This week, the Burns Library is celebrating the holidays with recipes from three cookbooks in our collection: A 17th century hand-written cookbook owned by a woman named Elizabeth Capell, George Bernard Shaw’s Vegetarian Cookbook, and Eleanor Early’s New England Cookbook. Elizabeth Capell’s hand-written recipe book (pictured to the right) contains instructions for many a delicious dish as well as household remedies for ailments. Just in case you’re having trouble reading Elizabeth’s hand-writing, read the transcription below for the full details on how to pickle a turkey:
How to pickell A Turkey
Take [the] Turkey & fill the belly with sweet herbs & tey it up in A
cloath season [the] water with salt & vineger & A littell mace lett
the water be scalding hott before you putt the Turkey in when
it is boyled take it out then lett it stand tell the piccle be
cold then putt it in again so this is to be eat with oyl & Vineger
George Bernard Shaw’s Vegetarian Cookbook by Alice Laden (former cook/housekeeper to G. B. Shaw), edited by R. J. Minney, has a suitably dramatic table of contents that begins with a “Cast” of recipes, including “The Curtain Rises . . . appetizers”, “Setting the Scene . . . the soups”, “Entr’Actes . . . the salads”, etc. There are quite a few delicious sounding recipes in this well-structured little cookbook. The section on salads is wonderful; some highlights include the Cream Cheese and Fruit Salad and the Crisp Raisin Salad. Many of the recipes in this section involve adding fruits or spices to the basic choices of vegetables for salads. R. J. Minney writes in the “Prologue” section that “Shaw himself was never allowed into her [his cook and housekeeper, Alice Laden’s] kitchen to discuss his meals, his hearty appetite and continuing good health were signs of his majestic approval. (The only exception Mrs. Laden made to this rule was for President Nehru who, when he arrived with a basket of mangoes as a present for Shaw, was actually invited in to advise on their preparation.)” (pg. 10.)
The New England Cookbook by Eleanor Early is a regionally themed recipe guide. One chapter in this cookbook is entitled: “The Dish that Made New England Famous.” The food that this title refers to is a dessert consisting of a “pastry” crust and various different fillings, i.e. pie. This chapter contains recipes for Apple Pie, Blueberry Pie, Deep-dish Blueberry Pie, and Cranberry Lattice Pie to name but a few. Early is accurate in her estimation of the importance of pie to New England. Her description of baking a simple apple pie evokes thoughts of apple orchards and autumnal New England days. The various fruits involved in this delicious dessert (apples, blueberries, strawberries, etc.) also help to characterize New England in another chapter entitled “Jellies and Jams.” This chapter not only provides recipes for a diverse selection of one of the most New England-style treats, but even offers a “jelly test” for determining whether one has succeeded in his or her quest to concoct a jam or jelly.
These cookbooks are available for your reading pleasure in the Burns Library Reading Room. Please call the Reading Room at 617-552-4861 or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions. We look forward to seeing you soon!
- Ron Criscuolo, Burns Library Reading Room Student Assistant & Student in A & S, 2011
- Justine Sundaram, Reference Librarian/Bibliographer, Burns Library
- Shelley Barber, Library/Archives Assistant, Burns Library