Tried and tested

Editor’s Note: This article is part of a monthly series on the history of Webster City and Hamilton County written by local historian Nancy Kayser.

The week before Christmas in 1900 the Webster City Cook Book came off the press to become a treasured Christmas gift that year.

The Ladies’ Aid Society of the Congregational Church compiled the book as a fund-raising effort. The book featured 500 recipes of 300 “prominent Webster City cooks” according to the Freeman Tribune.

The popular cook book was enlarged and reprinted in 1906 and 1916. Each edition was printed by the Freeman Journal Publishing company who offered the books in two different styles of binding with a choice of four covers. Cost in 1906 was 50 or 75 cents depending on binding and cover choice.

Chairing the Ladies’ Aid Society cook book committee for all three editions was Mrs. Alexander Groves. Assisting her in the various printings were Mrs. George W. Crosley, Mrs. J. M. Richardson, Mrs. F. E. Willson, Mrs. W. C. Burleson.

Preparation of the recipes in the cook book required seasoned kitchen skills. Recipes listed the basic ingredients, a short sentence on preparation but no detailed instructions. Users had to rely on their own experience to finish the dish.

Max Maxon, longtime editor of the Freeman Journal, shared a story from Mrs. Groves in his June 9, 1952 Amblin’ Down Main Street column.

“Mrs. Alexander Groves still chuckles over one incident which occurred in her own household. Mrs. Groves had been away from home on a trip and returned on the train to Webster City where she was met at the depot by her son, Wilfred. One of the first things he asked her was ‘Mother, how in the world do you fold an egg?’ “

“Seems as how Wilfred had gotten hungry for waffles and when he got out the Webster City Cookbook and looked up the recipe it had something about folding in some eggs. Since he didn’t know much about that process, his plans for waffles sorta folded up”

Maxon added that Mrs. Groves thought the first edition in 1900 was the best.

Webster City author and Pulitzer Prizewinner MacKinlay Kantor created a nationwide demand for the 1916 edition of the Webster City Cook Book in his June 7, 1952 Saturday Evening Post story entitled “I’ll Take Midwestern Cooking”.

Kantor’s short story featured Mrs. Sam Trumbaur’s recipe for Chicago Hot along with various memories of other local recipe contributors and the City. He noted the Kantor family 1916 copy of the book was dog-eared and stained from use.

The Chicago Hot recipe, a summer relish, also appeared in the 1906 edition of the cook book. Mrs. Trumbaur was the wife of Nathaniel B. “Sam” Trumbaur who owned a shoe store. Both were early pioneers of the City.

To meet the demand for a copy of the book, the Freeman Journal republished the 1916 edition in the summer of 1952. Books, costing $2.50 including postage, were mailed to buyers all over the United States. The Chamber of Commerce was also kept busy answering questions and filling orders for those outside the City.

Copies of the three editions and the reprint of the cook book are now treasured family keepsakes. The books are a culinary history of life in our City.

Tried and tested

Editor’s Note: This article is part of a monthly series on the history of Webster City and Hamilton County written by local historian Nancy Kayser.

The week before Christmas in 1900 the Webster City Cook Book came off the press to become a treasured Christmas gift that year.

The Ladies’ Aid Society of the Congregational Church compiled the book as a fund-raising effort. The book featured 500 recipes of 300 “prominent Webster City cooks” according to the Freeman Tribune.

The popular cook book was enlarged and reprinted in 1906 and 1916. Each edition was printed by the Freeman Journal Publishing company who offered the books in two different styles of binding with a choice of four covers. Cost in 1906 was 50 or 75 cents depending on binding and cover choice.

Chairing the Ladies’ Aid Society cook book committee for all three editions was Mrs. Alexander Groves. Assisting her in the various printings were Mrs. George W. Crosley, Mrs. J. M. Richardson, Mrs. F. E. Willson, Mrs. W. C. Burleson.

Preparation of the recipes in the cook book required seasoned kitchen skills. Recipes listed the basic ingredients, a short sentence on preparation but no detailed instructions. Users had to rely on their own experience to finish the dish.

Max Maxon, longtime editor of the Freeman Journal, shared a story from Mrs. Groves in his June 9, 1952 Amblin’ Down Main Street column.

“Mrs. Alexander Groves still chuckles over one incident which occurred in her own household. Mrs. Groves had been away from home on a trip and returned on the train to Webster City where she was met at the depot by her son, Wilfred. One of the first things he asked her was ‘Mother, how in the world do you fold an egg?’ “

“Seems as how Wilfred had gotten hungry for waffles and when he got out the Webster City Cookbook and looked up the recipe it had something about folding in some eggs. Since he didn’t know much about that process, his plans for waffles sorta folded up”

Maxon added that Mrs. Groves thought the first edition in 1900 was the best.

Webster City author and Pulitzer Prizewinner MacKinlay Kantor created a nationwide demand for the 1916 edition of the Webster City Cook Book in his June 7, 1952 Saturday Evening Post story entitled “I’ll Take Midwestern Cooking”.

Kantor’s short story featured Mrs. Sam Trumbaur’s recipe for Chicago Hot along with various memories of other local recipe contributors and the City. He noted the Kantor family 1916 copy of the book was dog-eared and stained from use.

The Chicago Hot recipe, a summer relish, also appeared in the 1906 edition of the cook book. Mrs. Trumbaur was the wife of Nathaniel B. “Sam” Trumbaur who owned a shoe store. Both were early pioneers of the City.

To meet the demand for a copy of the book, the Freeman Journal republished the 1916 edition in the summer of 1952. Books, costing $2.50 including postage, were mailed to buyers all over the United States. The Chamber of Commerce was also kept busy answering questions and filling orders for those outside the City.

Copies of the three editions and the reprint of the cook book are now treasured family keepsakes. The books are a culinary history of life in our City.