Hoping someone who knows something will respond to this and give me some assistance. I was absent for most of a month and while I was unable to write, “someone” made a lot of changes to my blog. Now I can’t find any of my familiar places on which to post new material. I had 624 blog posts on sandyscookbookchatter. PLEASE RESTORE MY blog to what it was before someone changed it. I have never figured out an easy way to contact anyone at wordpress. and prior to THIS blog I had another that was all articles and material about collecting cookbooks. I paid for an entire year on my blog and it hasn’t been a year yet. help!!! Sandra Lee Smith/sandyscookbookchatter.wordpress.com
AN OLD NEWSPAPER CLIPPING
At the bottom of a cedar chest
That had been my mother’s,
An old newspaper clipping,
Yellowed with age and so fragile
That bits of it disintegrated
When I picked up the piece of paper,
Which had been folded over twice,
But when I opened it up to lay flat
I could see that
It had been folded and refolded many
Times, over a long period of time.
On one side of the newspaper,
There were ads for patterns
To make ladies dresses and aprons,
And when I turned the paper over
I found birth announcements;
Baffled, I read through the list
Of babies born at St. Mary’s Hospital
During the third week of
And noticed one circled faintly with
Pencil – a baby girl,
Born on the very same date I was born!
But the name of the mother,
One Genevieve Phillips—
Was not the name of my mother.
How curious, I thought –
Someone named Genevieve Phillips
Had a baby girl the very same date
I was born,
Why did my mother keep this clipping?
Why had I never heard the name
And why wasn’t a Mr. Phillips
Listed in the announcement the
Way the rest of the announcements
In the back of my mind, a dark suspicion—
But no, it couldn’t be. It simply couldn’t be.
My mother would have told me.
Then the nagging thought –
Was the woman I knew as my mother—
Really my mother?
Who was Genevieve Phillips?
I crushed the newspaper clipping
And set fire to it in the kitchen sink,
But even as the old newspaper clipping
Blackened and turned to dust,
I knew I would be forever haunted
By questions—questions for which
There were no answers.
Sandra Lee Smith
Originally written May 12, 2009
Updated June 26, 2018 and
June 12, 2019
Sometimes you slip into my dreams,
when I least expect it;
I may not think of you for days;
My guard is unprotected;
Then suddenly into a dream,
We’re walking by the seashore,
holding hands and once again,
our lives are like they were before,
then suddenly I waken and I’m
by myself, alone, in bed;
I want to sleep, recapture you,
but sleep, dreamlessly, instead.
Sandra Lee Smith
updated May 18, 2019
It’s one thing to grow up poor
And know that you are poor
But it’s quite another to
Grow up poor
Without realizing it.
I didn’t realize it until many years later.
We didn’t have much
But we had breakfast every morning,
Sometimes cereal and sometimes pancakes
Sometimes cream of wheat,
Which I did not like
Oatmeal which I did.
We didn’t go to school hungry
Although I often got sick in church
(Services held before school started)
Because having eaten anything sweet,
Made me nauseous.
We often went to my grandmother’s
For lunch and she fed us well,
And my mother usually made
Some kind of one-dish meals
Such as beef stew or
A vegetable soup
Or a favorite of
Green beans with bits of ham
Cooked with carrots and potatoes.
We rarely had dessert
And to this day
I seldom want dessert
Nor have I ever gotten in the habit
Of drinking milk with a meal
Because we were not allowed to eat it
Because Billy always spilled his.
We invariably had holes in our shoes
Which were patched with cardboard
Or a piece of linoleum;
You had to make do
Until it was time to get new shoes,
For Easter or Christmas.
I wore a lot of hand-me-downs
But didn’t think anything of it
Because the dresses that were given to me
Were so nice, and when I outgrew them
A younger child would inherit them,
Sometimes my friend Patti
Or my mother may have given to someone else.
I don’t know.
She was in charge of things.
If something disappeared, it was generally
Because she had done something with it.
I mourned the loss of my dollhouse
For years after
My mother gave it away
Without my knowledge.
But my mother was like
The Lord who giveth and
The Lord who taketh away.
Nothing was really your own,
I think I was often hungry
As I think back on it,
And I sometimes stole candy
Or potato chips
From local grocery stores
If we could not find
Enough soda pop bottles
To cash in for 2 cents each.
One time I found a dollar
On the floor in church
As I was waiting for the confessional.
I thought I had died and gone to heaven.
I spent it all on candy.
Surely it was a sign from God?
He wanted me to have that dollar!
Now when I return to Fairmount
I see it as a poverty-stricken neighborhood,
Much poorer than it was when I was
Many buildings are closed down
And the windows boarded over.
Perhaps it never was much more
Than a poor neighborhood
With many poor residents.
Those who escaped live in better
Neighborhoods or perhaps
They, like myself,
Moved far, far away.
One afternoon recently, I began going through some of the bookshelves in the garage library, and realized that some of the very old books I had stored out there were getting – not just dusty – but some kind of dust mites are attacking the bindings and covers.
So, I am in the process of re-packing some of these books and as I went along, I couldn’t resist looking inside some of these cookbooks. One thing that enchants me is the lengthy titles some of these books have. The cover of THE EVERY DAY COOKBOOK/Illustrated is proclaimed on the inside EVERY-DAY COOK-BOOK and ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PRACTICAL RECIPES by Miss E. Neil and in smaller print below the author is the following “Economical, Reliable and Excellent” and below THAT Chicago, Ill REGAN PRINTING HOUSE, 1892.
The collection of recipes are mostly short and to the point. I am bemused by one for Rich Bride Cake—is the cake rich or is the bride who is rich? Another for White Lady Cake has me wondering—is this a “White Lady” or a cake that is white or … you get my point. There are recipes under Miscellaneous for “an excellent hard soap” include directions for washing woolens, lamp wicks, a cement for stoves (in case your stove is cracked) and directions “ TO MAKE OLD CRAPE LOOK NEARLY EQUAL TO NEW which I couldn’t begin to explain. Does she mean “Crepe” as in a fabric? Someone who sews and is familiar with different kinds of fabrics might know the answer to this. Or does it have to do with the economy in 1892, requiring the lady of the house to make it look nearly equal to new?
Miscellaneous covers such topics as removing ink from carpets, how to make hens lay in winter, moths in carpets, making your own furniture polish, papering whitewashed walls (I can remember my grandmother brushing whitewash onto the lower parts of her fruit trees), renewing old kid gloves, and a wide range of other how to in the medical department—including (I couldn’t resist) a Quinine Cure for Drunkenness.
Another cookbook titled “GOOD COOKING Made Easy and Economical” that is literally falling apart opens to the Inscription “From Mother to Loyal, April 25th 1944 West Best Wishes on 40th Birthday” and might have been directed towards economic restrictions imposed during WW2. Good Cooking was compiled by Marjorie Heseltine and Ula M. Dow, in which the co-authors explain the purpose of this second edition and direct the homemaker to the addition of home-canned foods, preserves and jellies and pickles. The USA was in the third year of a World War in 1944, with no end yet in sight. And virtually every thing was rationed, including sugar. (I remember my mother, aunts and grandmother canning apple sauce back in those wartime years, without the addition of sugar.) The apples were sour apples, and so the applesauce was very tart. When the war was over—and we still had many quarts of unsweetened apple sauce in the cellar, my mother allowed us to put a small amount of sugar on our serving of applesauce. It is my most distinct memory of rationing in WW2.
My section on home canning is well-worn from use. Covering equipment and choosing a method for canning.. Maybe Mother gave GOOD COOKING to Loyal to become acquainted with home cooking – then again, the handwritten recipe for strawberry shortcake is in Mother’s handwriting and is dated May 30th, 1944. There is also a worn out page for Potato Fritters, also in Mother’s handwriting. I like to think that GOOD COOKING is so worn out from Loyal frequently using her mother’s birthday present.
Another cookbook with a lengthy title is A COLLECTION OF COPPER COUNTRY RE CIPES COMPILED BY THE FACULTY WOMEN’S CLUB of the MICHIGAN COLLEGE OF MINING AND TECHNOLOGY Houghton, Michigan, December, 1929. Printing on the cover is illegible—at some time in this cookbook’s past, it appears to have been covered with something that was pasted on.
However, that being said, Copper Country Recipes offers a surprising chapter on Foreign Menus and Recipes, in which I found recipes for Enchiladas and Tamales, Frijoles and Tortillas—recipes I would easily found in a Southern California cookbook—but in one from the Women’s Club of Michigan College of Mining and Technology? That was a surprise. Mind you, this was published in 1929!
Also in Foreign Recipes are Chinese recipes that together make up a Chinese Dinner (Chinese Noodle Soup, Chop Suey, Hundred Year Old Eggs in Spinach (which I have seen featured on the TV show “Chopped” but will pass on that one), Rice—Chinese Style— and Eight Precious Pudding. For a Chinese Luncheon you will find Egg Foo-Young, Chicken Chow-Mein, Fried Bean Sprouts and Chinese Almond Cakes. This is just a sampling of the recipes and menus to be found in the section Foreign Recipes.
Is this a cookbook you would be likely to find on Amazon.com or Alibris.com? I’ll have to check!
Meantime, I want to share an 1897 cookbook, simply titled COOK BOOK on the cover but on an inside page is another lengthy title called THE PRACTICAL RECEIPT BOOK by Experienced House-Keepers published by THE YOUNG LADIES’ AID SOCIETY at the Methodist Episcopal Church, Sewickley, PA. and beneath that “Good cooking means economy and enjoyment, Bad cooking means waste of money, time and temper.” And under THAT is the date, 1897. On a blank page is the name, signed by Mrs. H.S. Jackson, 1897. The cookbook is in remarkably good condition, given that it is over one hundred years old.
Friends, I did a cursory check on Amazon.com for a couple of these titles—I didn’t find exactly what I was looking for – that being said—there are dozens of other titles to lure you in. I’ll try to provide you with some other titles for old cookbooks as I go through the ones I am packing into boxes.
–Sandy @ sandyscookbookchatter
It was one of my favorite places to visit,
A dusty and crowded used book store,
Where stacks and stacks of books littered
The aisles in absolute disarray,
And bending down to check out the titles
On the lower shelves,
You never knew
What treasures you might find;
One especially favorite such place
Was in Burbank for many years,
Owned by an older man named Pete,
Who counted my children
Every time we visited his store,
And admonished me to make sure
I left with the same number I came in with;
The children were free to explore
And Chris would always seek out the wash room
Because every place that mama went,
Chris was sure to have to go,
(with me admonishing “don’t touch anything
Except your penis and the sink to wash your hands”)
Along some high shelves in the book store
Were an assortment of very old cameras
That Pete collected,
But this was long before I took up photography
And I paid little attention to those cameras,
Much to my regret, later on.
It was also long before I began collecting cookbooks;
At Magnolia Park Books,
The children found comic books
Or children’s stories
While I explored,
Looking for books of fiction
And authors I was interested in
Way back when.
One day I told Pete I had a small set of books
A collection of the world’s best fiction,
To which there were, perhaps 20 books in the
entire set of one hundred stories,
But I was missing just one of the books—
It may have been #15 in the set.
“You’ll never find it”, Pete warned me,
“It would be too hard to find just one book
In the set”
And yet as I explored the shelves,
I found exactly that –#15 to the set (and no others!,
Even though it had a different colored binding.
Pete was as amazed as I but
Thinking back on this particular book store,
I think it had a kind of magic about it;
I don’t recall most of the titles in the set,
Except that Crime and Punishment was one
And I waded determinedly through Dostoyevsky.
And then after I had been gone a while –
Perhaps when we moved to Florida in 1979
And back to California in 1982,
I went to visit Pete,
But he was no longer there;
He had passed away, I was told.
The store was being run by relatives
Of his wife.
I never knew there was a wife.
The store continued and I discovered
A huge cache of club and church cookbooks,
Which I began buying–
And then one day when I went to visit
Magnolia Park Books, it wasn’t there.]
Where it had stood was now part of
A furniture store.
I had to find a place to park on busy Magnolia Boulevard
So I could cry.
That was only one of the many used book stores
In Southern California, in particularly the
San Fernando valley,
That no longer exist;
There was a time when I knew where
all of them were located.
The internet has replaced them
And the used book dealer is becoming one
Of a dying breed.
Oh, Pete, I hope there is a place
In heaven for used book store dealers.
–Sandra Lee Smith
cc: Ohio Book Store, Cincinnati
LET US EAT CAKE*
When the world around you is falling down,
And it’s disaster all around,
Do as I do, for heaven’s sake,
Have a little bite to eat,
And make it cake!
We like cake of every kind,
But chocolate is the best,
All my sons love Angel Food—
Me too, I must confess.
Whenever company comes to call,
Invited or otherwise,
Bring out a cake that’s freshly frosted,
Watch it light up their eyes.
No matter what the time of year,
No matter what the weather,
Slice up some freshly homemade cake,
It’ll make you feel much better!
Sandra Lee Smith
*Let us eat cake is actually a book title by author Sharon Bootstin
And is really a food memoir although it does contain some recipes.
“It’s never too late to live your own dream” – Oprah Winfrey
On the date of her 30th birthday, my niece, Alexa* won her first race in Phoenix, while a short month before, she was seriously injured from a fall from a horse she was racing at the time.
Alexa struggled fiercely to reconsider her decision to give up racing, and had to deal with an emotional breakup with a boyfriend. Additionally, she dealt with a barrage of conflict from a parent, who, perhaps, resented the daughter who had the dream career she herself never had– and frequent attempts to thwart her daughter’s ambitions were couched in false motherly concern.
Alexa moved to Phoenix for that winter and began, again, working with horses, placing 2nd on a Tuesday and 1st the following Saturday.
She is, perhaps, a fine example of pursuing a dream, despite all obstacles. We tell her how proud we are of her many achievements. However, high praise is seldom forthcoming from the one person with whom it would mean the most.
Grandma Moses was an American folk artist; She began painting in earnest at the age of 78** and is often cited as an example of an individual who successfully began a career in the arts at an advanced age. “Sugaring Off” was sold for US $1.2 million in 2006.
In my family, we have all had our dreams; sometimes one of us succeeds–when one succeeds, we all share that elusive “win” no matter what it is. Our Aunt Dolly reached fame as an artist after her children were grown and on their own. She is our best example of achieving your goals no matter what your age may be.
And so, I write. My niece, Alexa, rides.
*Not my niece’s real name.
** if grandma Moses could do it at age 78…maybe there is hope for me yet!
Sandra Lee Smith