From Pottage to Pinperneau: The Eldon House Cookbooks

The Eldon House Collection holds several books of cookery – from printed materials to hand inscribed “receipt” books. Historical cookbooks contain more than just tips on turning a “joint of meat to perfection;” they are encyclopedia’s of domestic advice, encompassing recipes for home remedies, medicinal treatments as well as delicious desserts! This exhibit aims in its display and interpretation of several historical cookbooks to elaborate on the origins, uses and terminology of these wonderful examples of social history.

Very few recipe books from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries are organized and regulated in the way we expect today. It is unusual to have cooking temperatures listed, as cooks worked from a variety of devices – from tin stoves to open fires. Measurements also are unregulated, the author often referring to handy kitchen implements, such as teacups, to determine the correct ration. Recipes for household remedies are also mixed together, often on the same page, with food preparation. For example, a poisonous remedy for pests might be found alongside a recipe for cake icing.

Spice tin belonging to a former cook of Eldon House. ca. 1900