By Anna Kathryn Lanier
I love cookbooks and probably have more than I should, but that doesn’t stop me from looking for more. One book I found recently in an antique store is: AMERICAN COOKERY by Amelia Simmons. The copy I found was printed in 1969. Amanda’s original cookbook was printed in 1769. At the time, “it was the first American cookbook to be printed in the United States. The original volume contained 48 pages of solid type. It was bound in paper and sold very well at 2 shillings 3 pence a copy.”
According to the forward, “the recipes or the volume were gathered from Continental Europe and England, adapted to ingredients generally available in the United States at the time. Some, however were distinctly American, such as “pompkin pie,” cramberry sauce,” and “Indian flapjacks.” Amelia also included household hints, such as “how to keep peas green till Christmas.”
Amelia hired someone to help write her cookbook, because of what she felt were her own inadequacies. However, the person she hired deliberately inserted errors of measurements to discredit Amelia. Future printings corrected these mistakes.
In addition, Amanda's book uses the long ‘f’, even though at the time the round ‘s’ was replacing it. (and my reprint carried over the long f, as you will see in recipes below). The original edition contained many errors of grammar, typography and speech; which to some degree the editors of the 1969 copy changed, but they left enough errors to leave the proper flavor of the original.
While this book was written before the Western Movement began, it is more than likely that one or two copies made the journey overland, tucked safely in a trunk.
Here's what the full title of the book is:
I hope you enjoy the small selection of recipes I've chosen from the dozens Amelia Simmons wrote down for us.
Pompkin: No. 1 One quart stewed and strained, 3 pints cream, 9 beaten eggs, sugar mace, nutmeg and ginger, laid into pafte (paste) No. 7 or 3 and with dough spur, crofs (cross) and chequer it. Baked in difhes (dishes) three quarters of an hour.
No. 2 One quart milk, 1 pint pumpkin, 4 eggs, Molaffes, allfpice and ginger in crust, bake 1 hour.
Paste: No. 3 To any quantity of flour, rub in three fourths of its weight to butter, (twelve eggs to a peck) rub in one third or half and roll in the rest.
No. 7. Rub one third of one pound of butter and one pound of lard into two pound of flour, wet with four whites well beaten; water q:s: to make a paste roll in residue of shortening in ten or twelve rollings – bake quick.
Cramberries: Stewed, strained and sweetened, put into paste No. 9, and bake gently.
Royal Pafte No. 9 Rub half a pound of butter into one pound of flour, four whites beat to a foam, add two yolks, two ounces of fine sugar; roll often, rubbing one third and rolling two thirds of the better is beft; excellent for tarts and apple pies.
To Alamode a Round: Take fat pork cut in slices or mince, season it with pepper, salt, sweet marjoram and thyme, cloves, mace and nutmeg, make holes in the beef and stuff it the night before cooked; put some bones across the bottom of the pot to keep from burning, put in one quart Claret wine, one quart water and onion; lay the round on the bones, cover close and stop it round the top with dough; hang on in the morning and stew gently two hours; turn it, stop tight and stew two hours more, when done tender, grate a crust of bread on the top and brown it before the fire; scum the gravy and serve in a butter boat, serve it with the residue of the gravy in the dish.
To Make the Best Bacon: To each ham put one ounce saltpeter, one pint bay salt, one pint molasses, shake together 6 to 8 weeks or when a large quantity is together, baste them with the liquor every day; when taken out to dry, smoke three weeks with cobs or malt fumes. To every ham may be added a cheek, if you stow away a barrel and not alter the composition, some add shoulder. For transportation or exportation double the period of smoking.
Apple Pie: Stew and strain the apples, to every three pints grate the peal of a fresh lemon, add cinnamon, mace, rosewater and sugar to your taste – bake in paste No. 3.
Every species of fruit such as peas, plums, raspberries, black berries may be only sweetened, without spices – and baked in paste No. 3.
Anna Kathryn Lanier