Bookshelf provides descriptions and notices of recent publications on Pennsylvania subjects.

Mrs. Goodfellow: The Story of America’s First Cooking School

by Becky Libourel Diamond
published by Westholme Publishing, 2012; 288 pages, cloth, $26.00

Married and widowed three times, Elizabeth Baker Pearson Coane Goodfellow (1768–1851) owned a popular bakery and sweet shop in Philadelphia during the first decades of the nineteenth century. In addition to catering to the city’s wealthy families and possessing a reputation of making the finest desserts and sweet dishes in the young nation, her business stood out from every other establishment in another way: she ran a small school to teach the art of cooking, the first of its kind in America. Despite her fame — references to her cooking as a benchmark abound in the literature of the period — little is known about her. Since she did not keep a journal and never published her recipes, historians must rely on her students, most notably star pupil Eliza Leslie (1787–1858) who recorded many of Goodfellow’s creations and techniques. Goodfellow is known to have made the first lemon meringue pie and for popularizing regional foods such as Indian corn meal. Her students also recalled that their teacher stressed using simple, wholesome ingredients that were locally grown, presaging contemporary culinary fashion.

By assembling the many parts of a puzzle from old recipe books, advertisements, letters, diaries, genealogical records, and a host of primary sources, Becky Libourel Diamond has been able to provide a more complete portrait of this influential figure in cooking history. Mrs. Goodfellow: The Story of America’s First Cooking School opens with what had been known about the illustrious cook — where and when she was born, her husbands, her children, and the location of her shop. The author takes readers on a journey through time to discover the types of foods that would have been available to Goodfellow and how she may have used them. The book next turns to the rise of both commercial eating establishments and books of recipes. Diamond explains the rapid expansion of cooking schools, such as the New York Cooking Academy, the country’s first French cooking school, and the Boston Cooking School, made famous through its association with Fannie Farmer (1857–1915), and concludes with a discussion of the role and impact of celebrity chefs. Exhaustively researched and featuring an array of authentic period recipes, Mrs. Goodfellow is a delicious exploration of the life and legacy of one of America’s most influential cooks.

Her reputation was international. An 1851 article about the Paris Hippodrome noted that when horse riders from the Philadelphia circus were sent to Paris to perform tricks their remarkable skills were likened to an art form. “Another branch or school of Philadelphia Art might succeed here—” the writer continued, “Mrs. Goodfellow’s pastry-cooking, whose coconut pudding for example is equal to the best inspiration of suicidal and immortal Vatel.” (Francois Vatel was an acclaimed seventeenth-century French chef credited with creating crème Chantilly, a sweet, vanilla-flavored whipped cream.)


Pennsylvania Hunger Garden Cookbook: Healthy Recipes, Healthy Life

by the Pennsylvania Legislative Hunger Caucus
published by Morris Press Cookbooks, 2012; 112 pages, spiral bound, free

In May 2010, the Pennsylvania Legislative Hunger Caucus established the Capitol Hunger Garden on the grounds of the State Capitol to grow fresh vegetables and herbs for distribution to food pantries and soup kitchens in central Pennsylvania. The Capitol Hunger Garden has helped inspire the creation of community vegetable gardens throughout the Commonwealth, assists those in need, and serves as a teaching tool.

During the garden’s first season, it attracted more than one hundred volunteers and grew several hundred pounds of fresh produce for local soup kitchens and pantries. It also served as a backdrop for events such as Education Day at the Garden during which children from local school districts were shown easy ways to prepare fresh fruit and vegetable dishes that were nutritious and delicious. The garden’s second season produced more than seven hundred pounds of vegetables for those in need. The initiative enjoyed the support of a number of organizations including the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, Dauphin County Master Gardeners, Pennsylvania Vegetable Growers Association, Penn State Cooperative Extension, and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.

One of the offshoots of the project is the Pennsylvania Hunger Garden Cookbook: Healthy Recipes, Healthy Life, a collection of recipes compiled by the Pennsylvania Legislative Hunger Caucus. In addition to containing recipes for familiar, time-honored fare the cookbook features a number of unusual recipes including directions for kale chips, watermelon soup, corn and cabbage salad, gingered spring peas and fusilli, tricolor quinoa pilaf, and chocolate stout cake. The Pennsylvania Hunger Garden Cookbook includes recipes for appetizers and beverages, soups and salads, vegetables and side dishes, main dishes, breads and rolls, and desserts. Each section opens with a pithy quotation by a famous figure, including Benjamin Franklin: “Where there is hunger, law is not regarded; and where law is not regarded, there will be hunger.”


The Life of Pennsylvania Governor George M. Leader: Challenging Complacency

by Kenneth C. Wolensky with George M. Leader
published by Lehigh University Press, 2011; 189 pages, cloth, $60.00

Now in his mid-nineties, George Michael Leader — elected the second youngest governor in Pennsylvania’s history at thirty-six years old in 1954 (the youngest was Governor Robert Pattison, elected in 1882 at the age of thirty-two) — looks back on his long life and career in The Life of Pennsylvania Governor George M. Leader: Challenging Complacency, written by Kenneth C. Wolensky with the Commonwealth’s former chief executive. Leader, who served from 1955 to 1959, was born in 1918 in York County and worked on his family’s poultry farm. He attended a one-room-school, graduated from York High School, and earned his bachelor’s degree in 1939 from Gettysburg College after which he studied public administration, philosophy, and economics at the University of Pennsylvania’s Fels Institute of Local and State Government.

Leader’s chances of being elected to the Keystone State’s highest office were tenuous at best; Democrats rarely, if ever, fared well in pursuit of it. His election was an upset. Republican Party bosses and stalwarts were stunned at the tally in Leader’s favor, defeating Republican Lieutenant Governor Lloyd H. Wood (1896–1964) of Collegeville, Montgomery County. Leader’s election ushered in an era when the Commonwealth’s electorate shifted its allegiance from majority Republican to majority Democrat, a trend that continued into the twenty-first century.

Largely told in his own words — Challenging Complacency includes insightful interviews — Leader recalls his administration that achieved landmark legislation for economic development, civil rights, education for disabled children, mental health care reform, the environment, expansion of civil service, professionalization of government, prison reforms, and in many other areas. While admirers referred to him as a refreshing antidote to “politics as usual” in the State Capitol, opponents called him “that stubborn young governor.” Leader was proud of both monikers.

George M. Leader dates to an era when politics were radically different. It was a time when handshakes secured votes, campaign budgets were modest, modern mass media was in its infancy, personal attacks were few, and political patronage was rampant at all levels of state government. In addition to chronicling his political career and post-gubernatorial years, the book discusses his family, faith, philosophies, thoughts on contemporary issues, and contributions as a humanitarian.

The Life of Pennsylvania Governor George M. Leader: Challenging Complacency is the only oral history-based account of a Pennsylvania governor published to date.


Teenie Harris, Photographer: Image, Memory, History

by Cheryl Finley, Laurence Glasco, and Joe W. Trotter
published by the University of Pittsburgh Press in cooperation with the Carnegie Museum of Art, 2011; 192 pages, cloth, $55.00, paper, $24.95

In her introduction to Teenie Harris, Photographer: Image, Memory, History, written by Cheryl Finley, Laurence Glasco, and Joe W. Trotter, Deborah Willis writes that the book celebrates both the photographer and the city of Pittsburgh. “It is a love story, a graphic romance about a community visually documented through an artist and his camera, an intimate and diaristic view of a city and a photographer.”

Charles “Teenie” Harris (1908–1988) captured the essence of African American life in Pittsburgh, surpassing all other photographers in his breadth and rich portrayal of black urban America. The archive of his photography, in the permanent collection of Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Museum of Art, represents one of the most important documentations of twentieth-century African Americans and their communities.

Harris’ career began as the country emerged from the Great Depression and ended after the civil rights movement. As a photographer for the Pittsburgh Courier, one of the nation’s most influential black newspapers, Harris hit the streets to record historic events and the individuals involved. The faces of the famous — Lena Horne, Louis Armstrong, Josephine Baker, Muhammad Ali, Jackie Robinson, and Nat “King” Cole — appear among Harris’ nearly eighty thousand photographs, but it is with the images of ordinary people and neighborhoods that Harris depicts a city and an era teeming with energy, culture, friendship, and family. His photographs of everyday scenes, among them boxing matches, Little League games, beauty contests, church functions, family dinners, and protest marches, are elevated to works of art. Not only was he admired by his subjects, but he was also trusted and respected, which gave him enviable entre into their lives and their most intimate moments.

Teenie Harris, Photographer: Image, Memory, History, is liberally illustrated with striking photographs, many of them large-format plates.