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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 receipts 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, she 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 about 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 Amazon.com

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.

Waffles: An Invitation to Dinner

When I mentioned on line that I followed my mother’s tradition of making a main course of apple dumplings  (with or without a side dish of cold cuts and cheese slices), friends on social media wanted to come to my house for dinner.  So how would you like an Invitation to dinner with a main course of waffles?

waffles for dinner

Waffles for dinner with knockwurst and syrup

After talking about Waffle Iron Cookies, it occurred to me that I have never talked about making waffles–a mainstay on most of my grandmother’s tables and mine.  If you think of waffles only as a breakfast food, you’re missing a base for an easy meal that is good any time and highly flexible.

A Bit of History

The history of waffles on the Mental Floss website reveals some things you might not have known and some tools you may never have seen. From Belgian waffles to frozen Eggos, waffles kept growing in popularity. Thomas Jefferson, a real conoisseur of good food, brought not one but four waffle irons home from Holland. And if you’re daring, follow the link from the waffle history article to a book that includes a description of a “wafle-frolic” in Colonial New York state.

Mental Floss tells us that the first waffle mix was marketed in 1889, and the first electric waffle iron was marketed by General Electric in 1918. By the 1950s and 60s when my mother bought this little waffle iron, waffles were taken for granted.

Toastmaster Waffle Iron

Toastmaster Waffle Iron

Make Your Own Waffles

Although there are simple one-egg recipes that do not call for separating the eggs and beating the egg whites, I have tried many waffle recipes and am convinced that separated eggs make a big difference in light and crispy waffles.  I also like to use buttermilk, but for those who don’t like buttermilk (here’s looking at my sister, Paula) I have included two recipes here–one with plain milk.

The plain milk recipe comes from an interesting little cookbook I picked up second hand. I love hand written recipes. I also love notes found in old books. So this book brings the best of both those quirky loves. It is called Handwritten Recipes: A Bookseller’s Collection of Curous and Wonderful Recipes Forgotten Between the Pages. The title says it all.  He reproduces the handwritten recipes and transcribes them with a few notes.  He also shows us what book the handwritten and forgotten recipe was stuck inside.

Waffle Iron and Recipe Book

Waffle iron and recipe book.

Just as some old recipe books start with things like “First catch a rabbit,”  the first step in a waffle recipe might need to be


This is mine, a mid-century Toastmaster brand 8″ round waffle iron inherited from my mother. It has a chrome finish, a non-stick interior and bakelite handles and dial.

waffle iron and recipe

Waffle iron open and recipe

Although I have never greased it before use, waffles never stick and the non-stick finish has not peeled or cracked.

The Waffle Recipes and a Helpful Hint

The anonymous person who wrote the recipe in the “Handwritten Recipes” book, included on her recipe note, instructions on keeping the waffle iron clean. and a “formula.”


2 tablespoons baking soda

1 teaspoon water

Brush iron grids. Do not do this often. Never wash grid after cooking as it sticks.

These two recipes–with plain milk or with buttermilk–use basically the same ingredients. However, please note the difference in amounts of baking powder and the addition of baking soda in the buttermilk recipe. When baking with buttermilk, it is necessary to substitute baking soda for at least part of the baking powder.

Why did Mrs. Anonymous call her waffles “Universal Waffles?” Probably because it is the recipe that came with her waffle maker, a Universal brand.

Universal Waffles

Serves 4
From book Handwritten Recipes by Michael Popek
A hand written recipe found by the author of Handwritten Recipes in a 1940-era cookbook, makes a waffle that is hard to improve on.


  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs (separated)
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 6 tablespoons butter (Melted)


1. Preheat waffle iron.
2. Sift flour, salt and baking powder into mixing bowl
3. Beat yolks of eggs well into milk [beat in melted butter]. Add a little at a time [to dry ingredients] stirring until perfectly smooth.
4. Beat egg whites until stiff and fold into mixture.


This recipe comes from a book called Handwritten Recipes: A Bookseller's Collection of Curioius and Wonderful Recipes Forgotten Between the Pages.

Although the recipe's author says it feeds four, the book's author questions that, and I tend to agree.  As a side dish with a lot of other things on the table, maybe.  In my small round waffle iron, this recipe made five 7-inch waffles.

The person who wrote the recipe suggested adding the butter into the batter after adding the milk and egg.  I have changed it to adding melted butter into the milk and egg mixture because I think the butter blends better that way. [brackets in the instructions indicate my additions to the written recipe.]

The handwritten recipe card also contains a valuable hint on cleaning the waffle iron.

Do not clean with soap and water.  Instead, just brush off the crumbs.  Every few uses, you may clean with a paste made of 2 tablespoons baking powder and one teaspoon of water, which is rubbed on and brushed off.

My favorite buttermilk waffle recipe is adapted from Joy of Cooking.

Buttermilk Waffles

Serves 4
Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 30 minutes
Total time 45 minutes
Allergy Egg, Milk, Wheat
Meal type Breakfast, Lunch, Main Dish
Misc Serve Hot


  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs (separated)
  • 6 tablespoons butter (melted)
  • 1 3/4 cup buttermilk


1. Heat oven to 250, if you are going to keep waffles warm before serving. Heat waffle iron. Melt butter.
2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl
3. Separate eggs, and put egg yolks in small bowl
4. Whisk buttermilk into eggs
5. Slowly pour melted butter into buttermilk/egg mixture.
6. Add the liquid ingredients to flour mixture and stir as short a time as possible--just until dry ingredients are blended in.
7. In separate, clean bowl, beat egg whites until firm but not dry and fold into the other ingredients.
8. Spoon batter (which will be thick) into hot waffle iron, not filling to edges. When you close lid, it will smooth out to full layer. Follow manufacturer directions for length of cooking time. (The 7" round waffle iron I use takes 5-6 minutes per waffle.)
9. You can keep waffles on a rack in a 250 degree oven until all are baked. If you have leftovers, see notes below.


If you have never made waffles before, you need to learn how much batter to put in the waffle iron.  It probably takes less than you think it will need, so go easy with the first one until you figure it out.  Your waffle iron may come with instructions about amount of batter to use, and how long to bake the waffle.

You can add many ingredients to waffles to make the sweet or savory.  I like to add grated cheese or grated apples or blueberries.

Serve with butter to melt into the hot waffles, and syrup or applesauce to fill up the indentations.

Bacon or sausage or eggs go well with waffles.

This has been my response to the challenge of the week from 52 Ancestors  “Invitation to Dinner.”

Grandma’s World War II Garden: Family Letters

Vera Anderson, August 1944

Vera Anderson, August 1944

Throughout the letters that my grandmother, Vera Anderson, wrote from Killbuck Ohio to my mother in Ames Iowa in 1943, she included many reference to her World War II garden.

Victory Gardens

Victory Gardens were just one of the many ways that everyday citizens on the homefront were enlisted to help the war effort.  The government helped people learn how to grow gardens, gave them brochures and recipe books to take advantage of the vegetables they grew and exhorted them to save the produce grown by farmers for the troops. And of course–Posters!

World War II Garden Poster

Patriotic gardening poster during World War Two

I’m pretty sure, however, that Grandma never thought of her World War II garden as a Victory Garden–let alone a Munition Plant. She planted gardens every year. She was still doing so more than ten years after the war when my family lived in Killbuck and my father also planted a garden.  People in small rural communities like Killbuck did not need the government to tell them that growing gardens could save money and provide healthy eating.  They always planted in the spring and harvested everything before the first hard frost.

Grandma grew flowers as enthusiastically as she grew vegetables–possibly more so, because flowers caused a lot less work, as you can see below.  An apple tree in her back yard provided small, misshapen but delicious apples as long as I could remember.

In her letters she is as obsessed with the effect of weather on the crops as any farmer would be.

Grandma Writes about Her World War II Garden

Undated letter, probably October 4th :

I gathered in my green tom. & mangoes [ bell peppers] also flowers tonight as they will surely go tonight. The frost hasn’t hurt anything yet.  The trees are beautiful.

Letter written October 12, 1943

Well we are having lovely weather –awful dry. I hear farmers say they are afraid the wheat will not get started for winter. (Coshocton Tribune front page article on October 11 reports the area has had only .77 inch of rain in six weeks, and none in 25 days.)

Later in the letter, she says,

I made 16 pts. of green tom and mango [bell pepper] relish last week and also 7 more pts of tom juice and 3 cans of Kraut like you said.

Salted Green Tomatoes for Relish

Green Tomatoes and Red Peppers, salted. (These look like tomatillos, but the seller at the farmer’s market said they were small tomatoes.

Unfortunately, Grandma did not leave recipe cards for these items. If you would like to make something like her green tomato and mango relish, check out this recipe that I found for “green tomato pickle” in a Mennonite cookbook. Or you might want to try grandma’s recipe for red pepper jam”.  I wrote about her canning in general and in a later article related my experience in following her recipe for “red pepper jam.” When you read these articles you will see that it would take A LOT of “mangoes” to make 16 pts of relish!

Making Canned Food--Re Peppers

Red Peppers for Ready to Make Grandma’s Red Pepper Jam

In an undated letter probably written in soon after the one above, Oct 13? she wrote:

I made some more catsup today. That is the last of tom. Only green ones now. Frost hasn’t hurt anything here.

Another undated October letter remarks on the weather, “No killing frost yet.” then later says:

We haven’t had any frost that harmed anything. My flowers are beautiful yet.

Oct. 16

It is raining here and cold. Glen Orr said it hailed a little.


But she is starting work at her GoodYear “Rosie the Riveter” job, so she would have no time for her World War II garden, even if the weather were favorable. Another letter in October says that Irene, my father’s sister, is busy canning.  Irene was a prize-winning gardener. November letters have remarks about rain and December it is ice and cold weather. But Grandma and Daddy Guy would have vegetables galore all winter.

While other vegetables had been harvested earlier in the summer–beans, peas, cucumbers, and most had been canned, at the end of the year, we hear that she is canning tomato catsup, tomato juice, green tomato relish and sauerkraut.  Her basement shelves were full of those jewel-tones in glass jars (like these from a farmer’s market) created from Grandma’s World War II garden.

Preserves at farmer's Market

St. Phillips’ Farmers’ Market in Tucson, Grammy’s canned foods