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This book holds recipes of old and now offers a glimpse at how life used to be.


“The art of cookery is every day receiving increased attention, and no wonder.  Life is made all the brighter by satisfactory feeding; and he is a dull philosopher who despises a good dinner,” wrote Mrs. Grace Townsend in 1891 as part of an Introduction to the book ‘DINING ROOM AND KITCHEN.”  Published by the Monarch Book Co. as “An Economical Guide in PRACTICAL HOUSEKEEPING for the AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE,” the book contains 527 pages of the 19th century’s “Choicest Tried and Approved Cookery Recipes.”

The recipes begin with the “SOUPS.” The reader is told: “Soup, nourishing, but simple, should form the first course at every dinner.” The list of ingredients indicate that preparation of family size meals is intended as in the listing for Mutton Soup or Mutton Broth which both begin with “six pounds neck mutton.”

After 41 pages of soup, the recipes move on to “FISH, FROGS AND EELS.”  The preparation of SHELL FISH is next under the heading: “OYSTERS, CRABS, LOBSTERS, CLAMS, SHRIMPS AND TURTLES.” At page 67, “POULTRY AND GAME” recipes appear with the following admonition: “A fowl to be stewed should be dropped in cold water; this extracts the juices and renders the gravy richer. To be boiled whole and preserve the juices, it should be put in boiling water. A lump of charcoal put inside the dressed fowl will preserve it fresh. Packers would do well to remember this.”

“MEATS AND SUITABLE SAUCES” start on page 92.  The reader is told, “Bread is well termed the staff of life” on page 126.  The recipes continue with “DAINTY BREAKFAST DISHES, TOASTS AND MUSHES” beginning on page 154.  The next topic is “EGGS.”  “To ascertain the freshness of an egg without breaking it, hold it before a strong light or toward the sun, and if the yolk appears round, and the white surrounding it clear, the chances are it is good.”  An alternative test follows: “Or put them in a bucket of water; the fresh ones will sink immediately, those that float are doubtful.”

Categories of recipes continue with “VEGETABLES” – page 168 and “SALADS” at page 193.  Housewives were told on page 200: “CAKE MAKING AN ART.”  Author Townsend wrote: “This branch of cooking above all others demands care, and it is invariably true that a good cake maker is a success, at whatever branch of cooking she undertakes.” The dessert section continues with “SAUCES FOR PUDDINGS AND DUMPLINGS” and “DAINTY DISHES FOR DESSERTS” ending on page 320.

Another set of recipes is titled “WATER ICES AND SHERBETS, PICKLES, SPICED FRUIT AND VINEGARS, CANNED AND DRIED FRUITS,” plus “PRESERVES, JELLIES, ETC.”  The category ends on page 386.  Readers are also told about making “CATSUPS and CANDIES.”  At page 396 under the heading of “FRAGMENTS,” the text reads: “Before concluding our ‘Cook Book’ proper, we feel it would be incomplete without containing a few suggestions relative to using up remnants from the table, and odds and ends accumulated in cooking.”

The cookbook continues with “LUNCHES, PICNICS AND PARTIES,” followed by “SANDWICHES” and “FOOD FOR INVALIDS.”  The last section of the book deals with “CARVING” and “BILLS OF FARE” including a section with suggestions on what to cook when seasonal ingredients are available. 

Housewives were also told about housekeeping focused on “THE DINING ROOM with TABLE ARRANGEMENTS, the NURSERY, KITCHEN AND LAUNDRY.”  A daily routine for house cleaning suggests: “On Monday, wash; Tuesday, iron; Wednesday, bake and scrub kitchen and pantry; Thursday, clean the silverware, examine the pots and kettles, and look after the store room and cellar; Friday, devote to general sweeping and dusting; Saturday, bake and scrub kitchen and pantry floors, and prepare for Sunday.”

Interesting features of the cookbook are suggested menus for holidays, for persons who are ill and for daily dining. A “MENU FOR ONE WEEK BY COURSE” reads as follows:

SUNDAY – Breakfast: Baked beans with pork and Boston brown bread, omelet.  Dinner: Roast turkey potatoes, canned corn, plum jelly, young lettuce broken up (not cut), heaped lightly in a dish and ornamented with sliced eggs; Charlotte russe, jelly and sponge cake.  Supper: Cold turkey. Cranberry jelly, canned fruit, jam and cake. 

MONDAY. – Breakfast: Graham bread, broiled bacon, fried potatoes; Dinner: Boiled corn beef with horseradish sauce, whole boiled potatoes and turnips, slaw; hot apple pie with whipped cream, oranges and cake.  Supper: Toasted Graham bread, cold corned beef sliced, grape jelly, hot buns.  

TUESDAY. – Breakfast: buttered toast, pork chops broiled, hominy grits. Dinner: Tomato soup, pigeon pie, creamed potatoes, canned corn or beans, pickles; steamed pudding with sauce, almonds, raisins. Supper: Plain bread, sardines with lemon, light coffee cake or sweet buns and jam.

WEDNESDAY – Breakfast: Sally Lunn creamed codfish, fried raw potatoes, scrambled eggs. Dinner: Pigeon pie, grape jelly, new potatoes, tomato salad; delicious lemon pudding, cake. Supper: Toasted Sally Lunn, cold pressed meat, vanities with jelly.” (Sally Lunn is a type of bread, a recipe for which is included in the cookbook.)  Mrs. Townsend states: “The cake should be torn apart, not cut; cutting with a knife makes warm bread heavy.  Bake a light brown.  The cake is frequently seen on Southern tables.” 

THURSDAY – Breakfast: Oranges, corn batter cakes, broiled liver, scrambled eggs.  Dinner: Roast beef, mashed potatoes, beets, cress salad, plain boiled rice with cream.  Supper: Plain bread, Bologna sausage, rusk with berries.”  (A rusk is another type of bread with a recipe in the cookbook.)

FRIDAY – Breakfast: Muffins, broiled beefsteak, poached eggs, potatoes in Kentucky style.  Dinner: Baked or broiled fish (if large, or fried if small fish), boiled potatoes in jackets, lettuce salad, custard pie.  Supper: Toasted muffins, cold rusk with strawberries or marmalade.” (Editor’s note:  The cookbook lacks a recipe for Kentucky style potatoes.)

SATURDAY – Breakfast:  Cream toast, fried ham, potato cakes, stewed tomatoes.  Dinner: Roast leg of mutton with potatoes, green corn, tomatoes, muskmelon.  Supper: Plain bread, dried beef frizzled, boiled rice with cream, blanc mange, jelly, cake.”

(Installment III of Campbell’s Collection of Books will review “The RUMFORD COMPLETE COOK BOOK” published in 1929.)