A Few Vintage Ideas for Chanukah

Posted on December 22nd, 2014 by

Many cookbooks, in the past and today, contain more than just recipes.  These books can be considered part of the “conduct book” market, which developed in the US in the 1830s and has been going strong ever since.  Etiquette guides, housekeeping instructions, party planning suggestions: all these works aim to help you succeed at home, at work, and in society.

A comprehensive cookbook, then, may contain measurement equivalents, technique hints, or canning instructions, as well as advice on cooking for invalids, planning a week of menus, or setting a table.  Useful stuff! Conspicuously absent from mainstream cookbooks, however, is anything related to maintaining a Jewish kitchen.  For example – while it is informative in many ways – Miss Leslie’s New Cookery Book (1857) includes nothing on traditional foods for the High Holy Days, or the rules of Kosher cooking.

Thus was born the Jewish cookbook.  Like most advice books, these guides wanted to help you improve your life, and be the best American you could be … and, in this case, to do both while maintaining, refining, and expressing your Jewish identity. The first American Jewish cookbook was published in 1871, and it was soon followed by many, many more.  Here’s the title page from our copy of “Aunt Babette’s” Cook Book, first published in 1889:

“Aunt Babette’s” Cook Book JMM 1999.065.001

“Aunt Babette’s” Cook Book JMM 1999.065.001

Today we may be just as likely to get our expert cooking, deportment, and decorating advice from a website as we are from a book or magazine, but we still seek expert guidance on questions as simple as how to make the perfect latke, and as complicated as how to celebrate the holidays in modern America. Check out “Celebrate the Authentic Way” and last week’s Jewish Times cover story!

…All of this is simply my attempt at a scholarly justification for looking through our cookbook collection in search of Chanukah menus and decorating advice.  Many, if not most, of the early books focus only on Passover, but by the 1940s Chanukah has entered the mix.  In his 1941 book The Jewish Woman and Her Home (available in our library), Hyman E. Goldin notes that “today, especially in America, [Hanukkah] is gradually becoming a community festival, “ reflecting the holiday’s growing popularity.  Goldin also says “Hanukkah is marked by no special feasting.”  However, in the same year, the popular Jewish Home Beautiful book (also available in our library) was more than happy to provide recipes and decorating ideas for the holiday, including “potato lotkes,” “snow balls or heizenblozen,” and three novelty salads designed to mimic the appearance of a menorah. (A sample table setting, including the menorah salad, can be seen at the end of this post.)


Since there are a few days left of the holiday, you may be hoping for some fresh ideas – enjoy these suggestions and recipes from our collections!


Pots, Pans, and Pie Plates, and How to Use Them: A Collection of Tried Receipts, compiled by the Hebrew Day Nursery, Baltimore (1905), only has a specific menu for Passover, but it does include a recipe for potato pancakes:

From Pots, Pans, and Pie Plates, and How to Use Them: A Collection of Tried Receipts, JMM 1999.105.1

From Pots, Pans, and Pie Plates, and How to Use Them: A Collection of Tried Receipts, JMM 1999.105.1

Alas, the extremely thorough and otherwise marvelous Settlement Cook Book (ours is a circa 1920 edition), which was sold as a fundraiser for recent Jewish immigrants, includes menus for a Passover supper – as well as meals for Lent, Easter, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, and Washington’s Birthday – but nothing for Chanukah.  Here’s the suggested “Christmas supper,” in case you want to try it out on the 25th.

From  Settlement Cook Book JMM#1999.065.006

From Settlement Cook Book JMM#1999.065.006

At last, here’s a full meal for you, from The New Jewish Cookbook of Favorite Recipes, Betty Dean (1947 – JMM K2011.5.2):


Tomato juice                                                      Mixed green salad

Liver with onions                                              Pickles

Breaded lamb chops                                       Potato pancakes with apple sauce

Cauliflower – string beans – beets            Tea


And finally, a helpful hint from The Art of Jewish Cooking, Jennie Grossinger, 1958 (1969 edition – JMM K2011.5.1). Here, the author hedges her bets: Though the Chanukah section mentions latkes and kreplach, “we are not giving you any single menu but suggest experimenting with a variety of dishes suitable for festive occasions in the winter.”

table setting ideas

Chanukah table setting ideas, from (top) Jewish Home Beautiful, 1941, in our library; and (bottom) The Complete American Jewish Cookbook, edited by Anne London and Bertha Kahn Bishov (1952), JMM K2011.5.3.

JoannaA blog post by Collections Manager Joanna Church. To read more posts from Joanna click HERE.

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Goodbye – But Not Forgotten!

Posted on January 7th, 2013 by

The movers are packing up the Chosen Food exhibit for its journey down to the Breman Museum in Atlanta, Georgia. But it’s not too late to take some Jewish food culture & history home to your very own kitchen! We’ve decided to bid a fond farewell to Chosen Food with a special SALE! That’s right – all but one of our cookbooks are now 35% off! Don’t wait too long, because this deal won’t last! From Kosher by Design to The Kosher Carnivore to Recipes to be Remembered, we’ve got a slew of tasty tomes just waiting for you.

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Gefilte Fish Throwdown Recipes!

Posted on October 22nd, 2012 by

Gefilte Fish in Tomato Sauce

1 Loaf gefilte fish




2 Tbp. oil


1 medium onion diced


2 carrots diced


2 celery diced


15 oz. Tomato sauce


1/3 cup sugar


Salt & pepper


Sautee onion, carrots and celery in oil until soft on medium heat. Add tomato sauce, sugar and salt and pepper.


Defrost gefilte fish loaf ½ way. Slice the loaf into 8 slices and then each slice into 4. Form each piece into a ball and place in the sauce.


Cook on medium heat for 45 minutes.


Serve chilled.

Gefilte Fish a la Gefilteria




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