Friday, January 21, 2011

ISO The Inglenook Cookbook- 1911 edition

My great-grandmother's cookbook on my desk, January 2011.
I just started cooking from my great-grandmother's cookbook, but until recently I didn't know much about it-- not even the title.  The book has no cover and a number of pages are missing.  Luckily, it turned out to be quite simple to identify.  I knew my grandmother's cookbook was problaby Brethren, not because it said so, but because all the recipes were credited to "Sister XX" or "Sister YY" and because I knew my great-grandmother was Brethren.  I googled "Brethren cookbook" and BINGO-- I discovered that my great-grandmother's cookbook was "The Inglenook Cookbook: Choice Recipes Contributed by Sisters of the Church of the Brethren, Subscribers & Friends of Inglenook Magazine".

Thanks to a great online library, I determined that my great-grandmother's cookbook was NOT the 1906 edition, but most likely the 1911 edition, which was wildly popular at the time.  It was even reprinted from the original plates in 1970.  One more internet search revealed that the central library downtown had circulating copy of the 1970 reprint.  I immediately called the library and placed it on hold.  It was exciting to compare my brittle, yellow, and incomplete original with the easy to read 1970 paperback.  And it turned out that the 1911 edition was identical to my great-grandmother's book.

When it was just a tattered and unknown bit of ephemera, my mother had been happy to give me my great-grandmother's cookbook.  It's certainly not easy to use a book that's missing numerous pages, especially when the recipes that ARE complete aren't especially well-suited to modern taste-buds.  But now that I'd given my great-grandmother's cookbook a title and a bit of history, my mom suddenly got interested.  I'm now on the hunt for three copies of the 1970 reprint of the 1911 edition-- one for myself, one for my mother, and a third for my sister.

So far, the only recipe I've tried is one for Blackberry Jam Cake.  I made a lot of modifications the first time I made it and I plan to try it again.  I even had my friend Amy, known to readers of this blog as a judge from The Great Amish Friendship Bread Pancake Challenge, to come taste my cake and offer advice.  Based on Amy's recommendations I'll be making a second attempt-- this time with a different frosting.  I've also got a list of recipes that are next in line for experimentation.  I'm not sure if I'll go with baked beans, Spanish stew, or chicken pot pie, but you can be sure that whatever I try would probably be unrecognizable to my great-grandmother.  And that's she'd love the idea that her book is still being used today.