January 06, 2021

Fun Old Home Remedies and Heritage Cookbooks (Interesting!)

On my wedding day, my favorite aunt gifted me three cookbooks. She was (and probably still is) the most amazing cook I ever knew. To this day, nobody can compete with her stuffed cabbage! She even made it for my wedding reception with 200-ish guests.

She could even make Kraft Macaroni & Cheese from a box taste gourmet--haha! (She used to care for my younger brother and me while my mom was working when we were little. Funnily enough, I remember whispering to her when she was cooking it for us for lunch, "Give me the most.")

When I was young, I recall her collecting recipes from the people in the small town where I grew up--Rockwood, Michigan--to put together a cookbook. The book was put together by some women in the Rockwood Historical Society and includes a lot of interesting info!

Some of the recipes came from the rationing days during the war. Many of them are from the 1930s and 1940s. Also included are some old time home remedies and household hints.

I grew up in a very small town where everybody knew everybody. Looking through these books, I recognize so many names of women that lived in Rockwood. A couple of the recipes are even submitted by "me"--including "Puppy Chow"! (You know, the Chex Rice cereal with peanut butter, chocolate, and powdered sugar?) 

There are no photos in the books, which makes it that much more special--you have to use your imagination to picture a particular recipe. And no matter what, you can rest assured that it will taste good. These are the women's best recipes! These are the recipes that you would expect to find at a potluck and everyone would know just who made it because they were "famous" for it.

Some of the recipes don't even include the exact amounts of each ingredient because they were made "by feel" or "by how it looks". If you've been cooking a particular dish for a long time, then you know exactly how that is. 

Here is an example recipe excerpted from the St. Charles 1910 Cook Book, which was included in the first Heritage Cookbook:

Mutton Broth

Wipe 2 pounds mutton; cut into pieces. Place in saucepan with 2 quarts cold water. Let it come slowly to a boil, then add 1 teaspoon salt, which causes a scum to rise. Simmer for 1 hour, skimming occasionally. Then add 1 small turnip, one small carrot, one small onion, all chopped fine, and 2 tablespoons barley and cook until vegetables are tender; salt and pepper to taste. Just before serving add 1 teaspoon chopped parsley.

Interesting, right?! I actually had to Google what "mutton" is, haha. Not all of the recipes are like that, but I thought it would be fun to try out a recipe from the heritage cookbooks once a week and then post the recipe and report back on how it was (with photos). I've already cooked one of them, so I'll post that soon.

Each week, I'll post a recipe that I've cooked from the book (as written! No exceptions.). And I'll include some of the hints and tips that women included. I find those even more interesting than the recipes themselves ;)

These are some "Old Time Household Hints" that, well, aren't exactly what you would expect to see today! Here are some old home remedies from the heritage cookbook:

For Arthritis - 1-1/2 pounds of seedless raisins, 1 pound figs, 3 ounces olive oil, 1 ounce glycerine, 1 ounce slipper elm powdered, 3 ounces charcoal powdered, 3 ounces cenna powdered. Mix dry ingredients. Grind raisins and figs. Mix all together with hands. Make balls the size of a small walnut. Makes nearly 100. Take 2 a day for 2 weeks, then 1 a day till all gone. (From Carol Tilley's grandmother, Mrs. Art Laura)

For Rheumatism - 1 pint whiskey and 1 pint skunk oil.

Liniment for Bruises and Sprains - Shake up the white of an egg, one tablespoon of vinegar and one ounce of turpentine. Apply to sprain as soon as possible after accident.

Cream of Roses (for Hands) - Twenty-five grains gum tragacanth, 10 ounces water set on back of stove until dissolved. If lumpy, strain through a sieve. Add forty grains boracic acid, dissolved in one ounce of glycerine by aid of heat, two ounces alcohol and a few drops oil of roses or white perfume. If too thick to run from bottle when cold, add more water. Fine for hands.

Burned Fingertips - Quickly grip ear-lobe with burned finger and blistering will be prevented.

Fever Blisters - As soon as first soreness is felt, start drinking large glasses of apple cider. Drink often. Blisters won't come.

Nightmares - Place a pan of cold water under bed.

Seven Year Itch - Rub with sulphur and axle-grease.

We've certainly come a long way, haven't we?! I think it's hilarious that there is a "cure" for the seven year itch! And the cure for rheumatism... I'm not even sure what to say about that one.

Anyway, there are a LOT of "Helpful Hints" from back in the day included in these recipe books, and I think it'll be fun to try out the recipes and share the interesting tips that are included. I'll call these posts "Heritage Recipe: ______", so you know what to look for if you're interested in them.

I think it goes without saying that these tips and hints should be used at your own risk... I am not condoning the use of turpentine, skunk oil, or cenna. Haha!


  1. Oh wow I love this! I love historical stuff and if it involves food too, I'm all in! ;) I can't wait for these posts! My grandma's recipes (the few that I have) are all written with "a pinch of this" or a "handful of that". Certainly makes for interesting recipes!

  2. Oh my gosh. How fun is that! I love old concoctions and "remedies". It makes me appreciate modern treatments! Hahah!

  3. That's so cool! Looking forward to seeing the recipes :) I love old cookbooks like this, too. Last time I was at my mom's house, I picked up an old cookbook that my elementary school had made. It's the same idea (every family's best recipe) and at the bottom of the recipe it will say something like "Submitted by Jane Doe, mom of John Doe, 3rd grade." It's so cool to see all my friends' families' old recipes!

  4. This is SO cool! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Just last night, I was looking at a cookbook from my hometown in Nova Scotia. It was published back in the '70s. You're right about recognizing names and using your imagination because there are no pictures.

  6. Love that idea for posts! Looking forward to them. Those community cookbooks are the best!


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