Choice Recipes. Arranged by the Ladies of Grace Church, Stafford Springs, Conn.

Stafford Springs: The Press Job Print, 1902.

Duodecimo (15.5 x 13 cm.), 106 pages. Ads. Cover title: Grace Church Recipes. Advertisements interspersed. First edition. A Connecticut church cookbook with one hundred fifty recipes, most of them attributed. There is an emphasis on meat and fish dishes somewhat unusual for the time; among them: Swedish Baked Fish, Potted Shad, Pressed Chicken, Beefsteak Pie, Stewed Liver, Glazed Sweetbreads. But not to despair: the expected complement of snaps, cakes, puffs, crumbles, and kisses all take their places among the baked goods and confections. A question or two might arise, such as why canned salmon in cream sauce was thought to be Chinese (page 25). The Choice Recipes "arranged" by the Ladies of Grace Church come with their best advice enclosed: the title page states "Grandmother's Rule: Use Your Judgement"; but, giving "judgement" a boost in the end, a helpful "Kitchen Time Table" supplies baking, boiling, broiling, and frying durations "especially prepared by Mrs. D. A. Lincoln, author of The Boston Cook Book". The note is of some historical interest, perhaps, for Mrs. Lincoln (she later signed herself Mary J. Lincoln) in fact recommended against the use of timetables in her famous book. Vegetables, for instance, ought to be cooked "until soft and tender, and no longer. This is better ascertained by watching them carefully and piercing with a fork than by depending upon any time-table" (Mrs. Lincoln's Boston Cook Book, 1894 edition, page 291). The first Episcopate in the United States was formed in Connecticut, and the first ordinations of Anglican clergy on American soil took place in Middletown (at Christ Church, in 1785). The cornerstone of Grace Episcopal Church, in the rural mill town of Stafford Springs, all the way to the north in Tolland County, was laid comparatively late – by a century, then – in September 1877. Choice Recipes would appear to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of Grace Church's beginnings. A curious aside: the mineral springs in the town's name, known for their curative powers since the mid-1700s, are located adjacent (between the Church and the Historical Society Museum). We have it on some authority that it was John Williams (1817-1899), the fourth bishop of the Anglican Communion in Connecticut (and later the eleventh presiding bishop of the United States), who originated the joke, "It has always been a question whether, when the Puritans landed on Plymouth Rock, it might not have been better if Plymouth Rock had landed on them." It was he who laid the cornerstone of Grace Church, Stafford Springs, on 7 September 1877. A nice tribute: Bishop Williams' Receipt for Corn – in verse, no less – leads off the book. In stapled, black-lettered, brown oilcloth wrappers, illustrated with a photo of the church. A bit of edgewear, and some staining at the staples. Unrecorded. [OCLC locates no copies; not in Brown, Cook, or Cagle].

Price: $250.00