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From the Head of Lettice: Recipes from Historic Kentucky Cookbooks Part One

When looking back on our favorite family memories and holidays, food is often a highlight. Nothing can be quite so nostalgic as Grandma’s cookies or Mom’s best soup. Here at the library, cookbooks are among our most circulated items. For those of you learning to cook or wanting to add some local flair to your home cooked meal, the Local History & Genealogy department has four shelves of cookbooks that you can check out, bring home, and test out. These range from local restaurants’ favorite recipes, to chefs who focus on modern Kentucky cuisine, to historic cookbooks written as early as the 1800s. In an effort to get to know this section of our collection better, I tried out three recipes from two different books and documented my progress. I decided to focus on dishes with earlier origins. With some of the recipes, or receipts as Lettice Bryan of The Kentucky Housewife (1839) calls them, it took a little creative reimagining in order to modernize the measurements and equipment to something I have in my kitchen. In other words, I opted to bake in a modern oven with set temperatures. I’m also a vegetarian – so, sorry to all you Squirrel Soup lovers, I stuck to finding something I could enjoy! Let’s get started: Baked Potatoes, from The Kentucky Housewife (1839) by Lettice Bryan This recipe is from one of our earliest cookbooks by the thorough Lettice Bryan. The collection contains thousands of recipes along with suggestions of accompanying dishes, for which meal a recipe works best, and other tidbits which give a wonderful glimpse of the time period. I chose this recipe because it is simple, contains few ingredients, but also takes a familiar [...]