With more than 400 blue-ribbon recipes, you are sure to find the flavors of farm country that you love in The Best of The Farmer’s Wife Cookbook (Voyageur Press, 2010). Editors Melinda Keefe and Kari Cornell have kept the recipes just as they were first printed in the early 1900s. You will find time-tested recipes for everything from cakes and cookies to hearty meals like chicken pot pie. In this excerpt, learn where these recipes for the farmer’s wife came from.
You can purchase this book from the GRIT store: The Best of The Farmer’s Wife Cookbook.
The Farmer’s Wife, a monthly magazine published in Minnesota between the years 1893 and 1939, offered rural women both practical advice and a glimpse of the larger world around them. In an era long before the Internet and high-speed travel connected us all, the magazine aimed to offer community among hard-working rural women in many parts of the country, to provide a forum for their questions and concerns, and to assist them in the day-to-day goings on about the farm — everything from raising chickens and slaughtering hogs, to managing scant funds and dressing the children, to keeping house and running the kitchen.
The kitchen is where the farmer’s wife really shone. She could be creative in the kitchen, letting her imagination run wild over stews, roasts, salads, casseroles, preserves, cakes, and cookies of her own invention. She could show off her skill, whipping up simple, delicious meals and desserts of the utmost perfection. She could exercise one of the most esteemed qualities among rural women — that of thrift, using the eggs, milk, butter, preserves, and other stores abundant on any farm while at the same time showing love and care for her family through the hearty meals and delectable treats she offered them each and every day.
Issues of the magazine portray the farmer’s wife as a woman willing and able to economize her time in the kitchen; a woman bent on nourishing her family, both body and soul; and a woman who understood the importance of laying up stores for the future. The farmer’s wife tackled the responsibility of feeding both family and neighbors with great seriousness and strict planning, preparing filling meals for supper as well as tasty cakes and cookies for visitors. The farm woman prepared sweet but modest offerings to gladden the hearts of hard-working family members and friends.
This indispensable volume is a collection of our favorite recipes, culled from the Farmer’s Wife magazines. The recipes in this book have been reprinted much as they appeared on the pages of the magazine. Most recipes have been taken from issues spanning 1911–1939, and many were written by the magazine’s own readers. In their language, they reflect the curious style and manners of their times, and herein lies a great deal of their charm, and the reason I have chosen to alter them as little as possible. Anyone accustomed to reading cookbooks will nevertheless feel right at home among the pages of this book. After all, the farmer’s wife was nothing if not common-sensical, and so were her recipes.
Reprinted with permission from The Best of The Farmer’s Wife Cookbook edited by Melinda Keefe and Kari Cornell and published by Voyageur Press, 2010. Buy this book from our store: The Best of The Farmer’s Wife Cookbook.
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