Miss Beecher's domestic receipt book : designed as a supplement to her treatise on domestic economy
- In Collections
Feeding America: the Historic American Cookbook Project
- Copyright Status
- No Copyright
- Material Type
- xiii, 306 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.
Miss Beecher's Domestic Receipt Book: Designed As A Supplement To Her Treatise On Domestic Economy.
By Catharine Esther Beecher
New York: Harper, 1850, c1846.
Catharine Beecher is another of the great and influential ladies of 19th century American culinary history. This volume was her most important cookbook. It was most successful, with at least 25 printings in 25 years.
Miss Beecher was a pioneer educator and home economist with a lifelong commitment to solving women's problems through education. To this end, in 1841 she published her A Treatise on Domestic Economy, which dealt with homemaking.
This was followed, in 1846, with a supplementary volume on cookery, the one under discussion: Miss Beecher's Domestic Receipt-Book. These two volumes, in varying editions and titles, were sold door-to-door in every state of the Union and remained very popular until 1869, when they were re-issued in a much revised single volume The American Woman's Home which she co-authored with her sister Harriet Beecher Stowe.
Additional books containing all or some parts of these books continued to be issued under varying titles for another decade. These works were the first of many that would have a major impact on American life and society, and especially on the role of women.
Beecher tells us in her preface that this is an original (emphasis, hers) collection of receipts, all tested by superior housekeepers and "warranted to be the best." She indicates that all the recipes are written in "short, simple and perspicuous language" and can be used by any domestic who can read. Note that many of the recipes use specific, level measurements. Also note that Miss B is generous in thanking the many people who helped her and often attributes a recipe to a specific contributor. Her wide travels and correspondence are reflected in the number of recipes and advice from all regions of the United States.
She tells us that this book, along with its earlier companion, Domestic Economy, was written specifically for the American housewife and not copied from the English books on homemaking being printed in America for houses with "plenty of money and well-trained servants." The American housewife needed more practical advice.
There are two hundred or so pages of detailed recipes. These include dishes for every course and every possible occasion, both for the family and for guests. A chapter "On the Preparation of Hashes, Gravies and Sauces" reminds us that there is to be no waste in these kitchens. All leftovers were to be used, always remembering Miss B's adage that "there is nothing worse for the health, or for the palate, than a poor hash, while a good hash is not only a favorite dish in most families, but an essential article of economy and convenience."
The chapter on "Breakfast and Tea Cakes" is quite delightful with its recipes for Extempore Buckwheat Cakes, Best Rice Griddle Cakes, Wheat Waffles, Pilgrim Cake, Corn Muffins (from the South), Sachem's Head Corn Cake, Royal Crumpets, Albany Breakfast Cakes, Pennsylvania Flannel Cakes, Kentucky Corn Dodgers, Ohio Corn Cake, and Scarborough Puffs (a Maine Receipt). This is a fine selection of regional American recipes.