by Tracy Cook
With Thanksgiving taking place this month, the hunt for scrumptious new recipes is on our minds — who doesn’t want the best food possible for their feast? We decided to search our Special Collections to find some of our most interesting recipe books.
Good Thyme Cooking with Karin Orr (1996) is a recipe collection compiled by Karin Orr of WGVU-TV 35 & WGVK-TV 52, Grand Valley State University’s TV stations. The book includes recipes from chefs who appeared on the show, as well as contributions from the staff members and Karin herself. This collection is broken down into thirteen chapters so that the recipes are easy to find. Each recipe has the ingredients broken down and a detailed description on how to complete the dish. On the ones that Karin provided, she adds a comment about where the recipe came from or how she has modified it.
Adventurous Eating in Michigan by Marjorie and Duke Winters (1987) is both a restaurant guide and a cookbook which explores some of the best places to eat in Michigan with chefs who are “young and enthusiastic” as well as talented. Their “fair” way of determining a great restaurant was whether the restaurant was “successfully meeting its own objectives”, which ended up including 147 restaurants. With each restaurant listed comes a description of the restaurant, typically at least one recipe from the chef, and a number which corresponds with the numbering on the map so the readers can know where each restaurant is located.
The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book (1954) is one of the bestselling cookbooks of all time, even though the book is as much an autobiography of her life with Gertrude Stein as it is a cookbook. As the introduction to the Folio Society’s edition of this book states, Alice “mixes recipes, anecdotes, and reminiscences, and her guileless art is to move from instructive recipe to its original mise-en-scène”. The recipes were influenced by Alice’s upbringing in America and her many years of living in France, where most of her cooking was done, as well as some recipes given to her by her friends. This cookbook is especially famous for one recipe in particular, a cold dessert called “Haschich Fudge”.
Favorite Dishes (1893) is a celebrity cookbook that includes over 300 autographed “prized” recipes and 23 portraits of the Board of Lady Managers from the Woman’s building in Chicago. The idea for this cookbook was for it to be charitable; this book would be offered to women of “limited means” who could sell the books in order to afford a visit to Chicago’s world’s fair. As the University of Illinois Press describes, this cookbook provides “an unusual and interesting look into the way early women’s movements used conventional means to manipulate their way into a man’s worlds, and provides insight into how food, women, and American attitudes were changing at the end of the century” (2018).
Our Michigan Ethnic Tales and Recipes (1979) was put together by Carole Eberly who was inspired by her Czech grandma to love food and to think about the cultural connections that appear in food. Cooking is one way that people have always come together, which is one of Carole’s goals with this recipe book. This book provides glimpses into 20 different ethnic groups with both a story — gathered from either interviews, first person accounts, or historical pieces — and some recipes that relate to that culture.
Sherlock Holmes Cookbook (1976) is introduced as a way for “Sherlockians…to recapture the charm of Sherlock Holmes’ London” by exploring the food that Sherlock and Watson would have been eating. This cookbook is also advertised as being “mostly” for pleasure and as a way to “escape…to that place where it is always 1895”. Within each section of the book, the recipes are laid out with ingredients —although not always the exact measurement of each ingredient— and instructions on how to make each dish. Some prior knowledge in cooking seems to be expected. With recipes for every type of meal, including tea time, the reader can truly get a glimpse into the eating aspect of Sherlock’s and Watson’s lives.
To view more items related to all things cooking in our Special Collections and University Archives, visit Seidman House located on the Allendale Campus near the Lake Halls.