Historical Society members collecting family recipes

MARTINEZ, Calif. – Charlene Perry is known for having founded the Martinez Historical Society and Museum and for having written about the city’s past.

Perry also was known for making a special bean dish for her family to eat on Christmas Eve. But as far as historical society members Mary Goodman and Kathy O’Connell know, upon Perry’s death, that recipe was lost forever.

Fearing other Martinez families’ longtime recipes also could be lost, they decided to do something about that – collect those recipes and publish them in a cookbook.

Not only would they ask residents to write down and share the recipes themselves, Goodman and O’Connell decided they also wanted to collect and publish stories about those recipes in the cookbook, too.

“Many of the old Martinez family recipes are not written down and cannot be found in conventional cookbooks,” the pair said in joint replies to questions about their project.

“Before they are lost forever, we wanted to preserve them.”

More than just a cookbook, this project would become a culinary history of the families of Martinez, they explained. “It would be like a window into the people and personalities of Martinez residents,” they said. “We hope to receive family stories, old photos or even copies of old, handwritten recipes.”

They’re also hoping for a variety of recipe types, including those with ingredients that wore – or still are – foraged from backyard gardens, open fields, orchards and family ranches. Directions can be specific and measured, or they can be general guides. Recipes can be appetizers, salads, entrees, desserts or some other type of dish.

The two have assembled a test-tasting team, and will participate themselves in that part of the project. Each volunteer taste-tester can bake as many recipes as he or she would like to try, they said. The volunteers will do the tastings at taste-test meetings.

Once the book is published, the historical society will schedule a promotional open house at the museum, and that event will include recipe samples for tasting as well as books for those attending to purchase.

After the open house, the cookbooks will be available for purchase at the museum. Proceeds will benefit the Martinez Historical Society.

This is a long-range project for Goodman and O’Connell. They’re starting now before the advent of the Christmas holidays, when some of those family recipes might be brought out for seasonal celebrations.

Those recipes and their accompanying anecdotes and stories must be submitted no later than March 15, 2019, they said. Using Cookbook Publishers to produce the cookbooks, the historical society expects to have them ready for sale early in November 2019, well before Christmas that year.

Goodman and O’Connell said they are working with the publisher on design and content, and the original order will be for 500 books. They are hoping the cookbook will sell at $20 each.

Submissions and questions can be sent to O’Connell at kocon51@hotmail.com or by calling Goodman at 916-893-8648.

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