An Immigrant’s Recipe Book

               Some of the most important things immigrant women brought to the United States with them were their family recipes. The recipes might be memorized and told to other family members, or they might be hand-written in a small recipe book. Early written recipes often did not include baking temperatures or accurate ingredient measurements. Instead, cooks went by their own personal experience when cooking. Only later were recipes standardized. In this exercise, students have the opportunity to make their own recipe book.

1. Fold three or four pieces of paper in half to form a book with a sheet of colored paper or construction paper on the outside to form a cover. Staple in the center.

2. Print the recipes below and have the students cut out and paste in the ones they would like in their recipe book.

3. Have the students collect one or two family recipes from their parents or an older member of the community to be written in their book.



Jewish immigrants, who arrived from Europe, may have brought with them a recipe for latkes which we call potato pancakes,

Mix together 3 cups of grated raw potatoes, 1 egg (slightly beaten), 1/4 cup flour, 1/4 cup milk, and 1/2 tsp. salt.      

Fry in hot fat. Onion and pepper may also be added.



In the 19th Century, white flour was not common. Most immigrants from Europe would have had a recipe for brown bread made with wheat flour.

Mix 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup molasses, 1 Tbsp. butter, 2 cups sour milk, 2 tsps. baking soda, 1 cup wheat flour, 2 cups graham flour, 1/2 tsp. salt.                 

Bake slowly for 3/4 hour or more.



Both English immigrants and settlers from New England may have brought with them recipes for “puddings” which looked and tasted differently from today’s puddings.

Mix 1 cup seeded and chopped raisins, 1 cup figs, 1 cup sweet milk, 1 cup syrup, 1 cup suet, 3 cups flour, 1 tsp. baking soda, 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. cloves and nutmeg.      

Steam for 3 hours.



Irish immigrants who came to Warren may have brought a recipe for corned beef which could have fed a large family.

5 lbs (rump) beef, 3 Tbsp. sugar, 6 Tbsp. salt, saltpeter size of a small nutmeg.        

Dissolve salt, sugar and saltpeter in water enough to cover meat. Let stand in brine 24-36 hours in cool place. Boil in the brine 3 1/2 hours. Leave in water until cold.



Many English immigrants brought recipes for Yorkshire Pudding, one of their favorite national dishes.

Beat 3 eggs until light, and 1 pint of milk.  Add 6 Tbsp. flour to mixture and beat until smooth. Strain through a fine sieve and add salt and pepper. Bake. Cut into squares and serve around the meat.



The Colson family hunted for pigeons which were sent to cities by railway to be eaten in restaurants. A restaurant may have prepared a dish like this one, or Mrs. Colson may have brought a few pigeons home with her and made a similar recipe.

Draw and wash. Break the legs just above the feet and tie down. If old and tough, cover with vinegar, spice and flavor with onion, and let stand for several hours. This makes them tender. Drain and wipe.  

Stuff if you like, with cracker crumbs, highly seasoned and moistened with butter. Dredge in salt, pepper and flour, and fry in hot salt pork fat with a slice of onion until brown all over.

Then put in stew pan. Add boiling water or stock to cover half. Then add some herbs tied in a bag. Simmer from one to three hours, or until pigeons are tender. Remove fat from broth, thicken with flour and butter, season and strain over pigeons.


Courtesy of the Warren County Historical Society