My mother-in-law, sadly losing her memory, brightened visibly when I asked her about a salad dressing she used to make for dandelion greens. Getting shakily to her feet, she made her way to the tiny kitchen in their townhouse in the retirement village where she and my father-in-law live and retrieved a worn cookbook that for some reason I hadn’t even realized she had, possibly because she prepared so many of her day-to-day dishes by memory. With the cookbook in hand, she settled back in her armchair and happily turned the pages, recalling many of the recipes penned on the sides or inserted on ancient pieces of paper. Names of women now long gone came back to her, great-aunts, great-grandmother, old friends…whose famed cakes or other culinary delights had once been well-known among the country people of our beautiful valley. The Inglenook Cookbook, copyright 1911, itself is a treasure and I immediately came home and ordered a used copy online. I love these vintage volumes worn and marked with use. At a glance I can glean which were the favorite dishes from the stain-marked pages. Added recipes are handwritten in various corners.
The Inglenook Cookbook, a collection of recipes contributed by the sisters of the Church of the Brethren, is ‘Stated in simple language so they are readily understood.’ I love the quaint wording of many of these recipes, such as, For Chicken Salad, ‘Take 3 boiled chickens chopped fine…’ I think this woman assumes you’re cooking for a crowd. People had larger families back then.
Or from a recipe for Snitz and Knep: ‘This is to be made only on bread-baking day. Soak one pint of dried apples for 2 hours, then place in a kettle with a pound of smoked ham or shoulder not too old and boil for 1 and 1/2 hours. Take from your raised bread dough a sufficient quantity to make at least one fair-sized bun for each of your family. Work into this one egg, leave it rise for awhile, then work in tiny cakes; leave them rise until quite light, then gently drop them, one at a time, into the kettle with the meat and ‘snitz’ (soaked dried apples). Let them boil for 20 minutes, when all will be ready to serve. Do not lift the lid before the 20 minutes, unless you want heavy and soggy biscuits. In eating them they are good when covered over with the broth they have been boiled in, or spread with jelly, preserves, or apple butter. ~
The image above is from a recipe for Schnitz and Knepp at this link:
It seems to me that most Americans have sacrificed quality and flavor, along with healthful eating, family traditions, and all those things that go with freshly grown and prepared foods in exchange for their hectic lifestyles. There’s much to be said for getting back to some of the old-time ways of doing things. Begin with a home garden, or visit your local farmer’s market, do more of your own cooking, bake some of your own breads…and go from there.
I came across an interesting post about the origins of The Inglenook Cookbook at A Yellow Brick Journey Through Life. A quote from the post says, “The Inglenook Cookbook was an outgrowth of The Inglenook (*a magazine). The good sisters of the Church of the Brethren and their friends were encouraged to contribute their favorite recipes of its “Home Department.” These recipes were gathered together to form the text of the Inglenook Cook Book published in 1901. It was offered as a bonus to subscribers of the magazine.
The book was revised and enlarged in 1911. It containing 1,000 recipes, was an immediate success and sold more than 100,000 copies and continued to be used in Brethren and other kitchens for more than forty years. In 1970 the cookbook was reprinted from the original plates.”~
***Please note the new information about availability of this cookbook in the comment section below.