Tag Archives: recipe

A Loved Old Cookbook and the Stories of the Women

inglenook cookbookWe’ve inherited a well-worn volume of The IngleNook Cook Book, circa 1911 (ours is black and white). The book belonged to my husband’s grandmother, then his mother, now us. She’s still living but, sadly, suffers from dementia. Every blank spot on these dog-eared pages are inked in with faded recipes for everything, including croup.  The ones written in pencil are almost beyond deciphering, and the book is full of jottings on yellowed scraps of paper. Originally compiled by Old Order Brethren women, similar to Old Order Mennonite and Amish, each recipe is attributed to sister so and so. My DH’s family is Mennonite and some of his relatives still drive horse and buggies. There are various orders of Mennonites, old, new, and many in between, I discovered when I married into these people. But back to the book. It’s a record of how women went about their daily lives,  a compilation of their history, what mattered to them, their story.

Many recipes use measurements such as ‘butter the size of an egg’ or lard the size of a walnut’ and suggest you let the baked beans, or some such dish, simmer while you make bread, visit after church, or fix the family breakfast because everyone knew about how long that took.

Old Order Mennonite Mother and infantWithin its pages are old-time cures. For chest congestion, make a salve of melted lard and camphor to rub on, or a mustard plaster, and cover with flannel. For croup in infants and small children, apply a milder camphor salve, or give equal parts of butter and honey melted together by mouth. Another remedy for croup is to slice onions very thin and sprinkle with sugar. Allow to dissolve and give the juice in teaspoonfuls frequently. This is from The Shenandoah Valley, I noted. My home base. (Old Order Mennonite Woman and baby outside the church up the road. Image by hubby. Also the one below.)

An interesting treatment for sore throat. Slice a thin piece of bacon (the assumption being that you have a hunk of your own from hog butchering which my husband remembers his family doing) and stitch this to a piece of flannel and make it black with pepper. Warm it and fasten closely around the throat. Do not remove until inflammation has been drawn to the outside. When the meat is removed, anoint throat with Vaseline and bind up in flannel until you are well. It doesn’t say what to do if you never are, but there are other treatment options.

Old Order Mennonite churchHighly evident from all the added recipes and those heavily used in the book is that my mother-in-law,  her mother, their friends and relations, loved cake. Given the hard work these country people knew, not to mention suffering through the Great Depression, a delicious freshly baked cake was a rare treat.

A Cake Recipe from (I don’t know how many ‘Greats’) Aunt Leona:

2 cups sugar, 3 eggs, 2 cups flour, 1/2 cup butter, 1 cup sweet milk, and one level Tablespoon of (I’m not sure of what). Dissolve in milk, 3 blocks of chocolate. Stir in 1/2 cup extra milk (for large cake) and cook, let cool. Got that? This is the way many recipes read. You’re just supposed to know stuff.

Grandbaby Chloe in my flower bedI love this book and the added notes, a wonderful glimpse into the past. The generations roll on, but with the awareness of those who’ve gone before them. My oldest daughter is also fascinated by this book, and my youngest grandbaby, Chloe, sat beside me as we perused its pages.

Chloe in my flower bed, image by daughter Elise. My garden and flower beds used to be my mother-in-laws. I am the caretaker now, until whoever comes after me. I hope they carry on our living legacy.


Welcome to the mother of all blog tours.

3) THIS TOUR STARTS: Monday, June 13, at Midnight (Arizona Time)
THIS TOUR ENDS: Monday, June 20, at Midnight (Arizona Time)
Winners will be drawn and posted June 21st! ***

As a participating author, my theme is Summer in the Big House, Old Southern Plantation Recipes~

A gracious welcome to my stately plantation home. Please have a seat in the wicker chairs on the veranda and relax in the shade of the towering live oaks.    Listen to the warbler singing high overhead in the moss-draped boughs and savor the sweetness of jasmine while I serve refreshing mint juleps and peach upside-down cake prepared with old Southern recipes from Charleston Receipts.

This cookbook ‘was first published in 1950 and the oldest Junior League cookbook still in print. It contains 750 recipes, Gullah verses, and sketches by Charleston artists. Inducted into the McIlhenny Hall of Fame, an award given for book sales that exceed 100,000 copies.’

My copy is actually my mother’s book which she purchased in the early 1960’s while our family was on vacation in Charleston South Carolina.  I kind of borrowed it from her and still have it. 🙂


For each cold goblet use:

Several mint leaves, sugar syrup (2-3 teaspoons), Crushed, dry ice, 2 ounces bourbon, 1 sprig mint

Crush leaves and let stand in syrup. Put this into a cold silver julep cup or glass and add ice which has been crushed and rolled in a towel to dry.  Pour in the whiskey.  Stir, not touching the glass, and add a sprig of mint. Serve immediately.~

Peach Upside-Down Cake:

1/3 cup shortening, 2/3 cup sugar, 2/3 cup milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 2 eggs, 2 teaspoons baking powder,  1  and 2/3 cups flour, 1/8 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon almond flavoring

Cream shortening and sugar.  Add remaining ingredients and beat well.  Pour over peach mixture. Serves six.

Peach Mixture: 1/3 cup butter, 1 cup light brown sugar, 1 1/2 cups sliced peaches

Place butter and sugar in a sheet cake pan and heat slowly, stirring constantly until well browned.  Add peaches.  Cover with cake batter, bake 3/4 hour at 350.  Turn out peach side up.   Serve hot or cold with whipped cream.  Other fruits may be substituted for peaches.  ~

For my blog hop prize, I’m giving away an ebook of my Revolutionary War romance novel, Enemy of the King, and Native American historical romance novel Through the Fire.


1780, South Carolina: While Loyalist Meriwether Steele recovers from illness in the stately home of her beloved guardian, Jeremiah Jordan, she senses the haunting presence of his late wife. When she learns that Jeremiah is a Patriot spy and shoots Captain Vaughan, the British officer sent to arrest him, she is caught up on a wild ride into Carolina back country, pursued both by the impassioned captain and the vindictive ghost. Will she remain loyal to her king and Tory twin brother or risk a traitor’s death fighting for Jeremiah? If Captain Vaughan snatches her away, he won’t give her a choice.~


At the height of the French and Indian War, a young English widow ventures into the colonial frontier in search of a fresh start. She never expects to find it in the arms of the half-Shawnee, half-French warrior who makes her his prisoner in the raging battle to possess a continent––or to be aided by a mysterious white wolf and a holy man.~

Thanks for visiting me. Leave me a question or a comment here at my blog below. Please also leave your email address so I can notify you in case you are a winner!

THE NEXT STOP ON OUR FUN BLOG HOP IS AUTHOR RACHEL VAN DYKEN SO POP ON OVER TO : http://deliciousromancebyrachel.blogspot.com/2011/06/party-til-your-heels-fly-off-author.html

Old Country Recipes and Cookbooks

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.

From The Virginia House-Wife Cookbook, circa 1825

I came across this antiquated volume tucked back in among my collection of cookbooks.  I vaguely recall someone, maybe my husband, thinking I would appreciate its quaint take on cookery and the role of women in that far-flown age.  I did, but then The Virginia House-wife got lost behind the other larger books and forgotten.  Yes, it’s definitely from another age.

To quote from the author, Mrs. Mary Randolph, also known as The Methodical Cook, as she calls herself, “The grand areanum of management lies in three simple rules: “Let everything be done at a proper time, keep everything in its proper place, and put everything to its proper use.”

“If the mistress of the family will every morning examine minutely the different departments of her household, she must detect errors in their infant state…early rising is essential to the good government of a family.  A late breakfast deranges the whole business of the day…when the family breakfasts by detachments, the table remains a tedious time;  the servants are kept from their morning’s meal…No work can be done until the breakfast is finished. The Virginia ladies who are proverbially good managers employ themselves while the servants are eating…arranging the cruets, the mustard, salt-sellers, pickle vases,  and all that apparatus for the dinner table. ”

“The husband who can ask a friend to partake of his dinner in full  confidence of finding his wife unruffled by the petty vexations attendant on the neglect of household duties, who can usher his guest into the dining room assured of seeing that methodical nicety which is the essence of true elegance,  will feel pride and exultation in the possession of a companion who gives to his home charms that gratify every wish of his soul…”

And so on regarding the attainment of perfection for married women. And you thought this was just a cookbook.  No, it’s also a moral treatise on the expectations heaped on new housewives.  But I detected one vital element that helps make this ideal state attainable, SERVANTS!

Amazon, that has everything, also has The Virginia House-wife and says it was originally published in 1825, so we have a later reprint from 1897. Of the book, it states, “The Virginia House-Wife was the most influential cookbook in nineteenth-century America. Considered the ultimate how-to cookbook, it rivals some of the currently popular cookbooks with its commonsense knowledge and advice which remains practical to this day.”

Well, maybe not ALL of its advice remains practical, but it’s chocked full of recipes and quite interesting to read over.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies~

This recipe is from The More With Less Cookbook and they are the best cookies. Totally yummy.  I like this cookbook quite well for the most part.  Its aim is to make recipes more healthful as well as tasty, with an eye to being careful with our resources as reflected in the ‘more with less’ title.   Not a bad idea in light of the current economy.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies:

Cream together 1 cup shortening (may use half margarine, half lard) *I may try substituting more healthful coconut oil, 1/4 cup peanut butter, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 2 eggs, 1 tsp vanilla extract Add: 1 1/2 cup flour, 1 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt, 2 cups rolled oats, 2 cups chocolate chips (I like the dark chocolate chips) and 1 cup nuts if you like. I never add nuts because some family members object.

Mix well and drop by teaspoonfuls onto greased cookie sheets. Bake at 375 for 10 minutes. Makes 6-8 dozen cookies.

Christmas Memories

Contributed by my friend Scarlet Pumpernickel from The Pink Fuzzy Slipper Writers~

I was just thinking about my grandmother, we called her Ma Ma. Something Barbara M. said in an email made me think of her. You see, Barbara cooked a duck today–said it turned out wonderfully and she was looking forward to not doing the dishes. The not doing the dishes part was what reminded me of Ma Ma.

I love to cook, but I hate washing dishes, where my grandmother really didn’t care for cooking, but loved washing dishes. We had the perfect relationship for holiday meals, I’d cook and she’d wash dishes. Every holiday she’d be up early, cleaning up behind me as I prepared all the family favorites. Oh, I didn’t say she never complained, she did, but still she’d wash the dishes. Her pet name for me was Tootsie, and she would say, “Lord amercy, Tootsie, I don’t know how you manage to mess up so many dishes.” It was easy, I knew I wouldn’t have to wash them!

She spent her last nine years living with me and my family. She was quite a blessing for us. I never had to worry about the children getting home from school before I got home from work because Ma Ma was always there to watch them.

Now Ma Ma had a favorite Christmas cake she called Lemon Cheese. Why she called it Cheese was a mystery, since it didn’t contain cheese! Anyway, her Lemon Cheese Cake was famous in our family and all over the neighborhood. People always came by to sample “Belle’s Lemon Cheese Cake.” Nephews had been known to drive transfer trucks half way across the country just to get a piece of Aunt Belle’s Lemon Cheese cake.

The last couple years with her health failing she wasn’t able to stand to make the sugar icing for the cake because it had to be stirred constantly, so she asked me to make it for her. This was somewhat of an honor, because she guarded her recipe for Lemon Cheese Cake, even from me, her only granddaughter. So, early one morning she joined me in the kitchen and instructed me on making “Belle’s Lemon Cheese Cake.” It was a fairly simple recipe, a boiled sugar icing with grated lemon rhine. “No, ma’am, I won’t give out your recipe, Ma Ma. Yes, ma’am, I promise. I’m just telling the story.”

Sorry, where was I? Oh yes, we were making the icing. Remember I said it had to boil? I stood over the stove and stirred and stirred, then finally Ma Ma came over took the spoon from me lifted it to make the syrup spin a thread and pronounced it ready to spread. I took it from the stove, followed her directions to cool the icing, then spread it on the cake. Most of the icing ended up on the table! It just would not set! Finally, Ma Ma said, “It’s alright Tootsie, we’ll put it in the frig and it will set.” So with the icing still trying to drip off the plate, we moved it to the frig and sure enough, it set up. But, I didn’t recall Ma Ma having any such problem in the past.

The next year we again made the cake with the same result. I cooked and stirred, she declared it ready and it ended up on the table again. So off to the frig it went! Ma Ma had her own little kitchen in our basement, so she kept the cake in her frig to serve to her friends and family when they came by.

One afternoon a cousin stopped by and I decided to go down and visit with Ma Ma and her company. As I neared the bottom of the stairs I hear Ma Ma open the frig offering her guest a piece of her cake. “Tootsie made this one. It’s not as good as mine used to be, she can’t get the icing right, but still it is good.”

Suddenly I realized I’d been had! MaMa had been deliberately having me take the icing off the stove before it set! She’d done it on purpose because she didn’t want to share her prized Lemon Cheese Cake! The next year, sadly after she’d passed away, I used a candy thermometer and the icing set perfectly. The only detail she’d left out of the recipe was how to make the syrup spin a thread to tell it was set!

Old Time Recipe for Corn Pudding

I’ve always been a fan of corn pudding, an old fashioned dish and one of the foods my characters would have eaten in my early American historical novels. Corn pudding, corn bread, and corn mush reach well back into America’s history.  This basic recipe is from The Mennonite Community Cookbook.


2 Cups grated Corn (recipe assumes, of course, you grew you own)

*Substitute canned yellow corn (drained)

2 Eggs

1 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. pepper

1 Tab. Sugar

2 Tabs. Butter

1 Tab. Flour

! cup milk

Mix corn, salt, sugar, pepper, flour and melted butter.  Add beaten eggs and milk. Pour into greased baking dish.

Bake at 350 for 35 minutes.