Many of you have written to express your enjoyment reading the first “Battered, tattered, Stains in a Church Cookbook” so I have been asking myself what can I share with you that will give you all the same level of enjoyment? And the answer was…More Battered Tattered Stained Recipes from some old church cookbooks. And believe me, there are a lot of them “out there” waiting to be discovered.
How about “The Elkhart Cookbook A collection of Tried and Approved Recipes selected and compiled by THE LADIES OF THE FIRST CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH Elkhart Indiana, published in Elkhart, Indiana in 1891.
To tell the truth, this cookbook—sans its covers—was recently sent to me by my penpal Betsy. I have no clue what the cover might have looked like. The top page in front of me has a large ad from Mandel Bros “An Economical Center” – Mandel Bros. sold you dry goods, carpeting, draperies, furniture, boys’ clothing, ladies, Misses and children’s shoes. Just boys’ clothing? Nothing for girls? Just wondering. Maybe all the girls clothing was made at home by mama. On the next page is an ad for “Fast Writing 229 Words in 5 minutes” – and no, it isn’t a typewriter….it’s a fountain pen! The cost was $1.00 and you could send for testimonials and catalogue. There are a lot of other ads but you get the picture.
The cookbook starts with a collection of soups – but I have been more intrigued by the following chapter titled “Fish And Oysters” – the first two pages are discolored, as if a clipping had been inside the book for a long time, but we learn how to select fish and how to cook it. There are sauces ranging from an egg sauce to Allemande sauce, caper sauce (which I love on a white fish) to a Hollandaise. As for oysters, we learn how to fry, devil, steam, cream and escallop the oyster. Oysters must have been at their peak in popularity in 1891.
Moving forward to Brown Bread, Johnny Cake and Muffins, the chapter is prefaced with Bishop Williams’ recipe for Johnny Cake which is a rhymed recipe and one that I believe is in one of the Kitchen Poets posts. One of my favorite features in many of the late 1800s-early 1900s club-and-church cookbooks are the simply delicious rhymed recipes or kitchen-themed poems that pop up frequently in these old cookbooks.
You can tell how often the Elkhart Cook Book was used, judging from the yellowed and stained pages. There are pages and pages of recipes for pies including one I’ve never heard of, called Marlborough Pie, and surely two or three times as many for puddings. There is even one for Mrs. President Harrison’s (sic) fig pudding. Did First lady Harrison actually contribute the recipe or did it come to the ladies of Elkhart some other way? I speculate on this because when my PTA was compiling a cookbook in 1971 I knew that one way to generate a little extra interest in your cookbook was to write to a few famous people and request a favorite recipe. I took it upon myself to write to Mrs. Nancy Reagan, who sent us a recipe for Baja California Chicken, and Mrs. Pat Nixon sent us her recipe for an Avocado Salad. From Mrs. Ladybird Johnson we received a recipe for peach ice cream while Mayor Yorty sent us his recipe for mashed potato chocolate cake. Our cookbook, “Recipe Roundup”was a mostly amateurish attempt at publishing a cookbook (I thought I knew something about them because I collected cookbooks) but I have to say, it has pretty much stood the test of time. I’m only sorry now that I didn’t buy a bunch of cookbooks for my sons or daughters in law or even future grandchildren but I wasn’t thinking that far ahead in 1970-71. (My youngest child was only 2 at the time).
“Recipe Roundup” still contains my favorite recipes for carrot cake and my friend Rosalia’s Banana bread. I was too busy at home with two toddlers and doing home typing for extra income to participate at the school so the PTA mothers collected the recipes and brought them to me. Two of the women in that group became lifelong best friends.
Another fascinating “battered & tattered” cookbook I received from girlfriend Betsy recently is “Twentieth Century Cook Book A Feast of Good Things A Careful compilation of Tried and Approved Recipes – Ladies Aid Society of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Montgomery PA., 1913” and yes indeed, this is the ENTIRE title, on the cover, which has become dethatched from the rest of the cookbook. There were some printing problems evidence in various parts of the book, which couldn’t have made the Ladies Aid Society very happy.
On the first page is a list – Commandments That Rule Housekeepers, who are extolled* “to manage her household so that the comfort, health and well being of every member shall be insured in a difficult task for a woman, and requires much tact, as well as domestic ability, and what follows is a lengthy list of what the lady of the house must do to accomplish this—one of which reads “To see that every part of the home is kept clear always because dirt is degrading and brutalizing and leads to disease and crime”. Seriously? Dirt? What about the dirt I grow my tomatoes in?
(*As for extolled…well, I don’t use it in my everyday conversations but it seemed to fit in the Twentieth Century Cook Book)
Twentieth Century also contains some rhymed recipes which I will share with you when I compiled a Part 11 of the Kitchen Poets.
Another old cookbook sent to me recently is a slim book “Cook Book of Favorite Recipes Published By the Portia Club of North Yakima, Washington, in 1909. It has a red cover with black print that is mostly faded, but the entire title can be found inside, sprinkled amongst advertisements from various businesses of Yakima, along with a “Dedication (with apologies to Longfellow):
O ye tired and weary house-wives!
O ye never-tiring house-wives!
Here’s a solving, solving, solving
Of the daily eating problem.
Here’s an answer, answer, answer
To the oft-repeated question.
To the quite perplexing question
That confronts us, that annoys us,
What shall we eat? We shall eat what?
Here’s a book of tested cooking
Here’s a book of tried proportions,
Kingly given by our women,
Thank we them for their donation.
Thank them for this little cookbook.
Dedicate it to these women,
Take it to your home and use it.
Take it to your friends and neighbors
May it prove a blessing to you.
Even if you didn’t use the cookbook for its recipes, now a hundred years later, I think anyone interested in old cookbooks, kitchens, kitchen utensils—would love the ads. There is a full page ad for a McDougall Cabinet (a kitchen cabinet) with prices starting at $24.75 and up. (some years ago my sisters & I spent a couple of weeks at our brother Bill’s home in Xenia, Ohio—and one of those days was spent at the nearby town of Waynesville, which was filled with antique stores. I love kitchen cabinets – and even had one when I was first married; it was left behind when we moved to California. I don’t know who has it now. The multitude of kitchen cabinets we oohed and ahhed over in those antique stores had me sighing all over the place. It wasn’t something I could buy and ship to California—shipping would have been as expensive as the cabinets. But I can still salivate over the ads. And I do. That is one of the greatest charms of very old cookbooks –the ads.
Another charming old cookbook, another recent acquisition, is a small hard-covered little book titled “Wehman’s Cook Book, published by Henry J. Wehman—and it even features an 1890 lady of the house preparing something – a cake perhaps – with an old-fashioned cooking range in the background. Henry, it appears, was a publisher who offered “The Complete Letter Writer” for twenty-five cents or Wehman’s Irish Song Book No.3, also for 25 cents. The Complete Letter Writer is exactly what it sounds like – a book to guide someone through the intricacies of writing every kind of letter- from a business letter to something along the lines of love, courtship or marriage. Wehman’s Complete Dancing Master was also available for 25 cents and offered “All the figures of the German and every new and fashionable waltz…along with many other dance instructions. I am more interested in “Wehman’s Cook Book A Valuable Collection of Valuable Recipes suited to EVERY HOUSEHOLD and ALL TASTES”—which appears to have been unused; none of the pages are battered, tattered or stained – and on a back page is an ad for “THE WITCHES DREAM BOOK AND FORTUNE TELLER” for 25 cents as well. That alone might have been offputting for some 1890’s housewives.
One last old cookbook to pique your curiosity today is not so battered, tattered or stained..is a small black cookbook, titled “A Collection of TESTED RECIPES compiled and arranged for the benefit of THE LADIES AID SOCIETY of the FIRST M.E. CHURH from Albion, Michigan, also dated 1890. The first 13 pages are filled with ads (everything from corsets to hardwood floors) while the 14th page is graced with a lovely drawing of the first M.E. Church of Albion, Michigan. Elsewhere in the book is a full page ad with illustration of a Remington typewriter which fascinate me. I think I was about twelve when my parents bought a used Royal or Underwood standard (not portable) typewriter that I taught myself to type on, two-fingers..until I took typing lessons in high school and had to un-learn the two-finger method for lessons using all ten fingers.
However, since I embarked about a year ago on finding as many green tomato recipes as possible, a recipe for this vegetable caught my attention:
To Make Great Tomato Pie, you will need:
1 pint (2 cups) green tomatoes, chopped fine
6 large apples, chopped fine
3 cups of sugar or molasses
3 TBSP flour
½ cup vinegar
a Dash of Salt and
“all kinds of spices” (suggest cinnamon, perhaps some nutmeg
Cook the tomatoes and apples before adding the remaining ingredients. Bake with two crusts. Suggest 350 degrees 30-40 minutes or until done.
The EXACT recipe reads as follows: One pint of tomatoes chopped fine, six large apples, chopped fine, three cups of sugar or molasses, three tablespoons flour, one-half cup vinegar, a little salt and a teaspoon of all kinds of spices. Cook the tomatoes and apples before adding the other ingredients. Bake with two crusts. Mrs. S.V Hill
Old cookbooks proceeded with the assumption that all cooks knew how to get their stove or range going and what temperature would be needed for baking. Mrs. Hill doesn’t say so but I’d also assume that green baking sour apples, something like a Granny Smith, would be ideal for this recipe.
Happy Cooking & Happy Cookbook Collecting!