SPRINGFIELD - It's almost as if the "A. Lincoln Cookbook" has a life of its own.
The tome is not just a cookbook, but it also includes a DVD postcard of the photographs and displays in the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum here. The face of the DVD replicates a Limoges china dinner plate. That is the design Mary Todd Lincoln opted to use at state functions in the White House.
The DVD came about after the planned dividers for the cookbook sections changed, said Linda Bee, volunteer services department manager at the museum. Cookbook dividers were changed to photographs more associated with food, cooking and entertaining.
"Then (the cookbook) started to take on a different flavor and it became more elegant than we ever expected it to be."
The cookbook is in a national competition as one of the 10 finalists in the Morris Cookbook Company's 10th Community Cookbook Awards.
"The book even has its own Facebook page," Bee said.
It's in the historic section, at the front of the cookbook, where recipes from the Lincoln family and its descendants can be found.
"We found items related to Mary (Todd Lincoln) and Mary Harlan Lincoln, Robert Todd's wife, never published before," Bee said.
One of the those volunteers active in the book's production was Barbara Archer, who said some of the vintage recipes are from descendants of those who knew Lincoln or from the ones used at state historic sites. Many of those recipes were written in the language of the time rather than as recipes usually are found now. So the veteran hearth cook converted, as well as tested, many of the recipes herself.
For example, a recipe might have called for a lump of butter the size of a pea hen's egg or a lump of any other size bird's egg, she said. And when it came to flour, she said, "You don't just use the flour; you sift it five times to make it lighter.
"We tested and tested until we thought the staff was going to gain weight," Archer continued. But the volunteers and staff were very good about being honest in their assessment of a recipe, she added.
Another volunteer, Mary Jo Mattern-Jenkins, said she was on the committee that typed, edited, tested and promoted, adding that there was a great deal of research that went into the book.
"We had fun doing this," Bee said. "These gals and guys (the volunteers) are great cooks.
"We had a lot of contributors for the recipes, mostly volunteers and a few staff recipes."
Depending how the recipes are counted, they number in the high 600s, she said. And the book was in hand by October 2008, as planned, she added.
"We had the most wonderful tasting party," she continued. "We put things (from the book) out in little samples. It was a great opening for this cookbook.
"To date, we've sold about 3,500 books," she added. Proceeds benefit the volunteer services department at the library and museum.