1905 Cookbook, Food for Body and Soul

 Review by M. Carolyn Steele
Preserving Family Legends for Future Generations

The 1905 Cookbook by Judy Steiger Howard is an exciting glimpse into the daily lives of early Oklahomans, where recipe ingredients are measured by such instructions as “butter the size of an egg,” and “toss chicken salad with a silver fork until well mixed.” More than three hundred sturdy recipes are a reminder to today’s cooks, armed with food processors and microwaveovens, of what their pioneer ancestors did to furnish hearty, nourishing meals to their families.

To call Ms. Howard’s beautifully published tome a cookbook is a bit of an understatement. History leaps from each page with the telling of land runs, homesteading, and early railroad life by those women that lived the adventure. God-fearing, gracious, and generous, they determined to civilize the newly opened lands with schools and churches, giving rise to the first 1905 Cookbook.

A generous sprinkling of vintage photos graces every page as a constant reminder of the era of long skirts and upswept hair styles, of horse and buggy transportation, of lonely sod houses, and clapboard houses lavished with gingerbread detail. Included 1905 advertisements, meant to tempt coins from the apron pockets of pioneer women, add to the history and the fun.

Whether or not one is tempted to stir up a Molasses Drop Cake or mold a Trimble of Cold Meat, Judy Howard’s 1905 Cookbook, Food for Body and Soul, is a treat for the eyes and the knowledge the purchase price contributes to feeding hungry mouths uplifts the spirit. I highly recommend this fine book for everyone.


Review by JP Jones
Market Yourself: A Beginner’s Guide to Social Media

There is a lot of talk in today's society about the importance of a family meal. In 1905, as the frontier was still a wild west, women didn't think twice about preparing a meal to be enjoyed by their families. More than a cook, the family meal provider poured her heart and soul into the recipes that kept her family strong and able to endure the hardships they faced.

This is where Judy Steiger Howard's book comes in. Her 1905 Cookbook: Food for Body and Soul is a peek into the lives of the pioneer women who left family, friends and the comforts of home to homestead a hostile and barren landscape in early Oklahoma territory.

As you peruse its pages, you will find the pioneer’s steady diet is far different than our modern eating today.  They lived primarily on beans, bacon, biscuits, quick skillet bread, bread on a stick or hard tack (crackers) and coffee.

Along with the hearty recipes in this book you witness the tales of the wild west through the lives of the pioneers featured within its pages. Read in awe as you gain understanding for the hardship, patience, and persistence of these great people as they settled Edmond, Oklahoma over a century ago!

Personally, I would not have wanted to lived in Edmond in 1988.  From railroad stations to an outhouse privy called, “The Necessary” the courage and determination of pioneers like Jake and Cora Steen come alive on the pages of this inspirational cookbook. Cora and her generational recipes provided the only hot meal for passengers and crew between Texas and Kansas.

Within the pages of this book you will meet and admire many of these early Oklahoma settlers such as Jennie and GC Forster who were responsible for bringing civilization into this new frontier.  A short two months after the Land Run, they could be found organizing the first Sunday Church services.

Beyond the recipes and tales of determination the book is laden with vintage photos and retail advertisements from the era. Whether a historian, a student or just a proud Oklahoman, this book will touch the very soul of its readers. More than a cookbook, the 1905 Cookbook is truly "Food for Body and Soul".


Review by Inez Phillips, author

1905 Cookbook—Food for Body and Soul by Judy Steiger Howard blends the lives and recipes of women who settled in Oklahoma before statehood. The author has given us a special insight into the challenges of living and preparing food 100 years ago.

The life stories of the women along with pictures and advertisements provide a glimpse into the culture of pre-statehood Oklahoma. Pioneers traveled by horse and buggy and merchants advertised up-to-date clothing and available merchandise including glass eyes and cook stoves that could bake biscuits in three minutes.  Telephone numbers were single or double digits. Throughout the book are posed photographs of unsmiling dignified people in their finest clothing. Casual photography was years away.

Some of the recipes such as Waldorf Salad and baked beans haven’t changed in the last century but others would be almost impossible to replicate without research into how to make ingredients like sponge. Tar taric acid in the modern kitchen is known as Cream of Tartar. The closest item to pulvarized sugar would be powdered sugar.  A substitute for Saratoga Flake Crackers would require extensive research. Several recipes call for teacupsful, pints or quarts and butter the size of an egg or walnut. The recipes all list ingredients but few give directions on what to do with them.

Since wood or cow chips fueled the cooking stoves, the recipes indicate fast or slow ovens but cooking time was a matter of experience. The recipes remind me of the time long ago when I watched my Aunt Mary stick her arm in the oven to judge whether it was hot enough. She was a wonderful cook and I believed her arm was magic.

This cookbook is beautifully illustrated with 200 vintage photos and a joy to read. Judy discovered at a flea market the original 1905 cookbook published to raise funds for schoolteachers’ salaries in Edmond. The updated 1905 Cookbook profits feed starving children. Seldom does a book reflect so completely the culture and lives of the settlers in Oklahoma at the turn of the century.


Review by Melba Lovelace
Food Columnist for "The Daily Oklahoman"

Where else besides an antique flea market would you find a cookbook published in 1905 that nobody knew existed?  Who, besides Judy Howard of Oklahoma City would add vintage photos and history of the contributor to publish it to feed starving children?

When Judy Howard of Oklahoma City was digging around in an antique flea market in 2007, she was excited to find a cookbook published in 1905. Being curious about the lifestyles of our courageous pioneers and 89ers, she decided to research the history of the ladies who submitted recipes. 

The resulting book is titled “1905 Cookbook, Food for Body and Soul,” and sells for $14.95 in local bookstores.  For sample stories, calendar of book signings/programs/exhibits, book ordering info check HeavenlyPatchwork.com.  All profits will be donated to feed starving children.

The name of the book could have been “Cook, Eat and Pray.”  Each page contains a recipe, Bible verse and a bit of Oklahoma history.

In 1888, John and Cora Steen and their baby, Charles, moved into the railroad pump house in Edmond as the first white settlers.  Even before the Land Run of April 22, 1889, Cora Steen was preparing hot meals for passengers and crew of the train that ran between Texas and Kansas

The day of the Run, besides trying to keep an 18-month-old boy out of mischief, and wearing a gun in the pocket of her apron to keep both of them safe from outlaws, Indians and unruly cattle drovers, Cora cooked 12 hams and dozens of loaves of bread.

Within a year, the Ladies of the Christian Church in Edmond began compiling this book of their favorite recipes to build schools.  Of course, it contains many of Cora’s recipes plus merchants’ ads from Central Oklahoma.

One of her most often requested recipes might prove a challenge to reproduce, but is fun to read.


Put as much as is wanted in the ash box of your stove and cover with hot ashes.  Sprinkle hot coals over the ashes and stir frequently to keep from burning.  When you can peel the skin off, take out from the ashes, put in cold water and peel immediately.

Have the fat hot and put in the pepper, salting well, as the salt will take the “fire” out of the pepper.  Stir constantly, as it burns easily.  When done, sprinkle with flour and pour over it a little water.  It is then ready for the table. 


Book review by Lynn Weise
LWS Literary Services

Judy Steiger Howard has compiled a new cookbook for cooks and foodies based on recipes from bygone days. 1905 Cookbook: Food for Body and Soul will invigorate and inspire today's cooks regardless of age or sophistication. Recipes like Molasses Drop Cake and Caramel Cake or  Delicious Chicken Pie and Roast Beef with Oyster Dressing entice the taste buds and make you want to keep this book within easy reach. One can only imagine how fresh the food tasted back then. In addition to this amazing collection of epicurean delights, Howard's book is flavored with turn-of-the-century photographs, stories and essays. This cookbook is a gem, and will complement any cook's recipe collection.