Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Vegetable Recipes from Mary Randolph 1762-1828

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The Virginia Housewife: or, Methodical Cook
By Mary Randolph 1762-1828
Baltimore: Plaskitt, Fite, 1838 (1838)

This is considered by some to be the first truly American cookbook and by all to be the first regional American cookbook. This work is still in print and still forms the basis of traditional Virginia cooking. It has been praised by many culinary authorities both for its delineation of authentic Virginia foods and its careful attention to detail.

Upon its first appearance in 1824 it was an immediate success and it was republished at least nineteen times before the outbreak of the Civil War. In addition, copies appeared in the late nineteenth century and modern Southern authors aften reference it.

Anyone who doubts that early Americans savored salads and vegetables need only look at what Mrs. Randolph offers. There are recipes for artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucumbers, eggplant, French beans, Jerusalem artichokes, lima beans, mushrooms, onions, parsnips, peas, peppers, potatoes, potato pumpkin, red beet roots, salsify, savoy cabbage, sea kale, sorrel, spinach, sprouts and young greens, squash, sweet potatoes, turnips, turnip tops, winter squash, onions, and tomatoes.

Indeed, Mrs. Randolph has seventeen recipes using tomatoes in the various editions of her cookbook. This provides further evidence to correct the misinformation that Americans did not use tomatoes prior to the mid-nineteenth century.

From the Historic American Cookbook Project: Feeding America
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