Olde Cookery: Recipes from 1877

Recently, I visited the Henry Ford Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan. The village was founded by Henry Ford and contains the homes of Ford, Thomas Edison, Robert Frost and many other famous historical figures (Ford literally moved them). The village runs like a town would in the late 1800’s; it has farms, where the employees plant, sow and cook the way they used to 150 years ago.

Man, am I thankful for fridges, slow-cooker, gas stoves, and the grocery stores–cooking back then was the definition of “making food from scratch”. In the Village, I bought a book called “Buckeye Cookery and Practical Housekeeping” from 1877. The book has no pictures, small text, probably around 350 recipes, 200 house keeping tips and 40 medical tips (a lot consist of cutting off or burning affected areas–so not the best advice). I have been going through the recipes and they are very simple, but boy they sound delicious. I wanted to share my top 7 recipes that I have found so far (I haven’t gone through all of them):


Boil half a cup rice; when cold mix one quart sweet milk, the yolks of four eggs, and flour sufficient to make a stiff batter; beat the whites to a froth, stir in one tea-spoon soda, and two of cream tartar; add a little salt, and lastly the whites of eggs; bake on a griddle. A nice way to serve is to spread them while hot with butter, and almost any kind of preserves or jelly; roll them up neatly, cut off the ends, sprinkle them with sugar, and serve immediately. -Mra. Walter Mitchell, Gallipolis.

My side notes:

  • Sweet milk is just the equivalent of regular whole milk—there are recipes that call for sour milk, because they did not waste food back then.
  • Soda is just baking soda
  • Here is a video of how to beat whites to a froth:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SEfO4cL-yqM


Half box gelatine, soaked till dissolved in as much cold water as will cover it, four ounces sweet chocolate grated, one quart sweet milk, one cup sugar; boil milk, sugar and chocolate five minutes, add gelatine, and boil five minutes more, stirring constantly; flavor with vanilla, put in molds to cool and eat with cream. If wanted for tea, make in the morning; if for dinner, the night before. For a plain blanc-mange omit the chocolate.-Mrs. Dr. Houston, Urbana

My side notes:

  • Gelatine is the old English word for regular gelatin
  • I know this one doesn’t have the best measurements, (what is half a box? How much water?). My opinion, just wing it—if it is too thick add more water, if it’s too watery add more gelatin. 
  • Sweet milk is just whole milk.
  • You can use vanilla extract, just be careful because it is really strong. You can also use vanilla beans—if you want to go that route I would start with one 1 bean and add as needed.


Boil one pint vinegar, stir in a quarter pound mustard while hot, add two table-spoons sugar, tea-spoon salt, and one of white pepper; let the mixture boil.-Mrs. Olivia S. Hinman, Battle Oreek, Mich.

My side notes:

  • Use mustard powder.
  • I don’t know what type of vinegar; you can experiment. I think Apple cider vinegar is best.


Take three quarters of a pound sugar to each pound apples; make a syrup of the sugar and water in which root ginger (bruised and tied in a bag) has been boiled until the strength is well extracted, add a little lemon-juice or sliced lemon, skim off all scum, and boil in the syrup a few apples at time, until they are transparent. When all are done and the syrup cooled, return the apples to it. Well Flavored fruit should be used. The ginger may be omitted if dis-liked.

My side notes:

  • Bruised ginger – just beat it up.
  • Use a cheese cloth for the bag.


Take cold chicken, or roast or boiled beef or veal, mince very fine, moisten with the cold gravy if at hand, or moisten well, and add one egg, season with pepper, salt and an onion or sage; make into small cakes, cover with egg and bread-crumbs, and fry in lard and butter. One cup fresh boiled rice may be added before making into cakes.

My side notes:

  • If you don’t want to or can’t use lard use salted butter, but butter burns fast so you will have to change it when it burns.
  • You can use canola oil, but it won’t taste the same; unfortunately lard and butter are as delicious as they are unhealthy.


Skim and strain one gallon of stock made from nice fresh beef; take three quarts tomatoes, remove skin and cut out hard center, put through a fine sieve, and add to the stock; make a paste of butter and flour, and, when the stock begins to boil, stir in half a tea-cup, taking care not to have it lumpy; boil twenty minutes, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. When out of season, canned tomatoes will answer, two quarts being sufficient.-Mrs. Col Reid Delaware

My side notes:

  • You can buy the beef broth- I like to use a brand called Kitchen Basics.


Pare and boil till done, drain, and mash in the kettle until perfectly smooth; add milk or cream, and butter and salt; beat like cake with a large spoon, and the more they are beaten the nicer they become. Put in a dish, smooth, place a lump of butter in the center, sprinkle with pepper; or add one or two eggs, pepper, mix thoroughly, put in baking dish, dip a knife in sweet milk, smooth over, wetting every part with milk, and place in a hot oven twenty minutes.

My side notes:

  • Sweet milk is regular whole milk.
  • Cook it in the oven for 20 minutes at 350 degrees

One Comment Add yours

  1. Milo DianaPaonessa says:

    I love old recipes! I have a few favorites from my grandmother.

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