KODAK, TN, 1892-1992, wire binding

RECIPES FROM the Kitchens of FAMILY AND FRIENDS, UMC CANCER CENTER, LEBANON TN. 2001, spiral binding

COUNTRY CLASSICS VOL II, FROM TENNESSEE FARM BUREAU WOMEN, published 2002, spiral binding

SEASONED TO TASTE, JR LEAGUE OF CHATTANOOGA, TN, 2011, hardcover cookbook,

COUNTRY CLASSICS, 75TH Edition TENNESSEE FARM BUREAU WOMEN, spiral binding, undated

DOLLYAWOOD PRESENTS TENNESSE MOUNTAIN HOME COOKING, undated, spiral binding

COUNTRY FIXIN’S FROM UNION HEIGHTS UNION HTS ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, CARTHAGE SCHOOL PTO, undated but postage additional when ordering a copy was 75c and to order the cookbook the price was $6.00.

Do you have a favorite Tennessee community cookbook not listed here? Let me hear from you!

Happy cooking – and happy cookbook collecting!

Sandy

ONE MORE SOUTHERN COOKBOOK – SOUTHERN SCRUMPTIOUS FAVORITES BY BETTY SIMS

Southern Scrumptious Favorites is a bit of a departure in that it isn’t a community or Junior League cookbook – no matter! We’ll take southern cookbooks where ever they can be found—all the more powerful when it has been compiled by an individual instead of a group.

From the Betty Sims website we learn: She is the author of Southern Scrumptious: How to Cater Your Own Party and Southern Scrumptious Entertains. Not surprisingly, Betty holds a degree in Foods and Nutrition from the University of Tennessee.

A former owner of Johnston Street Café and caterer, Betty operates the Scrumptious Culinary School in Decatur, Alabama and is a food consultant. She has also received training at Peter Kumps Cooking School (New York, NY), Martha Stewart Seminars (West Port, Connecticut), Culinary Institute of America (Napa Valley, CA), Cordon Bleu (Paris), Seminar with Kathy Alex (Grasse, France) and Seminar with Pam Sheldon Johns (Montepulciano, Italy). Betty maintains catering your own party can be a rewarding experience and one that does not have to be overwhelming.

In the introduction, cookbook author Betty Sims writes, “The special recipes contained in SOUTHERN SCRUMPTIOUS FAVORITES are the tried and true recipes presented in Scrumptious Cooking School during the last few years..” She says they’ve had so much fun preparing these recipes with her wonderful classes, along with assistance from her team: Nicole Shelton, Greg Clemons,Cherri Carr, and Jo Hosey.

Betty says that she grew up with a passion for cooking in the small town of Cartersville, Georgia. She writes that her mother was an excellent cook who loved having her daughter with her in the kitchen. (This is something I can really relate to—my mother turned me loose in the kitchen when I was about 10 years old)–by the time I got married, I was comfortable in the kitchen and my high school girlfriends (whose mothers did not welcome their presence in the kitchen) would call me almost daily asking how to make this or that).

When Betty was only twelve years old she started a small business making cakes for her parents’ friends, for birthdays and parties. Her mother furnished the ingredients so Betty made full profit for her allowance.

After Betty spent four years majoring in Foods and Nutrition at the University of Tennessee, she met and married Bill Sims, who was in medical school preparing to become an orthopedic surgeon. Together they raised four children, all born within a 5 year span.

They had a very busy life after settling in Decatur, Georgia.
When the Sims’ youngest daughter left for college, Betty decided to open the Johnston Street Café—and the rest, as they say, is history.

SOUTHERN SCRUMPTIOUS FAVORITES is the third in Betty Sims’ Scrumptious series – so if you like this one, you may want to look for the other two to add to your cookbook collection.

Betty says that one of her favorite ways to entertain (mine too) is by having a mid-morning brunch, shared by family or friends on a leisurely Saturday or Sunday morning. With that in mind, you may want to consider her recipes for Everyday Granola, Skillet Coffee Cake, Grits Souffle or Cheesy Hash Brown Casserole and Mimosas. If you need a menu to put something together, one is offered for an Elegant Brunch.

Next is the menu for a special occasion dinner—this may be one you will want to keep at your fingertips for future reference; it includes Peach Sangria, Red and White Grape Salad, Pimm’s Cup (a refreshing non-alcoholic beverage), Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes with Meyer Lemon Sauce or Mango Salsa , Creamy Wild Mushroom Risotto, Balsamic-Glazed Brussels Sprouts and Apple Bread Pudding with Brandy Sauce. (I admit to being partial to Meyer lemons; Bob & I had a dwarf Meyer lemon tree at our house in Arleta).

For a party in the kitchen the menu lists chunky guacamole, Blue Cheese Coleslaw, Braised Short Ribs, Creamy Mashed Potatoes, Cheddar Biscuits and Chocolate Cinnamon Pots de Crème. A party in the kitchen is a great idea – I never actually planned to have a party in the kitchen –but many of my party guests generally ended up there! Sims’ recipe for chunky guacamole is very nearly identical to mine; I used to take this guacamole to work every Thursday with bags of fresh warm bagels from Western Bagel – for the claims department where I was an Administrative Assistant.

The next offering is a Menu for a Casual Company Supper—this sounds absolutely delightful and most of the recipes can be made up in advance. Listed is Chutney Cheese, Tarragon Deviled Eggs, Shrimp and Grits with Applewood Bacon, Pecan Beet Salad, Scoop-and-bake Dinner Rolls and choice of Quick Apple Tart or Chocolate Cobbler.

The following menu is for a small plate appetizer buffet – I especially like this one; when we were having large holiday parties every year—for decades—I discovered that nothing works better than a party presenting all appetizers.

The menu for this party is Cheese and Fruit Board, Brat Bites with Plum Sauce, Bette Davis Eyes (a tantalizing combination of whipping cream, goat cheese, dark seeding grapes and pistachios), All-American Sliders, Smoked Salmon Spread, Caramelized Pear and Gruyere Torta, Hot Spinach Bacon Dip, Brownies with Chocolate Ganache Glaze—and Coconut Truffles! The brownies with chocolate ganache glaze and the coconut truffles are already on my short-list for next Christmas’ holiday baking.

Next, is a menu for a French Dinner Celebrating Julia – followed by a Taste of Tuscany with an Italian Dinner, then a Supper on the Porch. Next is a Festive Open House menu (The recipe for Sparkling Pomegranate Cocktail is going into my recipe box) followed by a menu for a Celebration Feast—very elegant!

Next are Southern Scrumptious Favorites—ranging from appetizers, beverages, soups and sandwiches, salads, breakfast and brunch, breads, entrees, complements and desserts. There are so many wonderful recipes—you will go through a pack of post-it notes to mark your favorites.(I am already planning to make a recipe for Burgundy Mushrooms the next time I can obtain fresh button mushrooms to go with).

I love soup recipes and Southern Scrumptious Favorites doesn’t disappoint – Butternut Squash Soup! Chicken and Wild Rice Soup! Moroccan Carrot Soup or Loaded Potato Soup!

Under Sandwiches, I found a great recipe for making Easiest Pimento Cheese and for luncheons, you may want to try your hand at making Baked Pears with Walnuts over Mixed Greens (your guests will be amazed) or Spinach Salad with Mango-Ginger Chutney Dressing. You may think that making your own chutneys is difficult but it really isn’t and there is a simple recipe for making Mango-Ginger Chutney Dressing to go with this Spinach Salad.
There is a great recipe for Layered Taco Salad and Betty’s Simple Vinaigrette is sure to become a family favorite. For brunches, you will surely want to try Fancy Egg Scramble or Tomato Florentine Quiche. Check out Delicious Bacon Brunch Casserole too!

I love Overnight Oven-Baked French Toast (and have been making something similar for years—I will have to try Betty’s recipe next time I am having overnight guests).

These are just a few of the dozens of recipes to be found in Southern Scrumptious Favorites.

To order Southern Scrumptious Favorites from the Favorite Recipes Press Cookbook Marketplace, it is listed on Page 11 of The Cookbook Marketplace catalog for $24.95.

Two other Southern Scrumptious Cookbooks are listed on the same page – Southern Scrumptious ($21.95) and Southern Scrumptious Entertains (21.95) are right on the same page!

The Favorite Recipes Press Marketplace is a great source for finding many of your favorite community cookbooks (southern and otherwise). They have nearly 300 titles from which to choose and color illustrations of the covers. You can get a catalog by writing to the Cookbook Marketplace at 2451 Atrium Way, Nashville, TN 37214 OR call them toll free at 1-800-269-6839. You can also visit the cookbook marketplace online by going to http://www.cookbookmarketplace.com. You can also request a free catalog when you place your order!

Happy Cooking – and Happy Cookbook Collecting!
Sandy

SEASONED TO TASTE – FROM THE JUNIOR LEAGUE OF CHATTANOOGA

MORE SOUTHERN COOKBOOKS! “SEASONED TO TASTE” by the Junior League of Chattanooga, Tenn.

It seems that everybody—including non-southern cooks—loves southern cookbooks and southern cuisine. Why do you suppose that is? Why is southern cuisine so outstanding that we can’t get enough of it?

I have two more southern cookbooks to share with you! The first is a cookbook with a washable cover (I love how publishers are doing this), titled “SEASONED TO TASTE” subtitled “Savoring the Scenic City” with the Junior League of Chattanooga.”

The Junior League of Chattanooga has crossed my line of vision before; “Dinner on the Diner” by this Junior League has long been a favorite of mine, and when my older sister to moved to Castalian Springs, a small town outside of Nashville, the two of us endeavored to find as many Tennessee cookbooks as we could. I dragged out most of my Tennessee cookbooks and found 35. Tennessee is only second to Ohio in my favorite cookbooks.

“SEASONED TO TASTE” is a slightly oversized cookbook that introduces itself with lush photographs that make a person want to pack up and head for Chattanooga. As the second oldest Junior League in the South, this Junior League strives to make positive changes in their community. “Dating back to 1917,” they write, “our League has partnered with local hospitals to operate baby clinics and nutrition centers and has provided clothing and comfort to displaced children. We have established reading programs and distributed scholarship funds to local schools and special educational centers. Through projects and financial support, our League strives to improve the health of children and the future of families in our beloved city…”

They are proud to be a part of an exceptional community and say that through the purchase of “Seasoned to Taste” your contribution will help them continue their efforts. “Ninety-four percent of every dollar we generate supports our mission to develop the potential of women and improve our community through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers…” Ninety-four percent! That’s a really impressive total!

In the Introduction to “Seasoned to Taste”, Cookbook Chair Billie Rose writes, “There’s a popular saying that goes, ‘I wasn’t born in the South, but I got here as quick as I could!’” and says “The same can be said about Chattanooga—with its genuine Southern hospitality and charm, a melting pot of locals and transplants are thrilled to call it home.”

She adds that as a child, on cross-country trips she was fascinated with the city. “Before beginning any journey,” she writes, “I would firmly implore my parents to ‘wake me when we get to Chattanooga!’ lest I accidentally nap through the experience. The region is irresistible: looming, lush mountains, sparkling lakes and winding rivers; and as you crest the ridge headed to downtown, the sweeping vista of the city leaves you breathless.”

“Chattanooga,” she explains, “is nicknamed the Scenic City, and with good reason. The changing landscapes and activities present residents and visitors alike the chance to fall in love with the area each season. This was the inspiration for ‘Seasoned to Taste.” For spring, summer, autumn and winter, you will find fabulous recipes that reflect the ingredients and traditions of the season paired with unique local events and scenery to be enjoyed during that special time of year…..”

Rose goes on to say that “Owners of Junior League cookbooks expect to find a treasure trove of splendid dishes (true)…” and theirs is no exception.

The volunteers spent countless hours testing, tasting and selecting the community’s finest recipes that appear on the pages of “Seasoned to Taste”.

Billie Rose adds that “Seasoned to Taste” is a valentine to our beloved city” and who could ask for more?

“Seasoned to Taste” is divided into seasons and begins logically with Spring.

Here you will find a wealth of recipes from which to peruse and choose—and it starts with appetizers such as Artichoke Melbas, a simple recipe of only 5 ingredients to mix and serve on Melba toasts, but there are also Blue Cheese Bacon Puffs, Topplin’ Tomatoes and Crab-Stuffed Mushrooms. Or try Bleu Camembert Torta or Heirloom Salsa Verde (made with a few heirloom tomatoes) – and top it all off with Basil Mojitos.

There is also a recipe for Wedding Bell Punch, or—for something that packs more of a punch—Lemon Drop Punch is made with vodka and champagne. If you want something non-alcoholic, Legacy Tea is sure to please.

Salads for spring include a Grape Salad (made with green and red grapes), or Broccoli Salad, Greek Isles Potato salad or “Easy like Sunday Morning” salad that is sure to become a family favorite. I also love the sound of Porch Party Pasta Salad even though I don’t have a porch! There is also Spring Chicken Salad, a simple recipe made with just a pound of boneless, skinless chicken breasts and a few other easy ingredients, and Oriental Flank Steak, another sure to please recipe. This is one of those recipes that only require you to buy a flank (or London Broil) steak and some green onions—I’m willing to bet all the other ingredients are on your pantry shelves.

A few other chicken recipes that are sure to please would be Cold Lemon Chicken, Pan-Seared Tarragon Chicken and Supper Club Casserole (made with one cooked chicken—this recipe serves 8 and would be perfect for a small dinner party.

This is just a sampling of Spring’s fifty-something recipes. Cakes you won’t want to wait to bake will include River Queen Carrot Cake, Jam Cake, Six-Flavor Pound Cake, Chocolate Torte – or Choo-Choo Chocolate Pie!

For SUMMER you will find a greater wealth of recipes, over ninety, in fact. And can I tell you that the first thing that really caught my attention is a recipe called “Firecrackers” – this recipe is very much like one I have been making with pretzels – except their uses a package of club crackers. I can’t share “Firecrackers” recipe with you, but I will post the recipe for Sylvia’s Pretzels at the end of this review. I will certainly try the recipe for Firecrackers too!

There is also a recipe called Fig in a Ribbon that caught my attention as well—we had 3 fig trees where I used to live and I really do miss those figs! “Seasoned to Taste” offers a recipe using figs that makes 28 appetizer bites.

Other yummy recipes for Summer include Chutney Cheese, Cheese Slaw, Sunshine Sauce, Cranberry Avocado Salsa, Zucchini Muffins (so easy!), and Sausage-stuffed Heirloom Tomatoes (you have to love recipes using heirloom tomatoes—these are still relatively new to our culinary landscape and it’s good to learn recipes for using them.) Elsewhere in the cookbook, there is a recipe for Heirloom Tomato And Walnut Pesto Pie—oh, yum! And the cookbook committee suggests using different colored tomatoes such as yellow and purple, in this recipe, but say do not use green tomatoes.

There are chicken recipes you will certainly want to try – Signature “Fried” Chicken (that is actually baked), and Panko Crumb Chicken that serves 8 – but you may want to serve it to a smaller group, say about 4 people – so each person can have two if they want them. Boneless skinless chicken breasts can often be appealing enough for seconds and this recipe looks like a winner.

I was pleased to find a recipe for Grilled Snapper with Capers and Dill – I keep bottles of capers on a pantry shelf to cook with fish (often Tilapia) and it has surprised me that even my grandchildren like capers.

A recipe called Aunt Becky’s Garlic Pickles sounds surprisingly similar to one that my best friend, Mary Jaynne, makes; it’s easy enough to make and such a good accompaniment with ham or turkey sandwiches.

High on my list of recipes to try is Red Wine and Blueberry Sauce that I know I will want to make. Ditto Banana Split Pie and Creamy Lemonade Pie—I think I will make this one to go with our Easter dinner.

You will also want to check out the recipe titled Sloppy Pineapple Cake—or cookie recipes such as Carmelitas, Razzle Dazzle Bars (contains raspberry preserves) or two of my long-time favorites, Cowboy Cookies and Potato Chip Cookies. (This last recipe is handy to make up when you have some crushed potato chips in the bottom of the bag)…is it only me? I always end up with at least a cup of crushed chips –when life hands you lemons, make lemonade or if life hands you crushed potato chips, make potato chip cookies. I doubt anyone will guess what the secret ingredient is.

The section of “Seasoned to Taste” titled Autumn is subtitled A Season of Comfort as they write, “As the leaves change to deep russet, gold and orange, the mountains of East Tennessee come alive with activity. By foot, bike, or boat many Chattanoogans would count fall as their favorite season to explore our region thanks to cooler temperatures and breathtaking scenery….”

Oh, my! Autumn boasts of no less than one hundred and thirty three recipes! Appetizers boast of Shrinp De jonghe and Hair of the Dog Pub Shroomies, for starters (Hair of the Dog Pub opened in 2005 as a vision of an old world English pub and local watering hole—the Shroomies sound wonderful!) The easy recipe for Smokey’s Sausage Cups is accompanied by a mouth-watering photograph –this is sure to become a party favorite!

Party beverages will include Boxcar Bloody Marys with Cocktail Tomato Skewers, Amber-Ritas (sounds delish) and Point Park Punch that couldn’t be easier. You will want to try Bourbon Roast (made with ¾ cup of bourbon) or Meat Loaf for a King, Yankee Glazed Chicken or Harvest Enchiladas (surprise ingredient is a can of pumpkin puree!) and for dessert, don’t overlook Bread Pudding with Jack Daniel’s Sauce* or Cranberry and Apple Crumble. Also, make a note of trying Duckie’s Boozy Cranberry Sauce—this recipe is right up my alley!
Sandy’s Cooknote: I always assume (often incorrectly) that everybody knows things like where
the Jack Daniel’s distillery is located (Lynchburg, Tennessee).

Desserts you don’t want to overlook include Berries ‘n’ Cream, Lunch Counter Pecan Pie and “Tootie’s Fudge Cake. (We don’t know who Tootie is, but we love her easy fudge cake recipe—this is a simple recipe you can throw together for a quick dessert—you will undoubtedly have all the ingredients in your frig or pantry and it’s the perfect quick dessert!)

The final season is WINTER (and perhaps my favorite season because of Christmas). This section of “Seasoned to Taste” offers – count them – one hundred and seventy one recipes! I’m not sure which ones I love the most – there’s Baked Mushroom Caps, an easy appetizer you can make up in advance, and Dates En Brochette—a simple recipe using only three ingredients but oh, how yummy – and you can substitute pecans for the whole almonds. There is Smoked Salmon Spread, Beer Cheese (one of my favorites) and Plantation Eggnog to consider. For parties where you want the suggestion of alcohol – but not actually have it – you will want to try a recipe titled “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Champagne”, Savory Walnut Muffins and Daddy Doodah’s Married Beans (you have to read it to believe it). There are lots of party entrees to consider but pardon me if I swoon over the cookie recipes – Tuxedo Truffle Cookies! Winter White Chocolate Macaroons! Lemon Snowflakes! and Rudolph in the Snow Cookies!

Cake recipes include Eggnog Cake, Nonie’s Chocolate Cake, Mother’s Fruitcake and Gingerbread with Molasses Sauce. Need I say more?

One final word for cookbook collectors who–like I —love to find a bibliography. There is a three-page bibliography in the back of “Seasoned to Taste”.

I love this cookbook. It led me to digging out and going through all of my other Tennessee cookbooks and considering a post just about them – my Tennessee cookbooks. Meantime, you are going to want “Seasoned to Taste” for your collection, girlfriends. You will love it.
This cookbook is available from FAVORITE RECIPES PRESS/THE COOKBOOK MARKETPLACE, the cost is $29.95.

The Favorite Recipes Press Marketplace is a great source for finding many of your favorite community cookbooks (southern and otherwise). They have nearly 300 titles from which to choose and color illustrations of the covers. You can get a catalog by writing to the Cookbook Marketplace at 2451 Atrium Way, Nashville, TN 37214 OR call them toll free at 1-800-269-6839.
Happy Cooking – and Happy Cookbook Collecting!

–Sandy@sandychatter

To make “Sylvia’s ‘Those’ Pretzels you will need
1 1-lb bag of tiny pretzel twists
¾ cup cooking oil (such as Canola)
1 package Hidden Valley Ranch original dressing mix
Dashes of cayenne

Put half of the pretzels into a large plastic ziplock bag. Pour on half of the cooking oil. Sprinkle on half of the dry ranch dressing. Add a dash of cayenne–shake it all up – then add the rest of the pretzels, the remaining cooking oil, the rest of the ranch dressing mix and another dash of cayenne – mix it all up – and seal the bag. Leave it on the counter and turn it over every time you walk by – do this for a day or so, until all the oil has been absorbed and the flavors have married. Bet you can’t eat just one!