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  • An Historic Cookbook

    Virginia Augerson

    Published Date : June 1985
    When the National Endowment for the Humanities gave The New England Historic Genealogical Society a generous grant (see February ‘85 NEXUS), it asked a great deal in return. Our Society must raise funds to match this grant.  The idea of a cookbook is just one way members can become involved in raising funds.

    An historic cookbook might be important in more than one way.  In these days of frozen and fast foods, old recipes, some never written down, could be lost forever.  Counting on the assistance of Alice Ledogar, development director, those of us who do volunteer work at NEHGS are asking for volunteers from all over the United States to dig into their memories for recipes that have come down in their families.  We welcome a story to go with the recipes, and indeed are looking forward to reading them.  A story could be like the one below or simply include from whom this recipe came (maiden names, too) and, if possible, a little history of the recipe (region, nationality, era).

    We all know what a "memorable" recipe is.  The family, or even community, won't let the cook forget it and requests come often.  The following receipe is a Hoosier Cream pie with a bit of history.

    The story goes that when Volenta, daughter of Charles and Caroline Marshall Fisher, born in 1877, her father was homesteading in Mason County, Michigan.  She was the first white baby in the area and attracted the curious Indian mothers.  They came silently into the cabin and peered into the cradle, sometimes leaving a gift of bear meat behind for the startled young mother.  Volenta grew up to become the wife of Walter Sinclair.  She also became one of the better pie makers in the county.  Her grandson remembered her cream pie as his favorite so his new wife sat in Grandma's kitchen and wrote down what she did.

    One 9” unbaked pie crust (made with lard)

    1 cup sugar

    1 TB flour slightly rounded

    1/4 tsp salt

    1/4 tsp nutmeg

    Mix above and add:

    Two eggs; beat mixture until very light and thickened.

    Add:

    One cup cream and one cup milk. Beat well, pour into pie crust. Place into cool oven. Set temperature at 375 degrees. Remove when puffy, about 30 minutes.

    An historic cookbook would need more than those “memorable” recipes.  The everyday recipes found in handwritten cookbooks and Grandma’s or your neighbor’s memory are important, also.  How were vegetables treated in different regions?  How did the waves of immigrants add entirely new recipes and add new flavors to corned meal or fowl?  Some of these answers will show up in the recipes you send.

    If your imagination is now stirred up, think of the kind of cookbook you would like to see, and send in your suggestions, memories and recipes. Hopefully, by the next issue we can give you a report of the response and a copy of one of the recipes received.

    For recipes: Please use Tablespoon or TB and teaspoon or tsp. Please give approximate temperatures and times.  AND PLEASE, PLEASE DOUBLE CHECK THE RECIPE BEFORE MAILING!

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