Recipes from America’s Restored Villages

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The author, Jean Anderson, a former newspaper and magazine food editor, has a long list of great cookbooks, and this is one of her more unusual ones.  When looking through it, I thought of the many people taking road trips at this time. A trip to a restored American village would also be a good teaching tool for those who are home-schooling their children or viewing classes on their computers because of the numerous school closings due to the ongoing health crisis.

The book is divided into areas of the country- New England, Middle Atlantic, the South, Midwest, Plains and Central States, and Southwest and West.  In each chapter you will find lists and descriptions of villages to visit.  In these places you  not only learn about how it was to live in America’s infancy and adolescence, but you can actually relive it.  Find out what life was like for Pilgrims, or dine at a tavern in Colonial Williamsburg that George Washington enjoyed.  Watch the Pennsylvania Dutch demonstrate churning butter, or Native Americans making breads in adobe ovens.

I have fond memories of traveling to Abraham Lincoln’s Salem Village and tomb in Illinois, and to the Amana Colonies of Iowa with my family or on school trips of my youth.  It was fun sitting around a huge table loaded with food served family style in Amana and walking through historic homes in Salem Village with demonstrations of spinning wool and other necessities of the time, and of course visiting the Lincoln tombs.

It was interesting to read many authentic recipes of the past such as Mary Todd Lincoln’s white almond cake, Indian fry bread, many recipes using corn such as corn cob syrup, dandelion and wild onion salad, dried sour apple pie, brick oven ginger cookies, roast goose with cornbread and currant stuffing, Jamestown scalloped oysters, Abraham Lincoln’s mustard-coffee sauce for butter-browned steak, Shaker squash biscuits, vinegar pie, and wagon train beef pies. These are  just a few of the more than 150 recipes from all areas of the country.

If a road trip is not in the works, just reading this book will take you there.  Either way, you will get a glimpse of earlier American life.





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6 Responses to Recipes from America’s Restored Villages

  1. August 31, 2020 at 6:53 am #

    We share many of the same memories, Debbie! I grew up in southeastern Iowa, about 100 miles from the Amana Colonies so was in that vacinity somewhat regularly. As well, my family has cherished memories from a trip to New Salem, IL to see atll things Lincoln when I was about 15 years old.

    Thanks for another cookbook review. I enjoy each and every one of them!

    • August 31, 2020 at 9:49 am #

      Denise, we certainly do share the same memories, many of Iowa. I didn’t grow up living there, but spent many summers at my great-aunt’s tiny town of Wyoming in eastern Iowa. My grandfather grew up in nearby Anamosa, and my grandmother in Olin, right next to Wyoming. I have so many relatives buried in the old Olin cemetery, including my mom. Iowa is a great place to develop fond memories. The Amana Colonies section in this cookbook brought back a lot of memories. I need to visit there again one of these days.

  2. September 2, 2020 at 9:46 am #

    I’ve appreciated how you’ve shared your Iowa memories so poignantly, Debbie, especially at the time following your mom’s passing. I remember having to look up “Wyoming, IA” when you first wrote about your grandmother’s cookbook. I had no idea it existed!

    • September 9, 2020 at 8:27 pm #

      Denise, anyone I have ever told about Wyoming, Iowa has to look it up. It doesn’t even appear on some maps. It takes about 15 seconds to drive through the “downtown!” Such a tiny place that formed big memories.

  3. January 13, 2021 at 2:00 pm #

    I have lost my favourite receipt from this book and wondering if someone out there has it. It’s called “Chicken and Dressing Bake” from South Dakota on page 281-83. Please help me!

    • January 16, 2021 at 6:32 am #

      Katrina- I will look for it this weekend and get back to you as soon as I can.

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