Celebrate Colonial American Cooking: Cookbooks for Thanksgiving and Christmas

Monticello (Used with permission.)
Monticello (Used with permission.)

Want to celebrate American food history and ingenuity this year? The great state of Virginia gave birth to eight U.S. presidents — George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, Zachary Taylor, and Woodrow Wilson. And they all liked to eat, some more than others. In fact, Thomas Jefferson still claims the title of being the most gourmet-minded of the lot.

Colonial-style Kitchen (Used with permission.)
Colonial-style Kitchen (Used with permission.)

The following books will help you greatly in planning meals, especially Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners if you decide on a colonial menu or theme. Right now this bibliography leans heavily toward Virginia and the English cookbooks brought to the New World by the first colonialists. (Note that I’ve indicated where some of the books are available in full text online; come back often because more may be added as time goes by.)

Austin, Thomas, ed. Two Fifteenth Century Cookery Books. Krauss Reprint, 1985.

Booth, Sally Smith. Hung, Strung and Potted: A History of Eating Habits in Colonial America. 1971.

Carson, Jane. Colonial Virginia Cookery (Williamsburg, Va.: Colonial Williamsburg, c. 1968).

Daniel farrell)
Shirley Plantation, Virginia (Photo credit: Daniel farrell)

Carter, Susannah. The Frugal Housewife (Garden City, N. Y.: Doubleday & Co,., 1976).

Cederberg, Herbert Renando. An Economic Analysis of English Settlement in North America, 1583-1635.  New York : Arno Press, 1977.

The Complete Cooks Guide. London. l683.

Cooking at Jamestown Settlement: A Living History Museum Administered by the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation Recreating America’s First Permanent English Settlement. Williamsburg, Va.: Williamsburg Pub. Co. 1990 (?).

Crump, Nancy Carter. Hearthside Cooking: An Introduction to Virginia Plantation Cuisine Including Bills of Fare, Tools and Techniques, and Original Recipes with Adaptations for Modern Fireplaces and Kitchens. 1986. (Second edition, December 2008)

Dawson, Thomas. The Good Housewife’s Jewel.1596. (Available in reprint)

Eden, Trudy. Early American Table: Food and Society in the New World (2008)

Fettiplace, Lady Elinor. Elinor Fettiplace’s Receipt Book. 1604. (Available in reprint)

Fowler, Damon Lee. Dining at Monticello. 2005.

Glasse, Hannah. The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy. 1717. (Available in reprint)

Grieve, Mrs. M., A Modern Herbal. 1931.

Harbury, Katharine E. Colonial Virginia’s Cooking Dynasty. 2004.

Mount Vernon, Virginia (Used with permission.)
Mount Vernon, Virginia (Used with permission.)

Hess, Karen, ed. Martha Washington’s Booke of Cookery and Booke of Sweetmeats. 1749. (1995 reprint edition available)

Kimball, Marie. The Martha Washington Cook Book. 2004. (Based on 1749 original)

_____. Thomas Jefferson’s Cook Book. 1976.

Lewis, Nelly Custis. Nelly Custis Lewis’s Housekeeping Book, edited by Patricia Brady Schmit. 1982.

Lewis, Taylor Biggs and Joanne B. Young. Christmas in Williamsburg. Revised Edition. 1976.

Mansur, Caroline E. The Virginia Hostess, Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century. Volume I. 1960.

Markham, Gervase. The English Housewife. London, 1615.

May, Robert. The Accomplisht Cook, Or, the Art and Mystery of Cookery. London, 1685.

McConnaughey, Gibson Jefferson. Two Centuries of Virginia Cooking: The Haw Branch Plantation Cookbook. 1977.

Meyer, Leland Richard. “Fireplace Cookery” pp. 325-42, in: Henry J. Kauffman, The American Fireplace: Chimneys, Mantlepieces, Fireplaces and Accessories. 1972.

Montagne, Letitia. The Housewife. London, 1781.

Mulloy, Angela. Plantation Feasts and Festivities: A Celebration of the Grandes Dames of Virginia food and Hospitality. The Court Wayne Press. 2001.

Noël Hume, Audrey. Food. Archaeological Series/No. 9. 1978.

Norman, Barbara. Tales of the Table: A History of American Cuisine. 1972.

Nott, John. The Cooks and Confectioners Dictionary. London, 1733.

O’Hara-May, Jane. Elizabethan Dyetary of Health. Coronado Press. 1977.

Oliver, Libbey Hodges et al. Colonial Williamsburg Decorates for Christmas. Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. 1981.

Oliver, Libbey Hodges and Theobald, Mary Miley. Williamsburg Christmas. Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. 1999.

Oliver, Sandra L. Food in Colonial and Federal America. Greenwood. 2005.

Peachey, Stuart. The Gourmet’s Guide 1580-1660. (English food)

Pegge, The Rev. Samuel. The Forme of Cury. Printed for the Society of London Antiquaries by John Nichols, 1780.

Phipps, Frances. Colonial Kitchens, Their Furnishings and the Gardens. 1972.

Price, Rebecca. The Compleat Cook, or the Secrets of a Seventeenth Century Housewife, compiled and introduced by Madeleine Masson. London, 1671. (1974 reprint available)

The Queen’s Closet Opened: Being Incomparable Secrets in Physick, Chyrurgery, Preserving and Candying. London, 1671.

Rabisha, William. The Whole Body of Cookery Dissected. London, 1673.

Randolph, Mary. The Virginia Housewife, or, Methodical Cook. 1860. (Available in reprint)

Berkeley Plantation, Virginia (Used with permission.)
Berkeley Plantation, Virginia (Used with permission.)

Rountree, Susan Hight. Christmas Decorations from Williamsburg. 1991.

_____.From a Colonial Garden: Ideas, Decorations, Recipes. Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. 2003.

_____. Entertaining Ideas From Williamsburg. Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. 1993.

Sheppard, Donna C. A Williamsburg Christmas. Colonial Wiliamsburg Foundation. 1980.

Simmons, Amelia. American Cookery. 1796. (Various reprints available)

Simpson, Doris and Suzanne Goldenson. Open-Hearth Cooking. 1982.

Silitch, Clarissa M., ed. Old Farmer’s Almanac Colonial Cookbook. 1982.

Spencer, Maryellen. “Food in Seventeenth-Century Tidewater Virginia: A Method for Studying Historical Cuisines.” Ph.D. dissertation, Virginia Tech. 1982.

Stavely, Kevin and Kathleen Fitzgerald. America’s Founding Food: The Story of New England Cooking. (2003)

Tyler, Payne Bouknight, et al. The James River Plantations Cookbook. 1980.

The Williamsburg Cookbook. The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. 1975.

Wason, Betty. Heritage Cooking: Holiday Time in the Jamestown Colony. Blue Springs, Missouri : Blue Springs Dairy. 19–.

Williamson, CiCi. The Best of Virginia Farms, Cookbook & Tour Book, Recipes, People, Places. 2003.

Wilson, C. Anne. Food and Drink in Britain from the Stone Age to Recent Times. 1984.

Virginia Travis)
George Washington Birthplace Kitchen (Photo credit: Virginia Travis)

Wright, Louis B. The Cultural Life of the American Colonies, 1607-1763. 1957.

© 2008 C. Bertelsen

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