In 1953 Parke Struthers published The Nelson Cookbook. Before any recipes appear there are several pages of preliminary articles, written in the more detailed ornate voice of older times. Below is the Forward, which certainly speaks to the era. For those with greater tolerance for long-windedness you can look at the first article of introduction, simply entitled Nelson. It’s worth the read just to see how Nelson is represented. In the coming weeks we’ll be adding new sections, and transcribing more recipes, but here is a start.
There are a few fragile copies of this cookbook at the library.
In addition to providing recipes from this book, Nelson In Common welcomes your favorite recipes from any source, especially if you feel they have a rural or Nelson flavor, as it were. These appear in our Recipes section.
Forward (remember this is from 1953)
Without the generous cooperation of Nelson women, past and present, and other friends, this book would not have been written. A mutual desire to preserve a bit of our town’s domestic lore stimulated the effort. Records gleaned from many sources have been helpful. Some of the recipes recorded closely duplicate others, but they have been included in order to show no preference. The accompanying date [for each recipe] indicates how far back a given recipe was known to have been in use.
Readers will see the names of Nelson women linked with the various recipes. They will remember the fine cooking, but also there will be portrayed a memory picture: of a mother of a worker in the Ladies Aid, a loyal member of the church on the hill, a healer of the sick, a friend in need; one with a smiling face, a beautiful voice, or a sense of humor Women who served the community along with homey domestic duties. Some of these women are gone, but only in person, for their traits may live with us today in their traditions and in the children and grandchildren. May we of an older generation strive to make our young people conscious of their heritage.
About the Introduction to the Nelson Cookbook
Parke Struthers “Introduction” to this book is (with all due respect) typically long-winded and flowery. But it is actually not about cooking at all – it is about our town. And of course, it was written in 1952, when the population of Nelson was barely over two hundred (today it is in the mid 700’s). Here’s the last paragraph, but if you’re curious about the qualities he ascribed to Nelson, you can read the entire Introduction here.
The Nelson Cookbook ~ Last paragraph of introduction
Some say that Nelson has become a ghost town. Lilacs and old roses guard her cellar holes, brambles and bushes clog her pastures; former potato patches are now pine forests; the store and the hotel sleep beneath the greensward; her cemetery is filled to capacity. The forests and modern way of life are doing a pretty good job of burying a glorious period in the history of Nelson, leaving only inspiring traditions, rich as the mellow afterglow of a summer sunset. We should not grieve because Nelson is being reclothed in her ancient costume of forest primeval. In the world today, it becomes her better for the role she has to play. She has put away the luxury of provincialism in order to display her most attractive charm — natural simplicity expressed in rarely matched beauty.