I love vintage cookbooks and guides on party entertaining. I’ll admit part of my obsession stems from some of the expectations that were heaped on women as homemakers. Many cookbooks from the 1950s include additional tips like making sure you refresh your makeup before your husband walks in the door and don’t complain about your day because his was worse. I must say I’m grateful not to live with those types of daily expectations. Sexist social norms aside, I do enjoy revisiting some recipes that were once popular, but regarded as kitschy today.
Last year on a trip to my hometown of Cleveland I spent some time going through my parents’ belongings with my sisters. Among the belongs I ended up taking back to New York were my grandma’s recipe cards. I also took back an assortment of cookbooks and it has been fun trying recipes and planning future dinner parties around them.
The cookbooks cover a wide range. I brought back a Hungarian recipe book and made a cream cheese pound cake that I haven’t had since childhood. I also brought back a cookbook for kids that I bought at a book fair in primary school and my mother’s go to Jello book. I found old cookbooks that were my grandma’s including one on Pennsylvania Dutch dishes and can’t wait to try my hands at shoo-fly pie.
To add to the collection my sister Esther bought me a copy of the cookbook from a now defunct Cleveland restaurant,The Silver Grille. It has been fun recreating dressings and dinners I haven’t had since I was a child.
If you don’t have relatives who have saved old cookbooks I recommend hitting up used bookstores and checking out their cooking and entertaining section. You can find some wonderful hidden gems from yesteryear.
Another one from the old site that I’ve updated a bit. Many of the foods mentioned on this list were included in guest baskets my sisters and I made for Sarah’s (the baby sister) wedding in Cleveland last month.
I’m a fan of buying local. I also love to order products that are locally sourced from places that I have lived or visited. It is really fun to throw a dinner party with some food from Cleveland because chances are my friends in NYC haven’t sampled these treats before. Here are some of my favorite local goods from Cleveland that you can also purchase online if you aren’t in the Northeast Ohio area.
Campbell’s Popcorn: One of my favorite places in Cleveland is the Westside Market located in the Ohio City neighborhood. There you’ll find the city’s best produce, butchers, baked goods, and many other local treats. One of the most popular stands is Campbell’s Sweets. Here you’ll find an assortment of delicious candy and caramel apples, but Campbell’s is most famous for their popcorn. They have a wide variety of savory and sweet flavors from your traditional cheddar and caramel to the more unusual flavors of dill pickle and vanilla butternut. I am a fan of their chocolate mint…yum!
Cotton Club Soda: Okay so no one in Ohio calls it soda…it’s pop. While I don’t have soft drinks all that often, I am a sucker for Cotton Club’s Cherry-Strawberry. They have a number of more traditional cola and non cola flavors as well. Another favorite of mine is their 50/50 which is a mix of lemon lime and grapefruit soda. This one is a little harder to get online, but some sites that specialize in regional soda do occasionally have it in stock.
Lucy’s Baked Goods: Cleveland has a huge Eastern European population. My mom’s side of the family is Hungarian so the strudels and nut rolls at Lucy’s Sweet Surrender are the tastes of my childhood. I recommend the cherry cheese strudel and the poppy seed roll. They also carry Russian Tea Biscuits which are incredible. I don’t know the origin story behind this treat, but I imagine they’re not really from Russia because Cleveland is the only place I’ve ever seen this pastry. My sister Esther and I always end up splitting one when we visit The Cleve because it’s one of the few things we can’t find in NYC.
Malley’s Chocolates: My all time favorite local establishment of my home town. Several of Malley’s locations have ice cream parlors so you can enjoy their famous hot fudge on site. I grew up down the street from the North Olmsted location which I always thought of as magical because you could sit on a slowly moving old carousel as you enjoyed your ice cream. Don’t worry if you aren’t in Ohio though aside from ordering their sundae sauce online you can also get your fill on their incredible confections. Some of my favorites are their Peanut Butter Royals, Bordeaux, and their Milk Chocolate Crunch bar.
Stadium Mustard: I am funny when it comes to condiments. I never have ketchup, but I’ll have at least half a dozen varieties of mustard in my fridge at a given time. Stadium Mustard is one of the best. There is no better mustard for hot dogs or burgers. It isn’t baseball season until I enjoy a foot long with some Stadium Mustard.
Do you have a favorite food from your home town?