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Remember This? The Housewives of Sault Ste. Marie, and their famous cookbook

'It is not a haphazard collection gathered at random, but has been made from the choicest bits of the best experience of the members of St. Luke’s Woman’s Auxiliary and their friends'
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cooking chopping stock

From the archives of the Sault Ste. Marie Public Library:

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Remember This?...The Housewives of Sault Ste. Marie Cookbook

Have you ever heard of the Sault’s famous cookbook?

The first and smallest edition was published by St. Luke’s Woman’s Auxiliary in 1898 and made a profit of one hundred dollars. It was just a pamphlet entitled the Handy Cookbook. This first edition was edited by Mrs. Rennison, Bishop Rennison’s wife and Mrs. Arthur Bennetts. 

The second edition of the book that doubled in size from the first, was compiled and added to by Mrs. Kennedy and Mrs Capp, the rector’s wife. This edition saw a name change to Culinary Landmarks.

This edition had an oil cloth cover.

The fact that the third edition, compiled in 1909 by the St Luke’s Woman’s Auxiliary, was larger and more sturdily bound is probably the reason why it is the only edition that still exists. 

The new Culinary Landmarks or Half-Hours with Sault Ste. Marie Housewives was created to meet the demand for the book. 

Throughout the book, you can find advertisements for local businesses that were in existence at the time.  

In the preface, Woman’s Auxiliary President, Mrs. Annie M. Reid writes, “It is not a haphazard collection gathered at random, but has been made from the choicest bits of the best experience of the members of St. Luke’s Woman’s Auxiliary and their friends, and we hope it may help many who have to travel the daily round of household duties.”

Most of the recipes are signed by the contributors who include some well-known names from our past including:  Mrs. J.A. Reid, Mrs. T. J. Foster, Mrs. R. G. Pratt, Mrs. G. H. Shannon, Mrs. S.E. Fleming, Mrs. W. H. Plummer, Miss Gertrude Clergue, Mrs. Thorneloe, Mrs. C.A. Moloney, Mrs. J. W. LeB. Ross, Miss Anna McCrea, Mrs. R.G. Gibson, Miss Alice Sutherland. Mrs. P.T. Rowland,  Mrs. W.H. Hearst, Miss Towers (later Mrs. C.H.E. Rounthwaite), and Mrs. C.F. Farwell.

Today’s cooks may be left with a lot of questions when following a recipe from the book.  Since they were using wood-fired cook stoves this meant that there were no clear oven temperatures included with the recipes.  

culinary landmarksA page from the famous Culinary Landmarks cookbook. From the Sault Ste. Marie Public Library archives

In a recipe for Kegerll (a fish dish), we are instructed to give the dish “one turn over the fire.” 

Mrs. Plummer contributed a recipe for Eggs on Foam.  In this recipe the egg whites are beaten and placed on an earthen baking dish and hollows are created to be filled with the yokes.  You are then instructed to bake the dish for 3 minutes in a “quick oven”.  

Often there were also no exact measurements for ingredients.  Frequently it referred instead to use enough flour “sufficient to roll thin” or enough “flour to make a stiff batter."

In one recipe for taffy, it calls for butter, the size of a walnut. 

Names of common baking ingredients might be different too.  Instead of baking powder, carbonate ammonia or soda and sour cream were called for.

Some of the recipe titles may not sound very appetizing for today’s palette.  How about trying Baked Ox Tongue, Braised Mutton, Toad in the Hole (Cold Meat) or Neck of Pork (Rolled)?  

According to www.ebay.ca a copy of this book is being offered for sale starting at $299.99USD. Perhaps a fourth edition is needed?

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Each week, the Sault Ste. Marie Public Library and its Archives provides SooToday readers with a glimpse of the city’s past.

Find out more of what the Public Library has to offer at www.ssmpl.ca and look for more Remember This? columns here