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excerpts from The Virginia Housewife

1824: Mrs. Mary Randolph

Mrs. Mary Randolph's The Virginia Housewife; or, Methodical Cook (first published as The Virginia House-wife, Washington: Davis and Force, 1824; these excerpts from the "stereotype edition, with amendments and additions", Baltimore: Plaskitt & Cugle, 1836) is considered to be "the first true cookbook of the American South". As such it contains some early evidence of the influence of African cuisine in Southern cooking, though most of the recipes are derived from European traditions.


The Virginia Housewife; or, Methodical Cook


Mrs. Mary Randolph

Method is the Soul of Management

Stereotype edition,
with amendments and additions.

Published by Plaskitt & Cugle.
218 Market Street


Get two double handsful of young ochra, wash and slice it thin, add two onions chopped fine, put it into a gallon of water at a very early hour in an earthen pipkin, or very nice iron pot; it must be kept steadily simmering, but not boiling; put in pepper and salt. At 12 o'clock put in a handful of lima beans; at half-past one o'clock, add three young cimlins cleaned and cut in small pieces, a fowl, or a knuckle of veal, a bit of bacon or pork that has been boiled, and six tomatoes, with the skin taken off; when nearly done, thicken with a spoonful of butter, mixed with one of flour. Have rice boiled to eat with it.


Take an equal quantity of each, let the ochra be young, slice it, and skin the tomatoes; put them into a pan without water, add a lump of butter, an onion chopped fine, some pepper and salt, and stew them one hour.


Gather young pods of ochra, wash them clean, and put them in a pan with a little water, salt and pepper, stew them till tender, and serve them with melted butter. They are very nutritious, and easy of digestion.

The Rare Recipes pages contain African and African-inspired recipes from antique and out-of-print cookbooks.

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