The Virginia Housewife: or, Methodical Cook

THE

VIRGINIA HOUSEWIFE:

OR,

METHODICAL COOK.



BY MRS. MARY RANDOLPH.



METHOD IS THE SOUL OF MANAGEMENT.


STEREOTYPE EDITION,

WITH AMENDMENTS AND ADDITIONS.


BALTIMORE:

PUBLISHED BY JOHN PLASKITT,

218 Market Street.

*****

1836

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, TO WIT:

Be it remembered, That on the twenty-ninth day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and Seal.twenty-eight, and of the Independence of the United States of America, the fifty-second, William B. Randolph, of the said district, has deposited in the office of the Clerk of the District Court for the District of Columbia, the title of a book, the right whereof he claims as proprietor, in the words following, to wit:

“The Virginia Housewife; or, Methodical Cook. By Mrs. Mary Randolph. Method is the soul of management.”

In conformity to the act of the Congress of the United States, entitled, “An act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of Maps, Charts, and Books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies during the times therein mentioned”—and also to the act, entitled, “An act supplementary to an act, entitled, ‘An act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of Maps, Charts, and Books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies during the times therein mentioned,’ and extending the benefits thereof to the arts of designing, engraving, and etching historical and other prints.”

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and affixed the public seal of my office, the day and year aforesaid.

EDM. I. LEE,
Clerk of the District Court for the District of Columbia.

PREFACE.


The difficulties I encountered when I first entered on the duties of a housekeeping life, from the want of books sufficiently clear and concise to impart knowledge to a Tyro, compelled me to study the subject, and by actual experiment to reduce every thing in the culinary line, to proper weights and measures. This method I found not only to diminish the necessary attention and labour, but to be also economical: for, when the ingredients employed were given in just proportions, the article made was always equally good. The government of a family, bears a Lilliputian resemblance to the government of a nation. The contents of the Treasury must be known, and great care taken to keep the expenditures from being equal to the receipts. A regular system must be introduced into each department, which may be modified until matured, and should then pass into an inviolable law. The grand arcanum of management lies in three simple rules:—“Let every thing be done at a proper time, keep every thing in its proper place, and put every thing to its proper use.” If the mistress of a family, will every morning examine minutely the different departments of her household, she must detect errors in their infant state, when they can be corrected with ease; but a few days' growth gives them gigantic strength: and disorder, with all her attendant evils, are introduced. Early rising is also essential to the good government of a family. A late breakfast deranges the whole business of the day, and throws a portion of it on the next, which opens the door for confusion to enter. The greater part of the following receipts have been written from memory, where they were impressed by long continued practice. Should they prove serviceable to the young inexperienced housekeeper, it will add greatly to that gratification which an extensive circulation of the work will be likely to confer.

M. RANDOLPH.

Washington, January, 1831.

INTRODUCTION.


Management is an art that may be acquired by every woman of good sense and tolerable memory. If, unfortunately, she has been bred in a family where domestic business is the work of chance, she will have many difficulties to encounter; but a determined resolution to obtain this valuable knowledge, will enable her to surmount all obstacles. She must begin the day with an early breakfast, requiring each person to be in readiness to take their seats when the muffins, buckwheat cakes, &c. are placed on the table. This looks social and comfortable. When the family breakfast by detachments, the table remains a tedious time; the servants are kept from their morning’s meal, and a complete derangement takes place in the whole business of the day. No work can be done till breakfast is finished. The Virginia ladies, who are proverbially good managers, employ themselves, while their servants are eating, in washing the cups, glasses, &c.; arranging the cruets, the mustard, salt-sellers, pickle vases, and all the apparatus for the dinner table. This occupies but a short time, and the lady has the satisfaction of knowing that they are in much better order than they would be if left to the servants. It also relieves her from the trouble of seeing the dinner table prepared, which should be done every day with the same scrupulous regard to exact neatness and method, as if a grand company was expected. When the servant is required to do this daily, he soon gets into the habit of doing it well; and his mistress having made arrangements for him in the morning, there is no fear of bustle and confusion in running after things that may be called for during the hour of dinner. When the kitchen breakfast is over, and the cook has put all things in their proper places, the mistress should go in to give her orders. Let all the articles intended for the dinner, pass in review before her: have the butter, sugar, flour, meal, lard, given out in proper quantities; the catsup, spice, wine, whatever may be wanted for each dish, measured to the cook. The mistress must tax her own memory with all this: we have no right to expect slaves or hired servants to be more attentive to our interest than we ourselves are: they will never recollect these little articles until they are going to use them; the mistress must then be called out, and thus have the horrible drudgery of keeping house all day, when one hour devoted to it in the morning, would release her from trouble until the next day. There is economy as well as comfort in a regular mode of doing business. When the mistress gives out every thing, there is no waste; but if temptation be thrown in the way of subordinates, not many will have power to resist it; besides, it is an immoral act to place them in a situation which we pray to be exempt from ourselves.

The prosperity and happiness of a family depend greatly on the order and regularity established in it. The husband, who can ask a friend to partake of his dinner in full confidence of finding his wife unruffled by the petty vexations attendant on the neglect of household duties—who can usher his guest into the dining-room assured of seeing that methodical nicety which is the essence of true elegance,—will feel pride and exultation

in the possession of a companion, who gives to his home charms that gratify every wish of his soul, and render the haunts of dissipation hateful to him. The sons bred in such a family will be moral men, of steady habits; and the daughters, if the mother shall have performed the duties of a parent in the superintendence of their education, as faithfully as she has done those of a wife, will each be a treasure to her husband; and being formed on the model of an exemplary mother, will use the same means for securing the happiness of her own family, which she has seen successfully practised under the paternal roof.

This work was published before January 1, 1925, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.