Blending Food, History Historical Society Cookbook Mixes Arlington Heights Recipes, Past

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Byline: Eileen O. Daday Daily Herald Correspondent

An image on the cover of the old Union Hotel, built in 1856 Dunton - later called Arlington Heights - sets the tone.

The Arlington Heights Historical Society's new "Arlington Heritage Cookbook" is as much a treasured history book as it is a cookbook.

Volunteers gathered Thursday to begin unloading the brand-new volumes. After working on the project for a year, the paperbacks arrived Wednesday, much to the delight of committee members who had edited them.

They marveled over its unexpected thickness, as well as its glossy color photo on the front - and just seeing all the hundreds of recipes that they had pored over come to life in the book.

"We called it a 'heritage cookbook' because it connects the history of our community through recipes and cooking," says Melody Smith, museum volunteer coordinator.

The 276-page book is filled with 450 recipes, including appetizers, soups, main dishes, vegetables, breads and desserts. But it also is peppered with historical food facts, whimsical notes, and more than a dozen vintage photos used as dividers.

"All of the photos are from the society's collection," says volunteer Ted Balcom of Arlington Heights, "but most of them haven't been seen before."

There even are some historical recipes reprinted from Arlington Heights cookbooks first published in the early 1900s, including a baked fish recipe from Lizzie Muller and a peanut candy recipe from Minnie Banta, whose homes anchor the museum's campus.

The book contains two indexes in the back that list the recipes and the more than 160 local recipe contributors.

They range from longtime residents and historical society members to prominent elected officials, library and park board members - and several local chefs.

Professionals include: Michael Maddox, chef of Le Titi de Paris; Michael Gallagher, chef of Peggy Kinnane's Irish Pub; Mary Ellen Hogan of Urban Harvest; and Nancy Tsapralis, owner of Dunton House Restaurant, all located in Arlington Heights.

Historical society members came up with the idea while designing their current Heritage Gallery exhibit, titled, "Tales from the Kitchen," which looks at kitchens from prairie homesteads through the Victorian era, all the way up to microwaves.

The cookbook's release also kicks off new programming ideas, including a program examining cookbooks on April 18, followed by one looking at the history of aprons on April 23, and culminating May 16 with a cooking lesson with Maddox, during which he will teach recipes from the cookbook and autograph copies. …