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What's in a cookbook? Culinary sleuths preserve our culture, our history | Under Rocks podcast

Susan Stephens

The Culinary Historians of Northern Illinois are preserving our stories, recipes, and community cookbooks -– and putting it all into a bigger societal context. Join WNIJ’s Under Rocks team as we take a deep dive into grandma’s recipe box and serve up a big slice of chocolate kraut cake. Your ideas are welcome at rocks@niu.edu!

When you think about history, you're probably thinking about war, world-changing technologies, political movements… But how about food? The Culinary Historians of Northern Illinois are preserving stories and recipes, and recently donated a collection of community cookbooks to the regional archives at Northern Illinois University. WNIJ’s Under Rocks team got the story from Culinary Historians co-founders Gerry Rounds and Bruce Kraig.

Chocolate Kraut Cake - recipe.jpeg
Gerry Rounds
Recipes submitted to the Culinary Historians of Northern Illinois

Want to help? The culinary historians donated a community cookbook that was at least 50 years old from every county in Illinois except Carroll and Mercer. Check your bookshelves! You can also submit your own family recipe to their archive on their website.

We also share a slice of kraut cake and a cup of coffee with Brad Wiles, the head of Northern Illinois University's Special Collections and Archives.

kraut cake
Susan Stephens
The Chocolate Kraut Cake, with sour buttercream frosting

Thanks to this episode's guests, Gerry, Bruce, and Brad. Your hosts are Dan Libman, Spencer Tritt, and Susan Stephens. Special thanks to sauerkraut wrangler/sous chef Austin Cliffe. If you have an idea for a future Under Rocks podcast, hit us up at rocks@niu.edu or wnij.org/youask.

Under Rocks is produced in the WNIJ studios at Northern Illinois University.

Susan is an award-winning reporter/writer at her favorite radio station. She's also WNIJ's Perspectives editor, Under Rocks contributor, and local host of All Things Considered.
Spencer's creativity shows up in a variety of spaces on-air and online for WNIJ. He graduated from Northern Illinois University with a degree in Communications and Digital Media Production. Spencer's interest in multimedia comes from a mix of his love for arts and music with an interest in technology.
Dan Libman is an author, teacher, correspondent, and adventurous host of the WNIJ podcast Under Rocks.