Chisholm, Alabama: 1916. Southern woman's recipe and account book, comprised of 27 manuscript pages in a single hand with one typed recipe loosely inserted. Quarter cloth over marbled boards measuring 5 x 10.75" with a bit of bowing to front board. Compiled by a woman living in Alabama during wartime, the present is an opportunity to study the accessibility of ingredients, the tendency to use local recipes and cuisine versus more national or international ones, the exchange of information among women in their kitchens, and women's practices in securing meals for their families and managing their homes during economic struggle.
Census records show that the present cookery was compiled and owned by Maud Rosser, wife of Railroad Company salesman W. C. Rosser and mother of four. Married at 14 to a man eleven years her senior, Maud would have been 41 at the time of this book's creation, making her an experienced domestic manager. This would assist her in 1916, when two years of international warfare had severely disrupted the state's supply chain and economy. "British industrial production had shifted from making cloth to making war material, so its demand for southern cotton plummeted, depressing cotton prices and reducing traffic to the port," a labor shortage drove masses northward, which resulted in "railroad traffic becoming snarled with railcars sitting idle" (Frazer). Women like Maud would have not only been encouraged by the war effort to use local ingredients, it would have been imperative for survival at a time when there was access to little else. Her cookery is a reflection of this.
Opening with a section titled "Classification of Food," Maud writes an outline about the nutritional values of proteins and carbohydrates in meals, noting their best sources. A section on salads features simple dishes such as Peanut Salad, Beet Salad, ad Potato Salad -- all items with ingredients available in the region's kitchen gardens and bringing a balance of nutrients. Sections contain information on omelettes and eggs, meat (including meatload and "mock crab"), sandwiches, and breads. Revealing that hardship doesn't diminish a sweet tooth, a section on desserts features an array of molasses based recipes including New Orleans Pralines and Peanut Brittle. Recipes that have been given by other women are often marked with their names.
A research rich gathering with material for scholars of women's studies, domestic economy, wartime cuisine, southern cuisine, supply chain, and information exchange.
Montgomery County Alabama Census 1910, 1930. (Item #3955)