The First Known American Cookbook
As harvest time draws near and meals become heartier, many home cooks turn to tried-and-true recipes that deliver great taste from familiar ingredients. Settlers in the New World could not always do this, even though cookbooks had been around for several hundred years. One big problem? New World foods were not mentioned in these European volumes. Another problem was that no New World cookbook existed until twenty years after the United States became a nation. Amelia Simmons introduced the country’s first cookbook: American Cookery, or the art of dressing viands, fish, poultry, and vegetables, and the best modes of making pastes, puffs, pies, tarts, puddings, custards, and preserves, and all kinds of cakes, from the imperial plum to plain cake: Adapted to this country, and all grades of life. By Amelia Simmons: An American Orphan, in 1796.
Simmons was serious in her quest to help demystify cookery: her notes on “how to dress a turtle” are both detailed and graphic. Her recipe for a squash pudding is one example of adapting New World ingredients to common Old World (particularly British) dishes.
Native Americans Grew Maize, Beans, and Squash
A Crookneck, or Winter Squash* Pudding.
Core, boil and skin a good squash, and bruize it well; take 6 large
apples, pared, cored, and stewed tender, mix together; add 6 or 7
spoonsful of dry bread or biscuit, rendered fine as meal, half pint
milk or cream, 2 spoons of rose-water, 2 do. wine, 5 or 6 eggs beaten
and strained, nutmeg, salt and sugar to your taste, one spoon flour,
beat all smartly together, bake.
The above is a good receipt for Pompkins, Potatoes or Yams, adding
more moistening or milk and rose water, and to the two latter a few
black or Lisbon currants, or dry whortleberries scattered in, will
make it better.
Colonists Grinding Corn
*Squash is a New World food.