Book Review

 A Book of Cookery, by a Lady

Kimberly Walters asked me to have a look at her new book A Book of Cookery, by a Lady. I felt honored to be asked. Who wouldn’t love it when an author of an new cookery book sends you a free copy to review.   Kim is an amateur  historian and started hearth cooking at Washington headquarters, as Mr. Elizabeth Thompson, the housekeeper.

Her writing style is very similar to what you would find in the 18th century, and can be a bit difficult to comprehend in the beginning, however, like the narrative as with the early cookery books, one gets the hang of it after a while. 

In the foreword, Kimberly states that the main purpose of the book is to bring together many early 18th century receipts, techniques, measurements, etiquette, and equipment that have been printed elsewhere and compile them into one source for ease of use, and this she does.

However, this book also has historical commentary, and she strays a bit by having documents regarding George Washington scattered throughout the book. Mostly about his traveling war family and what they were eating at various times, as well as the equipage he ordered for serving food. Where this is interesting it does not follow what she proposed to do, and the book is a heavy 346 pages.

Yet for all that, this one’s worth a look. The recipes are drawn from a wide variety of historical cookbooks and other historical sources. And what George and Martha served while away at war are fun anecdotes to read.

In my library, I have three shelves of early cookery book, all reprints, of course; also, here are all my Past Masters News and articles written by every hearth cook I could get my hands on, in my file cabinet.  It is nice to find one book that has many of these small publications, by present cooking historians in one place.

She has also compiled many receipts of all sorts, from early  books, English and American both north and south. So many of which include cooking , lungs, brains, hearts and such, for her book she has chosen receipts that are, what I would call, more pleasing to our modern palate.  I’m going to try Apoquinimic Cake, by Mary Randolph, “The Virginia Housewife” even though it is a southern receipt. With a bit of research I’m sure I can find a northern receipt very similar that I can use here in New England.

So if you have a limited cookery book collection ” A Book of Cookery” might do you well.  It has over 168 pages of receipts nicely groups in a comprehensible way.  And index it the front of the book.

Kimberly offered a valuable service by combining what is in season with definitions of food and equipment, and she has captures the grandeur of the sweet table for tea. She provides her web sources and the book is well footnoted.  If you’re looking for a cookery book that has brought together information from many sources, “A Book of Cookery” by A Lady  is a fine book for your shelf.



Twice and thrice over, as they say, good is it to repeat and review what is good.
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About Sandie

Since I was a small child I have loved early fireplaces and the smell of smoke in an old house. However it was not until about Fifteen years ago that my journey into hearth cooking began. It all started at the Hurd House Museum in Woodbury Ct. I was the director of the Junior Docent program and among the programs each week we cooked. At about the same time a group of us started the Culinary Historians of Connecticut meeting once a month to discuss equipment used, receipt (18th century term for recipe), and anything between the late 1600 to late 1700 that had to do with hearth cooking. We were fortunate to try our hand at cooking at several Museums throughout Ct and many more private homes. We made cheese; we held a late 1600 dinner and shared our knowledge with others. Our group designrd our own tours such as the Kitchens of Old Wethersfield. In 2000 we were delighted to host the Historic Foodways group of ALFAM at the Hurd House during their conference at Mystic Seaport. We put together a great workshop of Puddings, Sausages, Brown Bread, Beverages you name it we offered it. I am now a member of the ALFAM foodways group. Then it was off to Colonial Williamsburg for the seminar The Art of 18th-Century Cooking: Farm to Hearth to Table. During the years I joined many workshops in Sturbridge Village plus their Dinner in a Country Village and breakfast at the Freeman Farm. So I was pretty much hooked on heart cooking and the 18th century way of life. I joined a wonderful group of ladies and we started the “Hive” a place to improve and grow your 18th century impression and offer research about material culture in 17070’s New England. We also travel with friends and have displays of clothing and teas at Museums in Massachusetts. Many events are held at the Hartwell Tavern at Minute Man National Park. They have been gracious enough to let us play there and entertain and share our knowledge with their visitors. Please visit our “Hive” site if the 1700 interest you. Then the move to New Hampshire and a job at Strawberry Banke in Portsmouth as the co-coordinator of the Junior Role Playing workshop and eventually cooking in front of the hearth at the Wheelwright house. Not only did I enjoy making my evening meals at the hearth to take home but also talking with the visitors. I am an entertainer after all, check out my program page. Most recently I am working at the Museum of Old York in Maine as an educator, hearth cook and organizer of the Junior Docent cooking program in the summer. See some photos in the archive file Because I do make food with the docents and serve food to the public at our Tavern Dinners I took the National Restaurant Association tests called ServSafe and now have my Certification as a Restaurant Manager. I look forward to the Museum of Old York opening again this March 2012 and getting back to the hearth and teaching, however for now I’m cooking at home and enjoying doing so.

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