books, settlement cookbook

Book Three: The "Settlement" Cook Book

We’ve gotten to know colonial Williamsburg pretty well, so I figured it might be time for a new cookbook. We’ll still return to colonial (and perhaps prairie) days, though, so don’t worry.

Our next book is The “Settlement” Cook Book by Mrs. Simon Kander (Lizzie Black Kander) and Mrs. Henry Schoenfeld, originally published in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1903. The copy I have is a 1987 facsimile of the original, so it’s got all the advertisements you’d find in a typical turn-of-the-century cookbook. To wit:

I love those kinds of things.

Also, to be completely up-front with you, the whole title of the book is:

The “Settlement” Cook Book
The Way to a Man’s Heart

Yes. They went there.

(To be fair, it was 1903. If you were a young woman, you were likely to work a few years until you got married, and then you’d stay home to look after your husband and growing family. And romantic love was highly prized. So perhaps cooking held an elevated status.)

I’ll tell you a little bit about this book, and we’ll save the in-depth history lesson for later. At first glance, this cookbook is much different from the Williamsburg Art of Cookery, for two reasons.

  1. Most recipes are preceded by a list of ingredients, plus the specific amount of each ingredient to use. Wonder of wonders! We don’t have to guess any longer!
  2. A lot of the recipes are for German or European food. Kugel! Apple strudel! An entire chapter on kuchen! You aren’t likely to find any German immigrants in colonial Virginia.

Why do we see a number of European foods now? As it turns out, the author, Lizzie Black Kander, was the president of Milwaukee’s first settlement house. These settlements were founded by middle-class women who wanted to get out of the house and help immigrant women and children adjust to life in America. Much like other settlements, the Settlement of Milwaukee offered classes in English, music, and cooking. Kander devoted herself to helping women assimilate through cooking, and the culinary classes were so successful that the Settlement eventually published this cookbook.

So this is definitely a change from colonial times. And I’m excited about it. Even though it makes me feel like I’m going against my personal feminist convictions by following “The Way to a Man’s Heart.”

since I lack a milkman, apparently I lack a home as well


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