Michigan State University

Introductory Essay

The New England Economical Housekeeper, and Family Receipt Book.
Cincinatti: H.W. Derby, 1845.

This volume represents both a regional cookbook - New England - and one devoted to economy and frugality. This latter aspect was very common in early American cookbooks.

See for example:

Mrs. Howland's book was very popular; it was in print for at least 45 years, with variant titles, editions and revisions. More than half the book consists of recipes; the remainder covers medicinal, household and morality items.

Among the latter are A Hint for the Working Class, which is a tale of thrift. It begins, "If a man, twenty-one years of age, begin to save a dollar a week, and put it to interest every year, he would have, at thirty-one years of age, six hundred and fifty dollars...and at seventy-one, eleven thousand five hundred dollars."

The recipes are simply and, comparatively, well written. The Wisconsin Loaf Bread, Caraway Cake, Soft Gingerbread, very nice, No. 5, and the Apple Pancakes all would be interesting to taste. There are 50 recipes for puddings.

The Medicinal Department offers cures and helpful suggestions for treating a wide variety of ailments and problems from Asthma to Whooping-Cough. Household hints discuss how to make boots waterproof, how to remove flies from a room, how to make good black ink, how to make soft soap and how to prevent the gate from creaking, among many others.