09 September 2009

Domestic Cookery

Domestic Cookery is a very old American cookbook. First published in 1845, my copy dates about ten years later. It followed an early tradition of combining receipts, home remedies, and household elixirs in a single volume. In one book you get recipes for oysters, tomatoes, and custard. You also get recipes for boot blacking, mending china with milk and cleaning kid gloves. And finally, you get a recipe to cure lock-jaw, warts and cramps.

And there is advice for the new housewife. Again, it the mid 1800’s, and the women who are buying cookery books have considerable disposable income. Mrs. Lea writes,

“When your circumstance permit, a good manservant is a valuable acquisition; and they are sometimes more easily governed than females.
If mistresses were better informed, they would not complain so much of the ignorance and awkwardness of their domestics. Always give them their orders in time. If a new dish is to be cooked, superintend its preparation yourself.
If you are capable of directing, a cook will soon learn to do without your constant attention.”

Get the cook working on a batch of these.

Crisp Ginger-cake

Take three pounds of flour, one of sugar, and one of butter; mix these together with three table-spoonsfull of ginger, some cloves and aniseseed, and wet it with molasses; roll it thin; cut it in shapes, and bake with a quick heat.

If she has never attempted Crisp Ginger-cakes before, do superintend. Then, go out and find yourself a manservant, as I hear they are quite handy.

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