My Hard Times Cook Books

Before leaving for the mission field, we (obviously) had to pare our belongings down a great deal. But I brought along three things which I considered absolutely essential. A medical book and what I call my hard-times cook books.

Practically life-saving

These cook books, especially in our early years here, were life savers. for me! As was our medical book. Because until you learn the language, it’s impossible to understand either doctors or recipes.

Well, with pandemic hard times are upon us once again, upon the whole world, in fact. Unemployment, reduced income, lack of ingredients, and so on. Here in our area, we can’t even go out shopping unless we have several items to buy. No running out just because we forgot to buy eggs.

Now, I know there are plenty of sites out there dedicated to frugality. Frugal cooking, living, and spending. But not everyone has internet or time to do research. Or can count on having a good connection all the time.

If you do have a good connection, here are a couple of great sites you might want to check out:

So I thought I’d share these cook books, in the hopes that they could be of help to someone out there. As they were to me while learning to deal with unavailable ingredients, new equipment and methods, and less than modern conditions.

Why so special?

What make these cook books special is that they take cooking back to the basics. The recipes in many modern cookbooks rely on ready-made ingredients, mixes, numerous ingredients, or the latest equipment.

These two books were crafted for cooking in less than ideal conditions with few ingredients, and/or on a limited budget. Yet, always with the idea of preparing tasty and healthy meals for ourselves and loved ones.

The Jungle Camp Cook Book

Published by The Summer Institute of Linguistics, this 495-page cook book was specifically intended for missionary trainees in a jungle camp, but is useful in just about any setting.

In addition to all the normal recipe sections, it’s chock-full of useful charts and sections on cooking during hard times and in difficult conditions.

  • Food equivalents and substitutions, and even making your own
  • Cooking on a budget
  • Retaining food nutrition and value
  • Making your own sauces and baking mixes
  • Using herbs and spices, cooking tips and terms
  • Preserving foods without refrigeration
  • Health precautions
  • Nutrition and special diets for the sick and elderly
  • Cooking on a wood stove or over an open fire
  • Baking in a skillet and even making your own mud oven
  • Cleaning and sterilizing

Unfortunately, the Jungle Camp Cook Book is no longer in print, but Abe and carry used copies. Or you could try the Wycliffe Cook Book which I haven’t seen, but sounds quite similar.

The Settlement Cook Book

The Settlement Cook Book by Mrs. Simon Kander is also unique among cook books because it came out of the cooking, sewing, English, and citizenship classes for immigrant women in Milwaukee Wisconsin.

This 757-page cook book also contains these special sections, along with the usual recipe sections:

  • Budget and meal planning
  • Food substitutions and equivalents
  • Cooking tips and terms
  • Using herbs and spices
  • Cooking on a budget
  • Emergency housekeeping and improvising
  • Stain removal
  • Pickling and perserving
  • Cooking for kids
  • Ideas and menus for entertaining

Perhaps you’re among the many who never really learned to cook. These cook books are for you because they starts at the beginning, with the basics. Or perhaps you’d like to brush off your cooking skills, especially shopping and cooking on a budget in these hard times.

This book is also sadly out of print, but you can find used copies at Amazon and Abe Or borrow the book online at Internet Archive.

Hard-times cook books can help us get back to living like many of the older and wiser generations did. That of living simply and within our means, making do, and learning to become as self-sufficient as possible.

The right tools can help us to get through these hard times – and even come out stronger!

Images: Cookbook by Bruno. | Shelf by waparm. | Spices by padrinan.

Published by Signora Sheila

I am a wife, mom, nonna, blogger, and missionary in Italy. But really, I'm just an ordinary woman on a journey, trying to slow down enough to hear the still small voice of God and live for all that is truly important in this world.

10 thoughts on “My Hard Times Cook Books

  1. Reading your post reminded me of my mom. She loved and collected cookbooks. It was her hobby, along with cooking. She would have enjoyed the cookbooks that you referenced. I like the idea of living simply. It gives us a sense of accomplishment knowing that we made something from scratch😊 Stay safe!


    1. Your mom sounds like a special lady! Actually I’m not overly fond of cooking or cookbooks, but I do like learning to live more simply. Partially out of necessity, and paritally because I think it’s wise. But you’re right, there is great accomplishment in doing something all on our own! You stay safe too!!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I think we’ve lost a lot of good old-fashioned tools and have become too dependent on getting things ready-made. I hope these times we’re in will at least help us to reclaim some of these lost treasures!

      Liked by 2 people

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