[Portland, Oregon]: Evening Telegram, December 15, 1917. First edition. Original oilcloth on cardboard printed on spine and boards. Some soiling and edgewear, but binding strong and sound. Textblock toned at edges; internally with occasional foxing or staining to margins, but with less than the usual kitchen spatter of a book of this kind. Manuscript recipes written in a contemporary hand on the front endpaper; manuscript recipe and two newsclipped recipes laid in loosely at rear; several clipped recipes pasted in. OCLC reports only 8 surviving copies at institutions, with this presently being the only one on the market. A pleasing, research-ready copy of a community cookery designed to promote frugality and the local sourcing of ingredients.
Vetting recipes for accuracy and originality, Portland Evening Telegram culinary writer Aunt Prudence (Inie Gage Chapel) produced a cookery of local recipes drawing on local ingredients. Her goal is a true community cook book: "We must teach one another to cook economically, to utilize all the by-products, and with our economy we must not sacrifice food values, or palatability which is essential that our families eat the food we cook and keep well." Women should pool community knowledge for the betterment of the community itself -- both at home, in their region, and as part of a nation at war. Wartime shortages affected national supply chains, and so Chapel urges women to create and share sustainable Victory Gardens that provide healthy, fresh ingredients; and she pulled together local recipes that would prevent women from requiring exotic materials not available or not economical. Though part of the book's goal is to "respond to our president's appeal...to make the world safe for democracy," it also tacitly supports the women's movement. American suffragists were regularly using community cookeries for fundraising and to establish their authority in and out of the home. So, too, does Chapel do this. "My desire is to start a new department, not of scientific cooking to teach all women the new domestic science and cooking school ideas of cooking, valuable as these are...We want to present not the new science but the old art, to gather and publish the old tried recipes and things mother used to make -- the essential, nourishing things that we older women have cooked for years in our own families." Rather than urging readers toward male chefs' attempts to formalize and professionalize a previously domestic and "feminine" task, Chapel pushes authority back to women. Cooking is generational, familial; drawn from shared experience; it links women to the women before them. And it creates a distinction between the cold, expensive, and commercial endeavors of "cooking-school ideas" and restaurants and the economical, patriotic, local, and traditional meals that solely aim to nourish. Recipes include Parker House Rolls and Popovers, fish both fresh and preserved, and salads made from greens, tomatoes, and other plants that thrive in the region.
At the same time, the present work is itself a commercial endeavor -- advertisements promoting "Moral Materials and Money...promoting savings by preventing waste" come from Banks that also urge "growing a savings account" with their branch, for example. And one must note that within the "All Western" range of recipes, there is no acknowledgement of recipes of indigenous or non-European origin.
A research rich and important community cookery, scarce and with signs of use. (Item #3515)