Archive for the ‘community cookbooks’ Category

A vernacular binding (with skull and Band-aid!) just for Halloween

Thursday, October 26th, 2017

‘Tis the season for Frankenbooks, books that, usually at the hands of a loving owner, have been stitched back together from whatever pieces may be at hand. TOTH to friend and colleague Garrett Scott for the term “Frankenbook”. Garrett and I share an interest in “evidence of use”, a term for the accretion of changes to a book that occur over its lifetime, post-publication. These

changes may include protective or preservative bindings (the present book is an example of the later), as well as marks of ownership and succession (ever write your name in a book?), revision and criticism including marginalia, navigation (dog-eared pages & Post-its are still in use), and additions, as well as the physical record of natural hazards such as stains (for cookbooks we call these “Splatternalia“), predation, smoke, and water damage. Garrett has gone so far as to begin to propose a formalized language of Vernaculopegy, a field which includes evidence of use, but also all other interventions of non-professionals with book production (a child’s handmade bookbinding may serve as an example). I full support and encourage this effort!

And so as we approach of All Hallows Eve, I offer this church cookbook in a vernacular binding as a somewhat scary example of a Frankenbook, but also as witness to the unskilled care that owners have put into certain books, and of the ingenuity employed to use the materials at hand in the domestic landscape.

The Cook’s Friend and Home Guide (1906), exists in no known complete copy. Institutional holdings consist of one copy of the incomplete 2011 reprint. Thankfully this copy, also incomplete, was saved from oblivion by its owner, who apparently also had a hand in creation of that reprint.

This book is not presently available for sale. It will be included in our forthcoming multi-volume catalogue, Local America: Cookbooks of Place & Cookbooks of Community. This six volume project will survey approximately one thousand community, church, and fundraising cookbooks, as well as other books that somehow illustrate the concept of place in American cooking. The survey stretches from the first decade of the 19th century to the early 2000s, and is organized chronologically within each state. We hope to issue volume one (Alabama through District of Columbia) in January 2018.


[Full description].

The Cook’s Friend and Home Guide. Compiled and published by the Ladies Aid Society of the M.E. Church Jollytown, PA 1906. [Jollytown, Penn.]: Ladies Aid Society, [1906]. Octavo (23 x 15.5 cm.), 144 pages (this copy incomplete, present are pages 7-144 inclusive; lacking all text prior to page 7).

Evident FIRST & ONLY EDITION. A Pennsylvania church cookbook from the unincorporated township of Jollytown in the far southwestern corner of Pennsylvania, nestled against the West Virginia border. The attributed recipes are of moderate length and in narrative form, and most appear provided by local women, although a few hail from Wheeling, West Virginia, South Bend, Indiana and elsewhere. The first 96 pages cover a fairly standard array of culinary recipes, and then the book

turns to keeping the pantry, the basics of gardening, operation of the household and related recipes, invalid cooking, etc. A final section on Temperance contains a general outline supplied by a Jennie Pollock and “How to Organize a W.C.T.U.” which includes a list of suggested topics to discuss at meetings.

The book itself is, as indicated above, a fragment, lacking the front matter, including title page, through page 6. Some of the remaining leaves are detached from the staples, and many are significantly worn at the edges. However the odd nature of the marvelous vernacular binding is of real interest. A later pencil signature to the front panel of the cardboard binding indicates a Daniel Isaac Morris of Jollytown, was at least owner and also likely the progenitor of this later binding created with the intention of protecting the book from further degradation. Two corrugated cardboard panels form the front and rear panels of the covers. There is no spine, but rather numerous tapes connect the “sandwich” of the front and rear boards. The printed title from the front board of the original volume has been cut out and affixed to the new cardboard. Materials used include: cardboard, cellophane tape, electrical tape, manila-colored masking tape, what appears to be a patterned wallpaper, duct-tape printed with a camouflage pattern of skulls, and a Band-Aid (!). If the binder lacked formal education in bookbinding and preservation, at least they had a sense that the information was important to save: taped to the verso of the front cardboard panel is a printed slip of paper, listing the members of the committee, as well as other members of the society from which the book could be purchased. Daniel Isaac Morris is also listed as supplying the cover illustration of a reprinting of this book issued in 2011 by the Cornerstone Geneological Society of Waynesburg, Penn. It may be assumed that Mr. Morris rebound this book sometime in the vicinity of the reprint edition (the skull-patterned tape also supports this late interpretation. Like this copy, the copy used for the reprint was incomplete, containing only 126 pages of 144 pages (numerous outlets are now offering this reprint as Print on Demand). Scarce, and undoubtedly an engaging object.

[OCLC locates no copies of this original publication, and one copy only of the 2011 reprint; not in Brown or Cook].

Not for Sale.



A cookbook from the creator of Los Angeles’ Eutropheons

Thursday, April 13th, 2017

[Vera M. Richter]. Mrs. Richter’s Cook-Less Book, With Scientific Food Chart. [By] Vera M. Richter. Seventh edition.  Los Angeles,  California: Published by Los Angeles Service and Supply Co. and Eutropheon, 1925.  Octavo (18.5 x 13.5 cm.), 59, [v] pages. Ads. “Index” is actually a table of contents. FIRST EDITION.

A pioneering work by an original contributor to American food and restaurant history, an advocate of raw foods as a fundamental component of healthy living. Of the one hundred seventy recipes, a considerable number will not likely surface elsewhere: Turnip-Olive Salad (with dried olives), Sorrel Salad (with watercress), Cabbage-Cocoanut Salad (with cucumbers), Tangerine Salad (with sweet peppers), Prune Whip (with pine nuts), Herbade (with beet greens), Carob Bread (with dates), Flaxseed Pemiken (with almonds), Celery Cream Pie (with apples), Chop Sticks (with dried bananas).

Vera Richter compiled her Cook-Less Book from recipes developed for The Eutropheons, at first simply called Raw Food Dining Rooms, which she and her husband John Richter, Doctor of Naturopathy, had launched in 1917 at two locations, on West Second and West Sixth Streets in Los Angeles. By 1925, possibly earlier, they had moved to addresses advertised as 833 South Olive Street and 209-11 South Hill Street. The restaurants – cafeterias, probably – used no salt, refined sugar, vinegar, alcohol, or prepared condiments, and above all, became known as the only restaurants in the country to operate “without the aid of a cook stove” (according to a zealous patron, the newspaper columnist and health-food writer Phillip Lovell [1895-1978]).  In 1932, Lee Shippey of The Los Angeles Times reported on an eponymous food club – The Trophers – evidently with thousands of members (and in fact founded two years before on Dr. Richter’s birthday, according to the February 1930 issue of Vegetarian and Fruitarian). By 1941, according to the California Health News Magazine, The Eutropheons were meeting places for celebrities and tourists, able to boast of testimonials from Leopold Stokowski and his wife Greta Garbo to William Pester (sometimes called the first hippie), the athletic coach Paul Bragg, and the so-called “nature-boy” Gypsy Boots.

Not only restaurants, then, but also distribution and information centers, The Eutropheons are among the earliest documented institutions heralding the natural and health foods fixations taking root in California between the two World Wars. Los Angeles would shortly become a magnet for natural diet advocates of various stripes, among them Otto Carque, Mildred Lager, Frank McCoy, and Clarke Irvine – all of them known to or influenced by the “raw-fooders” (a term apparently coined by the Richters, although earlier raw food movements are known). The Richters themselves packaged solar-baked breads, dried-fruit confections, and raw pie crusts for sale, and invited the public to lectures and diet courses at their dining halls. The “scientific food chart” that concludes the Cook-Less Book – in essence, a list of raw foods and their attributes – derives from the content of their evangelizing, as does Dr. Richter’s informal collection of informal talks,Nature, the Healer, published in 1936. Apart from birth and death dates from census records – 1884-1960 – little is known of Vera Richter’s background, or indeed of any details relating to her formative years, including her full name. It is thought she became the second wife of Theophilus John Richter (1863-1949) in 1917, before their move from Minneapolis to Los Angeles. John Richter had already espoused a diet of “live” (that is, uncooked) foods in his naturopathic practice, attaching the letters N.D. and Al. D. to his name (presumably Doctor of Naturopathy and Doctor of Alementaria) in advertisements for his lectures on food in its relation to disease. In blue cardstock wrappers; decorated in black and gilt. Edges worn and rubbed. Good. Scarce.

[OCLC locates ten copies of all editions and printings of 1924-1925 (variously styled 2nd through 10th editions), with various pagination; Brown 146 (10th edition); not in Cagle].