Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tuesdays Tomes: The Young Ladies Cooking Club of Monroe, Michigan Cookbook

Tuesdays Tomes is a weekly book review of vintage books available free on-line.

Cookbook: Young Ladies Cooking Club of Monroe, Michigan

This delightful cookbook was published by the Young Ladies of the Cooking Club of Monroe, Michigan in 1884.

I’ve found that small cookbooks published by organizations or clubs are often very useful precisely because they are not written by professionals. It’s more like having a chat and receiving a recipe from a friend or a friend’s mother or grandmother. This book is exactly like that…but this chat is across more than a hundred years.

What made these young women decide to have a cooking club and then to publish a cookbook

“In launching our little book on the turbulent waters of public opinion, we think some explanation of our audacious undertaking is perhaps necessary, therefore, kind friends, we are going to let you into the secret of its inception with the hope that our frankness may pave the way to a warm reception.”

“It is only fair to say that we started out as a very unassuming little Cooking Club, of only 10 members about two year ago, imbued more with the desire of having a good time together as is the well-known custom of Monroe maidens, than to burden our minds with culinary facts.”

As their membership increased (indeed, they “rose to the dignity of a Constitution”) they began to think about publishing a cookbook and dreaming of what they might do with the proceeds--a trip to Europe being everyone’s favorite idea. (I really like these girls!)

What they do at the Club

“Pray, what do they do at the club?”

T’is ever the question they ask;

But to answer it fully, I fear,

Were rather a serious task;

And yet, if you’ll listen to me,

And pardon my rhyming with “grub”,

I’ll venture a bit of a song

To tell what they do at the club.

The book’s recipes are combined together as menus for entertainments :“Lunch Party” , “High Tea”, “Refreshments for New Year’s Day” includes 3 different menus, “Supper”, “Breakfast”, “Coffee”, “Supper”(2 more menus), “Tea”, “Supper” (6 more times but I really like the first menu in 3 courses: First course-Strawberry Shortcake!. As my son is fond of saying, “Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first.”), “Hallow e’en Party”, “Coffee”, and another “Supper”. The last group of recipes are classed under “Miscellaneous” which includes everything from roast goose to Boston Baked Beans to Lemon Drop Cookies… these just didn’t seem to fit into the categories-you’ll notice there was no “Dinner”. On page 36 there is an index.

Some reflections on the recipes: lots of gelatin in use here (they have a recipe for Coffee Jelly!), lots of canned seafood (well, they are rather far from the ocean!), lots of mayonnaise type salads, and cakes.

Here are a few of the recipes-exactly how they appear in the book.

“VEAL CROQUETTES --Take one veal cutlet, cook and chop very fine, four potatoes boiled and mashed hot, one onion chopped, salt, pepper, butter and a little parsley; mix with the veal adding the juice of one half lemon. Roll in the shape desired, dip in egg and crackers and fry in hot lard.—Miss K. Chapman”

(I never would have thought of adding the lemon juice. And yes, just about everything is fried in lard. I think there was 1 recipe that called for frying in butter.)

“FROZEN PEACHES—One quart of fresh peaches crushed fine and added to one quart of sweet cream all made very sweet; or you can freeze the cream partially and then add the fruit.—Miss Mollie Morton”

(Mmm! And you don’t even have to bother putting this into an ice cream machine.)

You can see in this little cookbook how recipe styles are changing: some of the recipes are given in the “old” way that are common in 19th century cookbooks and some are given in the “modern” way that is more familiar to us though they’re still not quite there. Take a look at these two muffin recipes and you’ll see what I mean. (The italics are mine.)

MUFFINS No. 1—Mix one teaspoon of baking powder and a little salt, into one pint of flour; add to the beaten yolks of two eggs, one tea-cup of sweet milk or cream, a piece of butter (melted) half the size of an egg, the flour with baking powder and salt, and the well beaten whites of two eggs. Beat well, bake immediately in gem pans in a hot oven. -- Miss Hattie Harvey.

MUFFINS No. 2—Half cup of sugar, half a cup of milk, half a cup of water, two and half cups of flour, two heaping teaspoons baking powder, two heaping teaspoons butter. Mix and bake about fifteen minutes. -- Miss Sadie Noble.

You can read this lovely little time-travel cookbook free on-line here. If you would like to look at other vintage cookbooks free on-line, check out this page …there are over 185 cookbooks to look at…have fun!

1 comment:

P. said...

I love little gems like this! It's such a neat glimpse into the past. Love the units of measure in teacups and half the size of an egg, etc.