A few years ago, I realized that if I’m to enjoy some favorite dishes from days gone by, I better learn to make them. The initial list was short: fruit cobblers, pickled eggs, fried pickled corn, Mom’s biscuits, fried green tomatoes, salsify casserole and chicken and dumplings.
A friend said that many of the recipes and instructions I needed could be found in those little cookbooks of local recipes assembled and sold by church groups and civic clubs all over the South, or in cookbooks once given away by flour mills and such.
I was at the Kentucky Book Fair a few weekends ago and had an epiphany when looking at an antiquarian bookseller’s display. Maybe I should start buying some of these little cookbooks, which clearly were put together with pride, care, and love.
I’m drawn to the thought that a mom or grandmother we never knew–someone who ministered to those she loved from her kitchen–can teach us about making the local version of Brunswick stew or give us the steps for putting up pickled corn. Some wonderful soul, like those ladies Clyde Edgerton writes about, helping this and future generations along!
The bookseller at the fair said he had a good selection of these cookbooks at the store, obtained in estate book sales. I’m not much of a collector, except for certain books, maps, information and Christmas music, but am thinking seriously about this.
Around a year ago, the local newspapers did a lefestyle story full of color photos about five local people who collect cookbooks. The paper missed my friend, Faithful, who has dozens of these local treasures, mostly ones put together by women in rural and small town churches.