May 28: The Settlement Cookbook
Lizzie Black Kander, who founded the Milwaukee Jewish Mission, a settlement house, to help “Americanize” Russian Jewish immigrants, and wrote the famous Settlement Cook Book, was born in Wisconsin on this date in 1858. Kander (“Mrs. Simon Kander”) self-published 1,000 copies of the book, titled The Way to a Man’s Heart . . . The Settlement Cookbook, in 1901 with the help of a printer friend and with ads from local businesses. She sold them out within the year. Ultimately, her book sold two million copies in thirty-four editions, with Kander serving as its editor until her death in 1940. It was the first and largest collection of recipes for Jewish and German foods ever published, and often offered multiple variations of its recipes. Profits from The Settlement Cook Book have twice enlarged the building of Milwaukee Jewish Mission (in 1931, to five times the size) — the board members of which had refused to invest $18 to publish her “pamphlet” in 1901.
“The Settlement Cook Book 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.” —Terry Kaufman