Alabama Recipe Book with "Household Regulations" for Slaves

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[Library Title: Macon County, Alabama, Household and Recipe Book]

Manuscript Location
Virginia Tech
Holding Library Call No.
Manuscript Cookbooks Survey Database ID#
Place of Origin
United States ➔ Alabama
Date of Composition
1858-ca. 1900
This book is written in a notebook containing approximately 215 ruled pages, most of which are blank after around page 130. The entries are written in a number of different hands, some in pencil and some in ink. Other than a few recipes for hair dye and hair tonic, the recipes are culinary, focusing primarily on cakes, pastry, puddings, and desserts of various kinds. The chief interest of the book, however, is not the recipes but the 21 pages of "household regulations" with which the book opens. These regulations, dated May 10, 1858, spell out in detail the duties of eight house slaves, all identified by their given names. This material makes sad but riveting reading.

The thirty or so pages of recipes that follow the regulations, most of which are written in one hand, possibly the hand of the regulations, could all have been written around 1858. The remainder of the book is of the 1880s or later. Recipes viewable on digital pages 53, 55, and beyond call for cake yeast, an invention of the early 1880s. A recipe on page 103 calls for "Knox gelatin," which came onto the market in 1889. Subsequent recipes for mayonnaise, white sauce, "cooked dressing," chicken a la king, Newburg, and upside-down cake are all likely of 1890s or later.