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Whether you cook or not, book of old recipes is fascinating browse

By Myra Lee Adams Goff

Looking through a cookbook is a little like visiting with the cooks who wrote it. You start to remember past holidays, birthdays and just plain fun days. I visit my mother, my grandmother, and my aunts. My mother wrote notes next to her recipe collection like “No good”, “Make this again”, or “Too much work”.

The best selling cookbook Guten Appetit which is still for sale at Sophie’s Shop in the Sophienburg was written by New Braunfels cooks in 1978.

This unique book has home remedies copied from an 1897 leather-bound book written by Rudolph Richter when he was a pharmacy student. How many remember going to Richter’s Drug Store? It’s where C&C Mercantile is located. Many of the ingredients are no longer to be had. Here are a few: Whiskey Habit Cure (I can’t even pronounce the ingredients), Tapeworm Remedy (creosote and chloroform), Headache Remedy (menthol and chloroform. Rub over pain until eyes water), and Pain Killer (morphine).Actually the formula for Roach Extermination and Bed Bug Poison might work.

Mr. Richter went on to tell us how to make colored show globes. As a child, I remember big glass globes in the front window of Richter’s filled with red or blue water. Go to the museum’s pharmacy display to find out what this colored water meant.

Then there is the recipe for something called “Bengalische Lichter” or Bengal Fire. These lights were like flares and added luster to the gatherings, he said. I guess so. Many colors were possible with chemicals bought at Richter’s which he labeled “Not for indoors”.

There are other recipes that are interesting, like hair invigorator which mixes castor oil, alcohol, rum, and ammonia. And everyone will want to know how to make soap from lard and lye.

Does every cookbook have a recipe for making home brew? How about brandy and agarita and mustang grape wine?

What follows is a most amazing collection of recipes. Many of these I recognize as food that was served at the Kaffeeklatsch. The women would get together to eat and “talk”. Good food but even better talk. As a child I attended many of these sessions with my mother and her aunts, the Roessing sisters. They served several cakes and open-faced sandwiches like egg salad, sausage on butter bread, sardine, pimiento cheese and koch kase (cooked cheese). This afternoon get-together was mostly gone with the wind when women entered the work force after WWII.

The soup recipes are particularly interesting. There’s soup made out of cherries, bread, beer, sausage, pancake, turtle and wine. Also, noodles were made, not bought in the old days. My grandmother used to hang noodles on the clothesline to dry.

The desserts are spectacular, like Blitz Kuchen (Lightning Cake). It’s hard to make, but so good. Two others stand out: Loyce Boarnet’s recipe for Original Cheese Cake and the Sauerkraut Cake recipe from the NB Conservation Society.

Laura Naegelin of Naegelin’s Bakery has a recipe for Stuffed Cabbage. The recipe has 26 ingredients. I’m not stuffing cabbage.

Did women really wash clothes on only one day? There’s a recipe from Betty Reinarz for cooking “Washday Hash” on that one day.

About every third page there are little German words of wisdom and their translation. Some of these messages are like “When the mouse is satisfied, the meal tastes bitter”, and “Hens that cackle a lot lay few eggs”. Can that be linked to the Kaffeeklatsch? How about this advice: “A sparrow in the hand is better than the dove on the roof.” Duh!. And finally the most insulting old saying: “A woman can throw more out of the window with a teaspoon than the man can bring in with a wheelbarrow through the door”. You’ve come a long way, baby!

What a wonderful book. It is so interesting, even if you don’t cook.

Rudolph and Emilie Weilbacher Richter on their wedding day, 1898.