Can a cookbook tell the story of a person’s life? Well, if you ask Peggy Haskell, the answer is yes. In fact, Peggy’s cookbook not only tells her story, but the story of several generations who built their lives in rural Nebraska.
As Peggy explained to me: “Recipes often trigger a memory of an event, a special day or a special person, and after I recorded these recipe memories (in my cookbook), I realized that I was telling my story in small bits and pieces.”
Peggy, was born in 1940 and grew up on a Nebraska cattle ranch. Like me, she saved recipes on index cards, paper scraps and napkins. She tested each recipe carefully before admitting it into her permanent recipe collection. Peggy also inherited a couple of precious wooden recipe card boxes from her mother-in-law.
After growing tired of hunting down specific recipes upon request from family and friends, Peggy decided it was time to organize her own cookbook called “Peggy’s Recipes” The project took five years. Her book is available at peggysrecipes.com, and each copy is printed after it is ordered, in keeping with Peggy’s waste not, want not philosophy. Peggy’s son, Chip recommends ordering the spiral bound version, since they have had problems with the perfect binding.
The cookbook includes old, old recipes that Peggy photocopied into the book in order to preserve her ancestor’s handwriting. Recipes include jello popcorn balls, dandelion wine and homemade noodles. This book is a great place to look for canning and breadmaking tips, and Peggy even explains how to make steamed pudding. Her collection of household hints for baking, cleaning, yard care, cooking and frying takes me back to lessons from my own childhood. She also offers home remedies for every ill from arthritis to cholera to warts.
More and more, homemaking is becoming a lost art. Please pick up a copy of Peggy’s book and reconnect (or connect for the first time) with the self-sufficiency of making your own meals, cleaning products and toiletries. To read our full interview with Peggy, click here.