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Cooking and Castle Building, 1880, As-If-New Condition!



Cooking and Castle Building, 1880:  Cooking and Castle Building, by Emma P. Ewing, published in 1880 by James E. Osgood & Co., Boston, and in 1883 by Fairbanks, Palmer & Co., Chicago.  As you can see from the title page here, this copy is from the first printing in 1880. The linen covering the boards is beautifully embosses.

In any case, this is a fascinating book.  Written as a novel, the entire book is a conversation between two women and one of their daughters.  And the conversation is all about writing the perfect cookbook.  The proposed cookbook writer, Kate, spends a summer talking to the other women about the proper way to cook, for example, corn muffins.  And, Kate teaches the younger woman, Alice, to cook.  The result of the conversations is a novel filled with detailed recipes and discussions of cooking techniques, along with philosophical discussions about proper housekeeping and family life.  The first recipe is for yeast, making it from dried hops! (Who knew!)

This book is as close to as-if-new condition as any antique cookbook I’ve had in the store.  The cover is nearly perfect, with just mildly bumped corners and some minor shelf wear at the top of the spine.   The cover boards are in good condition, with the exception of two small bumps on the back board, where the linen is slightly loose. The pages are spotless. The binding is in excellent condition. Both hinges are perfect.   211 pages plus index of recipes.  The embossing and gilt printing add to the charm of this book.

Ewing’s intention, as stated in her opening chapter, was to not “add another to the list of abomination miscalled cook-books [.] In my cook-book, I will deal with the essential articles of food. I will dilate upon the charms of bread, meats, and vegetables, at their best; and omit those non-essential and indigestible messes and mixtures, that have been heretofore thrust so prominently forward [.] A great many sins of the world are traceable to bad food.” Born on a farm in Colesville, New York, Ewing (1838-1917) gained national recognition after the Civil War as a cooking instructor, known as “the woman who would have taught America to make good bread if America could have been taught.” She authored several cookbooks, including Vegetables and Vegetable Cooking (1884) and The Art of Cookery (1896). In 1882, she established the Chicago School of Cookery, and later served as the head of the Domestic Economy departments at Iowa State University and Purdue University, respectively.

See information about Emma P. Ewing’s papers at Purdue, here:


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