Books on This Topic Boston Cooking School Cook Book Carving and Serving Home Helps: A Pure Food Cookbook More Related Titles Victorian Parlors and Tea Parties Suited to a Tea Refreshments Now and Then Victorian Christmas Celebration Cookbook Footloose, Fancy, and Free Delicacies in Proportion

Mary J. B. Lincoln, Cook and Educator
(1844-1921)

By Patricia B. Mitchell

Mary Johnson Bailey Lincoln

Early in my food writing days I came across a Victorian-era recipe by a Mary Lincoln. At first I thought about the possibility that Mary Todd Lincoln, the president's wife, had submitted the recipe. However, I quickly discovered the identity of Mary Johnson Bailey Lincoln.

Born on July 8, 1844 in South Attleboro, Massachusetts, the young Mary attended a female seminary, taught school, and, on July 21, 1865, married David Lincoln. Lincoln's poor health eventually prompted Mary to help support the family financially. In 1879 she joined the teaching staff of the influential Boston Cooking School, and became the school's first principal. In 1883 she published the Boston Cooking School Cook Book: What to Do and What Not to Do in Cooking (not to be confused with the Original Boston Cooking-School Cook Book published by Fannie Farmer in 1896). Mary Lincoln published the Boston School Kitchen Text in 1887.

Dedicated to the culinary education of American women, Mary wrote clear, easy to follow recipes, and suggested the use of up-to-date kitchen equipment like the Dover rotary egg beater, rather than the old-fashioned whisk.

Mary Lincoln was also owner and editor of American Kitchen Magazine, and the business-wise lady helped to found a baking powder company. Because she was well-known, an endorsement from Mrs. Lincoln was highly desirable. In 1888 Frozen Dainties, published by The White Mountain Freezer Company, contained a recipe endorsement from her, as did a Jell-O booklet in 1912.

Other books attributed to Mary include The Peerless Cook Book [1886] and Carving and Serving [1886], New England Cook Book [1894, with Maria Parloa], What To Have for Luncheon [1904], and Home Helps: A Pure Food Cook Book [1910, with Lida Ames Willis, Mrs. Sarah Tyson Rorer, Mrs. Helen Armstrong, and Marion Harland].

Home Helps is an advertising cookbook for a shortening called Cottolene, which was made from cotton oil. However, not all of the recipes in the book utilize the product. (Cottolene is an ingredient in most of the baked goods, although a modern cook can, of course, substitute a different shortening.)

Mrs. Lincoln's recipes are fun to read, as are all the entries in the book. She shares definite opinions and good advice. Here are some sample recipes:


Scalded Corn Meal Cakes

Known also as Dabs or Hoe Cakes. Mix one-fourth level teaspoon salt with one cup fine white corn meal (Rhode Island and Southern varieties preferred). Scald with boiling water sufficient to wet and swell every grain and have the mixture barely hold together. Then thin with cold milk to a soft dough that will keep its shape. Drop them from a tablespoon on a griddle well greased with Cottolene, or butter, or salt pork fat. Shape them as they cook, turn them round for uniform browning and turn over when brown on one side. When done, let them stand in the oven for a few minutes. They absorb a [great] deal of fat in cooking, and when ready to turn, put a bit on each, that the fresh side may be equally well browned.

Home Helps: A Pure Food Cook Book, a Useful Collection of Up-to-date, Practical Recipes by five of the Leading Culinary Experts in the United States: Mrs. Mary J. Lincoln, Lida Ames Willis, Mrs. Sarah Tyson Rorer, Mrs. Helen Armstrong, Marion Harland, published by The N. K. Fairbank Company, New York, 1910, p. 12.

Genuine Old-Time Sponge Cake

The weight of the eggs in sugar, and half their weight in flour. This enables you to make a cake of any size you desire. The usual proportion for one loaf, by measure, is four large or five small eggs, one cup of fine granulated sugar, and one cup of sifted pastry flour, the grated rind and juice of half a lemon. Beat yolks till thick and very creamy, add sugar, and beat till light colored; add lemon. Beat whites till stiff and nearly dry, and fold them in with care, so as not to break down the bubbles, sift in the flour lightly, and fold over (not stir) till just barely covered. Bake in a moderate oven from forty to fifty minutes. You will look far to find a better sponge cake than this when properly made and baked.

Home Helps: A Pure Food Cook Book, a Useful Collection of Up-to-date, Practical Recipes by five of the Leading Culinary Experts in the United States: Mrs. Mary J. Lincoln, Lida Ames Willis, Mrs. Sarah Tyson Rorer, Mrs. Helen Armstrong, Marion Harland, published by The N. K. Fairbank Company, New York, 1910, pp. 19-20.

Fried Eggs

[Not as simple as you'd think!]

Boil six eggs twenty minutes, and remove shells. Cook one-half cup of stale bread crumbs in one-half cup of milk, to a smooth paste; mix with it one cup fine chopped tongue, ham or chicken; season with salt and pepper, add one raw egg and when well mixed take a portion, about one-sixth, and make it about half an inch thick, put an egg in center and work up the paste until the egg is covered. Roll in a slight coating of fine bread crumbs and fry about two minutes in hot deep Cottolene.

Home Helps: A Pure Food Cook Book, a Useful Collection of Up-to-date, Practical Recipes by five of the Leading Culinary Experts in the United States: Mrs. Mary J. Lincoln, Lida Ames Willis, Mrs. Sarah Tyson Rorer, Mrs. Helen Armstrong, Marion Harland, published by The N. K. Fairbank Company, New York, 1910, pp. 26-27.

Salt Codfish

Cover with cold water and strip into bits; soak over night. Heat slowly and simmer ten minutes just off the boiling point. Drain and stir it into one cup white sauce, add one beaten egg just before serving. Serve hot with baked potatoes. Or mix with an equal amount of boiled potatoes, add butter, salt and pepper, and drop from a tablespoon into hot Cottolene in spider [a cast-iron frying pan]; shape out flat and round as they cook and turn when one side is brown.

Large flakes of salt codfish, if not very dry, may be scorched on the coals, or broiled and served with butter. A tempting relish.

Home Helps: A Pure Food Cook Book, a Useful Collection of Up-to-date, Practical Recipes by five of the Leading Culinary Experts in the United States: Mrs. Mary J. Lincoln, Lida Ames Willis, Mrs. Sarah Tyson Rorer, Mrs. Helen Armstrong, Marion Harland, published by The N. K. Fairbank Company, New York, 1910, pp. 28.

Beets

Wash with care not to break skin and make them bleed. Cook in boiling water till tender, about one hour. Plunge into cold water and rub off skins. Chop coarsely, heat again, season with butter, salt and pepper; or slice thin and cover with vinegar. Butter will not blend easily with beets unless they are chopped. Winter beets require three hours' cooking.

Home Helps: A Pure Food Cook Book, a Useful Collection of Up-to-date, Practical Recipes by five of the Leading Culinary Experts in the United States: Mrs. Mary J. Lincoln, Lida Ames Willis, Mrs. Sarah Tyson Rorer, Mrs. Helen Armstrong, Marion Harland, published by The N. K. Fairbank Company, New York, 1910, pp. 47.

Chicken Salad

Allow about equal parts of cold boiled chicken or fowl, cut in small cubes, and celery cut in thin slices. Blend with a little mayonnaise dressing, make it into a mound on a platter, cover with mayonnaise, or [a] boiled cream dressing if you do not like oil; garnish with the celery tips, a few capers, or minced parsley, or with a border of alternate slices of tomato and cucumber. Do not use tomato and beet together in any salad.

Home Helps: A Pure Food Cook Book, a Useful Collection of Up-to-date, Practical Recipes by five of the Leading Culinary Experts in the United States: Mrs. Mary J. Lincoln, Lida Ames Willis, Mrs. Sarah Tyson Rorer, Mrs. Helen Armstrong, Marion Harland, published by The N. K. Fairbank Company, New York, 1910, pp. 53.


Notes


Classic Cookbooks by Mary J. B. Lincoln

Boston Cooking School Cook Book

Boston Cooking School Cook Book, 1887

Carving and Serving

Carving and Serving, 1890

Home Helps: A Pure Food Cookbook

Home Helps: A Pure Food Cook Book, 1910