The Monday After: 'Canton Favorite Cook Book' a relic of the past
The 'ladies of First Baptist Church of Canton' served up recipes in 1896, and preserved history with the publication of them.
"Man may love without friends, man may live without books,
"But civilized man cannot live without cooks."
Those were the words of "wise" Owen Meredith that were included in the introduction – called the "Greeting" – for the "The Canton Favorite Cook Book," which was published in 1896 after being "compiled by the ladies of the First Baptist Church of Canton."
The cookbook, which contained recipes from its era and ads of companies doing business in Canton in a bygone day, was published by the church located in what is now the 400-block of Market Avenue S, across Fourth Street SW from the Saxton McKinley House, during the first year of the administration of President William McKinley.
The cookbook was passed down through the family of former Canton high school English teacher Gary Huntley, who now lives in Cuyahoga County after finishing his teaching career at Warrensville Heights High School. Huntley recently rediscovered the cookbook and he decided to share some of the contents of the thin volume in a series of images and recipes for his friends to enjoy in the form of Facebook postings.
"My grandmother worked cleaning houses and one of the people she worked for gave her this cookbook," recalled the 77-year-old Huntley, who grew up in Waynesburg before moving with his family to Canton Township and later teaching in high schools of the Canton City School District. "My grandmother gave it to my mother, and when we cleared out stuff of my mother's (after she also passed), we found it while sorting through things trying to decide what it keep."
"It was in a plastic bag and it was very fragile. I more or less kept it stored away."
Earlier this month, Huntley decided it was time to take it out from its hiding place, carefully scan its pages, and shine light on its contents through social media.
Cookbook ads reveal forgotten time
Pages of the book serve up more than recipes. Obviously, there are plenty of directions for making sweet treats, breads, beverages and an assortment of soups and entrees. But, images and advertisements in the volume also return its readers to a distant time.
"What first caught my eye were the advertisers," said Huntley. "Many of them don't exist anymore. I was interested in Stern & Mann because I worked there after high school."
The Stern & Mann ad in the book boasts that the 1896 store at 129 Market Ave. S – before the Cleveland Avenue SW venue – carried "Millinery, Coats, Hosiery, Corsets, Underwear, Etc." and invites customers to visit "Our Kid Glove Department," which "ranks first with any in town." Stern & Mann also was, according to the ad, "the Sole Agents in Canton for Her Majesty's Corsets and Butterick's Patterns."
"Mail orders always attended to the day of arrival."
Alexander's Insurance Agency was another advertiser, which claimed "the most experience, the best companies, the most liberal rates, (and) the best form of policies." Its ad also noted that the agency had gone "40 years without a law suit."
"The McKinley Spoons" which were "made in extra heavy weights in sterling silver" were available at Walter H. Deubler, Jeweler.
"Handsome spoons suitable as a gift for all occasions"
Kenny Brothers was "The Big Store" in Canton, selling "Anything You Want." The Yost & Fife Company similarly was diverse, selling "stoves, furnaces, mantels, grates and sheet metal work," as well as "all kinds of roofing and spouting, heating and ventilating."
Canton-made Banner soap, "the best for family use," was sold through another ad. Canton Steel Roofing Company listed "stamped steel ceilings, galvanized cornices, skylights (and) corrugated and plain roofing and siding" among its offerings.
The Barnett House "first-class hotel" provided rooms at $2 to $3 per day, while The Hurford House was conveniently "Located on Public Square."
And, North End Coal Co. – "Dealers in all grades of Bituminous and Anthracite Coal" – sponsored "Favorite Recipes" in the book by urging readers to "Try a ton of 'Morgan Run' Lump for cooking. No Ash. No Clinker."
Food from a different time
The recipes offered in "The Canton Favorite Cook Book" similarly were the product of an era in cooking that showed interesting differences to the cooking and baking in many kitchens today.
Quantities were large when concocting some of the dishes.
"One recipe involved five pounds of potatoes," Huntley recalled.
A few of the recipes were for foods going by names that were not recognizable.
"There were three recipes for something called 'Jumbles'," Huntley noted. "People were asking 'What are Jumbles?'"
Huntley offered an explanation in a reply to a comment from one of his social media friends.
"It looks like Jumbles were made of many (a jumble) of things," he explained. "One recipe calls for raisins, semisweet chocolate, pecans, almonds and oatmeal."
Recipes in the book often are dated by their ingredients.
"One that caught my eye was lard," Huntley remembered. "Who uses lard today? Or molasses?"
Many of the recipes in "The Canton Favorite Cook Book" seemed complicated or time-consuming.
"Some of the recipes I would never attempt, they were so cumbersome," said Huntley.
"I thought people would be overwhelmed by them and comment (on social media), but I didn't get much of that. I think people just looked at them and thought, 'that's just the way they cooked back then.'"
A statement of values
Beyond the nod to Owen Meredith's poetry, and its praise for the work of cooks, the "greeting" to readers at the beginning of the book espoused a value in life that might seem outdated to many people today. The "ladies of First Baptist Church" positioned women primarily in the kitchen, eager to please their male counterparts.
Indeed, the writer of the book's introduction suggested that the writer of the poem could have added additional lines. It is an 1800s version of the more recent saying, "The way to a man's heart is through his stomach."
"Owen Meredith, for the sake of wives and mothers why might you not have added,
"Ye women who long for man's adoration,
"Who would win for your work his full approbation,
"Spend less time at mirrors, of looks be less vain,
"And study your cook books, with all they contain."
But, perhaps the most obvious message of the book, beyond the passing on of the cherished recipes of members of the church congregation, was its clear sense of community.
"It might have been normal for that time, but there was that sense of community, from both within and outside the church."
The names of the "ladies" submitting the recipes were offered after dish was described. Ads showed the commitment of a variety of different patrons.
"There was a genuine sense of togetherness."
Reach Gary at email@example.com. On Twitter: @gbrownREP.
Recipe from the past
Following is a recipe from the "Canton Favorite Cook" book, published in 1896 by the "ladies of the First Baptist Church of Canton."
"Twenty pounds of Concord Grapes, three quarts water. Crush the grapes in the water, and put in a porcelain vessel. Stir well until they reach the boiling point; boil twenty minutes, then strain; add two pounds crushed sugar, and when dissolved strain again. Heat to boiling point, and put into bottles, and seal instantly. Will not keep after being opened unless kept in a cool place. Have bottles thoroughly heated and use new corks. Dip neck of bottles with corks into hot sealing wax. Less or no sugar may be used. Mrs. O.B. Milligan”
This article originally appeared on The Repository: The Monday After: 'Canton Favorite Cook Book' a relic of the past