Local Cookbooks, Not Local Recipes

While sorting through more material at the Fenton History Center, three cookbooks were found together. They were of similar format but different colors and different titles. On further investigation these cookbooks were from different years and different publishers. They were also presented by different local organizations. Many of the local cookbooks over the years contain recipes submitted by the members of the organization. These cookbooks did not contain contributed recipes. All the cookbooks had recipes apparently supplied by the publisher but of particular interest for local history, there were many advertisements for local businesses. Also of interest for local history in all three books, information about each sponsoring organization, including membership lists, is included with pictures.

“The Art of Entertaining” was sponsored by the Martha Circle of Brooklyn Heights Methodist Episcopal Church and had a date of 1935. Recipes were given for many different occasions along with hints on how to set the table and what to wear. One could choose to entertain with an afternoon tea, a bridge dessert, an Easter buffet supper, even a pre-Lenten fish breakfast and many other events. Suggestions for what to serve to unexpected guests were included.

Just in case you need help for this weekend’s St. Patrick’s Day entertainment, according to this book any green food seems to be on the menu. Grapefruit with green cherries, green pea soup, toast sticks (nothing green there), green olives, cucumber mold surrounded by chicken salad, spinach ring, shamrock biscuits, peppermint ice cream, green cake cubes, green mints and coffee are all on the suggested menu.

“International Recipes” was sponsored by the Women of the Moose, Chapter No. 87. This book was copyrighted in 1938. The table of contents lists recipes from many different countries. Italian, Swedish, English and Jewish are all there along with Bohemian, Chinese, Spanish and more. Recipes for sandwiches and salads and tempting desserts are included. Even recipes for serving 50 people and suggestions for cooking meat and poultry can be found in the book. Setting the table for the different occasions is covered so that all is properly served.

“The Mixing Bowl” from 1937 was sponsored by the Mt. Sinai Chapter No. 132, Order of the Eastern Star. This book again offers many recipes along with menus and suggestions for different types of occasions. “The Informal Breakfast Table” looks very formal by today’s casual, on-the-run breakfast time experienced in many homes. It does look more like what can still be found in some hotels and clubs around the country, especially in large cities. The last few pages feature a food table that gives the amount of different foods that supply 100 calories. That seems to be a popular number for today’s snacking with many snacks packed in 100-calorie packages. But this list contains more than just snacks. The size of a slice of roast lamb or a halibut steak that contains 100 calories is also given. And there is a page of diet recipes included.

Reading these recipes while I am writing this at mid-afternoon is making me hungry for a snack. I wish the cook came along with these books.

The purpose of the Fenton History Center is to gather and teach about southern Chautauqua County’s history through artifacts, ephemeral and oral histories, and other pieces of the past.

Visit www.fentonhistorycenter.org for more information on upcoming events.

If you would like to donate to the collections or support the work of the Fenton History Center, call 664-6256 or visit the center at 67 Washington St., just south of the Washington Street Bridge.