What's Cooking? ER's Cookbooks: A Lesson in History

What's Cooking? ER's Cookbooks: A Lesson in History
Town/Village of East Rochester

What's Cooking? ER's Cookbooks: A Lesson in History

Submitted by Anita M. Mance, Historian

In December, a new cookbook was added to the collection in the Local History Room -Centanni! – St. Nicholas Society Celebrates 100 Years of Italian-American Food, Family and Community. With over 250 photos and about 180 recipes, the book honors the Italian-American heritage in East Rochester. The book serves to remind us that each cookbook in our collection helps us understand the culture of our community, the commodities that were for sale as noted in the advertisements in some of the books, and the markets where foods were sold. Below are descriptions of several of the other cookbooks on our shelves.

One of the oldest cookbooks we have is The Despatch Cook Book. Contributed recipes were compiled by the Ladies’ Aid Society of the Baptist Church of East Rochester, N.Y. Ads include those from many East Rochester businesses, such as: Foster-Armstrong Co., Brainerd Manufacturing Company, B.J. Fryatt Groceries and Dry Goods, Hotel Despatch, A.R. Hurley, M.D., and A.D. Branchaud—house and carriage painter and paper hanger.

Another old cookbook we have is the Women’s Exchange Cookbook, c1911. The cover proudly states: “No woman ever has enough cook books.” The book contains favorite recipes from the Women’s Exchange Dept. of a newspaper in Newark, NY, published by W.C. and F.D. Burgess Co. The 31 page booklet was sold by various women’s groups as a fundraiser. The Avalon Rebecca Lodge 282 of the ER Odd Fellows sold the book for 25 cents. Local ads were on the front and back covers. One ad was for George A. March, General Merchandise Fresh and Salt Meats. This store was on the northwest corner of Main and Commercial Streets.

A 1924 booklet entitled Fort Brand: Soups, Salads, Desserts contains recipes made from ‘Fresh-Kept Fruits and Vegetables.’ It was distributed by the Bickal Co., 122 E. Commercial St. Published by The New York Canners, Inc. of Rochester, its recipes using canned goods were “tested and approved by the Good Housekeeping Bureau of Foods, Sanitation, and Health.”

American Legion Auxiliary of East Rochester Cook Book (1941 ed.) contains many pudding, cake, and bread recipes. Ads for businesses in East Rochester included an ad for King Shoe Store of East Commercial Street which stated “all shoes X-Ray fitted.” The little booklet also listed helpful hints such as “to keep bread or cake moist place a piece of apple in the box with it” and “clothespins that have been boiled will not break easily.”

A second book, published in the 1960s, by the American Legion Auxiliary was called The Best in Cooking in East Rochester. Ads included: the Country House, ER Federal Savings & Loan, Parkside Dairy, Skyline Dress Shop, and Luigi’s Restaurant. Recipes included German potato salad, chocolate fudge, date nut bread, and baked ham loaf. Some of the contributors were Mrs. Mark Harloff, Mrs. Mary Warren, Mrs. Robert Thomas, and Mrs. Harold Shuryn.

Old Family Recipes from Senior Citizens’ Groups in East Rochester was published c1980. The book contains a variety of recipes including: sour cream apple pie, cheeseburger pie, and filled cookies. Cooks included: Leona Plummer, Olive Valentine, and Bernice Palmer. The last page of the book had a list entitled –Take Time for 10 Things. The message included the words: “take time to work, it is the price of success, take time to read, it is the foundation of knowledge, and take time to dream, it hitches the soul to the stars.”

Two companion cookbooks, Treasured Italian Recipes, Books 1 and 2, were published in 1989 and 1996. The books were published by the Rotary and were the result of Miele Battaglini’s desire to preserve her culinary heritage. The covers were designed by Debby Parrotta and each book has photos of Italian matriarchs taken by David Parrotta. Recipes were submitted by the children and grandchildren of ER pioneer Italian families.

In honor of East Rochester’s 100th anniversary, the Centennial Cookbook was published in 1997. Featuring ‘East Rochester’s champion chefs’, the book contains reprints of all or part of six previously published ER cookbooks. Compiled by Miele Calabrese Battaglini, it has recipes from: The Despatch Cook Book, Rosary Society 25th Anniversary 1940-1965, American Legion (1941 ed.), American Legion #2 ed.--The Best in Cooking, Old Family Recipes from Senior Citizens Groups in East Rochester, and the East Rochester College Club Cookbook.

Several of our cookbooks are currently in the display case opposite the Village Office on the second floor of the Eyer Building. Copies of Treasured Italian Recipes, Books 1 and 2 and Centanni may be borrowed from the Public Library.

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«April 2024»


April 8th, 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm

The Town/Village of East Rochester will be hosting a gathering event for the community to view the Solar Eclipse. Everyone is welcome to participate with us on the upper soccer fields of the East Rochester School District Campus.

The Rochester/Monroe County area is anticipating between 300 to 500 thousand people coming into our region.  The thruway roads will be closed and all of the hotels are booked!  So, with all that being said, plan to attend the event of the year that East Rochester will be hosting.

We have several vendors who will be selling food to the community including: Kona Ice, GG’s Pizza and St. Nicholas Society(Hot Dogs, Hamburgers, Italian Sausage and beverages).

If your looking for glasses a limited supply(2 per family) will be available in the Library on a first come first served basis for East Rochester residents starting March 25th. Additional glasses may be available at the event.

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