Home Cooking and Life Hacks: Everything in a Cookbook
September 11th, 2016
The colourful foliage does not lie: autumn has arrived in the Townships! And with autumn, we are stepping in to the “eating” seasons as the fall and not-too-long-off winter are often filled with comfort food, holidays, gatherings of family and friends. Thoughts of food preoccupied my quest for an article subject this week and, as a result, I bring to you the community cookbook, examples of which can be found in the archives.
While most of us are familiar with cookbooks, less familiar may be the recipe books contributed to by a local group in the community. In the early 1900s, these recipe books were often put together by women’s groups, such as the Women’s Institute or a church group. One of those in our collection is from the East Clifton Busy Bees, which was organized in 1914 as a teenage girls’ Sunday School class. Early on the group’s aim was to teach sewing and have Bible studies but over time broadened their activities to helping with the Sunday School programs and bringing food to the sick and shut-ins. In this context, the compilation of a cookbook fits right in.
Not only did these books contain family-favourite recipes, however, they also included what are now often referred to as “life hacks”: little everyday tips that make one’s life easier. In the East Clifton Busy Bees Cook Book, they call them simply “hints.” Need to get grass stains from clothes or keep your windshield dust-free? They have tips for that! Grass stains can be removed with molasses and a cut potato can help your windshield; who knew!? To further ‘flavour’ to these little gems, the cookbooks also may have included jokes, which makes perusing the pages a delight today.
With the Townships’ local orchards in mind, abundant with glowing, fresh apples, I bring to you a recipe for Apple Jonathan, submitted by Eva Ellis to the Busy Bees cookbook: Combine 3 cups apples, ½ cup brown sugar, ½ tsp. nutmeg in a bowl and then place at the bottom of a greased baking dish. Then, cream ¼ cup shortening with ½ cup sugar brown, followed by adding 1/3 tsp. vanilla, 1 egg (beaten), 1 tbsp. orange juice, 1 cup pastry flour. Drop by spoonful on top of the apples and bake at 350°F for 30-35 minutes. Bon appetit!