By Katy Tahja
As the fall season returns, our thoughts may also turn to harvests, family meals and food shared with friends.
In keeping with such thoughts, we’d like to draw your attention to the cookbook sitting on Eliza Kelly’s china cupboard in the kitchen of the Kelley House Museum. Published in 1892, it’s stamped as belonging to the private library of “Mrs. Alexander McCallum of Glen Blair,” Eliza’s daughter. This book is an eye opener! “Science in the Kitchen”, has the impressive sub-title Scientific Treatise on Food and Dietetic Properties with Practical Explanations of Principles of Healthful Cookery with Original Palatable and Wholesome Recipes, and was written by Mrs. E.E. Kellogg of the Battle Creek, Michigan Sanitarium School of Cookery. Her husband invented the idea of dry breakfast cereals, which are still being sold today. She oversaw the cuisine served to 500-700 inmates.
Mrs. Kellogg claimed her cooking featured “simplicity of methods with marvelous results of palatableness, wholesomeness and attractiveness,” with an element of “I never thought to do it this way before.” Contents of the cookbook include digestion of foods, woes of hasty eating, how to test for adulterated tin canned foods, grain preparation, and recipes for every meal.
There were instructions for food for the sick, aged and very young, leftovers, and a plan for the art of dining, after mealtime activities, table topics and gems of wisdom. What is Samp? (mush), Whortleberries? Kornlet? (canned green corn pulp). Would I want to drink beet coffee or make barley lemonade for someone sick? Why are rhubarb and persimmons missing from the cookbook?
The real treats in this book are the recipes from local cooks either pasted into the front, presumably by Daisy MacCallum, or handwritten on the blank back pages. There was fig marmalade for the coast climate, Mrs.Ross’ Nut Bread, Sara’s Canadian Oatmeal Cookies, and Anne’s Carrot Pudding. Francis Dean provided a Pound Cake recipe, and there was a recipe for 1,2,3,4 Cake (1 cup butter, 1 cup milk, 2 cups sugar, 3 cups flour, 4 eggs…), Cavanaugh’s Cranberry Sauce, Mrs. Plummer’s Pickles, and Christine’s Cream of Tomato Soup.
If you’d like to see this 124-year-old cookbook, stop by the museum when it’s open: 11a.m. to 3p.m. Friday through Monday. Please call 937-5791 for more information. “When Farm to Table was Everyday” is our featured exhibit at the Kelley House Museum until November 21st.