American Cookbook, 1840s

View Online
[Library Title: American cookbook, 1930s?]

Manuscript Location
University of Iowa Main Library, Special Collections, Szathmary Culinary Archive
Manuscript Cookbooks Survey Database ID#
Place of Origin
United States
Date of Composition
likely 1840s
This 20-page cookbook likely dates to the 1840s, for it includes two recipes (baked beans and pumpkin pie) copied from Mrs. A. L. Webster's "The Improved Housewife," first published in 1842, and it relies on the chemical leavening salaeratus, which first came into use around 1835 and was superseded by other "baking sodas" by the early 1850s. Also arguing for a date of the 1840s, and not later, is the fact the cooking is done at the hearth, the ducks on page 5 roasted on a spit before a fire, the clam chowder on page 8 cooked in a Dutch oven in the fireplace. Various references mark the book as definitively antebellum. Recipes call for walnut catsup (page 4) and mushroom catsup (page 8), fried oysters are recommended as a garnish for "calves' head" (page 4), "melted butter" of a very early sort is used as an all-purpose sauce (page 6), and waffles are made from a batter similar to that of Yorkshire pudding, without either yeast or chemical leavening (page 14). (The library presumably dated this cookbook to the 1930s on the basis of a laid-in recipe, which is written on stationery whose letterhead bids fair to be of the twentieth century.) Recipes include: White Apple Sauce, Terrapins, Butter Biscuit, Clam Pancakes, To Fry oysters, Oyster Pie, Roast Ducks, Terrapins, To draw or melt butter, Drawn Butter, Gravy for Ducks, Chowder, Fruit pies in Variety, Common Chicken Pie, Sugar dough nuts, French rolls no. 1, French Rolls no. 2, Crackers, Buckwheat Cakes, Green corn Cakes, Waffles, Floating Island, Boston Baked Beans, Salsify or Vegetable Oyster, Good Family Apple Sauce, Plain Baked Bread Pudding, Cherry or Damson Pudding, Baked Rice Pudding with Eggs, Mock Oysters of Green Corn, Rhubarb Pie. Laid in is a Recipe on the stationery of Mrs. William Henry Tortter of Philadelphia, for Caramel Pudding. The recipe for terrapin (stewed turtle) is noteworthy. Unlike many manuscript recipes for this complicated (and gory) dish, which give the impression of having been merely copied but never tried, this recipe states, "Our cook has been in the habit of putting in a very little mace and large tablespoonful of mustard" (page 2).