A cookbook filled with not only delicious recipes but chock-full of local history is selling fast. “The Heard Memorial Clubhouse Cookbook” has sold 100 copies since May but more copies are in the works, reports Helen G. Steel Music Club President Betty Sue Viterna.
Members of the Helen G. Steele Music Club and Sorosis worked to contribute family recipes while Rhonda Chalfant, president of the Pettis County Historical Society, researched the history included in the cookbook. Both clubs use the historic Heard House for their meetings. Proceeds from the sale of the cookbook go toward the upkeep of the stately home.
The cookbook took approximately a year to produce. Viterna said the first 100 cookbooks were gone “immediately.”
“Rhonda Chalfant was the one who really kind of headed this up,” Viterna said. “She did the research and pulled it all together.”
The cookbook is categorized into sections for appetizers, breads, casseroles and main dishes, soups and stews, and desserts. It also has sections for pickles, vegetables, beverages and salads.
“They are family recipes that club members had gotten from mothers and grandmothers,” Viterna noted. “Some of them were pulled out to the local church cookbooks from 100 years ago.”
The Heard House was built over the course of two years from 1904 to 1906 for Lillian Heard, the second wife of Sedalia lawyer and legislator John Heard. Before research for the cookbook was completed, both clubs didn’t have much information about the first Mrs. Heard, who died of an illness in Boonville.
“His first wife was Florence Heard, and most of the club members, we weren’t really aware of her,” Viterna said. “All we’d ever heard about was Lillian. When Rhonda started doing research … she found information about Florence and that they had a child and they both died.”
Included in the cookbook is the history of John Heard and both his wives. It also contains history about both clubs.
“The things in the community that the people were (involved) in, and we’ve got ads in here from some of the businesses that have been here for many, many years,” she added.
Viterna said the book includes information about the discovery of freezing vegetables in 1924 and how it changed the way women cooked.
“It tells about how they used to can, and dry, and pickle,” she said. “Then our way of cooking changed when they came in with frozen things. Frozen vegetables were all in square packages at first, so one of the very enterprising manufacturers came up with the idea of having square saucepans just that size … back in the ’50s.”
There’s also an informative tidbit about how Thomas Jefferson discovered macaroni and cheese.
“Macaroni and cheese originated in Northern Europe,” Viterna said. “The oldest recipe date was 1769, and Thomas Jefferson tasted it over in France and so he brought the recipes over here.”
A sample menu of Lillian Heard is included. It was published in a Nov. 18, 1906, newspaper, featuring such items as oyster cocktail with celery, sweetbreads a la créme, broiled spring chicken with mushrooms and current jelly, and french coffee.
Viterna has two recipes that are special to her in the cookbook and they both belong to her mother Laura Edde. As she spoke about her mother’s old fashioned mincemeat and hot roll recipes a smile broke across her face.
“It is nothing like you buy at the store,” she said of the mincemeat recipe. “This, you cook a roast and then you shred it up finely, then you put in your fruits. It’s used in pies.”
Viterna added that to eat her mother’s rolls was like “heaven.”
Some of the recipes are a bit more “fancy” and can be used for entertaining such as Judy Matson’s Escalops of sweetbreads a la créme, made with truffles and mushrooms, along with a veloute sauce cooked with butter and stock.
“Just things that are really different,” Viterna said.
There’s also a mock duck with stuffing made with round steak, Yorkshire pudding and more modern and simple recipes like “Crock pot chicken.”
Viterna said the beverage category was interesting because there are vintage recipes from a Calvary Episcopal Church Cookbook for milk punch that has a tablespoon of brandy included in it, and eggnog that has Jamaican rum and whiskey or brandy. Viterna’s husband Loren also included a Czech recipe for dandelion wine that uses one gallon of dandelion flowers.
“That came out of one of my husband’s Czech cookbooks,” she added.
Vintage household hints are located in the back of the cookbook.
“We have lye soap, and a really good cough syrup which has bourbon and jelly,” she said laughing. “On the very last page we have hints from everybody’s great-grandma.
“‘Metal bed frames are more sanitary than wooden bed frames, as bedbugs can’t hide in the metal,’” she read laughing. “And, it says ‘never go to bed with cold feet.’ So, we threw some funny things in there … It’s just fun reading, whether you ever cook anything out of it or not.”
“The Heard Memorial Clubhouse Cookbook” is $20. Proceeds go toward the upkeep of the Historical Heard House at 200 W. Broadway Blvd. Those interested in the cookbook may call Viterna at 660-827-0527.
Faith Bemiss can be reached at 530-0289 or @flbemiss.