Friday, March 5, 2010

Virginia Housekeeping Book from 1879

If you were "setting up house" in the 1800's this was the book to have! In the year 1879, Patrick Henry's granddaughter, Marion Cabell Tyree, compiled contributions from "Two hundred and fifty of Virginia's noted housewives, distinguished for their skill in the culinary art and other branches of domestic economy", and the book, Housekeeping in Old Virginia was born!

This cookbook must have been highly regarded in its time, because the tributes written about the book came from Mrs. President R.B. Hayes (from Washington City) and wives of other heads of the administration, as well as, governors' wives of various states. The original was published by John P. Morton and Company of Louisville, KY in 1879. I have a reprint from 1971 that was published by Favorite Recipes Press, Inc., also of Louisville, KY.

From the comments written about the book in 1879, I believe that it was considered a "Cooking Bible" of its day. The recipes included in the book cover the wide spectrum of cooking know-how that exists in the south; everything from directions on how to cook "Cornfield Peas", as related to Mrs. Tyree by a slave cook, to Mrs. Robert E. Lee's recipe for Blackberry Wine, which Mrs. Tyree copied from a recipe written in Mrs. Lee's own handwriting.

Imagine how surprised I was to find that long-ago recipe for "Pocketbook Rolls" that my friend Daisy used to make. (I wrote about our elderly friend, Miss Daisy, in a previous post.) With Daisy growing up in the early days of Louisville, it makes perfect sense that these were the same rolls that their cook made when Daisy was a little girl. I was so excited to find this old recipe that it is our sample recipe today. Good luck finding this jewel of cooking and housekeeping history!

Page 33 Pocketbook Rolls

1 quart of flour
1 teaspoonful of salt
2 teaspoonfuls of sugar
2 Tablespoonfuls of lard
3 Tablespoonfuls of yeast
2 eggs

Mix up these ingredients with warm water, making up the dough at ten A.M. in summer and eight A.M. in winter. Put in half the lard when it is first worked up, and at the second working, put in the rest of the lard and a little more flour.
Roll out the dough in strips as long and wide as your hand, spread with butter and roll up like a pocketbook. Put them in buttered tins, and when they are light, bake them a light brown.

I will be at these cooking swaps today:



  1. Sounds yummy! I think I might try these!

  2. Oh, wow -- for sure this IS a jewel! What a great book to have -- I love the history of this and I am in awe of such a treasure!

    Thanks for sharing one of the recipes with us...I would love to try this out. I hope you will post some more treasured recipes in the future?


  3. What a nice book to have. I love cookbooks with history! Thanks for sharing the recipe too.

  4. It's a balm and a pleasure to read these recipes from yesteryear. I agree with the other poster who asked for more. More, more! Hope you have a fun, food-filled weekend.

  5. How sweet--pocketbook rolls! I hope that this summer I can experiment with baking and cooking more. I'm going to come back through and try things out, and that will be a fun Food on Fridays series--trying out recipes posted by others. I do that a little now, but to do it intentionally for a while will be extra fun. I'll try to come back and cook old-fashioned with you!