The Petit Jean Cook Book

One of the delicious ice cream recipes from The Petit Jean Cook Book. (Mike Kemp photo)

by Don Bingham

With the winding down of schedules and the impending vacations throughout the summer, there’s more time to read those stacks and stacks of cookbooks from the collection on the shelves!  

While looking in our library of cookbooks, I ran across the Petit Jean Cookbook, yellow and tattered, compiled and edited in 1928 by The Bama Mitchell Circle of the First Presbyterian Church in Morrilton!  (We often inherit boxes of cookbooks from donors who know we enjoy cooking; they do not want to dispose of the memories and treasures in their personal collection, so we get to enjoy them!)

The foreword of the now antique-looking paperback cookbook reads, “We hope this book will help serve a very practical mission in the homes of many housewives by helping them to answer the ever-recurring question, what shall we have for dinner?” and also, ‘Through the investment of the profits in the Lord’s work, may we follow the example of those noble women of old who ‘ministered unto Him of their substance.’”

We do not often consider the style of writing and language as it changes with the centuries. One of my favorite examples of this is in the ingredient list of one of the recipes, which calls for “butter the size of an egg.”

Sprinkled throughout the cookbook are obituaries and news clippings of friends of the cookbook owner.  Some of the advertisements are The Palace – “Cream of the Crop in Entertainment,” Frank Brothers, O’Neal’s, J.C. Adams Jeweler, D. & T. Cash and Carry Stores and Ormond Insurance Agency.

This cookbook is a jewel of history and wonderful recipes. It was difficult to narrow down what to share with our readers! With the summer season’s arrival, we’ve included recipes that were reminiscent of fresh gardens, cooler dishes and those amazing products of the good Arkansas soil. Reading old cookbooks can be such fun!

Ice Water Pickles

‘Denver’ cucumbers, 3 to 4 inches long. Cut lengthwise. Let stand in ice water three hours. Pack in jars with a few stalks of celery, teaspoon mustard seed and half onion. Bring to boil one quart of vinegar, 1 cup sugar and 1/2 cup salt. Pour 1/2 cup water over this and seal in jars.  (Mrs. H.P. Merritt, Mrs. R.L. Greer, Mrs. L. Gordon)

Chow Chow

1 peck green tomatoes

1 cup salt

6 large onions

1 dozen green peppers

1 large cabbage

Black pepper, spices to taste

Slice tomatoes thin. Sprinkle 1 cup salt over them and let stand for 12 hours. Rinse to remove salt. Chop all ingredients fine; cook in enough vinegar to cover. Add black pepper and spices to suit taste.  (Mrs. J.R. Stallings)

Grape Conserve

1 dozen oranges

5 lbs. sugar

1 1/2 lbs. pecans, chopped

1 basket grapes (6 lbs.)

Squeeze pulp out of grapes and cook until done, then put through a sieve. Put oranges and grape hulls through the food chopper and cook together until hulls are tender; add to pulp and sugar. When thick, add the chopped pecans, can and seal. (Mrs. Mattie Perry)

Apricot Ice Cream

1 can apricots

5 cups sugar

5 oranges

1 quart water

1 quart cream

2 lemons

4 egg whites

Press apricots, oranges and lemons through sieve. Boil sugar and water to a syrup, and when cool, add fruit and stiffly beaten egg whites. Using an ice cream churn, freeze to a mush, add the cream and continue freezing until almost solid. Remove churn dash and pack well. Makes 1-gallon cream. (Mrs. Albert Black)

Fruit Ice Cream

1 quart thick cream

1 can Eagle Brand Condensed Milk

1 large can crushed fruit

Creamed apricots pressed through a sieve are delicious used in this cream. Mix well with other ingredients and freeze using ice cream churn. Makes 3 quarts. (Mrs. John Winburne)

Don Bingham
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