This gem came into my hands yesterday afternoon. It is a recipe book that belonged to my husband's grandmother. The White House Cook Book was first published in 1887 by the steward of the White House, Hugo Zieman and an associate, Mrs. F.L. Gillette. It is a "comprehensive cyclopedia of the home" and honors the First Ladies of the White House, beginning with Martha Washington.
While recipes are the main part of the book, there is much more, including "menus, dinner-giving, table etiquette, care of the sick".
In looking through the recipes I've already learned about a lot of differences between cooking today and cooking a hundred years ago. Here are a few things I've discovered:
1. Ingredients - many of those listed are not items I am familiar with or that are readily available, such as graham flour. Others are familiar but the way they are used is not the same. A few recipes call for a half-cup of yeast! Perhaps yeast was different back then. I need to do some more research.
2. Measurements - these recipes don't always use the standardized measurements we are accustomed to today. How much is a teacupful? or a gill?
3. Quantities - Perhaps because it was written by White House staff the amounts are more than generous. I made the Potato Griddle Cakes recipe for breakfast. I made 1/3 of the recipe and it produced 12 large griddle cakes.
4. Temperatures - I suppose because stoves of the day were unable to give cooks a precise temperature, these recipes only refer to a "quick, moderate or slow fire".
5. Methods - many of the standard procedures I use in following a recipe today are not the same. Often I don't even read some instructions, but just look at the list of ingredients and go with usual procedures, say for baking cookies. These recipes go about things in a different order and seem to use a lot of boiling liquids in baking. That is why I ended up with milk boiling over on my stove top this morning.
Here is a photo of the Potato Griddle Cakes ( aka hash browns) I made this morning using this cookbook. It suggested serving them with "stewed or preserved fruit, especially with huckleberries" and I opted for some homemade applesauce with a little cinnamon. My husband reached for the ketchup, lol!