EONS ago (over forty-five!) when I first started collecting cookbooks, my friends and I eagerly sought what, at that time, we referred to as “regional” cookbooks. We also referred to them as “club and church” cookbooks.  These cookbooks now go by the more generic name of community cookbooks, which encompasses a great deal of territory. (I think of “regional” now as a cookbook from a particular region – and not necessarily just in the USA!  These cookbooks can be found in many different countries, nowadays—not just the United States. I have especially broadened my searches to include Canadian club-and-church, or community cookbooks). Back in the day, my penpal Betsy who lives in Michigan often found many of these little recipe booklets at flea markets for as little as ten cents each.  As hard as it may be to believe, there was a time when collectors disdained the batter-stained community cookbooks of long ago. Recipes were often incomplete. The booklets were sometimes poorly constructed. I even have some made with oil cloth covers!). if they had spiral binding, sometimes some of the plastic spirals were broken or missing.

Of course, many collectors today still turn their noses up at recipes booklets such as those I’ve just described.  I never do—I think there is something to be learned from all of them. And I still have a  passion for “regional” cookbooks.

I think the cookbook compiled by the Service League of Bartlesville, Oklahoma, as more regional than community. This cookbook, titled TASTE OF THE TERRITORY, was first published in 1996 by the Service League of Bartlesville, Oklahoma.  This is an organization , founded in 1958, that uses the voluntary services of its members; the League developed and maintains a Youth Canteen, provides college scholarships for graduating high school seniors and upperclassmen, and contributes  money, time, and resources to a variety of community endeavors.

We learn from TASTE OF THE TERRITORY that two distinct territories created Oklahoma.  In 1866, the Indian Territory formed what is now the eastern third of the state. It was home to the Plains Indians and other tribes relocated by the government.

The remainder of the State – the unassigned lands—became Oklahoma Territory after the great run of 1889. In 1907, Indian Territory and Oklahoma Territory joined, making Oklahoma the 46th state in the union.

The town of Bartlesville is 50 miles north of Tulsa.

Along with the carefully selected recipes which obviously reflect the cuisine of the region, TASTE OF THE TERRITORY is packed with historical information and beautiful photographs.  Imagine my surprise when the first I came across was a photo of Woolaroc, a 3600 acre wildlife   refuge and world famous western art museum—I visited Woolaroc years ago, with my Oklahoma penpal, who lives near Tulsa Woolaroc was once the ranch of Frank Phillips, founder of Phillips Petroleum Company.  The art museum at Woolaroc is one of the most incredible I had ever seen, prior to becoming  a member of Gene Autry’s Western Heritage Museum.

When a cookbook, such as TASTE OF THE TERRITORY so brightly reflects the region it represents, in my mind it’s more “regional” than “community” but that’s just a personal feeling of mine. This is a well done cookbook, published by those great people at Wimmer Companies.

You will want to check out recipes for Indian Summer Pumpkin Dip, Oil Baron Bean soup, an Indian dish called Kahahpon, something intriguing called Cow Thieves and Outlaws Horseradish Beef. Look also for Green Country Chili Cheesecake (which is an appetizer, not a dessert!), Marbled Tea Eggs, and Minnie’s Shrimp Dip – also in Appetizers. I also like Crunchy Corn Dip which reminds me a bit of Texas Caviar, and Hot Black-Eyed Pea Dip. For sweeter palates, you will want to make Pecan Grove Tidbits (easy!), Praline Crunch and Honey Walnuts.  Side Dishes to give a try might include Oklahoma Rice or New Potatoes in White Wine or Heartland Potato Casserole. I also found a different recipe for Shoe Peg Corn Casserole and something called Shewahsapan, which is a grape dumpling. There are hundreds of recipes in TASTE OF THE TERRITORY, sure to become one of your go-to favorites.

I first reviewed TASTE OF THE TERRITORY in 1999 and now, giving it a second look, I find it even more appealing than before (maybe due to changing taste buds).  What was 18.95 in 1999 can be yours now starting at $1.26 on Amazon.com or $2.11 on Alibris.com.

Review by Sandra Lee Smith


2 responses to “TASTE OF THE TERRITORY

  1. Have you noticed that the older regional cook books seem to have more history in them than the newer ones do.

  2. I agree, Betsy. That might explain why I gravitate towards the older books, for my writing purposes, than some of the newer ones.

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