“The Best in Cooking” in Round Head
“The Best in Cooking” in Round Head is a slim, spiralbound cookbook published by the local VFW post in Roundhead, Ohio, a small, unincorporated area in west central Ohio. Roundhead is a few miles down the road from Kenton, home of the Mount Zion Methodist Church (see their 1995 cookbook here). The community is named after Chief Roundhead, a member of the Wyandot (American Indian) tribe and second-in-command to Tecumseh during the War of 1812. Historical documents are inconsistent on whether his name is one word (Roundhead) or two (Round Head). Roundhead Township, built on the site of his Wyandot village, uses a single word, but many other local place names, including the VFW Post, use the two word convention.
As with most community cookbooks, this was a fundraising activity for the Ladies’ Auxiliary of VFW No. 8823. It appears to be entirely self-published. There is no copyright notice or evidence of a third party publisher. Recipes are hand-typed and there are few illustrations beyond chapter headings, which appear to be generic clip art (e.g. perhaps from a local newspaper or printing press). There are some generic instructions for recipe conversions and cooking for a crowd, but beyond a folksy poem on the insert there’s no historical information about the VFW post nor the community at large. The only glimpse we get into life in Roundhead are the advertisements. Advertisements are rare in church cookbooks, God and Mammon and all that, but common for non-religious charitable organizations.
In absence of copyright notice, the ads were the only clues I had for the publication date. There’s an advertisement for the Van Horn funeral home (since acquired by the Shoffstall Funeral Home) which honors founder Elba Van Horn who passed in 1957. On the very next page is an advertisement for Millisor Chevrolet in Belle Center, Ohio. A little bit of search engine magic turn up an obituary for an employee, which mentions that the dealership moved from Belle Center to Russells Point in 1967.
Even without the “hard evidence” in the advertisements, the recipes themselves scream 1960s. The salad section is heavy on Jell-O and the main dishes are mostly casseroles. There’s also a subtle undercurrent of German influence, including hot potato salads, liberal use of sauerkraut, and recipes for Sauerbraten.
“The Best in Cooking” in Round Head on the shorter side for a community cookbook, with just over forty pages and around a hundred and fifty recipes. There’s still plenty of variety and surprisingly little duplication. More than half of the cookbook is sweet stuff, and the main dishes are mostly practical, weeknight meals but there are a couple of remarkable outliers. I’ve included a couple, including a very ambitious Christmas Relish recipe, below.