Homesteading – Vintage Cookbooks

Amish cookbooks

I ordered these two vintage cookbooks a couple of weeks ago via eBay. They arrived this week sometime, but I hadn’t checked the mailbox since Monday. I am quite pleased with them. The one on the left is from 1992, by Abe and Edna Miller, From the Rolling Hills of Holmes County – Down Home Cooking and the one on the right is from 1960, no author given, but from Conestoga Crafts, L.E. Smith Company, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and is titled Pennsylvania Dutch Cooking, Recipes for Traditional Pennsylvania Dutch Dishes.

The older one has more authentic old-time recipes, using the basic produce of Pennsylvania – lots of pork, potatoes, noodles, cabbage and cakes. The preserves recipes are  old style, mostly ending with “seal in hot jars.” It has charming illustrations, line drawings of bake ovens, farmers’ markets, and barn raisings.  The style of dress indicates a Lancaster Amish slant.

“Down Home Cookin'” is self-published, and has numerous recipes that could be found in most church cookbooks – turtle cake, m&m cookies, taco salad, party mix. Jello, mayonnaise and velveeta are some of the ingredients used, which means it is a cookbook adapted to people who shop in supermarkets. Still, there are enough old-style recipes for angel food cake, chocolate gobs (whoopie pies), pies, and preserves to make it worth keeping. It includes homespun verses on farm and kitchen work, probably by the authors.

I’m not a cookbook collector. I buy very judiciously. There are few books I will use regularly, and I’m not a foodie. These two are a good addition to the basic ones I use now on British, Mediterranean and Scottish cooking, as well as my tried and true texts on canning. Soon to arrive, and much anticipated: Edna Staebler’s classic Mennonite cookbook, Food That Really Schmecks.



9 thoughts on “Homesteading – Vintage Cookbooks

  1. I have an old recipe for Angel food cake that actually uses the whole egg. No having to find something to do with all those yolks.

    I love old cook books. Especially the ones from my great grandma and my grandma.

    • The huge number of egg whites puts me off angel food cake! This recipe calls for a cup and a half of egg whites, which must be six eggs, at least. How much mayonnaise or boiled dressing are you going to make with all those yolks? I have had to find my vintage books, as my five sisters seem to have taken all the family cookbooks. It is always tempting to buy more, but I do have a small house and limited space, and I know by experience that in any given cookbook, I will make no more than six of the recipes. The older cookbook I just bought may be an exception, especially once we have chickens and a big garden. I’m a pretty good cook by instinct; my father noted that even as a teenager, I could taste a dish and know what spices and herbs were in it.

      • I just checked my recipe and I remembered wrong. It does use only whites, but it only needs 4. Four yolks aren’t hard to get rid of, I usually just make Colin eggs the next day and he gets them extra rich. I’ll post the recipe on my blog for you.

  2. I am new to your blog but really am enjoying it. I live in a rural area and am a homesteader of sorts. You probably already know about the More with Less Cookbook by Doris Jantzen Longacre and her second book “Living More with Less” A Mennonite woman who believed in a simpler lifestyle to free up money to be used to help the poor and the cause of Christ.

    Excellent writing. Keep up the good work.

  3. I love all sorts of cookbooks but lately haven’t been able to find time to try a lot of new recipes. I’ll have to keep my eyes open for the book Food that Really Schmecks. I hadn’t heard of that one before.

    • The book is now hard to find. It was reprinted a couple of years ago, but is perpetually sold out. I bought a used copy on ebay and paid a fortune for it.

  4. Hi, I wondered if you knew the history of Abe and Edna Miller. They were featured in Country Woman Magazine for many years as one of the “diaries”. Often she would post her favorite recipes and I believe the cookbook grew out of requests for those recipes. Edna could do more in one day than I could do in an entire year and my sisters and I often teased each other with the phrase “Who do you think you are? Edna?” Lol.

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