WHEN I began to save the various "recipes" and "suggestions on domestic economy" contained in this book, it was with no thought of having them printed, but as the collection grew and there grew a demand for just such a book, I wrote something like one thousand of my acquaintances, the following letter, which will explain itself:
"My Dear Friend:
"At this, the beginning of the twentieth century, the thoughts of every up-to-date person are naturally turning toward that great and important subject: What shall we eat? The people at large are asking for a new cook-book, something that will not only tell us how to make the most appetizing foods, but healthful ones, as well.
'To meet this demand, I am about to prepare a cook-book on an appetizing and healthful plan. The thought suggested itself by the rare and delightful treats which I have had at the hands of a few of my friends, who, on various occasions, have sent me recipes for healthful, and yet delicious, breads, soups, salads, cakes, etc. These have been so much appreciated that I have decided to ask my friends all over the United States, to send one or more of their favorite recipes, which I will include in the book. I believe such a work will be useful, for one made up of culled recipes, with the name of each donor underneath, must be reliable, and hence, valuable to every housewife. I therefore invite you to contribute your favorite, with directions for making same - something not found in any cook-book to your knowledge. All these, bound in one volume, will make a souvenir book that I shall be proud to have, you will be glad to own, and every woman will be glad to possess."
In answer to this letter, I received hundreds of replies. From the first letter received, I quote the following extract: "I think your idea of a recipe book, a good one, and gladly contribute my favorite, in the line of a pudding."
The second wrote: "I send a recipe for a layer cake, which, we think, is excellent. Some have called it the 'Minnehaha Cake,' but while it is similar to the Minnehaha, it is even nicer. I do not know any name for it, but as I live out here on a Minnesota prairie, will call it the 'Prairie Cake.'"
A third wrote: "As you want a recipe not found in other cook-books, I will give you an original one. My little grandson wanted I should make him a birthday cake - one not like other cakes. Grandmothers are ever equal to the occasion; I made one and it was so highly praised, that I have been led to make it several times since - always with the same result. We call it 'Leroy's Birthday Cake' - you may call it what you like."
And still another wrote: "I have decided to tell you my way of making bread, as it is very simple and not nearly as much trouble as the way most people make it. My neighbors think it is excellent."
Another wrote: "I send along with my favorite some tried recipes of my neighbors."
Another wrote: "If you can put in only one of my recipes, put in the prescription for beautifying and making the hair grow. Every family should have it."
Thus, dear friend, the helps and suggestions in the book have been gathered from many sources. Besides those which have been sent by friends from in and out of town, from States both adjoining and remote, there are those that have been used in my family for years. I have given credit, where it was possible to remember from whom they came. Those taken from other books, are used by the kind permission of the authors or publishers. I am greatly indebted to all who have contributed, or by their courtesy made it possible for me to use their favorites in this book.
It is not a haphazard collection, gathered at random from doubtful sources, but has been made up, sparing neither labor nor expense, from the choicest bits of the best experience of many who have long traveled the daily round of household duties, not reluctantly, like drudges, but lovingly, with heart and hand fully enlisted in the work. May it lessen the perplexities of all who use it as a guide and stimulate that just pride, without which great excellence is impossible.
TO THE hospitably inclined, the pleasure afforded by entertaining those whose society is desired is unsurpassed, and nowhere does the host or hostess show to such advantage or disadvantage, as at the dinner-table. To give a dinner gracefully, however, requires tact; indeed, it may be said to be an art, to so select one's guests and so arrange them at the table, that no lack of harmony will mar the occasion. The hostess must be, to a certain extent, acquainted with the peculiarities of each guest, and in placing them, she should carefully avoid seating two persons of opposite natures side by side. She should study her guests, as it were; should allot the charming talker to the equally charming listener, and the opinionated person to the passive and yielding disposition. A dinner should be a function where no obstacles to ease and enjoyment exist. It is generally understood that all present are desirable persons and yet an acquaintanceship begun under such auspices need not extend beyond the occasion that gave it birth unless so desired.
Invitations to a dinner party are issued ten days or two weeks in advance of the event. The recipients of the invitation should reply at once, as to their ability to accept. This gives the hostess a chance to fill a possible vacancy. These invitations can be sent by post, but are better, because of more sure delivery, sent by messenger.
In giving a dinner an old saying should ever be kept in mind: "Good humor garnishes, good will beautifies, and good feeling gladdens more effectively than flowers, handsome china, or expensive silverware."
To-day a hostess of moderate means can invite fifty or even one hundred guests, for an informal party, without ever looking to the florist or the caterer for help, provided she herself is accomplished in that finest of fine arts - entertaining; she must, though, know how to bring people together, know how to group them diplomatically; how to bring out the harmonies of each nature; how to stimulate and inspire. If she can do this, then the results will be quite as satisfactory as though she had unlimited wealth and the command of all Christendom at her feet. It has been well said that the responsibility of the hostess is far less for the "warming, lighting and feeding" of her guests than it is for the personal happiness of every one who crosses her doorstep.