This Item of the Week is scheduled to go out on Thanksgiving, a holiday that immediately brings to mind traditional recipes. One of our best resources for traditional local recipes is our collection of cookbooks compiled by the Ladies Village Improvement Society, something its members have been doing for 125 years now! This anniversary seems like an excellent excuse to revisit some classics in the Ladies Village Improvement Society cookbook from 1896. You’ll find this cookbook still has plenty of great ideas for Thanksgiving leftovers, with recipes for turkey soup, turkey hash, or chopped turkey and celery, provided by local hostesses. Florine Osborn also provided a list of sauces to accompany meats, suggesting oyster sauce for boiled turkey and the more traditional cranberry sauce for roast turkey.
For those still in need of traditional holiday recipes for their Friendsgiving gatherings, Isabella Hedges has you covered. She kindly provided sweet potato pie, apple stuffing, and chestnut stuffing recipes that call for manageable ingredients. With modern electric kitchen appliances, they may not even be that time-consuming to put together, although it’s hard to imagine the work required to cook and mash sweet potatoes or boiled chestnuts before modern plumbing, electricity, and kitchen appliances.
Most modern chefs probably won’t like the piecrust recipes provided in 1896, since they call for lard, but perhaps one of the more recent cookbooks will have a more appealing recipe. On the other hand, Bessie Osborne and Agatha Strong both kindly provided pumpkin pie recipes. And if you’re looking for a dessert no one else is likely to bring, there are several recipes for pies you can’t buy in a grocery store, including mock lemon pie, cream pie, and buttermilk pie. Like many older cookbooks, the recipes don’t use modern measurements, so one needs to be patient about deciphering “a small teacup of sugar” and “a piece of butter the half size of a walnut.”
Here’s wishing you a delicious holiday meal filled with favorite foods, whether it’s your Thanksgiving dinner, your Friendsgiving, or some rediscovered favorites for leftover turkey!
You can explore the complete L.V.I.S. 1896 cookbook online at digitallongisland.org.
Andrea Meyer is the head of the East Hampton Library’s Long Island Collection.