Chris Rochelle, our staff photographer, hot sauce lover, and vintage cookbook aficionado, bought this handwritten book at a local flea market. It is marked as written by Lydia Cassady in 1889.

It brings up more questions than it answers. For example: What is saleratus? Why does Etta’s fruit cake get marked as “good” while other recipes don’t? How is one supposed to cook the jumblee? But the thing is pretty cool to page through, so Chris took some photos of the pages.

Some of the recipes as written:

Ginger Snaps
One cup sugar, one cup molasses, one cup butter, one-half cup warm water, two tablespoonfuls ginger, one tablespoonful (even) saleratus; roll thin, bake quick

Etta’s Fruit Cake (Good)
1 cup butter, 1 cup of coffee, milk, or brandy, 1 cup black sugar, 1 cup molasses, 3 eggs, 3 cups flour, 1 teaspoon soda, spices, nutmeg. 1 ½ lb. raisins, ½ lb. currants, ¼ lb citron, pinch of salt.

One cup sugar, a scant cup of butter, two eggs, one tablespoonful (even) soda, dissolved in a good tablespoonful of milk, nearly 3 cups flour. Spice or flavor to taste.

See more articles