Thursday, July 2, 2015

4th of July and Michigan Cookbooks

[the Clarke Historical Library with be closed on Friday, July 3 in observance of the Independence Day Holiday. We will resume normal hours Monday, July 6.]

4th of July and Michigan Cookbooks

by Bryan Whitledge and Casey Gamble

The Fourth of July is a wonderful American holiday. Michiganders like to think we have a little more fun on Independence day seeing that we tend to have milder July temperatures and thousands of beautiful lakes where people can enjoy the long weekend. Whether people celebrate with fun Independence Day traditions like watching the fireworks festival in Bay City, attending the National Cherry Festival in Traverse City, or just staying home and enjoying the company of friends and family, food - and usually the variety cooked on a grill - is part of the celebration.

Here at the Clarke, holidays that feature good food hold a special place because of our vast holdings of Michigan cookbooks. And it happens that 1976 was a big year for Independence Day cookbooks in honor of Bicentennial celebrations. Communities across the state, including Hillsdale, Jonesville, and Morrice created Bicentennial cookbooks that are in the holdings of the Clarke. Some of the recipes included in the Bicentennial cookbooks are from former US first ladies and the first ladies of all of the states in 1976. For instance, in the Morrice cookbook there are recipes for Martha Jefferson's Monticello dressing and Helen Milliken's Cheesecake. And of course, there were favorite dishes of Morrice residents included like the lemon drops of Margaret Kittle (click on the images of the recipes for an enlarged view).

But on the Fourth of July, most people think about the smell of charcoal and the sizzle of the grill. That's where BBQ Cooking by John Farris of Lansing, Michigan comes in handy. It includes the usual fare - grilled meats, marinades, and the accompanying sides and salads. But it also has some dessert ideas on the grill including skewered pound cakes with dipping sauces and fruit kabobs.

Whether you travel, stay at home, go to a fireworks show, or enjoy an afternoon baseball game, the Clarke wishes you a happy Fourth of July. May it be filled with great food and beverages shared with family and friends.