Indiana cookbooks and gastronomical morsels

Over the years, the Indiana State Library’s Indiana Collection has come to include many unique cookbooks, usually with some sort of Hoosier connection. While browsing the closed stacks, the titles of three cookbooks caught my interest. It is useful to mention that the word “receipts” is old terminology for what we now call recipes. So if you are ever searching library catalogs, digitized newspapers or online materials for old recipes, you might want to try “receipts” as a keyword instead.

Published in 1876, “The Household Friend; A Practical Domestic Guide for Home Comfort” by Mrs. S. C. Jennings, includes cooking receipts, medical remedies and housekeeping hints. Mrs. Jennings of Lafayette, Ind. wrote that the receipts (recipes) included had been thoroughly tested by both herself and her friends. The pie crust and custard pie recipes were from Mrs. Jennings’ personal collection.

Sadly, the publisher included an obituary notice stating that the author died shortly after completing the book. Mrs. Jennings’ memorial and a photo of her tombstone appears on Find-A-Grave.

The next cookbook even uses the term “receipts” in its title. “Brides’ Favorite Receipts: Indianapolis” was published around 1909 by the Glisco Company and a complimentary copy was presented to each new bride in Marion County by Leonard Quill the County Clerk. The introduction explains that the merchants of Indianapolis took out paid advertisements in the book, with some even including coupons in the back. The state library’s copy came as a donation, and consequently, some of the coupons were used. After the recipes, other household cleaning hints are included, such as how to make ostrich plumes fluffy.

The title alone of the last book was intriguing. “The Stag Cook Book, Written for Men by Men” was compiled by Carroll Mac Sheridan in 1922. It includes favorite recipes from notable American men including Indiana author, politician and diplomat Meredith Nicholson. I wanted to find out a bit more about the book and consequently discovered The New York Herald’s Books and Magazine section on Nov. 5, 1922 carried a review of “The Stag Cook Book” entitled “Justifiable Homicide.” While the title of the review refers more to the introductory pages than to the recipes, the reader is left to question if the book is meant for humor or for serious cookery. The entire book was digitized from the New York Public Library’s copy and can be viewed on Google Books. I’ll let you decide if it’s a real cookbook or not.

While these cookbooks are much different than the slick photo-laden volumes that celebrity chefs publish today, the three are certainly noteworthy for their historical context. Anyone can virtually search and browse the Indiana Collection through the state library’s online catalog.

This blog post was written by Indiana Division Librarian Andrea Glenn. For more information, contact the Indiana Division at (317) 232-3670 or “Ask-A-Librarian” at http://www.in.gov/library/ask.htm.

2 thoughts on “Indiana cookbooks and gastronomical morsels

  1. I just found my Grandma’s cookbook she was given by the state! It’s published the same year they got married. I wish I could post a picture, it’s green, titled “The American Woman’s Cook Book” Edited by Ruth Berolzheimer, Copyright 1942. She actually got two of them, I’m not sure how. I wish I could post a picture. I thought it very strange when I came across ithem, because Grandma always cooked from memory, never a cookbook or recipe card. What fun to find out the meaning two days after I found the book!

  2. What a fascinating book the stag cookbook is. I looked at the waffle recipe by Warren G. Harding and discovered, much to my surprise, that some people put gravy on their waffles. Our family always used syrup and I never knew there was another option.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *