A Book of Favorite Recipes
A Book of Favorite Recipes (1992) is a ragged plastic spiralbound recipe collection prepared by the “Sisters and Brothers of Hebron [Indiana] Chapter 119, O.E.S.”. The “O.E.S.” is the Order of the Eastern Star, a Mason-affiliated organization with membership open to both men and women. They boast a worldwide membership of roughly half a million, all of whom are either Master Masons in the main rite or female family members of Master Masons. O.E.S. maintains a separate mythology and supplemental set of initiatic rites, and a focused emphasis on education and charitable work. While the attendant symbolism seems to have a more explicit focus on the Christian Bible than Freemasonry, membership is open to members of all faiths.
Hebron, Indiana is a small community of about four thousand in the Greater Chicago Metropolitan Area, just outside of Gary, Indiana. Originally inhabited by the Native American Potawatomi, a treaty with the U.S. government opened the area to European settlers in the early 1830s. The place name comes from an early Presbyterian church, who petitioned successfully for a Hebron Post Office in 1845. Growth exploded during the Civil War with the completion of an important railroad line, and Hebron was finally granted “town” status on March 5th, 1890, with a population of around 700 people. The Hebron Chapter of O.E.S. was organized shortly thereafter on April 28th, 1892; A Book of Favorite Recipes was compiled to commemorate their hundredth anniversary. When the cookbook was prepared in 1992, Hebron Chapter 119 had 170 members. They are still active as of this writing. I can’t find any information on their current membership, but suspect that – like other fraternal organizations – that membership is on the wane.
I believe that my copy of the cookbook is missing the original full color cover. The chapter dividers are color illustrations by Ardi Hansen, a popular choice for country-style cookbooks of the era, and I suspect that she would have illustrated the cover as well. Aside from the usual cooking tips and inspirational poems there’s not much in the way of history or biographical information on the O.E.S. membership.
A Book of Favorite Recipes contains two hundred and something recipes that seem typical for Midwestern cookbooks of this era. Hebron itself is rural but not an agricultural town, so there’s a little bit of big city flair and more seafood than I’d have expected. The usual recipes for casseroles and composed salads are supplemented with shrimp cocktail, grilled halibut, a solid egg roll recipe, and a couple of boozy punches.
Rice, Ham, and Raisins
Sweet-and-Sour Green Beans