Cookbooks and Aprons

Throughout this summer, I’ve been working with my sister pricing donated items for her church’s upcoming rummage sale.  Every Wednesday night we work for a few hours cleaning items, pricing them, and packing them in boxes till needed.  Then when the week of the sale comes, it makes their lives a little easier and all the volunteers need do is move the boxes of items to the gathering room and display the items on the tables.  About 5 years ago, my sister and I came up with the idea to start pre-pricing things as they came into the church and found this method works much more efficiently and less time consuming the week of the sale. And this year it is really advantageous since I will be in Texas the week of the sale.  So this way I still get to donate my time and search for fun finds.

One of the items I found is a church cookbook; “Lutheran Church Basement Women – Lutefisk, lefse, lunch and Jell-o”.   (Available on Amazon)

As I started leafing through this cookbook, I noticed something strange.  The copy write date is 1992 but all the pictures seem to be from the 1940’s and 1950’s.  Each chapter begins with a vintage black and white photo of a church woman cooking, posing for a group photo or doing something in the church basement.

At first glance I thought it was just another church cookbook.  Now don’t get me wrong, I love church cookbooks because the recipes are all tried and true.  The recipes are often donated by the creator because it’s her specialty, the one she always brings to a church supper, or the one requested over and over.  Packed full of recipes without any reference to who donated the recipe I found this book rather interesting and quite comical.  The layout is similar to most church cookbooks with little words of wisdom tucked in as filler.

This book authored by Janet Letnes Martin and Allen Todnem pays homage to those old tried and true recipes with a tongue in cheek look at Lutheran Church Basement Women’s etiquette and dedication to service.  Throughout the book little quips punctuate the text with silly little reminders, a kind of advice to the cook.   For example:  Since baking time is not included this recipe it shouldn’t be tried by a new bride. Or If you are on a committee for the festival, you won’t have enough time to make this.

In the section on Lutheran Church Basement Women, in addition to a description of the ladies’ dedication and reasons for being so giving;  the authors included an entire section on apron etiquette and types of aprons.  Apparently there are 6 types of aprons in the Basement Woman’s world:  Serving apron, Anniversary apron, Wedding apron, Catch-All apron, Everyday apron, and Dishtowel apron.  Each one a little different and each used for a specific purpose.  Now I’ve sold aprons in my antique shops for years but never knew there were 6 kinds.

I’m planning to try several of the recipes and I’m thoroughly enjoying reading the text.  This cookbook was a fun find.


  1. What a great find indeed and, as usual, it has prompted a fascinating post. Six special aprons – who’d have ever thought that?
    I had a great ‘find’ yesterday as we made the final clearances of the ‘storeroom’ of our city apartment, sorting through 14 years of accumulated dust (cough, sneeze, etc!). I found one of the books I had been looking for when I cleared the parents’ attic, again ploughing the 14 years of dust, a book for teachers and students of English by a lovely man, George Stan (head of English at a top school in the city when I taught there), with it’s over generous message to me for my editing contribution. George (pronounced approximately ‘Georgy’ in Romanian’) is no longer with us so I was doubly thrilled to find this book.
    There were one or two other ‘gems’ which emerged from the dust so I’ll no doubt be posting about them all in due course.
    Today it’s packing the car as much as possible (including some of the ‘gems’) for our departure for UK tomorrow morning (though we’ll still have another three days in Romania before attempting to cross Hungary, including Budapest where we always get lost, in a single day) leaving the terrible, impolite, dangerous Hungarian drivers behind us to stop for a night in Austria.
    Good luck with your sales and searches!

    Liked by 2 people

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