In preparing a new and carefully revised edition of this, my first work on general cookery, I have introduced improvements, corrected errors, and added new receipts, that I trust will, on trial, be found satisfactory. The success of the book (proved by its immense and increasing circulation,) affords conclusive evidence that it has obtained the approbation of a large number of my countrywomen; many of whom have informed me that it has made practical housewives of young ladies who have entered into married life with no other acquirements than a few showy accomplishments. Gentlemen, also, have told me of great improvements in the family-table, after presenting their wives with this manual of domestic cookery; and that, after a morning devoted to the fatigues of business, they no longer find themselves subjected to the annoyance of an ill-dressed dinner.
No man (or woman either) ought to be incapable of distinguishing bad eatables from good ones. Yet, I have heard some few ladies boast of that incapacity, as something meritorious, and declare that they considered the quality, the preparation, and even the taste of food, as things entirely beneath the attention of a rational being; their own minds being always occupied with objects of far greater importance.
Let no man marry such a woman.* If indifferent to her own food, he will find her still more indifferent to his. A wife who cares not, or knows not what a table ought to be, always has bad cooks; for she cannot distinguish a bad one from a good one, dislikes change, and wonders how her husband can attach any importance to so trifling a circumstance as his dinner. Yet, though, for the sake of "preserving the peace" he may bring himself to pass over, as "trifling circumstances," the defects of his daily repasts, he will find himself not a little mortified, when, on inviting a friend to dinner, he finds his table disgraced by washy soup, poultry half raw, gravy unskimmed, and vegetables undrained; to say nothing of sour bread, ponderous puddings, curdled custards tasting of nothing, and tough pastry.
* My instructress, the late Mrs. Goodfellow, remarked, in allusion to the dullness or silliness of some of her pupils, "It requires a head even to make cakes."
Let all housekeepers remember that there is no possibility of producing nice dishes without a liberal allowance of good ingredients. "Out of nothing, nothing can come," is a homely proverb, but a true one. And so is the ancient caution against being "penny-wise and pound-foolish." By judicious management, and by taking due care that nothing is wasted or thrown away which might be used to advantage, one family will live "excellently well," at no greater cost in the end than another family is expending on a table that never has a good thing upon it.
A sufficiency of wholesome and well-prepared food is abso lutely necessary to the preservation of health and strength, both of body and mind. Ill-fed children rarely grow up with vigorous constitutions; and dyspepsia, in adults, is as frequently produced by eating food that is unpalatable or disagreeable to their taste, as by indulging too much in things they peculiarly relish. For those who possess the means of living well, it is a false (and sometimes fatal) economy to live badly; particularly when there is a lavish expenditure in fine clothes, fine furniture, and other ostentations, only excusable when not purchased at the expense of health and comfort.
Philadelphia, Jan. 16, 1851.