The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy
by Hannah Glasse
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Dover Publications
Released: Aug. 19, 2015
Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.
Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Revised and republished many times since its 1747 debut, this cookbook was a bestseller in England and the United States for more than 100 years. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson owned copies, and Benjamin Franklin even translated some of its recipes into French in hopes of attaining a taste of home while abroad.
Author Hannah Glasse dismisses French cookery, the leading cuisine of her day, as inefficient for servants and middle- to lower-class cooks, citing its fussiness, expense, and waste. Instead, Mrs. Glasse focuses on standard Anglo-American fare, from soups and gravies to cakes and jellies, all simple dishes, prepared in a straightforward manner.
In addition to practical advice on meat selection, carving, and basic cooking skills, this historically fascinating document offers tips on preparing food for the ill, cooking and food storage on ships, and making soaps and scents for the home. Historians, cooks, and all lovers of gastronomy will appreciate this glimpse into the kitchens of a bygone era.
The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy is a cookbook with recipes, but it requires some cooking experience and the willingness to do a bit of experimenting. I had hoped it might give hints on how to cook over a hearth fire, but the author assumed the reader already knew these tricks. She says to cook "over a slow fire" or "a quick, clear fire," but not how to achieve this. You're to cook the food until "it's enough." She described what seasonings to add ("season it with nutmeg, ....") but left it up to the user as to how much. At best, she gave measurements like "2 spoonfuls" or "a pound."
The author covered various ways to cook a wide variety of meats (various birds, fish, livestock, and game) and how to identify if the meat is fresh when buying it at the butchers. She also covered various ways to prepare vegetables, make soups, broths, gravy, puddings, dumplings, pies, tarts, sausages, cakes, creams, jellies, custards, preserves, conserves, marmalades, ice cream, cure meat, pickle, jar, do cold distilling, wines and brewing, and more. She also gave tips on carving meat, raising turkeys and mushrooms, and making soap and a lip salve.
The meat recipes reminded me of Thanksgiving turkey dinners (just cooked over a fire). For the section on cooking the "American way," she used ingredients that were more widely available in America. She also included "cooking the Spanish way, French way" and so on. For fun, I tried a dumpling and a pudding recipe. Since I've made "modern" versions of these, I was able to fill in the details she didn't provide and they turned out fine. It was interesting to look through the recipes to see what ingredients they had and how they cooked things.
If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.
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