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DIGGING OUR ROOTS: Notes on Glen Ellen History

DIGGING OUR ROOTS: Notes on Glen Ellen History

Glen Ellen’s Friendly Circle cookbook, 1949

Submitted by the Glen Ellen Historical Society

Alittle cookbook, compiled by housewives of Glen Ellen in the 1940s, has been received by the Glen Ellen Historical Society. It’s a pamphlet-sized compilation of home recipes typed on a typewriter on now-yellowing paper, and bound by an oil cloth with aqua, red, and yellow designs featuring teapots, fruits, and flowers placed in a quilt-like pattern. It features 1940s recipes involving a lot of gelatin, canned green beans, Campbell’s mushroom soup, sweetened condensed milk, and the “ice box.”

Inside, a band of friends contributed to a round-robin cookbook they called the “Friendly Circle Cookbook.” The title page is handdrawn and says: “Valley of the Moon. Friendly Circle Cook Book, 1935–1949,” and in elaborate hand, “Home Tested Recipes.”

Inside is the Friendly Circle’s motto: “To give aid in the Community where it is needed. To be Friendly … in the true sense of the word.” The Friendly Circle Committee included Sue G. Richards, Edna Lawson, Adelaide Sauerbrey, Frankie Carl, Ruth M. James, and Lida Hunter, all of whom express thanks to the many contributors, including May Bidwell, Mrs. M. A. Cunningham, Ruth M. James, Frieda Skerl, Cora Tucker, Mrs. Sherwood, Mrs. Bertha Moon, Mrs. Geo Thompson, Mrs. Gould, Mrs. Lida Longenecker, Mrs. M. G. Zane, and more Glen Ellen women of the 1930s and 40s.

Adelaide Sauerbrey offers her “Po-Mato Casserole.” May Bidwell recommends something she calls “More” (ground steak and pork, olives, peas, tomatoes, one can of tomato soup). There’s “Upside-Down Meat Squares” from Mrs. C. Larson, “Eggplant Melonzani” from Mrs. Sherwood, “Swiss Steak in Sour Cream” from Ruth M. James, “Escalloped Corn” from Marietta Hoffman, “Sweet and Sour Beans,” “Topsy Turvey Meat Pie,” “Pork Chops Ring-A-Round,” and more.

The desserts include seven varieties of fudge—divinity, white, fool-proof, walnut, and many types of “ice box cookies” where the dough firms up in the ice box and is later sliced to be baked.

This charming cookbook is a reminder of a smaller, simpler community of the 1940s.

For more information about the Glen Ellen Historical Society visit