The long awaited package of joy appeared in our mailbox on Thursday. Some months ago, we had learned that a new Recipes of Youngstown was in the works. Having been thoroughly delighted by the first volume, we didn’t hesitate for a moment to send in our pre-order. But we did find ourselves wondering whether after 500 recipes covering Youngstown staples from pierogies to pizzelles and chip-chopped ham to halushki, what was left?
Not to worry, the contributors to this cookbook dug up from attics and cookbooks from grandparents a delightful and diverse plethora of new recipes. First the diversity. The last cookbook had a number of those Italian and Eastern European recipes as well as things like Idora fries that we all grew up with. This cookbook reflects a wider diversity of Turkish, Greek, Danish, German, Portuguese and Mexican recipes and more!
Then there is the delightful part. I have always loved good Youngstown wedding soup and there are a couple of recipes, including one by the guiding force behind this enterprise, Bobbi Ennett Allen, with detailed instructions. I think even I could make a decent wedding soup with these! Patty’s Gazpacho looks to die for! I can almost taste “Uncle Tony’s Slow-Roasted Chipotle Pork Roast or Short Ribs”.
Of course one of the reasons for a second cookbook is that there were many good recipes for making those dishes we love, from kolachis to clothespin cookies and lasagna to linguini. And one cool feature of this cookbook was that it preserved some of the Facebook comments that offered tips and variations on these recipes. This cookbook was truly a community effort.
The cookbook is organized similarly to the previous edition with the following sections: In the Beginning (appetizers), Hot and Hearty (soups and stews), Sidelines (salads, sides, and veggies), Raised Right! (breads, rolls, and pizza), Gather ‘Round the Table (meats, casseroles, pasta, sauces, breakfast, and miscellaneous), Lunchbox (sandwiches), Something Old, Something New (cookies, candies and snacks), Youngstown Can! and Does! (canning and preserves), Youngstown Spirits Thrive! (Hooch), and a Sweet Ending (pastries, sweet breads, desserts, fillings and frostings). Is your mouth watering yet?
One of the new additions to this cookbook were the illustrations of David Schwartz and the characters of Aunt Bessie and Uncle Guido. “Aunt Bessie was the one who showed up to care for the family when mom was under the weather….” Uncle Guido…”was the guy who let you have a sip of his beer; the guy who dumped your veggies into the trash along with his…”[from overleaf between pages 118-119]. Schwartz is a 1972 Rayen grad who went on to a great career in animation with Darkwing Duck, the Simpsons, Rugrats, The Flintstones among his credits.
Similar to the last cookbook, the overleafs of the section dividers have fun features from “You Know You’re from Youngstown If” to tributes from principle contributors to their own “Aunt Bessie” to “A Message from Grandma” with all sorts of grandmotherly cooking advice like, “to keep potatoes from budding in the bag, put an apple in with them!”
The proceeds from this cookbook will support another great Youngstown institution, the Mahoning Valley Historical Society and its “Recipes of Youngstown” kitchen in the Tyler History Center in downtown Youngstown. The great ethnic food traditions of Youngstown and the archive of recipes in this cookbook (and its predecessor) are a significant aspect of Youngstown history and culture. The partnership between the contributors (who came together first on Facebook) and the Historical Society are a wonderful opportunity to preserve this important piece of Youngstown history. As we’ve talked about so many times on this blog, no place does food like Youngstown and through these efforts, Youngstown will continue to be a place to get great food.
Have you bought yours yet? If you want to order one, you can get one at the Mahoning Valley Historical Society website.
And if you are in Youngstown today (May 2) make your way to downtown Youngstown for Recipes of Youngstown: A Taste…and a Memory at the Tyler History Center on Federal Street from Noon to 4 pm. There will be a tasting event with over 30 dishes from Recipes of Youngstown with raffles with some incredible prizes including a Kitchenaid mixer and an HDTV. All proceeds go to the Mahoning Valley Historical Society.
Wish I could be there–but I have the cookbook! Happy eating, all!
This and other Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown posts can be found by clicking “On Youngstown” on the menu bar on any page of the blog.