The Ladies’ Village Improvement Society Cookbook, 100 Recipes Just in Time

By Richard Lewin - July 22, 2020

According to Article II of the Constitution of the LVIS of East Hampton, the purposes for which the Society was formed in 1895 include maintaining historical landmarks, ponds, parks, trees and supporting charitable causes in East Hampton Village. Although not written in the Constitution, the lady members have always shared something else — their enthusiasm in the kitchen, and their recipes, with the community through regular (13 editions since 1896) publication of an LVIS Cookbook (“cook book” in early days).

When LVIS former President Anne Perkerson Thomas, (the late) Bonnie Krupinski, Barbara Lambert and Mary Talley got together in 2016 to plan a special 125th Anniversary edition of the LVIS Cookbook, they had no idea how timely its release would be in April 2020. With dining out severely curtailed because of current pandemic rules, the home kitchen has become the Family’s center of creativity and activity for many of us.

The challenge in creating the latest LVIS Cookbook was how to blend the traditional feeling with a modern design and ingredients.

A great deal has changed since the first edition, but a lot has not. Farm stands and farmers markets are in every village these days, but were rare back when. Many remember Pat Struk’s Amagansett Farmers Market opening in 1954, and fast becoming a destination location for home chefs who wanted the freshest local ingredients. Recipe styles have also changed. Today’s recipes contain ingredient lists with specific measured quantities, while the early cookbooks recommended “a teacup of sherry” or “butter the size of a walnut”.

It was decided that 100 recipes would be gathered for the current edition. LVIS Members were asked to share their personal favorite along with an accompanying story about its creation. To give it star power, the Cookbook Committee approached Florence Fabricant, food and wine writer for The New York Times to write the text. Florence, an East Hampton resident, author of twelve cookbooks of her own, and a passionate supporter of our local bountiful fresh harvest, was more than thrilled to take the job.

Village resident Martha Stewart was asked to participate, agreeing to write the book’s Foreword and to offer her recipe for “Double Diablo Chocolate Cake”. In an effort to appeal to a broader readership, East Hampton celebrity residents including Christie Brinkley, Ralph and Ricky Lauren, Hilaria Baldwin, Laurie Anderson and more, were asked to divulge their favorite recipes. Besides these familiar names, Executive Chefs from top shelf local restaurants including Nick & Toni’s, The 1770 House, Almond, The Palm were eager to share the secrets of making their signature dishes.

Although COVID-19 has caused the postponement of this year’s highly anticipated 125th Anniversary LVIS Fair, “The Ladies’ Village Improvement Society Cookbook: Eating and Entertaining in East Hampton” is a perfect symbolic substitute. As Anne P. Thomas reminds us, the book makes a perfect gift, better than a bottle of wine “because it lasts longer and doesn’t need a corkscrew to open”.


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