The Kentucky Housewife was one of a number of cookbooks published in the nineteenth century. Some writers seem to have seen the works as a way to foster social change: Lydia Maria Child’s The American Frugal Housewife (1833) is filled with advice on living within one’s means instead of pursuing “fashionableness” into bankruptcy. The books also collected advice on housekeeping—especially useful to someone unable to consult family or friends. Lettice Bryan created the latter type of cookbook: chatty and filled with recipes for basic dishes.
Some recipes from The Kentucky Housewife, by Mrs. Lettice Bryan. Cincinnati, OH: Shepard & Stearns, 1839. [reproduced Paducah, KY: Collector Books, n. d.]


Believing there have been great improvements in the culinary art, and that there remains an immense space for more, has influenced the authoress to turn her attention almost wholly to the domestic economy of housewifery for the last few years. She has selected, perhaps, the greatest number of receipts that have ever been comprised in a similar work on the western continent. A considerable portion of them are original; some have been impressed by memory; and others taken from different authors, reduced to practice and improved, carefully avoiding the interpolation of accompaniments, seasonings, &c.; and the composition of such dishes, as the materials, and every condiment of which, are not common in her own country. She has endeavored as far as practicable, to arrange her receipts in the most concise, plain, and simple manner, making them so explicit, as for the inexperienced to comprehend, and practice them easily and adroitly. There are nearly thirteen hundred contained in her little work; some of which are quite plain and cheap; but if economy be consulted, none but what are well worth the trouble of preparing, and that will suit the tastes, and conveniences of many people. All unnecessary references have been avoided; also another practice in similar works that is far more objectionable, i. e., the too frequent repetitions of such directions as should be contained in the memory, as they not only swell a work unnecessarily, but make the receipts lengthy, and consequently irksome to look over. She has avoided inserting such directions as would prove injurious rather than instructive—one of which that is common in works of this kind, is the giving of the precise length of time to prepare a dish, which must be intuitively perceived by every reflecting mind, knowing there are varieties of quality in the same tribe, or family of meats, and vegetables, and equally as much difference in the

p. vi

quantity of heat applied while cooking. It is justly complained of, for many a good dish have been badly prepared by the inexperienced following such directions. If I say a certain dish must be cooked for one hour, perhaps one will have a brisk fire, another a moderate one, and a third a very slow fire; what will then be the consequence? perhaps two out of three will be spoiled. In the place of such directions, the authoress has given infallible rules to ascertain when all made dishes are done, in their respective receipts. She flatters herself that she has so adapted them to the wants, conveniences, and pleasures of her country, that they will be a manual of equal benefit to people in almost every circumstance and situation. She has inserted some valuable pieces on preparations for the sick; and as she has so assiduously tried to make her little work useful and instructive, she sends it forth for an investigation before the public eye, not fearing but that it will receive as much patronage as it will be found to deserve.

p. vii


You who have taken it upon yourself to be a helpmate for your companion, and a guide and governess to those who may be brought up under your care, discharge each devolving duty with care and precision, fulfilling the station of a housewife indeed, and not a wife only. Very much depends on your own conduct and management, to secure to yourself and family happy, and peaceful lives. Shun the deletrious practices of idleness, pride, and extravagance, recollecting that neither of them constitutes the lady. Never make your husband blush to own that you are his wife; but by your industry, frugality, and neatness, make him proud, and happy to know that he is in possession of a companion who is a complete model of loveliness and true elegance.

Have established rules for domestics and slaves to be governed by, and fail not to give them such advice as is really necessary to promote their own welfare as well as your own. Examine frequently your cupboard and other household furniture, kitchen, smoke-house, and cellar, to see that every thing is in its proper place, and used in the right manner, that nothing be lost, or wasted by the neglect of hirelings or servants. It takes but a short time each morning to secure such regulations; whereas, if neglected, hours may be spent in search of things which may be thrown out of their proper places: then of course in such regulations there is economy as well as comfort. Save your herbs and seeds; dry your fruits, and prepare your sweet meats, catsups, vinegars, &c., in their respective seasons. Keep a supply of spices and peppers ground, and bottled: also sage, and other sweet herbs, which should first be powdered and sifted; corked up securely they will keep their strength and flavor, perfectly, and will be found very convenient, being always in readiness; besides there is no bustle, time lost, or retarded dishes, by the neglect of preparing the seasonings at a proper time, as they are often neglected till wanted for immediate use. A trend to the giving out of your meals, and proportion the seasonings to each dish yourself. This may be done at an early hour; and with the proper instructions to the cook, the lady may be relieved of further trouble during the day. Have your meals at regular hours, and in due time, and see that your table is set with neatness, and every thing on it well ordered, then there will be no danger of

p. viii

being frustrated by unexpected company. Never strive to have a great variety of made dishes on your table when you have had few to eat with you: perhaps half of them would not be tasted; it of course would only be a superfluous waste. Just try to learn what your company is fondest of, and have their favorites. A few things well ordered will never fail to give a greater appetite, and pleasure to your guest, than a crowded table badly prepared; and as there is a time for all things, there will be a time to crowd your table with delicacies. We should not only consult economy, but daily practice it; which is nothing more than a saving knowledge, carried into action. Such a course will bind up a lasting treasure for the rich, and secure a plentiful living to the poor.

p. 331


Break up an ounce of the best Russian gum isinglass, (the American gum is not sufficiently clear,) boil it till dissolved in a pint of water; add a quart of sweet milk, simmer it a few minutes, and strain it into a clean pan; mix with it half a pound of powdered white sugar, the juice of a lemon, two ounces of sweet almonds and two ounces of bitter ones, which have been blanched and pounded to a paste with a little rose water. Give it another boil up, an having wet your moulds, pour it in them, and set them by till the blanc-mange gets so firm that they will retain the shape of the moulds; then, having dipped a cloth in hot water, wrap them up in it, and let them remain in it a few minutes to loosen them, and turn

p. 332

them out smoothly into a glass dish. You may mould blanc-mange in bowls, deep dishes, cups, glasses, &c., and you may also mould it in figure moulds, to represent any thing you choose.

p. 355


Take a fine ripe watermelon that has a thick rind; take out the soft part, pare off the thin green pellicle, and cut the middle part of the rind in any fanciful shape you please. Weight them, and to each pound allow a pound and a half of loaf sugar. Line the bottom and sides of a preserving kettle with green vine leaves; put in your rind with layers of the leaves, and put a thick layer of them over the top. Dissolve a small lump of alum in just enough water to cover them well; pour it over them and let them simmer slowly from one to two hours, according to the size and thickness of the pieces; then scald them a few minutes in a little weak ginger tea, adding a small portion of spinach juice, which will assist in making them a pretty green: spread them on dishes, and set them in the air to cool and harden. Take one sixth part of the sugar, powder it, and reserve it to

p. 356

sift over the melon. Take the other part of the sugar, dissolve it in water, allowing half a pint to each pound and a quarter of sugar: stir in one white of egg to every five pounds of sugar: flavor it highly with the juices and grated rinds of lemons or oranges; boil it up, skim it well, and then put in your prepared melons: simmer them till they are tender and quite transparent. Spread them on dishes, and set them by to cool. After which, put them in a glass jar, stratifying them with the powdered sugar; boil the syrup till it will rope when dropped from a spoon; pour it over them, and when cold, cover them securely. They make a very pretty decorament for creams, jellies, &c.

p. 404


Dissolve some loaf sugar in cold water, allowing half a pint of water to each pound of sugar. Mix in the whole

p. 405

of an egg to every four pounds of sugar, and boil it to a thick syrup, removing every particle of scum as it rises. Pass it through a piece of muslin, and when quite cold, flavor it highly with orange flour water. Cork it up in bottles. It is principally used to flavor punch, &c.

Capillaire, Another Way.—Dissolve eight pounds of loaf sugar in one gallon of water, add the whites of two eggs, boil and skim it, and when nearly cold, stir in a pint of rose water.

p. 405


Take rum, or any nice kind of brandy, and dilute it to the strength you like it, with entire sweet milk, stirring it in gradually. Sweeten it to your taste with loaf sugar, flavor it with a little capillary, and serve it up in glasses; drop a small lump of ice in each, and grate nutmeg thickly over them.

p. 407


Sangaree is a mixure of clear, cold water and wine, porter, or ale, sweetened in glasses with lumps of loaf sugar, and crowned lightly with grated nutmeg. A very good proportion is two measures of water to one of spirits. In warm weather, a small lump of ice in each glass improves it.

p. 427


This kind of diet is excellent for small children, particularly where they have to be raised mostly without the breast. Put some entire sweet milk in a skillet, and stir into it while boiling, enough flour to make it of the consistence of thick soup, having first mixed it with enough sweet milk to make it a smooth batter. Boil it till it is thoroughly done, stirring it frequently; and then sweeten it with sugar, and grate on a little nutmeg or ginger. You make pap in the same manner, substituting water for milk; then add a little butter to the other seasonings.

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