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Item of the Week: The Hedges Family Cookbook

Thu, 04/20/2023 - 11:01

From the East Hampton Library’s Long Island Collection

This handwritten cookbook was owned and compiled by members of the Hedges family living at 189 Main Street in East Hampton Village. The family was prominent here and actively involved in several local institutions, including the East Hampton Library, where Ettie Cartwright Hedges Pennypacker (1879-1970) was the first librarian, starting at the young age of 19 and serving for 56 years.

The author of this cookbook is unidentified, but Julia Sherrill Parsons Hedges (1868-1939) certainly had a hand in assembling it. She was responsible for several of its recipes, including Julia’s Pudding, Julia’s Cake, and Julia’s Chocolate Filling. Several recipes are written in another hand and pasted in. The cookbook also includes newspaper clippings with recipes and housekeeping tips, such as dousing roses with a kerosene emulsion or whale oil soap to deter pests.

Clearly the Hedges family liked to exchange recipes with other families here, as seen in recipes like Florence Conklin’s Lemon Meringue Pie and Mrs. King’s Caramels.

Friends and family weren’t the only sources, however. One of the first recipes pasted into the book is for Jackson Jumbles, a type of simple sugar cookie. The name refers to the seventh president of the United States, Andrew Jackson (1767-1845). When he ran for office, women baked Jackson Jumbles to show support and make their political opinions known. This is a longstanding tradition in America, and many dishes have been created and named for political figures over the years. Before the institution of the two-party system, women would bake election cakes to celebrate Election Day.

This cookbook was likely put together at some point after President Jackson’s second term ended in 1837, which means that someone in the Hedges family loved Jackson Jumbles enough to hang on to the recipe for at least 10 or 20 years, given the use of baking soda and the age of the paper used.

Julia Tyson is a librarian and archivist in the East Hampton Library’s Long Island Collection.

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