Thursday, August 4, 2016

Tom Martin and The Landis Valley Cookbook

Last month Tom passed away, and on August 17th, Landis Valley Museum, where he worked for over 30 years, will host a celebration of his life. He knew so much about brick bake ovens and Pa. Dutch foods, and was always willing to share, and yet always researching to learn more.

Seven years ago (that long??) I posted about the revised Landis Valley Cookbook with bits of Tom's history.  Time to re-post it, and for many more pictures of Tom go HERE

The Landis Valley Cookbook: Pennsylvania German Foods and Traditions is back in print! The first edition in 1999 was terrific, and this is even better. The 2d edition contains over fifteen additional recipes, more of the pictures are in color (88), and the spiral inside the hard binding allows the book to lay flat when in use. ...

Tom Martin is eminently suited to spearhead this second edition, after co-writing the first, and contributing the recipes. He was born and raised in the Lancaster county where his Great Grandfather was a Mennonite Bishop, his Mother and Grandmother excelled at cooking the traditional foods, and he learned to speak Pennsylvania Dutch.

For over thirty years, Tom has been in charge of the foodways department at the museum. His advanced hearth cooking and baking classes, whatever the topic, are extremely popular - with many repeat students, including hearth cooks who have themselves been teaching classes for years. This February’s advanced class involved processing a whole pig, and making ham, scrapple, etc.

Landis Valley Museum reflects a German farming community from 1740-1940. The Landis brothers, Henry and George, started sharing their immense collection with the public in 1925. After their deaths in the mid 1950s, the state took over the museum.

The book is divided into subject areas containing historical information and recipes. A section on barn raising includes a reminiscence by Tom. The funeral foods and practices chapter is subtitled “Don’t He Fit His Coffin Nice?” The quote came from Backman’s Funeral Home, the oldest family owned funeral home since 1764. Other chapters are Moving Day; St. Gertrude’s Day; Easter; Baking Day; Quilting Bees; Giving Thanks; Butchering Day; Christmas; New Year’s Day; Groundhog Day; Vendues/Sales; and Medicines, Misfits, & Miscellaneous. The book also contains a selected bibliography and index.

The recipes are delicious. The hot bacon dressing tastes as good as what my Grandmother made for the spring dandelion leaves. Traditional recipes include chicken corn soup, pig stomach, shoofly pie, Buwe Schenkel (filled noodles), Gumbis, Gingerbread, Rye Bread, and instructions for clear toy candy. There are many historical recipes, labeled "Authentic Recipe," some from Landis family and local manuscripts, such as Cider Cake [1862] To Pickle French Beans [Sarah Yeates d.1829] and Yeast from Potatoes [Baer's Almanac, 1848]

Everyone who has taken Tom’s classes will recognize some favorites - the delicate and delicious faschnachts, as well as mush muffins. Tom’s baking is so renowned that during the Fall Festival people wait in line for a sample of his pies and other treats from his bake oven. Wait in line!

The photographs in the book include long time museum volunteers and Historic Foodways Society of the Delaware Valley members. Tom was the second President of HFSDV. Peggy Gelnett and Linda Zeigler are also pictured.

Tom Martin’s marvelous modern interpretations of old favorites make this a must-have cookbook. The Landis Valley Cookbook: Pennsylvania German Foods & Traditions, Second Edition by Landis Valley Associates. Stackpole Books: 2009.

I will miss our talks and emails about odd examples of ovens and other things found during my flue-zies trips or research. and your enticing litany of all the dishes you would make for an event, auction dinner or your classes. 

Farewell Tom, you are missed....

©2016 Patricia Bixler Reber
Researching Food History HOME

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