The goal of every Junior League is to awaken its members to the community in which they live, to provide avenues and training for volunteer service, and to encourage lifelong participation in community affairs.

The statement above appears in the forward of the Houston Junior League Cook Book: Favorite Recipes, which was published in 1968. That goal has basically remained the same since 1901, when nineteen-year-old Mary Harriman founded the first Junior League in New York City. The socially prominent young woman enlisted volunteers to work in settlement houses on New York’s Lower East Side to improve the nutrition, literacy, and health of children from families in need. A young Eleanor Roosevelt joined the Junior League of the City of New York in 1903. The nineteen-year-old taught dance to young girls.

Through the years, other cities created their own chapters, and in 1921 thirty Junior Leagues formed what is now known as the Association of Junior Leagues International. In the forties, Oveta Culp Hobby, a member of the Junior League of Houston, led the Women’s Army Corps. In the sixties and seventies the Leagues continued to increase membership diversity and develop programs in education and housing. In the eighties Sandra Day O’Connor, a member of the Junior League of Phoenix, became the first woman Supreme Court Justice. By the nineties, the Leagues boasted 295 chapters and a membership of more than 193,000 women.

Today, the service, volunteerism, and outreach continues. One way a chapter raises money is through the proceeds from its cookbooks. New brides, socialites, and ladies who lunch know that Junior League cookbooks are some of the best on the market and a must for entertaining. The Houston Junior League Cook Book is no different, providing a wide range of edibles from Orange Sherbet Salad and Yankee Barbecued Spareribs to Fire Hot Grits and Mother’s Creamy New Orleans Pralines. The most interesting aspect of this book, however, is the list of helpful hints at the beginning of each chapter. Surely, you will find them useful (and delightful) too.

To clear cloudy tea: Add a little boiling water and the clear amber color will return. Never refrigerate hot brewed tea, for the refrigerator may cause it to cloud, although its flavor will not be impaired.

If soup is too salty: Add half of a peeled raw potato. If still too salty, add the other half.

To peel oranges and grapefruits: Place fruit in hot water for 5 minutes, then peel and section. Using this method, no membranes adhere to segments.

In selecting fish, a fresh fish has clear, bright and full eyes; bright pink gills; and firm, elastic flesh.

Cutting Bread: To cut very fresh bread, use a heated knife. (Dip knife in very hot water; dry quickly. Keep knife hot and dry.)

To prevent candy from boiling over, butter the inside top rim of pot.

Baking Cakes: To measure pans, measure from one inside edge to the other. (Mark dimensions on bottom of pans with nail polish.)