If you have a Kindle or the Kindle app, you’ve probably discovered that there’s a gold mine of free books available in the public domain, including cookbooks.
Here’s an assortment from the late 1800s to early 1900s that give an incredible peek at American life in those days, ranging from cookbooks for the very young, Quaker cooking adopted for the masses, and even a vegetarian cookbook from 1898.
A Little Cook Book for a Little Girl by Caroline French Benton, 1905
Once upon a time there was a little girl named Margaret, and she wanted to cook, so she went into the kitchen and tried and tried, but she could not understand the cook-books, and she made dreadful messes, and spoiled her frocks and burned her fingers till she just had to cry.
One day she went to her grandmother and her mother and her Pretty Aunt and her Other Aunt, who were all sitting sewing, and asked them to tell her about cooking.
“What is a roux,” she said, “and what’s a mousse and what’s an entrée? What are timbales and sautés and ingredients, and how do you mix ’em and how long do you bake ’em? Won’t somebody please tell me all about it?”
And her Pretty Aunt said, “See the flour all over that new frock!” and her mother said, “Dear child, you are not old enough to cooks yet;” and her grandmother said, “Just wait a year or two, and I’ll teach you myself;” and the Other Aunt said, “Some day you shall go to cooking-school and learn everything; you know little girls can’t cook.”
But Margaret said, “I don’t want to wait till I’m big; I want to cook now; and I don’t want to do cooking-school cooking, but little girl cooking, all by myself.”
The Things Mother Used To Make by Lydia Maria Gurney, 1914
The Things Mother Used To Make consists of old fashioned recipes, which have been for the most part handed down by word of mouth from one generation to another, extending over a period of nearly one hundred years. The author, a New England woman, has during her life tested out in her own kitchen the greater part of these recipes, which represent the best cookery of those times.
This material was originally published in Suburban Life, where it obtained such recognition as seemed to warrant its preservation in book form. The original material has accordingly been amplified, and it is here presented as one of the volumes in the series of Countryside Manuals.
Clayton’s Quaker Cook-Book Being a Practical Treatise on the Culinary Art Adapted to the Tastes and Wants of all Classes by H. J. Clayton, 1883
With plain and easily understood directions for the preparation of every variety of food in the most attractive forms. Comprising the result of a life-long experience in catering to a host of highly cultivated tastes.
Twenty-Five Cent Dinners for Families of Six by Juliet Corson, 1879
PREFACE TO ECONOMICAL HOUSEWIVES:
The wide publicity which the press in different sections of the country has given to my offer to show workingpeople earning a dollar and a half, or less, per day, how to get a good dinner for fifteen cents, has brought me a great many letters from those who earn more, and can consequently afford a more extended diet.
In response to their requirements I have written this book, which I hope will be found servicable in that middle department of cookery it is designed to occupy, where we begin to look for more than the absolute necessaries of life; it is a practical guide to the economical, healthful, and palatable preparation of food, and will serve to show that it is possible to live well upon a very moderate income.
The Golden Age Cook Book by Henrietta Latham Dwight, 1898
“I send this little book out into the world, first, to aid those who, having decided to adopt a bloodless diet, are still asking how they can be nourished without flesh; second, in the hope of gaining something further to protect “the speechless ones” who, having come down through the centuries under “the dominion of man,” have in their eyes the mute, appealing look of the helpless and oppressed. Their eloquent silence should not ask our sympathy and aid in vain; they have a right, as our humble brothers, to our loving care and protection, and to demand justice and pity at our hands; and, as a part of the One Life…“