Category Archives: Food

Hannah Glasse cookbook

Hannah Glasse: Here’s to the Women Who Wrote Cookbooks

For Women’s History Month I will introduce you to some women who were deeply influential in our country, starting with my friend* Hannah Glasse.  Not politicians, not scientists (well applied science, maybe), but definitely a unique variety of artists.  I am talking about early women cookbook authors.

Boswell wrote that Samuel Johnson said, “Although women can spin very well, they cannot make a good book of cookery.”

Forget Samuel Johnson. Each week this month, I will give you a little information about how one of these women helped her sisters in eighteenth and nineteenth century America.

For the family historian, these women cookbook authors provide an invaluable guide to how your ancestors in aprons lived and cooked. For the foodie, the books gives us clues to why we eat the way we do.

The Women and Their Books

  • 1774 – Hannah Glasse. The earliest cookbooks and household management books distributed in the colonies came from England. Men were the authors of many of these cookbooks. However, a woman wrote the most influential early cookbook in the colonies , The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy by Hannah Glasse.
  • 1796 – Amelia Simmons. Simmons assembled the first known cookbook written by an American for an American audience, American Cookery.
  • 1824 – Mary Randolph. A pattern of including household management and efficiency along with “receipts” started with The Virginia House-Wife or Methodical Cook by Mary Randolph.
  • 1830- Annie Frost.  I have referred frequently here at Ancestors in Aprons to Godey’s Lady’s Book (Magazine) that included recipes and household hints. Frost wrote the cooking sections and the cookbook Godey’s Lady’s Book of Recipts published in 1870. Founded by Louis A. Godey in 1830 and edited by Sarah Josepha Hale until 1877, Godey’s Lady’s Book won a huge following for all those years. After Hale left and the magazine was sold, it expired just before the start of the new century.
  • 1861 – Isabella Beeton, whose book The Book of Household Management Comprising information for the Mistress, Housekeeper, Cook, Kitchen-Maid, Butler, Footman, Coachman, Valet, Upper and Under House-Maids, Lady’s-Maid, Maid-of-all-Work, Laundry-Maid, Nurse and Nurse-Maid, Monthly Wet and Sick Nurses, etc. etc.—also Sanitary, Medical, & Legal Memoranda: with a History of the Origin, Properties, and Uses of all Things Connected with Home Life and Comfort (pause to take a breath) was published in England.  Beeton could be called the Martha Stewart of her day.
  • 1866 – Miss Malinda Russell. It has taken a couple of centuries for historians to realize the important influence of African-American kitchen slaves on what we think of as American cooking. But the first cookbook by a former slave makes it clear.  Domestic Cook Book: Containing a Selection of Useful Precepts, self-published by Miss Malinda Russell, explains that the book “follows the plan of The Virginia Housewife.” I suspect if Mary Randolph had been totally honest, whe would have acknowledged that while the plan of her book belonged to her, most of the recipes came from slave cooks.

Hannah Glasse

Hannah Glasse (1708-1770) writes for the edification of British Victoria-era servants rather than the wives of American frontier farmers. Nevertheless, her practical advice contains wisdom for the ages. Her book The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy first appeared in 1747. Her husband, John Glasse, whom she had married in 1724, died the year her book was published. The same year, she started her seamstress business.

Apparently the business did not do well, because by 1754, sources believe she declared herself bankrupt . She auctioned off the rights to her popular book, and was declared out of bankruptcy in 1755. However, in 1757 she again was broke and serving time in debtors prison. Apparently she put her time in prison to good use, because when she got out, she published The Servants Directory. While The Art of Cookery continued to make money for others, her new book did not catch on. Her third book, The Complete Confectioner focusing on preserved fruit, wine and desserts appeared in 1760. Several editions appeared, but the final book never achieved the popularity The Art of Cookery. (Some sources say this was her first book rather than her third.)

During their twenty-three years of marriage,John and Hannah, who worked as servants, had 10   children, five of whom survived childhood.

*I think of Hannah Glasse as a close friend. Although she was born a mere 231 years before me, her writing style and general approach to life make her seem like a next door neighbor I might swap recipes with.

Hannah Glasse’s Cooking

If nothing else, I will always have a warm spot in my heart for her because of this one phrase:

“Most people spoil garden things by over boiling them. All things green should have a little crispness, for if they are overboil’d they neither have sweetness or beauty.”

Hannah Glasse had a rough life including a stint in debtor’s prison which resulted in her having to sell the rights to The Art of Cookery. In an age of Upstairs-Downstairs, Hannah Glasse was solidly downstairs. Not an educated upper class person like some of the successful women authors, Hannah had worked for years as a servant, and later started a dressmaking shop of her own. She says in her introduction (which seems to be written more for the lady of the house who might buy the book for her servants) that she makes things simple so the information can be understood by the “lower sort.”  For instance, she says, the reader might not understand if she said to use lardoons, so she says bacon.

Economy and efficiency guide her recipes and other household advice.  What’s the point in using an expensive ingredient if a cheaper one will do the job?

“I have known of a cook who used 6 pounds of butter to fry 12 eggs, when everybody knows who understands cooking, that half a pound is enough.”
Hannah Glasse cookbook

Hannah Glasse 1770 edition frontspiece

“As marketing must be the first branch of cookery, I shall begin with that table first.”

You must have a strong stomach to follow her instructions on checking whether meat is fresh.  Thank goodness for refrigeration!  Nowadays we feel virtuous if we buy food in season. However our great-great grandmothers were restricted not only in season for vegetables and fruits, but in buying poultry (for instance).

I mentioned earlier Glasse’s recipe for curried chicken–an early use of the Indian style of cooking.

While some of the recipes may sound arcane, her sauces for boiled turkey sound delicious. For instance–oyster sauce and celery sauce.

Oyster Sauce

Take a pint of oysters and set them off, strain the liquor from them, put them in cold water, and wash and beard them, put them into your liquor in a stew pan with a blade of mace, and some butter rolled in flour and a quarter of a lemon; boil them up, then put in half a pint of cream, & boil it together gently, take the lemon and mace out, squeeze the juice of the lemon in the sauce, then serve it in your boat or basin.

Celery Sauce

Take the white part of celery, cut it abouto one inch long; boil it in some water til it is tender, then take a half pint of veal broth, a blade of mace, and thicken it with a little flour and butter, put in half a pint of cream, boil them up gently together, put in your celery and boil it up, then pour it in your  boat.

On the other hand, what might have seemed simple to the Victorian era cook–a servant preparing a meal for entertaining a dozen or more people–definitely does not sound simple to us.  “Beat for two hours together”??  Check out this post with a recipe for Seed Cake.

Your Own Copy of The Art of Cookery

There are many ways you can acquire Hannah Glasse’s delightful cookbook and most of them are totally free.  Be aware that the various version will be different, depending on who was editing (and amending) the original.  If you want a real  1747 version just go to ABE Books (and be thankful no one can send you to debtor’s prison).

YouTube Find an audio version of the 1748 version, with editor’s notes laying out the somewhat arrogant sounding corrections and additions made by the editor.

Google Books — Just a few of the many editions available in digital form. All of these come after Hannah Glasse sold her rights to the book.

1765 edition

1780 edition

1791, 20th edition

1805 edition  First edition published in America

1830 edition

Print and Digital Editions

If you prefer not to shell out thousands for that original first edition, you can find print (reproduction)  copies and various editions for your digital reader at

The American Edition 1805

The Hannah Glasse book continued racking up sales in many, many editions, both during her lifetime and after her death.  Editions popped up in countries around the world for nearly one hundred years after the original publication in 1747. The American printed version that I have, published in 1805, contains a few recipes native to America–Indian pudding, pumpkin pie, cranberry tarts and maple syrup.

If your ancestors owned Cookery, they likely would own the 1805 edition printed in America. Although I have read that Thomas Jefferson and George Washington and Ben Franklin all owned editions much earlier.

I’m happy to have introduced you to Hannah Glasse, who I am convinced influenced many of my female ancestors, even though very few of them hired servants.

Chocolate Swirl Bars–A Slice of my Life

Most kids love to cook. Once when I was a Cub Scout den mother, I asked the boys whether they would rather do a science experiment or cook something–cooking won by a landslide.  This recipe for Chocolate Swirl Bars meets the kid-friendly test.  The measurements allow you to work a bit on math if you want.  Relatively few ingredients means it is easy to mix up.  And best of all, they LOVE the action of swirling the chocolate into the peanut butter dough.

chocolate swirl bar

Bar cookies with peanut butter and chocolate chips.

Note: If you’re making chocolate swirl bars with grandchildren or a group of kids, be sure to check for peanut allergies before you start. Unfortunately, one of my grandsons and one of my great-grandsons would be unable to eat these.

I know they are popular with kids, because my youngest son started making them when he was in eighth grade.  He liked making the chocolate swirl bars, and turned it into a business.  We discussed the cost of the ingredients, which he had to figure out and then return to me from his earnings.

The inspiration for starting a business could have come from Junior Achievement–a school program that helped kids in high school start their own business.  His older son had quite a company going, supervising a group of kids who made macrame’ plant hangers back when macrame’ was all the rage.

At the time, my husband also acted as an advisor for a J.A. group at another high school.  I still have a spatter guard for a skillet and a hamburger press, both made by teens, as reminders of those projects.

But COOKIES! A much better business, in my humble opinion.

My son baked a batch and took small samples of the cookies door to door in our neighborhood, fed them to the neighbors and took orders for a dozen cookies.  I don’t know how long before his interest flagged, but it may very well have been the beginning of a lasting talent in salesmanship.

Whether you cook them yourself, or find some kids to do the baking, you’ll find that the only problem with these chocolate swirl bars is waiting until they are cool enough to come out of the pan. The smell is heavenly. The taste likewise. Can you eat just one?

Other kid-friendly cookie recipes:

Peanut butter cookies

Pumpkin Cookies

Rhema’s Raisin Bars

Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chip Swirl Cookies

Serves 24
Prep time 20 minutes
Cook time 40 minutes
Total time 1 hour
Allergy Egg, Peanuts, Wheat
Meal type Dessert
Easy to make Peanut Butter- Chocolate Chip Swirl Bars look great and taste as good as they look.


  • 1/2 cup Peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup butter (softened)
  • 3/4 cups brown sugar (tightly packed)
  • 3/4 cups white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 10-12 oz chocolate chips


1. Beat well the first four ingredients.
2. Beat in eggs and vanilla.
3. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in separate bowl, then beat into the peanut butter mixture.
4. Spread into greased 9" x 13" pan. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top, as evenly as possible.
5. Bake 5 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove from oven, and draw knife through batter to make marbled effect with chocolate.
6. Return to oven and bake for 30-40 minutes in preheated 350 degree oven, until brown on edges, and almost solid in center. (Will continue to firm up out of oven.)
7. Cool on wire rack for ten minutes, then cut in squares. Put cookies on a cooling rack until completely cool. Freeze or store in airtight container.


You can use either semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips and either smooth or crunchy peanut butter in these delicious cookies.  Kids love to make them and get creative with the marbleing.

Picalilli from Grandma’s Garden

Way back at the end of 2015, I made some picalilli.  Somehow in the rush of Thanksgiving and Christmas that year, I did not share the recipe with you.  I apologize.  Of all the things that Grandma Vera Anderson preserved, I most yearn to have the recipe for picalilli. Alas, she probably just threw together whatever vegetables, in whatever amount she harvested, and no recipe remains.

And what is picalilli? It’s origin seems to be India via England. The inclusion of turmeric provides a big clue to Indian origina, as turmeric is a must in Indian cooking.  I have included some links to more information down below, including the puzzle of  the difference between picalilli and chow-chow.

Although I do not have Grandma’s recipe for picalilli, I think I came up with a pretty fair approximation, after scouring old cookbooks and the Internet. Just keep in mind, this is a pickle made at the end of the growing season, so she might well have included other “leftovers” from her garden.

Picallili vegetables

Chopped vegetables for picallili. Cabbage, bell peppers, green tomatoes.

Cabbage,green tomatoes, red bell peppers, green bell peppers ( which Grandma called “mangoes” in a 1943 letter), sugar and spices. Recipes call for onions, which I can’t eat. I thought the picalilli was fine without them, but feel free to add them if that is important to you.

This recipe comes from the Ball canning site.  I highly recommend this site if you are a novice at preserving and canning, as I am.  The Ball people have been providing the jars and lids and advice for generations, so you can find answers to your questions about what to do if you don’t have a canning kettle, how long you can keep things preserved for refrigerator rather than canned under pressure, and how to prepare your jars and lids.

A note on Ball canning jars.  Mason jars, invented in 1858 by John Mason, are the style of jar that Ball manufactured in Buffalo, New York, starting in 1884. Do you own some old Ball jars? Learn all about dating Ball jars at this website.

I deviated from the recipe by leaving out the onions, substituting ground giner for grated ginger root, and and I did not boil the filled cans for long shelf storage.  Instead, I sterilized the jars and kept the product in the refrigerator for not over two months.

If you do not have half pint glass canning jars, you will need six or seven of them.  Do not reuse the two-part canning lids.  You can find the lids and jars in most grocery stores, and in Walmart.

Another thing you may not have on hand is cheesecloth–needed to make a spice bag. That also should be available at your grocery store.

Picallili spice bag

Picallili spice bag

Pickling spices are available in the spice section of your grocery store. (That’s the pickling spices in the blue-lidded container.  The other round beads are the mustard seed. If you’re lucky, you’ll have access to a store that sells spices and herbs from bins, so you can get the small amount you need–only 1/4 cup.

Picallili spices

Dried spices for picallili

Everything else in the recipe should be easy to find.

Picallilli seasonings

Picallilli seasonings

Everyone who tried the picalilli on my Thanksgiving table–even the picky eaters–loved it.

By the way, Grandma also made something she called chow-chow, and I have no idea what was in it or how it was different.  I vaguely relate it to pickled corn, but I am not sure about that. Anyhow, here is more information about the varous pickles and chow-chow. Notice how close the Philadelphia Pickle is to my recollection of Grandma’s Picalilli. And a second article from the same site, has several Chow Chow recipes that sound suspiciously like Picalilli.


Prep time 13 hours
Cook time 1 hour, 25 minutes
Total time 14 hours, 25 minutes
Dietary Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Misc Pre-preparable, Serve Cold
Website Ball Preserving
The origins of picalilli are mysterious, but Grandma Vera Anderson made it from the last of the vegetables in her garden.


  • 5 cups cabbage (finely chopped (About 1 1/2 medium heads))
  • 4 cups green tomatoes (unpeeled, cored and chopped (about 8 medium))
  • 1 1/2 cup onion (chopped (about 2 medium))
  • 1 cup red bell pepper (stem and seeds removed (1 large))
  • 1 cup green bell pepper (stem and seeds removed (1 large))
  • 3 tablespoons salt
  • 1/4 cup pickling spice
  • 4 tablespoons ginger root (coarsely chopped (or 1/2 tsp. ground ginger))
  • 2 tablespoons mustard seeds
  • 3 cups white vinegar
  • 1 3/4 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric


1. Combine cabbage, green tomatoes, onions (opt.), red and green peppers and salt in large glass or stainless steel bowl. Cover (a towel is fine) and let stand in a cool place for twelve hours or overnight.
2. When the mixture has sat for twelve hours, transfer to a colander in the sink and drain. Rinse with cool water and drain thoroughly. Using your hands, squeeze out excess liquid. Set aside.
3. Heat jars in simmering water (not boiling), or in 250 degree oven until ready for use. Wash lids in warm sopay water and set lids and bands aside. (Or run through dishwasher with heated dry cycle.)
4. Prepare a spice bag by putting pickling spices, mustard seed and ginger in a square of cheesecloth. Tie two opposite corners tightly, then gather up and tie the other two opposite corners ro make the spice bag.
5. In a large stainless steel pot, combine the vegetable mixture with the vinegar, water, sugar, turmeric and the spice bag. Cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Uncover and boil for 5 minutes, stirring frquently. Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring frequently for one hour, until thickened to the consistency of a thin commercial relish--about 20 minutes.
6. Discard spice bag.
7. Ladle hot relish into hot jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary, by adding hot relish. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Apply band until fit is "fingertip tight." (In other words as tight as you can fasten with just your fingers).
8. If you are preserving the picallili for long-term shelf storage, process jars in boiling water to cover for ten minutes. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed.
9. If you are storing in the refrigerator rather than processing for shelf storage, let the jars cool for one hour, then store in refrigerator.


Onions are optional. In fact all the vegetables are interchangeable in picalilli.  Tumeric gives the pickle a distinctive yellow hue, and a hint at its Indian origins.

Have you eaten or made picalilli or chow-chow?  What were the ingredients? I’d love to know if they differ in various parts of the country.