Falbe Publishing

Vintage Recipes Dovetail with New Self Reliance Movement

Collection of 1920s recipes restored from a grandmother’s notebook reveals the time when people made their meals with a few basic ingredients and preserved their produce with home canning.


Battle Creek, MI -- (SBWIRE) -- 05/21/2014 -- When Tracy Falbe began salvaging recipes found in her late grandmother’s notebook from 1926, she soon noticed that most dishes were based on a short list of core ingredients. Possessing a strong interest in self reliance, local economies, and food security, Falbe gained insight from her recipe restoration project about how people used to stock their pantries and control costs.

What eventually emerged from her study of the old handwritten notebook were 64 vintage recipes typical of life in 1920s Ontario, Canada where Falbe’s grandmother Edna Oldershaw Irwin grew up in Chatham.

Falbe who is an author of nine novels and three other nonfiction references developed the vintage recipes into a new cookbook called My Grandma’s Vintage Recipes: Old Standards for a New Age.

This excerpt from the cookbook explains the lifestyle behind the recipes.

“The simplicity of ingredients displays the vintage character of her recipes. Often only a half dozen items comprise the various dishes, and this hints at a time before supermarkets stocked with a variety of ethnic and gourmet and specialty items were pervasive. In the 1920s to the 1950s, people mostly cooked with standard ingredients that they stocked their pantries with. They wanted to be able to make food with what they had on hand because they did not have a car to jump into and go to a 24-hour supermarket to pick up agave syrup or soy flour. Except for some memorable attempts, my Grandma lived her entire 92 years without driving a car.”

As an avid cook, particularly a baker and home canner, Falbe said, “I learned from this project that having flour, cornmeal, molasses, fat, dried fruit, nuts, sugar, and spices can produce a great variety of baked goods, although it does help to have some cocoa around too.”

Self reliance is a hot topic because of rising food prices and quality concerns. The Mother Earth News that publishes a magazine related to self reliance reported rising subscribership in its June/July 2014 issue. The internet overflows with resources for do-it-yourselfers and homesteaders both rural and urban. Countless videos are dedicated to cooking, gardening, and livestock on YouTube, and the popular Survival Podcast with Jack Spirko boasts of 65,000 to 70,000 listeners per episode.

Falbe consumes content like this and tries to adopt the self reliant lifestyle as much as possible. “It’s kind of addictive because you can make great food affordably and avoid expensive packaged and processed foods,” she said.

My Grandma’s Vintage Recipes contains chapters on quick breads, cakes, cookies, pies, main dishes, and fruitcakes. Canning recipes for sauces, relishes, pickles, and chutney are also present because home food preservation was a basic domestic practice generations ago.

Falbe writes and publishes her many projects from Battle Creek, Michigan where she owns Falbe Publishing. My Grandma’s Vintage Recipes has become a treasured memorial project in her family.

“I needed to make a cookbook of Grandma’s recipes because her old notebook was too delicate to use, but the information has passed both the test of time and the taste test,” Falbe said.