The Virginia Housewife Or, Methodical Cook
by Mary Randolph

A Facsimile of an Authentic Early American Cookbook

The Virginia Housewife (Dover)

Unabridged Dover (1993) republication of the edition published by E.H. Butler & Co., Philadelphia, 1860. 192pp. 5.375 x 8.5 inches. Paperbound. ISBN-10: 0-486-27772-0. ISBN-13: 978-0-486-27772-1.


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Notes from the Publisher

Originally published in 1824, this influential, classic guide by a noted Virginia hostess is widely regarded as the first truly Southern cookbook. Compiled and written by Mary Randolph (reputed to have been the best cook in Richmond), it contains a treasury of cooking instructions for everything from hearty soups to lamb and pork dishes, along with fish, poultry, sauces, vegetables, puddings, cakes, preserves and more. In addition to such traditional Southern fare as okra soup, curry of catfish, barbecued shoat (a fat young hog), field peas, beaten biscuits and sweet potato buns, readers will also find scores of recipes for dishes, condiments and beverages rarely seen on today's dinner table: sweetbread and oyster pie, grilled calf's head, shoulder of mutton with celery sauce, fried calf's feet, pheasant “a-la-daub,” tansy pudding, gooseberry fool (cold stewed gooseberries with custard and whipped cream), pickled nasturtiums, walnut catsup, vinegar of the four thieves, ginger wine and may other edibles from a bygone era.

More than just a collection of recipes, however, this comprehensive cook's reference also provides a fascinating introduction to the food and customs of the antebellum South, as well as handy instructions for making soap, starch and cologne water, cleaning silver, drying herbs and much other useful advice.

For this edition, Jan Longone, a specialist in antiquarian wine and food books, has contributed an informative new introduction that outlines the singular qualities of Mrs. Randolph's book and its preeminent place in American culinary history. Any cook, antiquarian or lover of Americana will enjoy this rare glimpse into the kitchens of the past.

(The above commentary is provided by Dover Publications, Inc.)