A cookbook, or a sketchbook? According to Miss Caldwell - both! We call this manuscript recipe book, ‘Miss Caldwell’s Book’, due to the ownership markings found in the back of the book (you can see it on the above picture). Dated around 1757-1790, this cookbook contains numerous doodles along with beautifully written recipes for a wide variety of foods, including pies, puddings, pastries, soups, meat and fish dishes, home-made wines, and more! Some of the more interesting recipes include arty-choak pye, a neats tongue pye, almond flummery, an eell soop, whipp sillybub, and a sturgeon of a turkey. Yum?
This manuscript is from South Hampton, England, and is bound with vellum boards. You can view the entire cookbook on the Iowa Digital Library here!
I ran out of time to make tea this morning!!! So instead I decided to check out what books we have on tea in our Chef Louis Szathmary Culinary collection as a substitute for my morning beverage. Hence, I found this beauty!
Printed in Dublin in 1772, John Coakley Lettsom’s work The Natural History of the Tea-Tree includes a lovely hand colored diagram of a tea tree. The diagram documents all of the plant’s parts including the early stages of its life cycle at the bottom. Lettsom’s book covers the botanical aspects of the tea tree in the first half and looks at the history of drinking tea in the second half. I like that that the leather binding has been treated to produce a marbled effect. Reminds me of tree bark!
Cookbooks, we have found, are among the most heavily annotated modern books. Previous owners often modified recipes, made comments on their favorite (or least favorite) entries, or left food stains behind
– sure signs of (repeated) use!
Notes in cookbooks are often very personal, revealing a great deal about the tastes of the former owner
– but they can also add to our understanding of a work by expanding on the printed text. Such is the case with our 1880 edition of Cooking and Castle-Buildingby Emma P. Ewing.
An anonymous former owner has left copious marginal notes throughout the work, referring several times to a cooking class the author gave in Cleveland in 1891. Based on Mrs. Ewing’s comments in the class, 11 years after the original publication date of this work, our annotator has altered some of the printed recipes and added a few new ones in the back.
On Mrs. Ewing’s omelets, our anonymous annotator has the following to say:
*Mrs. Ewing now mixes the cream with the eggs before putting them over the fire. In her class, she used 2 eggs, 3 teaspoons cold water, & put into the omelet pan 1
½ teaspoons melted butter. Keep pushing the egg toward centre of pan, & lift with a
fork at edges.
The commentary also references other knowledgeable cooking teachers:
*Mrs. Rorer says: Give the eggs 12 or 15 beats – not more –
& says: to each egg take 1 tablespoon boiling water – she says milk makes a
tough omelet – she says: run a limber knife under while cooking, & says: sprinkle
on the salt & pepper when ready to fold over.
Regarding the printed recipe for fried oysters, our annotator has some additional updates straight from the author herself:
*Mrs. Ewing now
directs, (as I heard her say in one of her cooking classes) to use, in
frying in this way, a small quantity of fat, equal parts of lard & clarified
butter. She also now directs to merely
drain the oysters, & not to lay them on a towel as the towel absorbs
moisture from the oysters themselves. She mixes 1 tablespoon water or milk with
the egg for rolling the oysters.
And toward the back of the book (on hand-numbered pages), Mrs. Ewing’s student has recorded an alternate version of the author’s recipe for scalloped oysters, given in her 1891 cooking class:
Receipt given by Mrs. Ewing in her cooking class, Cleveland, 1891.
She said, “I learned this method twenty years ago in Maryland, where they know how to cook oysters. Since then I have always been looking for a better method, but have never found one.”
Take fine oysters, wash and drain them. Prepare bread crumbs in this manner: Take bread three or four days old (not dry enough to grate)
take two pieces in your hands, and rub them together, making crumbs somewhat like those obtained by grating
reject the crusts, which may be otherwise utilized, especially in a delicious apple-pudding.
To a half-pint of these crumbs, add a seasoning of salt & pepper
– seasoning more highly than one would choose to do if they were to be eaten by themselves
and three tablespoonfuls of melted butter. Butter small individual scallop dishes of fire-proof ware (or a larger dish not very deep), sprinkle in a layer of crumbs, then put in a layer of drained oysters, then another layer of crumbs followed by a second layer of oysters; finally, a layer of crumbs.
Remember that the deliciousness of this dish depends very greatly upon an observance of these directions – using two layers only of oysters in a dish. In this case, they cook very quickly, requiring only 15 minutes in the oven (if in a large dish, from 15 to 20 minutes).
The oysters will be moist, plump & delicious. Do not substitute cracker crumbs for bread, or the dish will not be so delicious.
This is a great example of how notes left behind by past owners can really add something of value to a printed work, especially an old cookbook. How lucky we are to have this annotated copy on our shelves rather than a clean, unmarked version of the same work!
Chop Sizzle Wow – A delightful cookbook and comic mash-up that offers 50 basic Italian recipes
Chop Sizzle Wow: The Silver Spoon Comic Cookbook by The Silver Spoon Kitchen
2014, 104 pages, 8.8 x 11.8 x 0.6 inches (flexibound)
$15 Buy a copy on Amazon
The name Chop Sizzle Wow sounds vaguely like a Japanese cooking show, so I was surprised to discover that this delightful cookery and comix mash-up is actually derived from a classic 1950 Italian cookbook called Il Cucchiaio d’Argento, or The Silver Spoon. That grand work had 2,000 recipes, boiled down here to a svelte “50 step-by-step kitchen adventures.”
This large-format cookbook is categorized into the usual suspects: appetizers, pasta, main courses, and desserts & baking. But the main difference from most cookbooks is that each recipe is presented in a page or two of sequential art. It’s Mario Batali for the Marvel and DC crowd – or for anyone who learns best from visual aids. The illustrations, though, are less superhero and more quaintly utilitarian. These aren’t the gorgeously rendered drawings in Cooks Illustrated, but they do the trick and fit the format. Aside from the occasional size relativity issue, it’s quite clear what each of the illustrations is portraying, and they make it easy to envision the dish from start to finish. In an age of effortless photography, one has to marvel at the time taken to put each of these little drawings on paper.
The recipes are quite basic as well. Each set of ingredients is depicted at the top of the page and is a good reminder that tasty, wholesome food can be made with few ingredients and basic methods. There’s no molecular gastronomy here to scare off the kitchen first-timers. Kids will no doubt enjoy learning with this book, and the slick splatter-resistant cover will keep the book looking good when they do. Further informational gems reside in the introduction and the back of the book: recipe notes, techniques in detail, glossary, index, and menu ideas. Will you like this book as much as I do? I cannoli hope so.
– Aaron Downey
In 1776, the American colonies declared independence from
Britain. But it wasn’t until 1796 that someone dared to tackle a question that
would plague every generation of Americans to come: “What is American
the very first American cookbook, was written by Amelia Simmons. In it, she
promised a kind of socioculinary equality and showed off indigenous foods,
including the makings of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Even in using more
familiar ingredients, American Cookery
sometimes reads like a guide to new American idioms: molasses rather than
British treacle, and emptins
[emptyings] instead of ale yeast. It includes an early sighting of
“shortening” and the “Indian slapjack” that became the
flapjack of today.
But for all this, the book was still deeply British.
Mother’s Day is this Sunday, and we’ve selected a few books your mama might appreciate. From horror master Shirley Jackson’s reflections on the absurdity of motherhood to a cookbook she might actually enjoy to a collection of essays that celebrate the diversity and importance of motherhood to some books she might like, well, just because, we’ve got you covered.