Cloverdale United Church cook book a recipe for time travel

Fifty years ago, the Evening Women's Association published a cook book for the 'Modern Home', creating a culinary time capsule.

Barbara Atchison holds a section of a cook book she and other members of the Cloverdale United Church Evening Women’s Association compiled from local recipes as a fundraiser for church projects.


Be careful in your selection; do not choose too young and take only such as have been raised in good moral atmosphere. (Some insist on keeping them in a pickle while others keep them in hot water – bear in mind this makes them sour, hard and usually bitter.)

Even poor varieties may be made sweet and good by garnishing them with patience and flavor with kisses to taste; then wrap them in a mantle of charity – keep warm with a steady fire of domestic devotion and serve with peaches and cream. When thus prepared they will keep for years.

– From Personal Recipes: Cloverdale, B.C., compiled by the Evening Women’s Association of Cloverdale United Church

More than 50 years ago, a local church group published a book of recipes dedicated to the modern home, and, by extension, the modern homemaker.

Personal Recipes: Cloverdale B.C., was compiled by the Evening Women’s Association of Cloverdale United Church. It was part fundraiser and part outreach – a lifeline in the kitchen when so many meals were prepared at home. Trusted recipes were passed down, new ones eagerly swapped and shared.

“Of course, nowadays, they just go to Google,” quips former executive member and past treasurer Barbara Atchison, one of the project sponsors at the helm, and who still lives in Cloverdale, where she remains an active member of the church.“We needed to earn some money, and we thought that might be a good way to do it,” says Atchison.

Despite the inclusion of a decidedly tongue-in-cheek husband preservation recipe, the book offered practical advice on home meal preparation, covering everything from cooking terms and roasting times to appetizers, meals and desserts.

“In our Home Today, as always, life is centred around our Kitchens,” reads the introduction of the book, conveniently spiral-bound to lie flat on the kitchen counter top, within easy reading range of the cook.

“It is with this thought in mind that we, the Sponsors, have compiled these recipes. Some of them are treasured old family recipes. Some are brand new, but every single one reflects the love of good cooking that is so very strong in this country of ours.”

In the late 1950s, Cloverdale was hardly a remote outpost far from modern conveniences like a well-stocked grocery store, Atchison says.

But many of the labour and time-saving shortcuts we now rely on, from frozen dinners to microwaves, had yet to percolate into the average suburban kitchen.

“There just wasn’t the selection of prepared foods in the grocery aisle to buy,” she says.

Home economists advised planning the week’s meals in advance, and to shop accordingly. Most items on the family dinner menu were homemade.

Now in her 80s, Atchison, who has MS, doesn’t spend much time in the kitchen anymore. And her Bethshan Gardens apartment isn’t equipped with a stove. But her copy of Personal Recipes remains close at hand. It’s kept in a large Ziplock baggie to keep the pages together – the plastic coil spine broke to pieces long ago.

As with any cook book that stands the test of time, the pages are curled and favourite recipes are smeared with grease and stains.’s proud to have helped create something that lived on in the kitchens of Cloverdale for decades.

“Yes,” she admits with a laugh. “People keep those sort of things.”

The Evening Women’s Association was an auxiliary of the church.

There was a daytime W.A., too, led by Gladys Stewart, whose pastry recipe is still used by church members to bake the hundreds of blueberry and apple pies that are sold to the community each year and remain an important fundraising tool for church projects.

“In most cases we either had young children or we were working, and of course, couldn’t go in the daytime, so we went to the evening group,” says Atchison, who kept her job at the Royal Bank even after getting married, making her the first woman in Cloverdale to do so.

“I was told that I was the first woman in Cloverdale that continued to work after I was married. I’ve been told that,” she says, eyes widening. “At that time, they’d think, ‘Oh, a married woman, she won’t be dependable. When, in fact, they’re more dependable.'”

Members of the afternoon group were “great caterers” who were in demand when the Cloverdale Cooperative Association met at Shannon Hall.

“Those were the days when you could bring food to a place. Now we wouldn’t be allowed,” she says, referring to today’s Food Safe rules.

The Evening Women’s Association realized a Cloverdale United Church cook book would be a solid seller.

It turned out to be a lot of work sorting through all the recipes. “I think they were all handwritten. I don’t think anybody even had a typewriter then.”

There were recipes for preserves, relishes, appetizers, casseroles, cakes, breads, meat, fish and poultry. They have fun names like Lazy Housewife Pickles, Never Fail Fudge and Tomato Soup Cake.

The instructions on How to Cook Pheasant begin with a parenthetical aside: “How to use what your husband brings home from a hunting trip.”

Atchison, who would later run a sporting goods store with her husband, provided several recipes of her own, including Nine Day Sweet Pickles, which takes a full nine days to prepare.

She marvels at the time that once went into home cooking and preserving and can’t imagine anyone putting in that much effort today.

“No, we want instant gratification.”

The book also inclu recipes for pies, pastries and cakes – lots of cakes, a reflection of a different era’s tastes and habits.

“I think we’re a lot more health conscious (now). We don’t bake a cake and eat it all in two days.”

The submissions were mailed off to North American Press in Kansas City, MI, which organized and typeset the book. When the books arrived months later there was an error. “Somebody left something out!” The corrected page was added to each copy by hand before the books could be sold to friends and church mates.

A copy has since found its way to the Surrey Archives, where staff think the book was published in the early 1960s, but Atchison disagrees; she says the two women’s associations were amalgamated in 1962, therefore, “It had to be [published] in the late 50s.”

Contributors’ names were included with their recipe – though it’s interesting to note married women were identified with the honorific, “Mrs.,” while single women are credited with just their given and last names.

Atchison muses not as many younger women are joining the women’s church group as once did.

“They’re all working in far more higher intensity jobs, with more responsibility. And their families keep them running to sports somewhere.”

These days, Cloverdale United Church remains focused on community, with a strong emphasis on baking delicious, homemade fruit pies that are made in large groups, necessitating baking bees where dozens of pies are made in batches.

Atchison remains involved, purchasing ingredients and watching for bargains on fruit, but she misses the action in the kitchen.

“[It’s] the fellowship of doing anything with your hands where your mouth can just go!”

She fondly recalls the day there were at least 23 people in the kitchen.

When the phone rang with another sale, the women were all were laughing and chatting so loudly they couldn’t hear it.

“They were having so much fun.”

Follow the Cloverdale Reporter on Twitter and Facebook. View our print edition online.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. (Graeme Roy/The Canadian Press)
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of Oct. 18

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

Ivan Scott. (Aaron Hinks photo)
Surrey mayor enters word war with speakers, councillor

McCallum calls brief recess after asking two speakers to leave chambers

Montreal-based writer Michael Foy grew up in the Newton area of Surrey. (submitted photo)
Surrey-raised writer Foy really loves to set his short stories in the city

His latest is published in ‘Canadian Shorts II’ collection

Signs at a new COVID-19 testing and collection centre at 14577 66th Ave. in Surrey. It was relocated from an urgent primary care centre near Surrey Memorial Hospital. This new centre allows for up to 800 tests per day, which is 550 more than the previous centre, according to Fraser Health. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Surrey’s COVID-19 case count exceeds 1,800

About 800 new cases in September

Brandon Nathan Teixeira, arrested last December in California in connection with a fatal 2017 shooting in South Surrey, is next due in court on Nov. 12. (File photos)
Notorious South Surrey fugitive returns to court Nov. 12

Brandon Teixeira was arrested last December in California

FILE – People wait in line at a COVID-19 testing facility in Burnaby, B.C., on Thursday, August 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
167 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death recorded as B.C. enters 2nd wave

Three new healthcare outbreaks also announced

Maple Meadows Station’s new Bike Parkade. TransLink photo
TransLink to remove abandoned or discarded bicycles from bike parkades

Rules at TransLink bike parkades ask customers to use facilities for single day use only

This 2020 electron microscope image made available by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases shows a Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 particle isolated from a patient, in a laboratory in Fort Detrick, Md. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-NIAID/NIH via AP
At least 49 cases of COVID-19 linked to wedding in Calgary: Alberta Health

McMillan says the city of Calgary has recently seen several outbreaks linked to social gatherings

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

UBC geoscientists discovered the wreckage of a decades-old crash during an expedition on a mountain near Harrison Lake. (Submitted photo)
Wreckage of decades-old plane crash discovered on mountain near Harrison Lake

A team of Sts’ailes Community School students helped discover the twisted metal embedded in a glacier

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

The official search to locate Jordan Naterer was suspended Saturday Oct. 17. Photo courtesy of VPD.
‘I am not leaving without my son,’ says mother of missing Manning Park hiker

Family and friends continue to search for Jordan Naterer, after official efforts suspended

A bear similar to this black bear is believed responsible for killing a llama in Saanich on Oct. 19. (Black Press Media file photo)
Bear kills llama on Vancouver Island, prompting concerns over livestock

Officers could not track the bear they feel may not fear humans

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
RCMP cleared in fatal shooting of armed Lytton man in distress, police watchdog finds

IIO spoke to seven civillian witnesses and 11 police officers in coming to its decision

Most Read