Home Life History: Open house and cookbook

History: Open house and cookbook

The Bossier Parish Library Historical Center will be hosting its annual Holiday Open House on Friday December 54 from 2:30—4:30 p.m in the Historical Center meeting room.

The Historical Center is located at 2206 Beckett St. in Bossier City – adjacent to Bossier Central Library. There will be refreshments, live, old-time music by Allen Smith of the Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Department, special exhibits and lots of decorations. All are welcome and it’s free

This year’s decorative theme is baking and cooking. The Historical Center is collecting (and currently displaying) cookbooks from Bossier Parish churches, schools, family reunions or other organizations for its local history collection. If you donate a local cookbook that is accepted into the Historical Center’s collection, you may display the cookbook with order forms at the Historical Center’s Holiday Open House. Please contact Pam Carlisle with your interest or questions at 746-7717 or pcarlisle@bossierlibrary.org  Of course, for our local history collection the cookbooks don’t have to be recent ones that are currently for sale. We would love to have donations of any vintage extras in your family collection. We can scan or photocopy a dog-eared copy from which many of your holiday standards come so you can have your well-loved original back. We will even wait until after the holidays when your kitchen gets a break!

Much is being written about both the charm and historical value of “community cookbooks,” also known as fund-raiser cookbooks or compilation cookbooks. The Dec. 2002 issue of Food and Wine notes that vintage community cookbooks are full of a sense of time, place, and local character you usually don’t see in commercial cookbooks. They are also special because “they were a labor of love” and if a cookbook had your mother’s name in it, it became an heirloom. And not to mention, the food is often really, really good! The National Public Radio blog, the Salt, on July 20, 2012 referred to these cookbooks as the Pinterest and cooking/lifestyle blogs of their day where women could and still do share their domestic know-how.

As an example of some of the local history you can learn in the Historical Center’s community cookbook collection, did you know that chef Willis Bellar, who invented the Pop Tart, is from Plain Dealing? You can find that factoid in the “Recipes from Plain Dealing” cookbook compiled by the Whispering Pines Nursing and Rehabilitation Center Family Council in 2005.  Of course more traditional, local fare can also be found in the book. This Yankee was impressed to count no less than 15 different recipes for cornbread.

Family recipe collections are also gold mines for family and local history and should be treasured and stored safely. Use these tips, compiled by the Historical Center’s curator, Marisa Richardson, to preserve your family’s recipes:

· Create a cookbook. Ask relatives to share photos to personalize the book and add portraits of the cook to pages featuring their recipes. Include favorite memories or important tips throughout the book.

· Scan handwritten recipes and keep the originals in archival quality sleeves made from either polypropylene or polyethylene. Use the copies when you are making the recipe in the kitchen to protect the originals from spills and stains. Give copies to relatives so everyone has the recipe for favorite dishes.

· Store recipes in photobooks, binders with archival sleeves, or a metal or archival box for cards. Steer clear of wooden storage boxes.

· Don’t laminate recipe cards; this can cause deterioration. Scan them instead.

· Newspaper clippings can be especially fragile. Use acid-free material to store these.

· Keep digital copies, too, in case the originals are damaged.

Some websites will help you organize the recipes into family cookbooks or to do some “cookbooking” to make scrapbooks with those recipes. Here are a few: http://www.morriscookbooks.com with a free kit to get you started. http://familycookbookproject.com with a free personal version of their kit. Recipe scrapbook ideas at www.kevinandamanda.com/scrapbook/recipesOr look at some of the myriad general scrapbooking books in the Bossier Parish Library catalog.

Pamela C. Carlisle, Local History and Public Outreach Specialist, Bossier Parish Library Historical Center

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