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OP: The Young Housekeeper's Friend

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by Mrs. [Mary Hooker] Cornelius
Regular price $185.00

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For those interested in early American domestic science books, here is an uncommonly seen publication which predates Fannie Farmer’s famous Boston Cooking School Cook Book (1896) by forty years.

It may come as no surprise that Mary Hooker Cornelius (1796–1880)—a descendent of Puritan minister and founder of the Connecticut colony, Thomas Hooker—writes with a moral undertone, drawing the connection between economy of household, healthful eating, and spiritual well-being. Where other receipt books have failed newly married young women in these areas, she suggests, Mrs. Cornelius intends to succeed.

Though it is assumed the reader understands what it means to knead dough or how to scale a fish, Cornelius speaks to the inexperienced with explicit technical instructions. She offers practical advice—the textures to strive for in a sponge, how long to roast meat before a fire in the winter versus the summer—as well as many exact measurements. 

Other tips for a well-rounded housekeeper—removing fruit stains (boil the soiled cloth with cream of tartar), killing cockroaches (root of Christmas rose), and purifying a well (quicklime)—are also present.

We offer here the revised and enlarged edition, dated 1863 on the title page and styled “sixth thousand.” From a historical perspective, it is noteworthy that the time between the original publication (1856) and its revision, brick wood-burning ovens gave way to coal ovens as the latest technology. Though Cornelius retains instruction on brick oven construction and use, she acknowledges the change in fashion.

Our copy is heavily soiled with splatter and stains, though it remains thoroughly readable and sturdy. One torn page was previously repaired with scotch tape, and we note a manufacturing error that has omitted the leaf for pages 95 and 96. The original case had fallen into disrepair, so we had the book rebound in green cloth with the addition of a ribbon place marker. Laid in are the original endpapers, bearing an owner’s signature and handwritten recipes, and in a protective plastic sleeve the handwritten recipes and newspaper clipping we discovered in the book when we acquired it.

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