The good housekeeper : or, The way to live well and to be well while we live : containing directions for choosing and preparing food, in regard to health, economy and taste
- In Collections
Feeding America: the Historic American Cookbook Project
- Copyright Status
- No Copyright
- Material Type
- xi, 132 pages
The introductory texts reproduced here were written by the original Feeding America team to contextualize the books that were selected for inclusion as part of the 2001 digitization project.
The Good Housekeeper, or The Way to Live Well and to Be Well While We Live.
By Sarah Josepha Buell Hale
Boston: Weeks, Jordan & Company, 1839.
In Sarah Josepha Hale, we have another remarkable and influential 19th century American woman. As the 40-year editor of Godey's Lady's Book, one of the most successful and often imitated 19th century women's magazines, she was the arbiter of national taste.
Busy as she was, she still found time to write prolifically. She authored novels, poems, short stories, essays, plays, children's books, etiquette manuals and cookbooks and edited anthologies and the collected letters of famous people. Hale authored a number of cookbooks which were published in more than thirty editions and printings in America, and were also published in England.
We have selected two of her works to represent her contribution. In addition to this volume, see her The Ladies' New Book of Cookery (1852).
This is the first edition of her first cookbook. When Mrs. Hale wrote The Good Housekeeper in 1939, the number of original American cookbooks published was quite small, fewer than thirty. She felt there was a need for a new American cookbook, following certain principles. She explains that those who wanted to learn the art of "good living" could turn to Dr. William Kitchiner's Cook's Oracle while those who wanted to learn about "cheap living" could consult Lydia Maria Child's Frugal Housewife. Mrs. Hale's aim was to "select and combine the excellence of these two systems, at the same time keeping in view the important object of preserving health and thus teach how to live well, and to be well while we live."
The author fulfills her aim in this volume. It is full of information about cooking and health and economy, yet it also takes pains to be concerned with taste and comfort. Many of the recipes offer personal, savory touches that result in delicious dishes. The Rich Apple Pudding, the Squash Pie, the Heart Cakes and the Cream Short Cakes would honor any table.
Not all of the recipes, of course, can be followed by the modern cook. Few might want to make the Mock Turtle Soup, but the Old Peas Soup is easily accomplished. The author's discussion of the role of bread in family life and her vindication of meat-eating make intriguing reading today.
In her first book, the novel Northwood, Mrs. Hale describes a "good and true Yankee Thanksgiving." Recipes for each dish mentioned in this ideal and succulent dinner can be found in this historic American cookbook. Read this book for its recipes, of course, but also savor it as a slice of American history - a picture of a woman and a world.