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“Noodles May Be Served as a Vegetable”: A YLMIA Cookbook of 1920

By: Ardis E. Parshall - March 21, 2014

These sisters are the officers of the YLMIA of the Kansas City, Missouri branch, in 1920:

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(front row, left to right:) Ruby Earl, first counselor; florence McCartney, president; Marie Winfrey, second counselor.
(back row, left to right:) Irene Watters, secretary/treasurerer; Lillian Peterson, assistant class leader; Juanita Black, class leader; Olive Kallstrom, agent for Young Woman’s Journal

In 1920, their branch YLMIA collaborated on an ambitious project:

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This is not the first time an LDS auxiliary assembled a cookbook – two or three years earlier, the Relief Society of one of the Provo wards had raised quite a bit of money selling their compilation of recipes especially suited to World War I’s eggless-, meatless-, and wheatless-day menus, for instance – but still, 1920 was well before the day when practically every ward’s women’s auxiliary collected and published recipes.

The Kansas City branch sisters explained their project this way:

It might seem in this day of commercialism, when every manufacturer of canned goods, baking powder, flour, shortening, yeast, etc., etc., is flooding the country with cook books that another from any source would be superfluous. We have not chosen to regard it in this light. The Divine plan calling for mutual endeavor and co-operation means effort here and now, for to the Latter-day Saints Divine law is spiritual law, and as oour pre-existent life determined our station in life here, so shall our accomplishments here establish our standing in the eons that are to come.

Viewed in this light, then, it is a worthy object to have the young ladies co-operate and try to excel in that most important factor of the mortal life, maintenance of the home, with the proper preparation of nutritious, palatable foods for entertainment of our brethren and friends in a most pleasing and scientific manner.

That’s a lot of eternal baggage to pile into one hard-bound cookbook!

The sisters had a significant advantage over many organizations that might have enjoyed doing the same thing: They had access to Zion’s Printing and Publishing Company, a mission organization that rivaled Deseret Book in the volume of printing and binding that was produced locally and sold to missions throughout the world. I don’t know a thing about what business arrangement the MIA group had with the printer, but assume they got more favorable rates than if they had had to go to an unrelated commercial press.

The cookbook featured hints beyond the kitchen which, to me, are as revealing of another time and place as the recipes are:

Housekeeper’s Alphabet

Apples should be kept in a dry well ventilated place, as cool as possible without freezing.

Brooms will last longer if dipped for a minute or two in boiling suds once a week.

Cranberries should be kept under water in cellar. Change water monthly.

Doughnuts to be heated should be sprinkled with a few drops of water, placed in a whole paper bag, end twisted and put in a very hot oven.

Every trace of pitch tar may be removed by saturating the spot and rubbing it with turpentine.

Fruit stains need boiling water poured through them for their removal.

Gasoline applied freely to the carpet by means of a sponge or brush will protect it from moths.

hairbrushes may be washed in a basin of warm water to which has been added a tablespoonful of household ammonia. rinse.

Ivory may be bleached by simply moistening and being exposed to direct sunshine.

Jars (glass) are excellent receptacles to keep any food with strong odor in the ice-box.

Kerosene evaporating from uncorked vial in the clock will lubricate bearings.

Linoleums washed in tepid water and wiped with cloth dampened in equal parts cold milk and water, allowed to dry and given a coat of floor varnish occasionally, will wear indefinitely.

Mildew may be removed by soaking the article in sour milk and salt and laying it in the sun. Repeat until all mildew has vanished.

New milk will curdle in preparing milk porridge, gravies, etc., if salt is added before the dish is prepared.

Oranges keep best wrapped in paper and laid in a drawer. Lemons may be kept in cold water which should be changed twice a week.

Pumpkin seeds are better than cheese for baiting a mouse trap.

Quick-silver and white of an egg destroy bedbugs.

Rusty screws can be removed by applying a red hot iron to the head. Remove while hot.

Too much salt – when used, add one tablespoonful of vinegar and one teaspoonful sugar.

Use lemon juice and salt to remove ordinary iron rust. Lay in the sun.

Vases may be washed by putting a teaspoonful of dry rice into the vase, partially filling it with water and shaking vigorously.

White spots on furniture caused by heat or water may be removed by holding a hot iron near them. Wipe dry, use good furniture oil and polish.

Xantippe was a scold – Don’t imitate her.

You may help to keep your silver bright by adding a little milk to the water in which it is washed.

Zinc oxide with one per cent picric acid made into ointment is best for burns.

& regulate your clock by your husband’s watch.

-oOo-

The bulk of the book, of course, was filled with recipes. A sample:

Apple Custard Pie

Stewed apples
2 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/4 teaspoonful nutmeg

Line pie tin with crust and bake; add cooked filling. Make a meringue of well beaten whites and 1 tablespoonful sugar. Brown in the oven. (Mrs. Charlotte T. Bennion)

Cabbage Tamale

Mix equal parts cooked rice and ground raw beef, season with salt and pepper. Pour boiling water over cabbage leaves, and remove leaves from water. Place a small quantity of meat and rice mixture on each leaf, roll up, and fasten with a tooth pick. Drop in boiling liquid in which leaves have been wilted and cook for 45 minutes. (Ingeborg Peterson)

Breakfast Puffs

1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoonful baking powder
Milk sufficient to moisten
Salt

Mix. Take a piece the size of a walnut and fry in hot fat. Serve with syrup.

Creamed Cabbage

Chop fine as much cabbage as is needed, boil in salt water until tender. Drain, add milk, butter, pepper and enough flour to make it creamy. Return to the fire and cook for a few minutes. (Mrs. Mildred Steveson)

Cheese Dreams

2 teaspoonfuls baking powder
1/2 teaspoonful salt
1 tablespoonful butter
1/3 cup milk or water
1/2 cup cheese

Mix and sift the dry ingredients. Work in the butter lightly with the tips of the fingers. Add liquid gradually and then sprinkle in the cheese which has been grated. toss on a floured board and roll out one-fourth inch in thickness and cut with small cutter. Bake in hot oven ten minutes and serve hot with salad course.

Grape Soup

Cook 2 quarters of Concord grapes picked from the stems in water enough to cover well, about thirty minutes. Strain. Add 1/2 cup sago and sugar to taste. Let cook until sago is clear. If necessary add water to make 2 quarts. Serve with squares of buttered toast.

Noodles

Break 2 large eggs into 1 cup sifted flour, add a pinch of salt. Beat eggs with a fork, gradually working in the flour. When all the flour has been taken up, turn on board and knead until as smooth as glass. Do not work too much flour into the dough.

Pinch off piece the size of an egg, roll as thin as paper. Let stand about one hour, cut ins trips, stack, and with a sharp knife cut into 1/8 inch strips or finer if desired. Drop in well-seasoned boiling broth.

Noodles may be served as a vegetable. Drain noodles when cooked and mix with 1/2 cup coarse bread crumbs fried in butter, reserving part of the crumbs to put over the top. this is an excellent dish to serve with fried chicken.

Mince Meat

1 pound nicely cooked lean beef, without fat or sinew
1 pound beef suet cut fine
1 teaspoonful salt sprinkled over the suet
1 pound raisins
1 pound currants
1 pound sugar
2 pounds apples, fresh
1 pound citron and lemon candied peel
1 tablespoonful cloves
1 tablespoonful allspice
1 tablespoonful nutmeg
2 tablespoonfuls cinnamon
1 tablespoonful each lemon and vanilla extract

Mix all together. When ready to make the pies add a little fresh apple cider. (Mrs. Sarah A. Towle)

Mock Mince Meat

1 peck green tomatoes put through chopper

Boil 10 minutes and drain

4 pounds sugar
1 pound suet
2 pounds seeded raisins
1 tablespoonful cinnamon
1 tablespoonful nutmeg
1 tablespoonful allspice

Cook all together slowly for 2 hours and can. Will keep all winter. (Mrs. Henrietta Collier)

Fried Mutton Chops

Trim off all extra fat and skin. Season with salt and pepper and dip each chop in beaten egg, then in cracker crumbs; dip again in egg and crumbs and fry brown in fat hot enough to fry crullers. Serve hot and dry on a warm platter.

Chicken Salad

Meat of 1 chicken
8 eggs (hard boiled)
Cabbage and celery, equal parts
2 tablespoonfuls sugar
2 5tablespoonfuls butter
1 teaspoonful mustard
1/2 cup vinegar
salt and pepper

Boil the chicken until it is tender, cut in small pieces; chop the whites of the eggs; add the chopped cabbage and celery. Mash the yolks fine and add sugar, butter, mustard, with salt and pepper to taste. Add vinegar and mix well.

Poinsetta Salad

Wash well shaped, uniform tomatoes. Divide the tomatoes into six or eight petals, cutting just through the skin and nearly to the bottom (stem end). Place on lettuce leaf, bend loosened petals down on to plate. Put a couple of teaspoonfuls of mayonnaise dressing on top.

-oOo-

As every cook knows, when you pick up a used cookbook, you flip through the pages to find the stickiest, messiest, most stained page – the one that the previous owner turned to time and time again for favorite recipes. In this 1920 cookbook, that page is this one. Parts of it are crusty with antique sugar.

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This is really quite a wonderful cookbook, of more than a hundred pages. It is a little unfair of me to pick the title I did, but that line in the noodles recipe was so good I didn’t want you to miss it! (Don’t you think they probably meant “side dish,” as most vegetables would be?)

Do you have a favorite ward cookbook? Had any experience in putting one together?



20 Comments »

  1. Not sure which is more baffling to me – grape soup or sponging gasoline into your carpet…

    Comment by E. Wallace — March 21, 2014 @ 7:44 am

  2. Good old gasoline, again. One more way to send your house up in flames!
    I thought the title page was interesting: “Kansas City, Jackson County, Missouri”! Just trying to remind the rest of the church that they’ve already arrived?

    Comment by Mark B. — March 21, 2014 @ 7:56 am

  3. And, am I the only one who couldn’t get this image of Ambrose Burnside out of mind when thinking about Fried Mutton Chops?

    Comment by Mark B. — March 21, 2014 @ 7:58 am

  4. What a curious look back to the days before electric refrigeration and the “deep freeze.”

    Interesting use of the term “tamale” for a cabbage roll, and the care of ivory? You wouldn’t find that in a modern guide.

    Comment by Amy T — March 21, 2014 @ 8:07 am

  5. I love the stained page. You know this book was used.

    Ardis, what about missionary cookbooks? Do you ever come across early copies of these? I remember, and still have, the cookbook for the Geneva-Switzerland, yogurt stains and all.

    Comment by Gary Bergera — March 21, 2014 @ 8:45 am

  6. This is wonderful. I’ll bet Ingeborg Peterson was Swedish. The cabbage tamale was exactly what my grandmother (Anna Lindquist) taught us was the most Swedish of Swedish dishes.

    Comment by Carol — March 21, 2014 @ 8:51 am

  7. She also made mince meat out of green tomatoes. For years I had no idea mince meat was supposed to have meat in it. I loved it.

    Comment by Carol — March 21, 2014 @ 8:52 am

  8. Gary, I heard about that cookbook but never saw it. Recipes for yogurt and a few other mission specialties were passed down hand-to-hand. I still make the yogurt.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — March 21, 2014 @ 9:28 am

  9. A recipe for yogurt? You mean, “heat the milk, cool it, stir in the “starter,” keep it warm for 6-8 hours”?

    What more can be said about making yogurt?

    Comment by Mark B. — March 21, 2014 @ 9:40 am

  10. Much.

    The fat content of the milk determines creaminess, and there are techniques for keeping it warm to minimize the bitterness that can develop, and for draining the acid that leaches out. We made yogurt in 6-quart batches (a little more complex than those weasly little cups in the cutesy electric “yogurt makers”), and not doing it right meant we ate bad yogurt for a week or wasted a lot of milk.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — March 21, 2014 @ 10:13 am

  11. Had to look up Xantippe (the scold) in Encylopedia Internetica (Wikipedia), and found out that she was Socrates wife, who appears both to have been a devoted wife and mother, as well as “”the hardest to get along with of all the women there are.” Plus there is this wonderful woodcut shoowing Xanthippe dumping a chamber pot down Socrates neck. What a flirt!

    Comment by kevinf — March 21, 2014 @ 10:30 am

  12. More to the point, we have a bunch of old Relief Society cook books from various wards we or family members have lived in. A couple have some of those smeared pages, but for the last couple of years, my wife keeps most of the recipes we use most on her phone. Try using that as a historical artifact.

    Comment by kevinf — March 21, 2014 @ 10:31 am

  13. Yogurt was also used as an ingredient in other recipes.

    Comment by Gary Bergera — March 21, 2014 @ 2:11 pm

  14. I want to make grape soup, but i’m not sure about the sago. I assime it is a starchy substance from the sago root. Could I substitute corn starch? How much?

    Comment by Eric B — March 21, 2014 @ 4:53 pm

  15. Yes, try corn starch, or tapioca flour (available where they sell stuff for gluten-free baking). Check the package for the amount to use for thickening two quarts of liquid. I think you’d want to use somewhat less than the package suggests for pie filling, if you want it to be soup rather than pudding.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — March 21, 2014 @ 5:07 pm

  16. Mother’s favorite cake was “Plain Cake.” It was the first thing I learned to bake and had the recipe memorized by the time I was about eight. My best girl friend from elementary school and I talked our moms into letting us make the cake often. Mother’s recipe used 1/2 cup shortening instead of 1/3 cup butter, 1 cup instead of 1/2 cup milk, and 1/2 tsp salt. We varied it by adding cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg for a spice cake, or put cocoa and cinnamon into half of the batter and making marble cake. I still use half vanilla and half lemon for the flavoring like mom did. One of the favorite ways I still use with this cake is to make a sauce with water, sugar, cornstarch and vanilla to pour over hot cake. We always called it “Cake that way,” when mom asked what we wanted for dessert.

    Comment by Maurine — March 21, 2014 @ 6:28 pm

  17. I wonder if the Breakfast Puffs were Ma Ingalls’s vanity cakes?

    Comment by Carol — March 22, 2014 @ 7:09 pm

  18. I take that back. Ma whipped up eggs and didn’t have baking powder. But I’ll bet they were similar.

    Comment by Carol — March 22, 2014 @ 7:15 pm

  19. Coat those noodles in a cheese sauce before you top with bread crumbs and you’ve got a dish over which my cardiologist would have a fit. Not that I still eat like that, but you know. It is really good with fried chicken; another dish I’m no longer eating.

    Comment by Bruce Crow — March 24, 2014 @ 9:11 am

  20. These recipes are historical in more than one sense, huh?

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — March 24, 2014 @ 9:33 am

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