Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Another old Cookbook - 'The Young Housekeepers Friend'

I have told you all before that I have an absolute obsession with cookbooks....old, new, big, small...if there is a recipe in it I will read it!  I came across an AMAZING find in an old box of assorted books that someone (my Mom probably) got in a yard sale or auction or something. The book I am speaking of is called 'The Young Housekeepers Friend' by Mrs Cornelius  (yes back in 1859 the Mrs was all she needed...no first name.)  The recipes (or as they were called then, receipts, are mixed in with bits of wisdom and 'counsels' that Mrs Cornelius felt that every young woman should know who is of "neither poverty nor riches".
What I find funny when I read this book is how even that far back in our culture...the older generation felt then as is often said now(okay not in the same way of course but you get my meaning).... "young ladies whose intellectual attainments are of high order, are profoundly ignorant of the duties which all acknowledge are particular to woman. Consequently many have to learn after marriage how to care for a family.............thus their housekeeping is little else but a series of experiments; often unsuccessful resulting in mortification and discomfort in the parlor, and waste and ill temper in the kitchen."

Well.....tell me what you really think Mrs Cornelius!

She states that "many a day laborer, on his return in the evening from his hard toil is repelled my a disorderly house, or a comfortless supper. He is met with a cold eye instead of the thriftie wifie smile and thus escapes to the grog shop."      
Here is her list of womanly virtues:
Energy, industry, economy, order, skill, vigilance, cheerfulness, kindness, charity, discretion, and the fear of God
Not a half bad list really....she says these have and will always be true...and frankly I tend to believe her...I definately see that I am seriously lacking on a fair share of these virtues and that is not good at all.  I really should work on being more virtueous....maybe later...when I have more time.....

Her advice about not exciting your "domestics" when company comes as they will imagine the additional work much greater than it is ......well now, I have no domestics but I do have kids and I am sure that the theory will still apply.

Mrs Cornelius has advice on many housekeeping topics as well as manners and 'keeping your husband happy with a happy organized household'.  Mostly though, the book is filled with 'receipts' for everything from toothpaste, to soap, to bread, to beer! The items called for in the recipes are often odd or no longer available..and the measurments are questionable at best but I enjoyed reading them and thought you all might too....so here is a tiny sample of Mrs Cornelius's receipts - I hope you enjoy as much as I did!

Sally Lunn
A quart of flour, a piece of butter the size of an egg, 3 tablespoon fulls of sugar, 2 teacups of milk,2 teaspoons of cream of tarter, 1 teaspoon of saleratus, a dash of salt.  To mix, scatter cream of tarter salt and sugar into the flour. add eggs without beating, add the butter -melted- and 1 cup of milk. disolve the saleratus in the 2nd cup then stir all together. Bake in 3 pans the size of a breakfast plate for 15 or 20 minutes.

Snow Fritters
Stir together milk, flour and a dash of salt to make a rather thick batter. Add new fallen snow in proportion of 1 teacup full to a pint of milk. Have fat hot and ready when you stir in the snow, drop batter into hot fat with a spoon...these pancakes are preferred to those made with egg.

Calf's foot broth -for the sick and infirm
boil 2 feet in 3 quarts of water util wasted to 3 pints. Strain and set aside to cool.  when cold remove fat. Heat as needed and salt,nutmeg(if tolerated) and a tot of good wine

Wine Whey - to restore one who is ill
To a pint of milk add 2 glasses of winemix and let stand 12 minutes. strain through a muslin bag sweeten with loaf sugar

Tooth Powder
2 ounces of peruvian bark, 2 of myrrh, one of chalk, 1 of Armenian bole, and 1 of orris root

Maple Beer
to 4 gallons of boiling water add 1 quart of maple syrup and a small tablespoon ful of essence of spruce. When it cools to 'milk warm' add a pint of yeast...when fermented bottle it. wait 3 days before drinking

Syrup of Cream
to a pint of fresh cream, put 1 pound and a quarter of loaf sugar. boil it in an earthen pot; pour it into a basin and let stand until cold. Then put in phial and cork closed. This will keep several weeks and is conveniient to carry to sea.


  1. Had to share on FB - Love old cookbooks, too. I always keep an open eye for them when the hubby and I are antique shopping. Love the posts, Kelly - keep up the good work! ~VK

  2. This book is referenced in Little Women, a favorite book of one of my friends. My friend is graduating from college in May and I'd love to find an old copy. If you happen to run across another, I'd love to find out somehow!

  3. This book is referenced in Little Women, a favorite book of one of my friends. My friend is graduating from college in May and I'd love to find an old copy. If you happen to run across another, I'd love to find out somehow!

  4. Wow, I did not realize that! Now I will have to go back and re-read Little Women. I will keep my eye out.


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