Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Lizzie Black Kander

When American welfare worker Lizzie Black Kander raised enough money from local Milwaukee businesses and produced the first edition of The Settlement Cookbook on April 30, 1901, little did she know she would go down in history as publishing the most successful American Jewish charity cookbook ever! Her highly profitable fund-raising tool for the institution she served, The Way to a Man's Heart: "The Settlement" Cook Book, was born out of the needs of her students. It was as president of "the Settlement," Milwaukee's first settlement house, that Mrs. Simon Kander (she used her husband's name) made her most lasting contribution to regional, charitable, community, and fund raising cookbooks. Among the Settlement's programs was a series of cooking classes for immigrants. It offered training in vocational and domestic skills, classes in English, American history and music. In 1901, Lizzie Black Kander asked the Settlement's board for $18 to print a small booklet of recipes for her students. When the board refused, although, they were glad to "share in any profits from the venture, she raised the money herself. The Settlement Cookbook combined her recipes, instructions on cleanliness and food storage and general housekeeping tips. For countless brides, the book became standard equipment as they embarked on married life. The book had charts on grades of beef, instructions on how to care for silver and clear a table and, in the 1903 edition, how to make dandelion wine ("Pick dandelion flowers, early in the morning, taking care not to have a particle of the bitter stem attached.")

Avocation Becomes a Vocation

Today we are celebrating the birth of this extraordinary woman. She was born on May 28th in 1858. Like many middle-class women of her time, Lizzie Black Kander was deeply involved in the Progressive reform movements that sought to Americanize immigrants. Lizzie Black graduated as valedictorian from Milwaukee East Side High School in 1878. From the age of 20 she was an active member of the Ladies Relief Sewing Society. An aid society that became the foundation for her future reform work. She collected used clothes and repaired them for needy families. Through her dedication to school reform, Lizzie Black met Simon Kander and in May 1881 they were married.

"...Kander strongly believed that women who were educated in the domestic arts could keep their families out of poverty and on the road to success in America. Elizabeth "Lizzie" Black was born May 28, 1858, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to parents of English and Bavarian ancestry. Raised in the Jewish Reform tradition that emphasized the importance of reconciling religion with progressive ideas, Kander's mother instilled a strong sense of the moral and spiritual importance of the domestic home in Kander and her siblings. This strong sense of domestic womanhood did not, however, exclude education, and in 1878, Kander was named valedictorian of Milwaukee East Side High School, where she gave a speech entitled "When I Become President." Wisconsin Historical Society

Normally, I would refer to my personal reference book for more information on Mrs. Simon Kander but I am in PA and they are in New York. Thankfully, there are quite a few websites that are just brimming with information about this amazing lady. If I were you, I would begin at Feeding America. Why Feeding America you might ask? Well, I found it most helpful for brushing up on my history of the impact fund raising cookbooks have truly had on the American diet. For instance, did you know, American charitable and community cookbooks first emerged after the Civil War? Or that the first fund-raising cookbook was published in Boston in 1870? (Nantucket Receipts like most early charitable cookbooks was intended to generate income for a particular community charity the New England Hospital for Women and Children. In Mrs. Kander's case it was to benefit "The Settlement House." Others were published for religious groups. As money making was usually the main reason for their publication, they were paper covered and many didn't survive. They were also printed in small quantities and sold locally. There's an excellent article at the Food & Baker Blog titled The Settlement Cookbook: An Immigrant's Guide to Assimilation. Here's just a small excerpt. When you're done below, you may want to check The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel online. They celebrated the 100th anniversary of The Settlement Cookbook back in 2001.

The Settlement Cookbook was Jewish by association only. After learning the book was written for and financed by a Jewish organization, many people automatically assumed it was a Jewish cookbook, not meant for any other group of Milwaukee residents but the Jews. From the very birth of the project, The Settlement Cookbook displayed a patent disregard for Jewish food regulations: it offered recipes for borscht, chopped herring, and paprika schnitzel in the same breath as recipes for oyster bisque and scalloped ham and potatoes for its non-Jewish readers. Just in the space of the two above-mentioned dishes, several rules of Kashrut (dietary laws, or the body of regulations in keeping Kosher) have been broken: oyster bisque contains oysters (shellfish that are prohibited) and cream; scalloped ham and potatoes is a double whammy with ham (from the pig which has a cloven hoof) and scalloped potatoes covered in cheese (milk and meat must not be consumed together). The Settlement Cookbook was a combination of Jewish, German, and other European recipes.

Before I go, I would like to drop off this recipe for Doughnut Drops and give you a bit of insight to this cute little picture. You see, this pictured Settlement Cookbook gal is from a die-cut recipe booklet I have in my die-cut cookbook collection. Unfortunately, the actual copy is also in New York and this is the only picture I have available on my computer. I know it is difficult to see but, when you unfold the leaflet, it reveals recipes from the Settlement Cookbook. My plan is to put a better scan up when I return to New York. It really is darling and quite special to me:) The recipe below is from the Twenty-second edition of the book. I chose the doughnut recipe because next month we will be celebrating Doughnut Day and I thought it time to warm up. They are also the perfect little indulgence. If I were you, I'd pop them into a small basket and leave them for munching. I know they won't last long but they have to be better than any of the store bought or stand type donuts sold at coffee stores. You can even make a variety of different doughnut drops and have a party hailing Lizzie Black Kander! Let me know how they come out. I've included a few more recipe links for you below. Like Manuela's Kuchen Roll, most of them are adapted from one of the many editions of The Settlement Cookbook. Enjoy!

Doughnut Drops
2 eggs
1/4 c. sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 tbs. melted butter
1-1/2 c. flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1/3 c. milk
Beat eggs until light, add sugar, salt and butter or any other desired shortening. Mix flour and baking powder and combine the two mixtures. Drop by tablespoons into deep, hot fat, and fry until browned. Drain on brown paper and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Add 1 ounce melted chocolate to mixture for variety.
To Fry Doughnuts: the fat must be hot enough to brown a cube of bread in one minute from 360 to 375 degrees. Place the doughnuts in a bath of hot fat, deep enough to float them. They should come quickly to the top, brown on one side, be turned and browned on the other. If the fat is too cool, the doughnuts will absorb the fat. If too hot, they will turn brown before sufficiently raised.

  • 1. @ Feeding America
  • 2. The Settlement Cookbook: An Immigrant's Guide to Assimilation
  • 3. Preface 1954 Edition
  • 4. Lizzie Black Kander (Jewish Women's Archive)
  • 5. Ezine Article
  • 6. The Settlement Cookbook @ Astray Recipes
  • 7. Lizzie Black Kander @ wikipedia
  • 1. Kuchen Roll @ Baking History
  • 2. Historical Kosher Dinner Recipes
  • 3. German Pancake Recipe (Settlement Cookbook, c 1965, 1976)
  • 4. Sour Cream Potato Latkes from The Settlement Cookbook (Applewood Books)
  • 5. The Settlement Cook Book and Apple Roly-Poly


  1. You are always a font of information.Your really deidcated to this. I have heard of this book off and one but never realized the historical importance. She was a trailblazer in not for profit fundraising.

  2. I have a long time friend who swears by the Settlement Cookbook, but I have never gotten a look at it. You've reminded me that I have to get her to share her copy with me. It's certainly considered to be one of the classics.

  3. Hi glamah,

    Thank you so much for visiting and for the kind words.

    I would say this book is right up there with The Joy of Cooking and Fannie Farmer's book. I believe she was also one of the first to advocate testing recipes before publishing them.

  4. Hi T.W.

    Thanks for visiting.

    I'm sure your friend would be delighted to share. It really is one of those historical cookbooks filled with recipes easily adapted for modern times.

  5. That is a lovely cut-out, I can see why you treasure it.

    I have heard that the Settlement cookbook is really good, there was a copy in the Cambridge (Mass) Public library years ago (early 90s)...oh how I wish I still lived in Boston, the Cambridge Public had SCADS of old cookbooks on the open shelves! (And of course then my interest was on hiatus)

  6. Hi Lidian,
    Yes, the Settlement die-cut booklet is just adorable. I'm almost excited to be going back to New York just so I can scan a better picture.

  7. Hello! I'm a bit late with my comment, but when I stumbled across this post, and found such a lovely and well-written feature on Mrs. Kander - and the incredible Settlement Cookbook - I absolutely had to tell you 'great job!'

    Lovely blog, and keep up the good work.

  8. Hi Marilyn,
    Thank you so much for visiting and for the generous words of encouragement. It's never to late to revisit Mrs. Kander and The Settlement Cookbook! EVER!

  9. True that educated people can become successful and bring out their families from poverty.

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