The practical housekeeper : a cyclopædia of domestic enconomy ... comprising five thousand practical receipts and maxims. Illustrated with five hundred wood engravings
- In Collections
Feeding America: the Historic American Cookbook Project
- Copyright Status
- No Copyright
- Material Type
- 7-599 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 Practical Housekeeper; A Cyclopaedia of Domestic Economy.
By Elizabeth Fries Ellet
New York: Stringer and Townsend, 1857.
This is a very comprehensive cookbook and encyclopedic treatise on all aspects of homemaking. It captures American culinary arts just prior to the Civil War. It is in some ways an early fore-runner of the late Victorian compendiums which were to be printed in great numbers at the end of the 19th century.
It is a handsome volume containing "5000 Receipts & Maxims" and 500 wood engravings. There are detailed dicussions of the home, its equipment and furnishings. There are chapters on servants, table setting and napkin folding, the care of children, the store-room and marketing, and the adulteration of food and purity of water. Added to all of this are sections on trussing and carving, culinary utensils, foreign terms in cookery, and articles in season for each month. A veritable encyclopedia.
And then, there are the recipes! The author tells us she offers an unusually large variety of receipts for soups, sauces and meats because "the want of variety in such preparation is generally complained of in American cookery." Thus she includes some recipes from very recent French and English works in addition to the many from American housekeepers of long experience and tried skill. She also includes valuable receipts, "never made public," from Mr. Delmonico, Mr. Taylor, Mr. Wagner, and Mr. Sneckner, - all proprietors of celebrated establishments in New York.
There are more than 100 recipes for preparing beef; another hundred for mutton and lamb; about 100 for veal, and the same for pork. All of this is followed by recipes for sausages and for curing, potting, pickling, collaring and corning meats. Equal attention is paid to game and poultry recipes.
There are many recipes with tantalizing names: Cod Sounds-Ragout, Crimped Salmon-a la Creme, Salmon-To Pickle Undressed, Chetney and Quihi Sauce, Beef Tremblant, A Fresh Neat's Tongue and Udder, Mutton China Chilo, Musette of Mutton with Endive (Mutton Bagpipe with Endive), Cutlets a la Victime, or Victimized Cutlets, Seven-Years' Ketchup, Tipperary Curry, and Cheese-Cake Stock, That Will Keep for Several Years.
[Note: These recipe titles were chosen at random from a large number of intriguing titles; none was attempted by this author.]
This work is very sophisticated and obviously addressed to middle and upperclass homes. A good selection of recipes by the famed English chef Alexis Soyer are included, as are a number of Jewish recipes, including Passover Balls for Soup, Stewed Fish - Hebrew Fashion and Passover Cakes.
This book is not as well known as it ought to be.